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A Xt3 Member asked at 4:42am on October 31st 2017
Hello! My husband and I are living on the West Coast of the United States for just a little while longer, and we have always wanted to see Alaska. We decided that now would probably be the best time to do it (logistically and financially), before leaving the West Coast. We are looking in to a cruise, and we found one that is affordable and will work with our schedule. However, because it will leave on a Saturday afternoon, I do not know if we will be able to attend Mass that weekend. The cruise ship does not have a priest onboard. We always make sure to go to Mass when we are on vacation, but I don't think we'll have the option if we book this cruise. Would it be a mortal sin if we booked this cruise, knowing that we probably won't be able to go to Mass?

Thank you, and God bless you!

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Hi Nicole, you're never bound to do what's impossible, so there's no obligation to attending Sunday Mass when travel makes it impossible. What I often suggest to people travelling on cruises as you and your husband will be doing, is on the Sundays you're onboard, to give God the time you'd have given at Mass. So you could read the readings of the Mass for that day (easily available, for example on Lectionary/1998USL.htm), possibly pray through the principal prayers of the Mass, including the Our Father, make an act of spiritual communion by inviting Jesus to enter more deeply into your lives, make a short thanksgiving, possibly pray the Rosary together.

And remember what Jesus promised in Mt 18:20, 'where two or three are gathered in my name (that is, ready to give all for each other, as you promised on your wedding day!), there am I among you.' That promised presence of Jesus in your midst is a real presence, different from the Eucharistic presence, but still a real presence.

I've only once been a little bit up Canada's West Coast (a drive up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy, then across to Bella Coola) but even that glimpse of the inland passage was beautiful, so best wishes for a great trip! Fr Brendan
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What bible says about betting?

A Xt3 Member asked at 2:32pm on October 27th 2017
Hi everyone, i am from Turkey and i am raised by muslim parents, so i do a few things about religions, but i would like to learn and know more about Christianity, here is my question:

in Islamic doctrines we have a haram, and helal which means sin and halal, so in our actions in the gods eye we are making a halal or haram, so how does Christianity judge that? i mean what is your typical judgments for that?

And my another question is, is it sin to play bettings from websites or in general, is it sin to have an actually earnings from betting games?

(sorry for my bad english)

Best regards.

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Hi Betamik, the Arabic word 'haram' means what is forbidden by Allah ('halal' is its opposite, what is permitted), and includes a range of sins that Christians also regard as seriously sinful, like pre-marital sex or murder. Like Muslims, Christians regard these activities as sinful in God's eye, but also as sinful in themselves - so that every human being is forbidden to commit them. Basically, all Christians are bound to obey the Ten Commandments listed in chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus, which lay out our duties to God (the first 3 commandments) and to our fellow human beings (the last 7 commandments).

Christians are bound not only by the Ten Commandments, but by Jesus' commandment in chapters 13 and 15 of the Gospel of St John to love one another as he has loved us - that is, to be prepared to die for one another - which is what he meant by 'as I have loved you,' since he did die for us. Almost every Surah of the Koran addresses Allah as 'the Merciful,' and you could say that Muslims should be merciful like Allah. There are beautiful echoes of this in some Muslim poets, like the thirteenth century poet Rumi, who wrote that 'God has predestined us eternally for love.' And there are similar words in the great medieval Sufi scholar, Ibn Arabi:

'My beloved, love me!

Love only me, love me with a true heart!

No one is closer to you than I.

Others love you for themselves. But I love only for you.'

Even when our beliefs are different, as Muslims and Christians, nothing can stop us trying to love one another.

As regards betting, maybe it would be better to speak with a Muslim scholar or holy man, since I think the Koran forbids gambling, while for Christians, gambling would only be sinful if we were spending money we should spend on looking after our family or ourselves. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Feast of St Margaret Mary Alaquoque

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:59pm on October 15th 2017
There seems to be some confusion over the Feastday of St Margaret Mary Alaquoqe. Some calendars put the feastday down to the 16th of October and others the 17th of October. Which is the correct date?

I noted also that today is supposed to be the feastday of St Gerard Majella, but no-one seems to make much of it. When I was growing up in the 50's/60's/70's this feastday was very popular and in the schools the nuns used to relate interesting stories about this saint - nowadays, the children don't seem to be told about this saint in the Catholic schools.

Thank you.

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Hi Ethel, I'm just as puzzled as you are! In Australia and in the Roman Missal, her feast day is celebrated on October 16th, while some sites I looked up say it's on October 17th. In fact, it's what's called an 'optional memorial,' along with St Hedwig (who I'm also very fond of as I attended Mass in St Hedwig's Cathedral in what was then Communist East Berlin many years ago). Maybe it was originally on the 17th, but St Ignatius of Antioch's feast on that day might have 'bumped' her off that flight.

If St Margaret Mary was moved back to October 16th, it looks as if St Gerard Majella wasn't even let onto the plane - his feast day is also on October 16th, but he's not included in the Roman Missal any more (I don't know if he was there before). I guess the reason is because there are many new saints, so there isn't room for them all to be commemorated by the whole Church. But I'm sure he's still in the local calendar of his home diocese in the far south of Italy, and perhaps he's in the Italian national calendar of saints too.

