Year of Youth 2018

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Relationship

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:10am on September 5th 2018
Hello Father.

I need an opinion from the church. I have some doubts that I had a relationship with a pentecostal charismatic girl.

I have loved her but in the end, it was hard to put an end to our relationship because they teached heresy that the Holy Spirit manifests itself in laughing, screaming and animal noises, and she said to join their movement.

Well I have read the holy scripture that Jesus Christ has made a single church and their manifestation is demonic. But if we have been in seperate religions, I have been in mortal sin (meaning living with a person that accept heresies)

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Hi Atilla, in an earlier question of yours I mentioned chapter 14 of St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, where he speaks of the gift of tongues-but at the end of chapter 12 of the same letter, having just mentioned the various gifts in the Church, including the gift of tongues, he says he's going to speak of 'a more excellent way,' which is that of love-the famous 'hymn to love' of chapter 13.

I don't think you committed a sin because your girlfriend was a Pentecostal charismatic, since it doesn't sound as if you accepted to share in her beliefs. I'm not sure from what you write whether you were living with her in a physical way or were just friends. Obviously it's only in marriage that a couple can live as a married couple, so if-and please forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you-you were doing so, then of course that would have been mortally sinful and you should mention this in the sacrament of confession. The priest will give you God's forgiveness and you can make a whole new start to your life.

Keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Native american catholic. can i still practice medicinal witchcraft?

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:46pm on September 5th 2018
I am Native american and Aztec, I want to honor my backrounds, but i also want to keep jesus in my life. can i still practice witchcraft occasionally as long as i keep jesus first?

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Hi Emma, I've often thought of how the patron saint of my own country, Patrick, responded to the native Celtic customs he met there in the 400s. Since the High King lit a fire on the Hill of Tara to symbolise the coming of Spring, St Patrick lit a fire on the Hill of Slane, visible from Tara to celebrate Christ's Resurrection-which is one of the sources for our lighting of the New Fire during the Easter Vigil. What he was doing was taking elements of the pre-Christian culture and using them in the new context of Christian revelation. Isn't that always our task-to take up Jesus' statement when he said, 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them' (Mt 5:17)?

One of St John Paul II's most important addresses was the one he gave to Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Alice Springs in 1986 (easily obtainable on the net). He quoted what Blessed Paul VI said to them in 1970:

We know that you have a life style proper to your own ethnic genius or culture - a culture which the Church respects and which she does not in any way ask you to renounce... Society itself is enriched by the presence of different cultural and ethnic elements. For us you and the values you represent are precious. We deeply respect your dignity and reiterate our deep affection for you.

And John Paul went on to say, as you've also wanted to do with your Aztec background:

Take heart from the fact that many of your languages are still spoken and that you still possess your ancient culture. You have kept your sense of brotherhood. If you stay closely united, you are like a tree standing in the middle of a bush-fire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burned; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are still strong. Like that tree you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to be reborn. The time for this rebirth is now!

And just as you said, about keeping Jesus in your life, he went on:

Jesus calls you to accept his words and his values into your own culture. To develop in this way will make you more than ever truly Aboriginal. The old ways can draw new life and strength from the Gospel. The message of Jesus Christ can lift up your lives to new heights, reinforce all your positive values and add many others, which only the Gospel in its originality proposes. Take this Gospel into your own language and way of speaking; let its spirit penetrate your communities and determine your behaviour towards each other, let it bring new strength to your stories and your ceremonies. Let the Gospel come into your hearts and renew your personal lives.

So there's the two aspects you mentioned, respect for your traditions and penetrating them with the Gospel. But, even before the New Testament, the Old Testament already warned the people of Israel to have nothing to do with witchcraft (the clearest example is the story about King Solomon's meeting with the Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel, chapter 28. The trouble with any kind of witchcraft is that we're involving evil spirits who are much more powerful than we are, and once they get a hold on our lives, they can be terribly difficult to get rid of.

Even though the revelation of the Old Testament was God's plan to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of his Son, some among the Chosen People made bad choices and developed customs that Jesus had to reject. So some of the more obvious Aztec customs we know, like cutting out the hearts of enemies, had to give way to Christianity. Maybe St Juan Diego's beautiful encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe, who spoke to him in the Aztec Nahuatl language, is the best example of this drawing on both Aztec and Christian culture. When Juan Diego, worried his uncle was dying, had delayed a promised meeting with her, she came to meet him and tell him his uncle was cured, saying: 'Am I not here, I who am your mother?' I'd advise always turning to her, since you are one of her beloved Aztec children. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Our Lady of Czestochowa Feast Day readings

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:48am on August 2nd 2018
Dear Father

I know that there are special readings during Catholic Mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Czestochowa, August 26, 2018 but I can't seem to find them anywhere.



I would appreciate any guidance you can provide. I need to have them in English language.



