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Shorinji Kempo

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:15pm on May 9th 2018
I have recently taken up a martial art called Shorinji Kempo in order to keep fit. It seems to be a good class and I've enjoyed it thus far.

Last week they gave me a piece of paper that contains their philosophy called "The Dokun". This gets repeated at most training sessions and before all grading, to move up the belts.

The points on it are all generally good, however in one point it says: "we are grateful that we are endowed with our souls from Dharma and our bodies form our parents".

I just wondered how problematic this would be for a Catholic to be saying.

Many thanks

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Hi Stuart, from what I could find out, Dōshin Sō, the founder of Shorinji Kempo, came from a Buddhist (and later Taoist) background, and Dharma is the Sanskrit word meaning more or less the overall order of everything in the world. So you're quite right in thinking that statement wouldn't be acceptable to a Catholic, since it almost certainly implies a kind of cosmic divinity rather than the Jewish and Christian understanding of a personal God, and the Christian understanding of God as Three Persons in One. But from what you say, the martial art in itself seems to be good exercise and you're not doing it in search of some kind of spiritual enlightenment. I'd say as long as you refrain from statements like the one you mention, I can't see any harm in it. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Unforgiveable Sin

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:20pm on May 8th 2018
Hi Father Brendan.

My question is about the "unforgivable" or "eternal sin" of blasphemy against the holy spirit.

I've come into my faith in a very healthy, strong and loving way over the past decade. This week I started saying the rosary daily. I attend Adoration when I can. I feel extremely close to Christ, St. Jude Thaddeus, Archangel Michael, and The Blessed Mother.

My journey to my faith has been pretty diverse.

I recently gave up a strong desire to Direct and Produce Horror Films. It wasn't feeling appropriate anymore as there is less and less "horror" in my life - as I become closer to God.

I am also a Psychotherapist who has dedicated his life to helping others overcome mental illness and struggle.

However, I did direct an independent film at one point which focused on possession, etc .. I luckily scrapped that film and it never was publicly seen - as it didn't even feel right to me after I made it. This was in 2007, in my early twenties. Thereafter, I came wholeheartedly to God - more or less .. traveling that path brought me into God's hands.

I am also Gay .. I don't believe I am an abomination to God, in any way. I feel I was undoubtedly born this way - and have love in my heart to give to a spouse.

But at that time in my life ..

I felt very rejected and disconnected from God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit - as a result of my feelings about the church. I also dabbled in the New Age Movement for a period, although always sort of directing those actvities in the direction of God and Angels (Doreen Virtue, Angel Mediumship, Astrology, Etc ..)

I am much healither now than ever before, being exclusively in a spiritual relationship with my roman catholic spirituality.

But is directing a blasphemous film in the past, which went against all things I now value, including the holy spirit .. considered to be "unforigvable"?

I've read extensively that the unforgivable sin is "continuing to reject the holy spirit. having a hardening of the heart. and not accepting the holy spirit into your life".

I just want to ensure that .. wanting to be forgiven for my past .. and the desire to please God .. IS forigveness for something described as "unforgivable".

Or is it .. you act blasphemous toward the holy spirit once .. and you're more or less "done for".

You've helped me so much via reading other people's post. This is my first one.

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Hi Anthony, allow me to recycle an answer I gave a few years ago re the sin against the Holy Spirit:

The Gospels mention this sin, for example Mark 3, 28-30: 'whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they [the Scribes] were saying, 'He has an evil spirit...'" God can only forgive a sin when the sinner repents - our cooperation is essential. The sin that can't be forgiven can only be because the sinner persists in refusing God's grace, as some of the Scribes were doing by saying Jesus was healing with the power of the devil.

So the only sinner whose sin can't be forgiven is the one who doesn't want to be forgiven. It's not clear to me that making a horror film, including one about possession, would have been in itself sinful, but even if it was blasphemous (where you would have had to intend that blasphemy with full knowledge and consent to it as blasphemy), it's clear from what you write that you've fully repented of it. All that would remain to be done, if you haven't already done this, would be to mention it in Confession so you could receive sacramental absolution for it.

Being gay certainly doesn't make you an abomination to God! God loves each human being immensely, no matter who they are, no matter what they do. What the Church has always asked is that those strongly inclined to same-sex attraction live chastely just as men and women who are not gay and not married, including those who are engaged to get married, are also asked to live chastely. And of course all those who have consecrated their lives to God in priesthood or religious life are bound to live chastely too. So quite a lot of your fellow human beings have to struggle and embrace the cross to conquer their own freedom in this area, and to repent of and confess any falls they've had, always receiving in the sacrament of reconciliation the grace from God to start again.

