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A Xt3 Member asked at 4:58am on December 21st 2010

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Dear Ofelia:

I am afraid we can't help out with any money, but I will be praying for you and for a solution to these difficulties.

Answered by Fr John Flynn
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Vocational Anxiety

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:48pm on July 14th 2018
Hi Father,

I suffer from a huge amount of vocational anxiety. I certainly do not have any desire to become a priest however, I feel anxious about the idea of it. For example, I wonder whether or not this is what God has called me to do and I fear that God would be displeased if I didn't do his will.

I have never had any obvious signs of this vocation however, I constantly have it in the back of my mind. Whenever I hear homilies about vocations or anything like that, I get anxious and depressed because I worry that they could be targeted at me.

My heart's desire is to get married and have a family. I want to find a lifelong companion and I want to have children. On the other hand, the thought of becoming a priest makes me physically sick from anxiety.

A bit of my background: I am single, 25 year's old and a Software developer. I absolutely love working in IT and I am very good at my job. I feel that God has opened many doors for me in this career path and single or married, I couldn't imagine doing any other job. I am totally committed to my faith, and I go to mass every Sunday. I am also blessed to have lots of friends who are committed to their faith.

My childhood wasn't so great. I was emotionally and physically abused by my parents but, by the grace of God, I have been healed of a lot of trauma. (I don't want you to think that I am extremely messed up because of my childhood, this is not really accurate, but I think it is relevant to mention because I suspect that a lot of my anxiety stems from my childhood).

I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember however, the vocational-anxiety started when I was about 19 years old. I was in a really toxic relationship and a breakup was imminent. A friend of mine was Ordained a Catholic priest and I attended the ordination. Around this time, there was a lot of talk in the community about the need for young Catholic men to consider the priesthood. This sparked a thought... (What if I am called?) This was immediately followed by anxiety because that completely contradicts the kind of life I am hoping for. Shortly after, my relationship fell apart (mostly due to lack of suitability) and I broke up with my girlfriend. It has been about 6 years, and I still remain anxious. I hasn't been constant rather it comes and goes periodically. Some months are great and other times, I am crippled with the feeling of despair.

I have spoken to multiple priests about my problem (they all think I don't have a priestly vocation) and I even have been to a Catholic counselor and I have sought out prayers from healing ministers however, the anxiety still remains.

I have no idea what to do. I despise the idea of becoming a priest. I know that is is a good vocation however, I just couldn't imagine being happy and fulfilled in that vocation. It makes me VERY anxious to even consider discerning that life.

When I think about marriage, I feel joy filled and hopeful. (Sometimes I feel guilty if I have recently been through a period of anxiety). I know that married life would not solve all of my problems, and that it would have it's own challenges however, I think it is a great way for me to honour God and help my family to get to heaven. I am not "desperate" to find someone, but I have a desire that is stronger that any desire I have ever had. (Except for the desire of salvation of course).

My understanding is that our vocation is a free choice, and a gift from God. Do you think God would be upset if I just followed my heart's desire and got married? Would it be sinful for me to say no to the possibility of being called elsewhere?

I have a friend who experienced similar feelings and now she is happily married. This often brings be reassurance however, at this point, I just don't know what to do.

Please help! and God Bless you.

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Hi Friend,

A very wise spiritual director told me years ago that 'God doesn't lead by doubts.' What he meant by that was since the vocation to celibate priesthood or religious life is to a state that only a small minority of Catholics are called to, since that kind of life is in itself quite unusual, the calling to it must be very clear and unambiguous.

Let's take the more obvious example of a couple who decide to get married. If you ask either of them, why did you fall in love with this person rather than that, they often admit that it's a mystery. But that mystery of a man and woman falling in love is far more common than the even more mysterious falling in love with God that someone called to priesthood or consecrated religious life.

Reading your question, it seems obvious to me you will make a wonderful husband for the woman you eventually decide to marry. Pope Francis often points out when speaking with married people that marriage is a beautiful vocation too-beautiful, but in this day and age also demanding, requiring of the spouses at times to follow Jesus on the Cross in giving themselves completely to one another and to their children.