Most Respectfully



Antoinette Trela

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Hi Antoinette, after a lot of looking around, I found those readings for the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, on a Polish-American website:

First Reading Song of Songs 1:5-7
I am as dark-but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem-As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Salma. Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, because the sun has burned me. My brothers have been angry with me; they charged me with the care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have not cared for.

Responsorial Psalm 45:10-12, 16
Response: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.
Response: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
Hear, Oh daughter and see; turn your ear, forge your people of your father's house.
Response: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord.
Response: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
They are borne in with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the king.

Second Reading Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6A; 10
God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a cross of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky, it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its head were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night."

Alleluia and Gospel Acclamation [not given, but you can easily make one with a phrase from the Magnificat]
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56: The Canticle of Mary-The Magnificat.

With very best wishes, and asking for your prayers to Our Lady of Czestochowa, very best, Fr Brendan
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Did I sin!?

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:58am on July 17th 2018
Hello.



Someone I know told me that I committed a sin because I was forced to convert to the LDS (Mormon) Church when I was nine years old. I converted with my parents, and because I was nine, had no idea of the magnitude of my decision. I was wondering - is this a sin?



Thank you!

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Hi Christopher, one of the priests I'm living with here at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, is from Korea. And in Korea one day when he was about 8, he heard from his elder sisters that they were all becoming Catholics, along with their parents who had just converted from Buddhism. He remembers being a bit annoyed about this as churchgoing on Sunday meant he missed out on his favourite TV cartoon programme on Sunday mornings! So obviously he wasn't responsible for decisions made on his behalf, and anyone would say that later he'd have to make his own personal commitment to the Catholic faith-which of course he did, and eventually became a priest.

I'm certain that the same held for you-at 9 years old, a child just has to go along with its parents, and you were being obedient to their decision for you. So in no way was that a sin for you. It seems from what you're saying that later you discovered, or rediscovered the Church, which is just great.

I've been on summer courses in the US where some Mormon students were in the classes I was giving. I found them wonderful young people, with deep pro-life views, and similar convictions on most moral issues. Obviously I know nothing about how you grew up, but it could be that you also had some positive experiences with Mormons, and as St Paul puts it, 'we know that in everything God works for good, with those who love him' (Rm 8:28). So you're bringing to the Church all of who you were, including whatever was good in your Mormon experience. Very best, Fr Brendan
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What does it mean when non-Catholic Christians receive prophetic dreams from the Holy Spirit?

A Xt3 Member asked at 7:36pm on July 11th 2018
Good evening, Father Brendan,

Recently, I came across a Christian street preacher's Youtube channel, Cleveland Street Preachers. It's run by a former Catholic turned atheist turned non-Catholic Christian named Joseph Ibrahim. Here's one of his recent Bible studies in case you want to see what he's about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfid88kyDZM

If you don't have the time to watch it, I understand. I just wanted to know what the Catholic Church says about non-Catholic Christians receiving prophecies from the Holy Spirit and being verified by others who share their non-Catholic beliefs (i.e., asking God in prayer). In all these visions he and others like him have, God doesn't necessarily point him to the Catholic Church, so what does that mean? Thank you for your time, and have a good night!

Sincerely,

Ryan

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Hi Ryan,

The Church generally limits its statements to matters of Catholic faith and morals, and of course in matters to do with relationships with the various Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox Churches, and with the great Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and so on. So there's no particular statement on visionary experiences of people outside the Catholic Church. But it's always been very clear that even visionary experiences of canonized Catholic saints, like St Bernadette of Lourdes, or the two younger children of Fatima, are private revelations. It doesn't doubt their truth but no Catholic is bound to accept them as true, since what the Church calls 'revelation' properly speaking ended with the New Testament. Personally, I think you'd be better off simply ignoring these events you mention, we've got so many real mysteries to try to appreciate-and even more importantly, to live-like the Eucharist, the Trinity, the Church and the other Sacraments. All of these would take a lifetime and more to even get a glimmering of understanding.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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sinner

A Xt3 Member asked at 1:07am on July 4th 2018
Dear father oh holy one, forgive for I have sinned. I can't believe that I am telling someone this but it's about time. I used to worship the devil, along with excessive alcohol consumption. I used to drink a lot of vodka and worship the devil. I thought that the devil was inside me and the only way to get rid of it was to drink. I soon realised that the devil could not be in me because I was christened when I was a baby. Please tell me that I am ok and not a bad person, I want to start attending church and possibly a support group for people that have had experiences with the devil? do you think that is a good idea?



please reply and I would appreciate if you prayed for me. Thank you very much and God bless.

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Hi Sarah, only a few weeks ago we were celebrating the two feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The reason we celebrate them is that Jesus is the hugest expression on Earth of the divine, unending Love God has for you in particular. And Mary's heart is the fullest expression of the love of the Mother of God for you, whom she loves with the same love she has for her divine Son.