St Gerard is patron of mothers in childbirth. This is because, when visiting a family, not long before he died at 29 in 1755, he'd dropped a handkerchief. One of the daughters ran after him with it, and he told her to keep it as she might need it one day. Years later, now married, she was in danger of death during childbirth (at a time when only a third of children survived birth). As soon as she'd asked for that handkerchief her pains went away and her child was born healthy.

An online version of another experience explains why he's also the patron of those wrongly accused: When he was 27, Majella became the subject of a malicious rumour. An acquaintance named Neria accused him of having had relations with a young woman. St Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, to which he belonged, confronted him with these accusations. The young lay brother remained silent. The girl later recanted and cleared his name.' He's a truly wonderful saint, what a pity we don't hear a lot more about him. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Types of business that's acceptable as a child of God

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:43pm on October 13th 2017
Please, I'd like to know what it means in the Church, for a Christian to run a betting or gamble related type of business.
Not a gangster style of business. Somewhat related to this type of online betting via sports game result. Please I need Godly and Biblical answer, inspire of the human view of it.

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Hi Peter, when I was studying politics many years ago, our lecturer pointed out that it was important for good people to get involved or else only bad people would enter politics. Since the Church has never taught that gambling is sinful, there is no reason why a Christian shouldn't be involved in running a betting or gambling business.

I think if you look at a similar situation, Christians also sell alcohol and run bars where alcohol is served. And in my opinion, the approach of a Christian to both kinds of enterprise would be the same. Fully aware of the harm that excessive gambling and excessive drinking can do, they'd try to run their establishments in such a way as to discourage such excessive use - which of course is a misuse - of either of these activities.

In gambling, you often hear about proprietors of gambling establishments fixing the machines or the various games so that they're dishonestly stacked against the gamblers, or that they encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour. So I think it'd be up to a Christian proprietor to do all he or she could to show a pastoral care for problem gamblers, advertise Gamblers Anonymous centres, and so on. The basic Biblical requirement holds for the person providing a gambling service that holds for us all - that we're to love Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters, including those at risk, morally and spiritually, from excessive gambling (see Mt 25: 31 - 46). Very best, Fr Brendan
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I see sins everywhere

A Xt3 Member asked at 7:23pm on September 21st 2017
An atheist friend started to ask me out of curiousity if something particular was a sin or not. That forced me to think in Christian life as a bunch of actions to be avoided, even if I know it's much more. Because of that, I can't help but judge every single action I see in my friends life or even when I'm reading a biography or a fictional book, not because I feel better, but out of fear for their souls. That's very sad and I feel I've became a slave of sin and fear, not for me, but for everything else, specially those who are not practising Catholics or accept only part of the Church teaching. My Christian life before was full of joy and love to God, I did my best without being judgamental, but now I don't know what to do. Please, help me.

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Hi Luisa, St John of the Cross puts it very clearly for us - 'in the evening of our lives, we'll be examined on love.' And of course, Jesus has already told us what the questions will be, 'Whatever you did to the least of my brothers (and sisters), you did to me (Mt 25:40).' So being a Christian is being someone who loves, especially those who most need that love, a love expressed concretely, by visiting the sick, clothing the naked, giving food to the hungry, and so on. That's the core of Church teaching - or to remind ourselves of the commandment Jesus called 'his' commandment and the 'new' commandment: 'love one another as I have loved you.' (Jn 13: 34 - 35; 15:12).

All of this is about actions to carry out, definitely not to be avoided. And Jesus is very clear in telling us not to judge others (Mt 7:1), since we never know what grace that person has received from God. Remember Jesus' approach to the woman discovered committing adultery (Jn 8), where he first of all sees off the mob who were getting ready to stone her to death, then tells her he doesn't condemn her, and to sin no more.

So it's not up to us to judge anyone. Rather, we have to try to see Jesus in everyone, leaving judgment to God. If you try this every day, you'll find your day becomes full of joy, since each day gives us another chance to prepare for our final exam, our meeting with Jesus at the moment of our death. Having done our best to love him in each neighbour, he'll recognize us as an old friend! Very best, Fr Brendan
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Bad spirit demon

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:36am on September 18th 2017
Hi Father

Can a bad spirit or demon attach itself to you if your in the same house where a Oujia board is being used by people if you are not actually taking part or in the same room? Or is it just the people who are taking part in it who are vulnerable?


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Hi James, while I wouldn't be too happy to be in a house where people were using an Ouija board, you may not have any choice in the matter. But an evil spirit can only do us spiritual harm if we freely invite them - which could unfortunately include people who, whether knowingly or not, are dabbling in that Ouija board.

As we know from the New Testament, and from the Church's experience over the centuries, evil spirits can sometimes bother saintly people, but cannot do them moral harm, since that kind of harm only comes from deliberate consent to evil. It strikes me that it's highly unlikely an evil spirit would in any way attach itself to you - there are enough ill-advised people already open to such evil spirits if they're using an Ouija board. But I'd keep up my personal prayer to Jesus, to Our Lady, St Michael the Archangel, my guardian angel and all the saints, to ensure my heart is completely closed to any evil presence, and maybe include those other folks in your prayers.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 9:05am on August 20th 2017

Is there any way of speaking with a priest online privately? Not for a confession but a small amount of life advice.