So it seems obvious from what you wrote that you should put aside this wrong and pressurizing thought of priesthood. But remember as a good, married, friend of mine said, getting a partner in marriage is like getting a job, it's a full time job! You have to look for a partner in places where it's more likely you'll find one who shares your beliefs and commitment to lifelong marriage-so, in Catholic groups of all sorts, church choirs, wherever young men and women of the same belief meet up together.

Keeping you in my prayers that you find the partner God has planned for you, very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 4:13am on July 5th 2018
Hi Father,

When starting a nine days novena, does one need to go to confession first before starting ?

Does one to to go for confession before the end of the novena ?

If you can help me clear this up as it is a topic of disagreement among my friends about the necessity of confession regarding novenas.

Thank you

Best Regards.

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Hi Charles, a novena is nine days of prayer for this or that intention. Apart from all Catholics being required to go to confession at least once a year, the only other requirement for going to confession would be to confess any mortal sins before we receive Holy Communion. One of my favourite Pope Francis quotes is that God never gets tired of showing us mercy, but we can get tired of looking for it! So, quite apart from the two strict requirements I've mentioned, it's always good to go to confession regularly, whether or not we're conscious of serious sins to confess. It's up to you, but maybe the novena is a good opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation/confession, even though it's not required.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Am I wrong?

A Xt3 Member asked at 8:02pm on July 1st 2018
Hi Father. My name is Tim. I used to be an Acolyte for nearly 20 years but have had my permission to exercise that Ministry revoked, much to my dismay. I will explain.

My Archdiocese, Perth, recently introduced a new initiative called The Safeguarding Program - Protecting Children in the Catholic Church - for the purposes of safeguarding children. The whole purpose of the program is intended and designed to minimise risk and ensure, so far as is humanly possible, the safeguarding and protection of children, young people and the vulnerable within the Perth Archdiocese and I am and always have been in total agreement with every one of those principles and aims.

However, when the Progarm and Policy was sent to all Acolytes, I received an email that said "Please read the Handbook and sign and return the two Forms Form 2 and 18." The email then said "Signed copies of both forms are a requirement to support your ongoing role within the parish."

The email caused me some disquiet and I inquired whether it meant that if I did not sign the two forms, I would not be permitted to continue in the ministry of Acolyte. I was informed that unless I signed both forms, I would not be permitted to continue as an Acolyte.

One of those forms required me to declare that I had not been convicted of a criminal offence involving children nor was I under investigation for such an offence. Given I was told that "either you sign that declaration form and return it or your permission to work as an Acolyte would be withdrawn"- I found it difficult and still do, to accept that proposition.

I refused to sign that declaration (I have had four different working with children ploice clearences) and I am now out! I loved being an Acolyte and took the view that I was being "blackmailed" in the sense that I was being told if I loved my Ministry and wished to continue in it, I had no choice but to sign.

I refused and it still hurts me that I cannot work as an Acolyte.

So, my question is this - am I being too proud to sign when I see myself as being held hostage to the point - sign and your in! dont sign and your out!

Thanks and God bless

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Hi Tim, I have two working with children clearances from the Irish police force (the Gardai Siochana), but I still had to obtain an official clearance from the NSW Government if I wished to work as a priest in Sydney archdiocese. When I was invited to give talks to adult groups in various dioceses in Australia, I have sometimes been required, in addition to my NSW working with children clearance, to obtain a letter from the archbishop of my native Dublin diocese too - a pain in the neck for me, since it took weeks for that to arrive here in Sydney.

And every year, along with all priests working in Sydney, I attend an updating of the working with children programme run by Sydney archdiocese, with my third whole day course coming up in a few weeks. Of course I'm hardly alone in grumbling to myself about this, but I realize that not only are there government requirements we all have to fulfil, but the Archbishop himself has to be able to honestly say that all his priests are fully involved in these programmes.

You needn't be reminded of just how hostile the media has been to the Church in this matter (I needn't go into how much we've deserved some, but surely not all of this), so carrying out these duties is a way of supporting our Church leaders in their facing up to a hostile media and sometimes hostile State and Federal government). So I'd strongly urge you swallow your pride and fill in that form - why deprive your local Church of your valuable experience and service as an Acolyte? Very best, Fr Brendan
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Private vows

A Xt3 Member asked at 8:41am on March 17th 2017
Hello Father:

I have 3 questions please. Thank you so much

4 Years ago I made private vows (alone) of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God while living in the States.. I now live in France and would like to live a personal rule of life which incoperate my private vows ... can my spiritual guide (a priest) bless this rule of life which I call:

~ A contemplative way of life while living in the world, the Solitary Way ~ ?