All you need to do is to go to confession to a Catholic priest, he'll forgive anything in your past that was wrong-and just reading your message makes me feel that maybe you had a tough time that may have lead up to the drinking and devil-worship. After that, start attending Mass on Sundays (and any other day), so you can receive Jesus in the Eucharist-He's been waiting and waiting for this for a long time.

If it turns out you first need some formation in what it is to be a Catholic, you can find out if your local Church has any courses so you can catch up on anything you don't know about the Church. But before anything, start to say a few prayers every morning and evening, like the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, prayer to your Guardian Angel-if you don't know them, you'll easily find them on the net if you look for something like 'Catholic Prayers.'

I doubt if there's a support group for people who've had experiences with the devil, but if you could find a religious sister or someone trained in Catholic spiritual direction, I'm sure they could help you with this.

Assuring you of my prayers every day, very best, Fr Brendan
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prayer intention (and advice?)

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:13am on July 3rd 2018
Dear Fr.,

I met with an old friend of mine who seems to be going through some kind of crisis. We met for the first time in two years the other day, and she was open enough to tell me that she has started looking at Satanist literature. I'm sure that it's all very entertaining, and rather clever, especially when it declares the unacknowledged creed of the day. I recollect her saying "There's not even any mention of Satan!" There's truth in all heresy right? The adversary doesn't need to be named to get a foot in the door.

Anyway, I was hoping that you could offer me advice for how to handle the situation, especially as it seems to be in its intellectual infancy, not full blown Black Mass.

Do I look into the intellectual claims and creeds of Satanism? Does it put me at unnecessary risk? Are there any books from a Catholic perspective that address this sort of thing? Many of the online testimonies are not intellectually satisfying, nor do the witnesses appear commonly trusted by the Catholic blogosphere.

Because both of us have been over-educated and under-catechized in our youth, the desire for wit and intellectual stimulation is rather important for reaching the soul. I myself have spent a couple years in illness and theological study which has led me to recurrent intellectual and spiritual conversion, but the same years for my friend led her down what seems to be the opposite path.
Please advise if you can, and I beg for your intercession.

Yours in Christ,
B

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Hi B, first off, I'd suggest dropping any reading of Satanist literature, explicit or implicit. And I'd suggest the same for Satanism's "intellectual claims or creeds," simply because, as Pope Francis has several times warned, including in an interview last December as reported on Crux:

"He is evil, he's not like mist. He's not a diffuse thing, he is a person. I'm convinced that one must never converse with Satan - if you do that, you'll be lost," he told TV2000, a Catholic channel, gesticulating with his hands to emphasize his point. "He's more intelligent than us, and he'll turn you upside down, he'll make your head spin. He always pretends to be polite - he does it with priests, with bishops. That's how he enters your mind. But it ends badly if you don't realise what is happening in time. We should tell him go away!" he said.

Another time Pope Francis has said:

The secret of Christian living is love. Only love fills the empty spaces caused by evil. A good example brings about so much good, but hypocrisy brings about much evil. We cannot give up in the face of evil. God is Love and he has defeated evil through Christ's death and resurrection. The fight against evil is long and difficult. It is essential to pray constantly and to be patient. The crucifix does not signify defeat or failure. It reveals to us the Love that overcomes evil and sin.

If you're looking for intellectual stimulation, instead of what I think would be wasted time reading up on Satan, why not dive into Pope Benedict XVI's excellent three volumes on Jesus of Nazareth or dip into the catalogue of a publisher like Ignatius Press, where you'll find lots to keep your mind exercised as well as to make up for being under-catechized-which unfortunately many of us in the Church suffer from these days. I'd also suggest some of the great encyclicals for example St John Paul II on Splendor Veritatis and Faith and Reason, and Benedict XVI (on charity and on hope), all available online, or Francis on Laudato Sii.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Killing the “infidel”

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:36pm on January 30th 2018
Someone at work made a point about accusations of muslims killing infidels, then he mentioned that in the bible God says the same thing. I also read that during american colonizations, priests were told to kill whomever refused to convert to christianism!



Made me feel like crap. Read the article.



[url=http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/01/22/yes-the-bible-does-say-to-kill-infidels/]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/01/22/yes-the-bible-does-say-to-kill-infidels/



Regards



Dan

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Hi Dan, the passages referred to in that Patheos piece are from the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, where devout Israelites are told to stone to death those among them who have turned to worshipping false gods. Putting people to death for religious differences isn't limited to Deuteronomy: A very distant relative of mine, Blessed Dermot Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, was tortured and executed in 1584 for refusing to convert to the Church of Ireland, with the last martyrdom of a Catholic in Ireland being that of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, hanged, drawn and quartered in 1681. Under Queen Mary, Thomas Cranmer, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, was executed in 1556 for refusing to accept Catholic teaching.