I'd strongly suggest reading the various books by Fr John Harvey, like The Homosexual Person, Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions, and The Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful. Keeping you and your work very much in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Is it possible to be condemned since birth?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:39am on May 8th 2018
First of all I'd like to point out, I am not a Christian or Catholic. I have family all over that share different religious and non-religious demographics. Protestant, Catholic, Pagan, Judaism and so on. Add Islamic, Buddhist and Hinduism in there which are the only things I don't have (That I know of.) in my family and you'd literally the entire world's religons covered in my family, both good and bad. With that said, my main is Paganism specifically Wicca and specifically derives from the Greco-Roman Gods and Goddesses. Specifically Diana Goddess of the hunt. I only put this up there to explain my religious background and my reasons. I picked that specific one to be my main mostly in honor of my Mother and mostly because I seen enough things to know that there is at least more than what science alone can explain. Unlike most people who are often staunch in their beliefs and often would drive others out, I do my best to get along with others despite their religions differing from my own and would only drive any who use their beliefs and non-beliefs as an excuse to hurt rather than an inspiration to help. So long story short, I respect all religions, but I have no respect for extremists on all sides.

But enough of my rambling, on with the subject at hand. Throughout my entire life I have often tried to do right no matter what life throws at me. I try to do my best in school, try to make friends, get a good job and pursue my dream career and so on. But what really irks me is that no matter how little I get ahead it's always outweighed by a lot of bad things thrown in my direction. I get in fights, both physically and verbally, I get caught in the middle of confrontations that leave me either hurt or having to move from one location to another. I get pushed aside because someone in my family would do something that if you excuse my language F***s their life over which in turn draws everyone's attention to that. One of the few achievements I have ever succeeded in my life was graduating Highschool and when I try to improve my life for the better, something always stands in my way especially if it's a circumstance beyond my control. Have I done bad in my life? Sure, but who hasn't? However this has been happening to me long before I even have a chance to do any major damage. Be it to myself or others. Yet despite all that, I keep getting this nagging feeling that no matter what I deserve it simply for existing in the first place. So I'd like to ask. Is it possible that I've been condemened since birth? That I have literally been destined to endure so much misery, until I die?

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Hi Shane, it's great you've got that openness to all religions - every few years there's a big meeting of leaders of most of the world's religions in Assisi, the town of St Francis. First invited by Pope John Paul II, then by Pope Benedict XVI, and more recently by Pope Francis, not only leaders of the main Christian Churches, but Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, and many other religions attend - my favourite has always been the American Indian Chief, who attends arrayed in the most magnificent gear of all, his eagle-feather headdress! While each of these representatives have their own beliefs and don't mix them with the others, the point of their attending is to witness to what you mentioned, that there is a lot more to human existence than what the natural sciences can explain.

And congratulations too on getting your High School Diploma - I remember my own Leaving Certificate exam as we called it in Ireland, as still, despite other degrees I later got at different colleges, the toughest exam I ever had in my life. So yours is a great achievement.

But despite the negative things you mention, there's no question of your being condemned from birth. From a Christian viewpoint, God loves each of us deeply and personally.For Christians, we see what God permitted his own Son to go through when he came on earth - basically Jesus Christ died an agonizing death, abandoned by most of his friends. Still, we also believe, as God and Man, that he rose from the dead again, and while God may allow us to go through the kinds of frustrations and difficulties you mention, we're convinced that we can, by seeing them as sharing in the sufferings Jesus himself underwent, somehow transform the negative into something positive in our lives.

A few years ago I suggested a way we can all try to live our lives - by breaking them down into each moment and living each moment with as much love as we can manage - as one very holy man, St John of the Cross, put it, 'where there isn't love, put love, and you'll find love. Here's what I wrote about this:

Years ago at a kind of weekend retreat, I'd asked Pete, a young man I'd invited to come along, to play at a little concert we'd be having on our last evening there. He was a magnificent guitar player and singer, had written lots of beautiful songs. But I didn't realize he had been going through something like musician's block - he just couldn't play in public. Rather than disappoint me, he was going to leave that afternoon. He met Dee, an English girl who was at our meeting, and must have told her why he was leaving. Dee said to him: Just imagine you're in a factory, where your job is to light candles as they pass you on a conveyer belt. If you look at all the ones you've lighted, and think, 'I did a good job there.' Or you might look at the row of candles still coming and you're scared and think, 'I wonder will I be able to light them in time.' Either way, looking to the past (the candles already lighted) or the future (the candles that haven't come yet), you'll miss the candle in front of you.