If so, is there a certain blessing format? And if so, can this rule of life be blessed during spiritual guidance, and on a certain day of my choice ?

God Bless,


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Hi Odile-Lyllian,

The answer is yes to both questions. Private vows and a rule of life can be discussed with one's spiritual director. A person only needs to profess vows with a bishop when such vows are made publicly.

God bless, Fr Michael
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A Xt3 Member asked at 8:54am on January 8th 2017

Would like to clarify... having a debate with a friend and this question came up- do priests and nuns have to be virgins? Or are priests and nuns required to live celibate and chaste lives?


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Hi Sarah, all Christians, married or celibate, are required to live chaste lives, that is to follow the laws of the Church and of the Ten Commandments appropriate to their state of life - for example young people who are not married, or married couples who must be faithful to each other.

But lifelong vowed celibacy as a total dedication of themselves to God, is a commitment freely made by religious men (brothers, monks, priests) and women (sisters), as well as by priests in the Roman or Latin rite. In the Catholic Church, there are also 23 other rites, belonging to what's called the Oriental or Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, most of which allow their priests to marry (except for the two Indian Syrian Catholic Churches and the Coptic Catholic Church) - although, as with the Orthodox, they must have married before priestly ordination. Very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 6:52am on June 12th 2016
Good Morning here in the Philippines fr! :)

Im a regent seminarian right now and I only spent 1 year of seminary formation but after that the formators told me to finish college and later come back, however I'm afraid that if I come back they ask me again to leave the seminary....

Today I'm a regular college student who wants to finish his degree, and in spite of all the achievements I'm getting I still feel that there is something missing, that there is something more than what I am having or what I am right now..

Fr. How will I know if the Lord really calls me to his priesthood, also I see myself as someone who is a sinner and unworthy to heed his call. Please fr. help me to direct myself towards the plan of God :)

Thank You!

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Hi Ed Joseph, I think the most important thing for any of us is to choose God-Love as the most important reality in our lives. When we've done that, the next step follows, to do his will for us.

I wouldn't be qualified to give you detailed advice on what you should do next: maybe you could find a good and wise priest you could have a few meetings with and he could help you discern whether you have a vocation to be a priest or not - perhaps in a different community to the one you felt may not want you to return (although if he were to suggest trying somewhere else, you would have to let them get in contact with wherever you spent your year of seminary formation.)

The great thing about being a Christian is that we can become saints wherever we are, as priests, as academics, as office or shop workers, whatever. I always liked the story of the Italian bank teller who decided to see Jesus in everyone that presented themselves as customers. After a while, people noticed this and loved coming to the bank to see him!

So, even before you have these conversations with a good spiritual adviser, you can already start to love. Jesus said, 'whoever loves me... I will show myself to him' (see Jn 14:21), or more briefly, 'love and see.' If you try to live that 'love and see,' surely Jesus will - through the advice of others and your own life and prayer - show himself and his will to you. Very best, Fr Brendan
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What's happening to our priests?

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:50pm on May 14th 2016
Hi there--

Over the past few years I have noticed my parish priest change-- and not in a good way. All he ever talks is about raising money. His homily talks are about raising money. I understand we need to give more as a community but the mass has gotten from full to semi empty. And now we got an additional priest, who is even worse. He is an angry person, we can barely understand him, the mass is just not the same. I live in the ghettos of NY- we should be getting young, vibrant priests to try to preach to the youth- who are the biggest problem in our community. Instead we get older priests who don't have passion. I am just seeing my church change and not in a better way.

Is this a problem we are seeing throughout the world or just in poor neighborhoods? I know they are good people and matter, but every time I go a mass in a richer neighborhood, the priests seem eager to preach and the parish more alive. What's happening? I don't want to go to mass because I don't learn and feel anything anymore. I know the way I feel is probably a sin, so what should I do?