Let's get back to Deuteronomy, whose final version may be in the 7th century BC. It's got plenty of wonderful stuff, like the basic shema Israel, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one...' (6:4 - 5) quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28 - 34 as part of the great commandment. Or the laws stating that hired workers are to be paid fairly (24:14 - 15), that justice is to be shown towards strangers, widows, and orphans. (24:17 - 18) and that portions of crops are to be given to the poor (24:19 - 22). But if you want to see the difference between the Old and the New Testament attitude towards stoning, take a look at how Jesus completely goes against the Deuteronomic law when he refuses to agree to stoning to death a woman caught committing adultery (Jn 8:1 - 11). Again and again, the first Christian theologian, St Paul, points out how the Old Law has been superseded by the Gospel. So Christians putting one another to death because of their different beliefs is a scandal and anti-Christian: there's no way lethal intolerance can find any justification in the New Testament.

I've never heard of priests in America being told to put to death whoever refused to convert, so I can only ask you to check your source to see if it's reliable - the so-called Black Legend against the Spanish Empire in Latin America has long been exposed as anti-Catholic false history. Of course the various European countries who colonized the Americas have variously terrible records of mistreatment and killing of the local peoples, but, like much of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation executions of those dissenting from the ruling faith, most of it was due to political and economic rather than religious considerations. The challenge for us all is to put Jesus' teaching into practice: to be ready to lay down our lives for one another as he did for us, and to love our enemies.

At a conference held in Rome, 'Tackling Violence Committed in the Name of Religion,' Pope Frances said on February 2, 2018 that 'Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself. Such violence must be condemned by all, especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance... We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions.' Political and religious leaders, teachers and communicators must 'warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name.' Very best, Fr Brendan
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Will I go to Hell for practicing Witchcraft?

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:06pm on October 28th 2017
When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with wolves and dogs. I tried a spell to turn myself into one, and now, I'm regretting it. They didn't work, because I think I stopped in the middle of it. But I'm still worried God won't forgive me. I'm trying to get to confession today, but I'm scared my mortal sin won't be forgiven.

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Hi Emily, to commit a mortal sin we must have full knowledge and full consent, and what we're doing must be seriously wrong. Since what you write about happened when you were in elementary school, I very much doubt if you were fully aware (or aware at all) that what you were doing could be seriously sinful, and knowing that, continued to do it. Anyway, there's no sin so serious that it can't be forgiven.

I think by the time you read this, you'll already have told a priest in confession what you did and I'm sure he'll have shown God's infinite mercy even for what I believe at the very most was a minor venial sin. You're now much more aware of how harmful to our souls any dabbling in spirits can be, and I'm sure you'll never do that again. Assuring you of my prayers for all the good things you're hoping to do in your life. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Becoming a catholic

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:03am on October 23rd 2017
I'm 15 and my parents don't have a religion, so I grew up not believing in any gods. I was sent to a Catholic school when I was 9 and I still go to one. Through those years of religious education, I have come to start believing in God and the Catholic Church. I want to become a Catholic, but I'm not sure my parents will understand. What can I do?

I am planning on getting baptized once I become independent, but what if I die before I get to do it?

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Hi Marie, it's wonderful that you've discovered God, who is Love, and the Catholic Church.

One possibility would be to have a chat with your parents and ask them if they'd mind if you were baptised as a Catholic. After all, they did allow you to attend a Catholic school, and sometimes people who have no religion can at least have respect for it. If they would prefer you didn't, maybe it would be better to wait for a few years, as you say.

But even before you're baptised, you could get hold of one of those little booklets of Catholic prayers you can find at the back of some Catholic churches, or in a Catholic bookshop - or you can even find them online. And it might be possible for you to attend Mass sometime in a Catholic church. You won't be able to receive Holy Communion yet, but if you cross your hands on each shoulder, the priest will understand and give you a blessing at Communion time. Even desiring to receive Jesus in Holy Communion will bring him into your heart: remember he said 'Look, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me' (Revelation or Apocalypse, chapter 3, verse 20).

He also gave us the basic rule that holds for all his followers: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you did to me' (see the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, from verse 31 on). So there are many ways you can begin to live as a Catholic even before you are baptized - by prayer (including, if possible, attending Mass), and by loving Jesus in each person you meet. Every time you do that, you're already building a beautiful relationship with Jesus, and even when you fail, the great thing about being a Christian is not being perfect, but being ready to start again. Then, once it's possible for you to seek baptism, you'll be so well prepared to become fully adopted into God's family.

I promise to keep you in my prayers, and I'm sure God will reward you for your courage and your patience - and also for your love for your parents, who gave you life and indirectly, by sending you to that school, for helping you to find the true faith. They also gave you the name of Marie, so Mary the Mother of Jesus, will be watching over you with all the love she has for her own Son. Very best, Fr Brendan
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