Pete understood what Dee was saying - that he shouldn't be worrying about how he might feel that evening, or how he'd felt before, but just live each moment as it came, with as much love as he could manage. He played wonderfully that night and later went on to make two commercial recordings of his songs.

I hope that's a help, very best, Fr Brendan
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Is Grinding a sin?

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:52pm on April 15th 2018
Is the form of dancing,grinding a sin? I just don't get a lot of direct answers for dating and relationships, circumstances vary but acts are either a sin or they aren't. So is it?

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Hi Zachary, it's probably better to approach the question of grinding in dancing by reminding ourselves of Jesus; comment on sexual sins where he;s said that anyone looking at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart (see Mt 5: 27-28). And St John Paul II, commenting on this explains that the 'heart' of a person is themselves as God sees and loves them, that is, God loves us completely for our own sake, not for anything he can get out of us.

So that's the standard Jesus sets out for us: not even to look at a person of the opposite sex for our own pleasure, since then we;re using them, not loving them for their own sake. If the kind of dancing you;re speaking about involves some kind of sexual stimulation, then it seems it;d be very difficult for either dancer to avoid falling into what Jesus calls adultery of the heart. He's not asking us to repress our love for the opposite sex, but to upgrade it to the kind of love that lasts forever, the most romantic love there is, where each person loves the other just for themselves. Very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:00pm on May 7th 2018
I recently disclosed to my brother that a mutual Catholic friend of ours carrys a new age crystal with him, and that it makes me very uncomfortable along with some other aspects of his behavior and speech that mostly have to do with purity. When I asked my friend about the crystal, he said it's for energy which seems like a sin against the first commandment. I disclosed it because it seems a little dangerous to me, but my question is: Did I sin by disclosing it to my brother even though he already knew from a previous conversation, and do you think I should refrain from communion? I failed to correct the friend myself properly, but I already confessed that.

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Hi Joseph, you certainly didn't sin in telling your brother about your mutual friend's carrying that new age crystal with him, so there's absolutely no need to refrain from communion. As you know, I'm sure, many baptized Catholics are unaware of their duties as Catholics. But that doesn't mean our first duty is to correct them or put them right - it's always good to remind ourselves that our first duty is to love them. It's far more likely if a friend is aware that we love them without conditions, that they might respond to our advice. So once you're sure he won't take your comments in a negative way, sometime in the future, you could explain why Catholics shouldn't be involved in any kind of superstitious practices.

I'd be a lot more inclined to take steps regarding his behaviour and speech in the area of purity - at least to gently let him know certain types of conversation aren't tolerated when you're around. And if that's something he's not prepared to do, you might have to ask yourself whether you can be at least a close friend of someone persisting with that kind of talk, since it's hard for us not to be dragged down to the same level. No matter what, keep him in your prayers, and there's a good chance your good example will help him to improve in that area. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Divorce, remarriage and communion

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:13am on May 5th 2018
A friend who is Catholic has been divorced and remarried. The first marriage was not annulled or dissolved other than by divorce. There are children of the first marriage. The second marriage was in a registry office, not a church. Her understanding of Catholic teaching is that if she is remarried following divorce she cannot take communion unless she refrains from a sexual relationship with her new husband. Is this true? Since she actually DOES take communion is she putting a priest at risk? Or is her second marriage simply not recognised so she can just carry on?

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Hi Karen, your friend's understanding of Catholic teaching is quite right - since her first marriage wasn't annulled (of course I don't know if an annulment might be possible, it's something she might look into), from the viewpoint of the Church she's not married to the man she's now civilly married to. So she shouldn't receive Communion unless they are, as the Church puts it, living as brother and sister.

Still, there are many ways other than in the Eucharist where she can meet Jesus, including by attendance at Mass - where she can make a spiritual communion, in each neighbour she meets, in her children, in her present partner, in the various sufferings that come her way, in the Word of scripture, in her prayer, and so on. Keeping her in my prayers, in what's a very difficult situation, very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 5:29am on April 22nd 2018
I am Christian and i use witchcraft. However, i only use rain spells and nature spells. Does that affect my religion? Im only using witchcraft for nature and not about Satan. I'm afraid that if it is bad, then confession wont help me since its a moral sin.

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Hi Wafaa, any kind of dabbling with spiritual powers has always been considered very dangerous - a lot more so than messing about with high-voltage electricity! So I would strongly advise you to immediately give up any spells or invocations, and turn to prayer instead - to God, to Mary and to the Saints, all of who will be only too glad to listen to your prayers and, if appropriate, answer them. Remember that under every Christian prayer is Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Olives,'not my will, but yours be done' - that is, we give God the credit of knowing what's really best for us, which mightn't be what we think is at the time!