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Hi Karen, I'm really sorry to hear about those priests in your parish. You mention about going to other parishes to Mass, and if it's at all possible, maybe you should keep doing this, even if it's tough to have to travel. It's certainly not a sin to be so disappointed by those priests, but I remember my brother, who's an engineer, saying to me when I was ordained (he might well have been thinking about me!): 'I don't care if the priest saying the Mass is an utter moron, I realize that what's happening at that altar is vital for my whole life.'

I'd stop worrying about what should be done for other people (if NY is like many other places in the West, there aren't that many young people showing up for Mass anyway), but think instead: here am I, present with Our Lady and St John, standing in that terrible place of execution while Jesus is being tortured and suffocated to death. He's asking me to join, in whatever way I can, in his suffering, so that he can share with me all his suffering and immense love. Even if the priest celebrating the Mass, and his homily, isn't that hot, still, with Mary's help I can make up for that, I can be her in this moment of her greatest desolation. In this way, Jesus and Mary will be living in you in the deepest possible way at every Mass you attend.

By the way, my favourite priest in NY is called Fr George Rutler, he's the pastor at St Michael's Church, 424 West 34th Street, NY City, it's probably far from where you live, and he's nearly as old as I am, but he gives great homilies!

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Women as Priests?

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:33am on April 25th 2016
I have always wanted to be a priest, but I am a girl. I have always felt that our Lord is calling me to become a priest and change the ways of the Church here on Earth.I've heard the reasoning for why women are not priests, but I still feel that that's what He wants me to do. What should I do? Do you have any advice?

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Hi Olivia, the most important choice any of us as Christians have to make isn't to be a priest, to be a religious sister, to be married, to be a virgin living in the world - all these are particular vocations, but the most important vocation for us is our choice of God, our saying Yes to his will. That's why the recent popes along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church have insisted that the most important profile or aspect of the Church isn't the hierarchical or Petrine profile, but the Marian one, since Mary is earlier than the hierarchy, and her choice of God is the most essential one.

Even if you were a man, it still wouldn't be enough for you to feel God were calling you to be a priest, since that calling is always expressed through the Church, so a person feeling they're called is only one part of a vocation.

And the issue of women's ordination to the priesthood doesn't depend on human reasoning or argument, but on divine revelation - any more than the elements of the Eucharist being bread or wine, or of Baptism being water. The basic expressions of revelation we have are Scripture, Tradition and the official teaching of the Church known as the Magisterium. There's no authority from Scripture, Tradition or Magisterium for the Church to ordain women. Which is why in the Church's statements on this matter, the phrase used is that the Church is 'not authorized' to ordain women - in the sense that in such an essential matter, there's no indication from revelation that the Church can do so.

I think it's important that we don't prioritise priesthood as the most important way to live the Gospel - Mary was the one who heard the Word and kept it more than anyone. I used to ask people if they could name any Indian cardinal - most people hadn't a clue. But if I asked them to name a prominent Catholic woman in India, everyone know this had to be Mother Teresa of Calcutta. So I'd suggest getting in touch with any of the active lay movements in the Church that ask their members to be 100% serious about living the Gospel. The one I happen to be involved in, officially known as the Work of Mary, has in its Church-approved statutes that its president should always be a woman: since it's primarily a lay movement, Mary was a lay woman, and if a man were president, he could be ordained a priest, and it would lose this specifically Marian character.

The great thing is that God certainly has a beautiful plan of life for you: have no doubt that, if like Mary, you follow his will, your life will be full of adventure, as anyone who begins to live the Gospel, including its Crosses - which for you will include not being a priest - will quickly find out. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Can priests adopt children

A Xt3 Member asked at 7:39pm on March 23rd 2015
Hi Father

I am researching for a Catholic based novel and I want to ask a hypothetical question. Are priests allowed to adopt children? For instance, if a single parent in their parish dies suddenly and there is no one who wants to foster/adopt the child and the priest feels that God wants him to adopt the child, is this permissable in Catholic law?

I would be really garetful for your answer.


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Dear Eowyn:

As far as I am aware Canon Law does not deal with this, but it would be very unusual for a priest to adopt a child. The Church maintains that the best environment for a child to grow up in is a family with both a husband and a wife, which is not possible for a priest to provide.

Then, the life of a priest is not suited to being an adoptive father, given that there are many activities that would mean a child would be left alone.

Civil law would also be a factor as I think that in many countries the law prefers two parents if they wish to adopt.

Answered by Fr John Flynn
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