My circumstances stop me from being able to seek any form of consolation outside the confessional and inside. I've tried everything over many years just for a few moments for a bit of life advice and I am turned away no matter what I do. I've even prayed for an opportunity and left empty handed. Confession is always left to the last minute prior to mass in my region and every region I have ever visited and so I am rushed through.

Tonight for example I said goodbye to the priest after praying and he was about to start a conversation and it was interrupted by another parishoner who took all of his attention away.

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Hi Camilla, since the sacrament of reconciliation is meant for the confessing and forgiving of sins, what's often called spiritual direction is a different matter - or even the kind of one off one-on-one discussion you are looking for. A lot depends on whether there are people available to do this outside of confession. Have you thought of contacting any religious communities, including monastic ones, in your neighbourhood? It strikes me that you might be able to have that conversation you're looking for with a monk or a sister, just as well as with a priest.

I doubt very much if an online discussion would be what you need, since it's only face to face that whoever you're turning to for advice can get the full picture. Maybe if you're not in a big town you'd be best off to check out on various websites, what are the religious establishments in the nearest big town or city to you. I'm putting you in my list of people I pray for every day, that please God, you can find a good adviser. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Exorcism/Mortal sin?

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:00pm on August 15th 2017
Hello Father,

when one recieves minor exorcism or a deliverence , does this get rid of mortal sin? And can one who is is in mortal sin then begin recieving communion? Thanks.

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Hi Luke, there's two different questions here, I'll try them one by one. I don't know what you mean by 'a deliverance,' but a minor exorcism is a prayer for relief from some experience of oppression by evil spirits, which any priest is entitled to pray. But it has no effect on mortal sin - the normal way a mortal sin can be forgiven is through the sacrament of confession/reconciliation.

The answer to your second question, about whether someone who is in mortal sin may receive communion is no. If a person is in mortal sin, they should receive the sacrament pf reconciliation as soon as possible, and not wait for weeks or months. Before they've had a chance to have the mortal sin forgiven in confession, they may be attending Mass (as we're all obliged to on Sundays and a few Holy Days). Since nowadays most people at Mass receive the Eucharist, rather than feeling left out, I'd always advise a person not yet in the state of grace to cross their hands on their chest so each hand rests on the opposite shoulder, and join the queue for communion. This tells the priest they wish to receive a blessing rather than the Eucharist.

Thanks to God's ocean of love for us that Jesus has given us these wonderful sacraments, of the Eucharist to feed us on our way, and Reconciliation to help us onto our feet again when we've fallen. Very best, Fr Brendan
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excorcism horror movies

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:38am on July 28th 2017
Hello! I have spend the evening scouring the internet for an answer till I ended up here. I would like to know how the church feels about horror movies centered around exorcisms/spiritual warfare. Since my school chaplain recently told me about how real spiritual warfare is, I've been incredibly intrigued. I'm wondering if it is a gateway to possession/torment like the Ouija board or if it is immoral to watch a horror movie about them. Many thanks!

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Hi Noah, in itself, watching a horror movie centred around exorcism wouldn't be immoral. The real question is more with the person watching the movie - are they spiritually prepared for this? If you feel an inclination to dabble in anything like Ouija boards, or contact with spirits of any sort, then watching a film like that could encourage you to go further, which would certainly mean that it'd be better for you not to watch such films. But if you only watch them for fun, it wouldn't be immoral.

For example, since I was a young teenager, I've never been scared by horror films, only laughed at them - so I especially enjoyed a spoof zombie film like Shaun of the Dead. So the only exorcism film I'd ever watch would be a spoof one, if there is one.

As your school chaplain said, spiritual warfare is real. But, all evil spirits are creatures, and God is infinitely more powerful than they are. Does watching these films make you feel depressed? Or do they excite an interest in experiencing something like what you've seen in a film? Then watching them could be spiritually bad for you. There's an old saying, 'the one who loves the danger shall perish in it,' meaning here that interest in the occult could become spiritually unhealthy.

Maybe you could check with your school chaplain whether a particular film you want to watch would be ok for you? Or discuss with him one of the films you've seen? In the end, I'd be careful about that interest, and as much as you can, deepen your relation with God, who's far more interesting, and whose life you can actually re-live by seeing Him in every neighbour you have - and through his freely given grace, you have access to Him for nothing! Very best, Fr Brendan
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Piracy and morality

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:49pm on July 29th 2017
I've been struggling with this question for awhile. Is it a sin to watch tv shows on a website that pirated the material? I was having a discussion with someone and they said if the show is no longer aired and there is no legal way to watch it, it is ok to watch it on those websites (like Is this morally wrong?

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Hi Destiny, it seems to me that if your friend is right and the show is no longer available through any paid channel, it wouldn't be wrong to watch it on that website. I'd just be careful with that website's other offerings, as they might include shows you would have to pay to view. Very best, Fr Brendan
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