Regarding confession, of course confession can help you - I'd advise you when next you go to confession to tell the priest what you've said in your question and of course with the power of absolution he has from God, he'll forgive you whatever was sinful in what you were doing. Since it seems to me you didn't realize what you were doing was in fact sinful, then your guilt is very slight, or there's none at all, but at least you'll be sorting out things with God and He'll give you the grace to carry on your life with a new sense of complete dependence on Him and on His will. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Praying the Little Office

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:58pm on April 21st 2018
I am enrolled in the Brown Scapular and was wondering if you could tell me when to pray the different prayers of the Little Office.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi Joseph, as often on this website, I get questions I don't know how to answer - could you ever ask whoever enrolled you what the Little Office requires of you? I've looked it up on Wikipedia, where it says that some Carmelites have reprinted the traditional Little Office, and I'm presuming these are a set of prayers with some psalms you'd be asked to pray every day.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has also recommended those in various Third or Lay Orders to pray some of the Divine Office each day. There are plenty editions of what's sometimes called A Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer, taken from the Divine Office - the edition I have includes Compline or Night Prayer as well. It would take at most 20 minutes to say these prayers each day, and although as a priest I say the whole Divine Office every day, I often bring the Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer with me so I can say those parts when I'm travelling by bus, train or ferry around Sydney. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Burial of Ashes

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 11:15am on April 23rd 2018
I have a sister who was married to a non catholic. After her death he did allow a Catholic funeral mass to be done. However, he has yet to allow the burial to take place. She has been deceased over a year. Out of respect I have not been forceful in requesting burial for her. Not that i would be forceful but encouraging. I would like to quote and use the support of our Catholic Doctrine. My sister was a practicing Catholic, even though at times it was lukewarm, her Faith still remained with our Catholic teaching.

As I looked in the Catechism sm of the Catholic Church it doesn't really give me the “meat” shall we say that gives the argument of burial. Also she has a son that wants to spread her ashes on ground that is not consecrated or even approved to be a site for a shrine.

What I need, I believe is the doctrinal support to convince her husband and son to be comfortable that since she was a practicing Catholic she would wish to be buried and especially not spread around.

Thank you and Gods Peace to you,

Marie Ochsner

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Hi Marie, I hope you don't mind if I give two answers to your question! Firstly, your sister's husband is her closest relative, and if he's been slow to allow the burial (I presume of her cremated remains) it could be because he finds it hard to let her go. He may not have a strong belief in life after death, so that 'losing' her to a Christian burial is really difficult. And her other closest relative is her son, who wants to scatter her ashes. Again, he may not have a Christian understanding of how important burial in hallowed ground is, and this scattering presumably has a meaning for him - I'm guessing in a place that meant a lot to your sister or to him. So my advice would be to remember that your sister's spirit is either in Heaven or purgatory - that is to say, completely in God's hands, and that she is at peace. Only at the end of time will her spirit be re-united with her body, risen in Christ's own Risen Body. In the end of the day, I would think it was better to keep a good relationship with your sister's husband and son, rather than allowing their unwillingness to have her given Christian burial. As St Peter puts it in one of his letters, 'before everything, mutual love, for love covers a multitude of sins' (1 Pt 4:8).

The second answer, only to be drawn on, I'd feel, if it can be done without breaking that mutual love we have to have for everyone, would be that a Christian burial shows our reverence for the body of someone who belongs to Christ. And their burial is a participation in the burial of Jesus' own body after his death on the cross. That being buried with and in Christ (including the burial ritual that accompanies it) is an anticipation of the resurrection of your sister's body at the end of time. The trouble is, that this kind of explanation only works for seriously believing Christians, which is why it just mightn't be appropriate for your sister's husband and son.

However, your sister is aware of your deep love for her and is praying for you just as much as you are praying for her - she hasn't 'disappeared' but is even more present to you now than when she was on earth. And I'm sure she wants, above all, for you to be a kind of mediator of the love of God to her husband and son, for which I'll be praying too. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Teaching catechism for first communion at a catholic school

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 8:03pm on April 19th 2018
Hi Father,
I recently applied for a job as a 2nd grade teacher at a catholic school. I would need to teach catechism classes for first communion to them. I have been baptized catholic and received my first communion but I never got confirmed. Can I teach catechism for first communion if I am not confirmed?
Thank you for your help with this question!

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Hi Nicole, congratulations on your new job - or if you don't have it yet, I hope you get it soon! Of course you can teach those catechism classes if you're not confirmed, but now that you're aware of it, why don't you ask someone to prepare you to be confirmed yourself? You'll get the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit - wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear (=reverence) of the Lord - gifts we all need lots of! Very best, Fr Brendan
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