Year of Youth 2018

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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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contacting pope francis

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:03am on August 28th 2018
dear fr.

i would just like to ask how can i possibly contact pope francis via email?

that's all thank you so much

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Hi Princess R, since you can imagine hundreds of letters to the Pope arrive every day, if you want him or his assistants to read your letter, it's recommended that you keep your letter short. And of course show the Pope the respect of his office by writing to him as ‘Your Holiness.' Also, if you'd like a reply, include your address and phone number. Here's the address for writing to him:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Vatican City is a country on its own, so that's enough, and the postage will be the same as postage to Europe. Very best, Fr Brendan
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When to report crimes?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:51pm on September 25th 2018
Hi Father, I wanted to know when do we have to report crimes that we see or hear other people doing? Like for instance, I know some people who have fake IDs and who pirate movies/music online. Am I obliged to report them by moral law as legally, we're not obliged nor is it my job. What about people I know who drive buzzed on beer but are still concious of how they drive and all? This has been really bothering me because I know many people who do illegal things and I find it overwhelming that I have to report it if I am obliged.

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Hi Karen, in many parts of the English speaking world there's difference between a crime and a civil offence. A crime is considered as committed against the whole state and these are prosecuted by the state; civic cases are considered to be offenses against an individual and these are dealt with by civil law lawsuits. Since crimes are much more seriously considered, concealing crime d result in a person being accused as accessory before, during or after the fact - if they had knowledge of the crime about to be committed, or while was committed, or after it had been committed.

But all of your examples have more to do with civil offences. I'd be more inclined if they were friends of yours to point out the dangers they were running - like driving while drunk. You're definitely not obliged to intervene in these cases, since often those offending are unlikely to listen to your advice. A lot of law is a matter of common sense and for me you're not obliged to report most of the cases you mention. What if there's knowledge of real crime, like drug dealing? A lot depends here on just how good the local police are. If you've a fair suspicion they'll inform on to the drug dealers, I'd say were putting yourself at unjustifiable risk and should keep quiet about what's going on. I'm really sorry I don't know what country your writing from and I could be more specific if I knew. Keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Missing mass

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:05pm on September 25th 2018
Hello, my mother wants me to miss mass to visit/care for my grandmother, who is mourning the loss of my uncle, (her son) is it still a mortal sin to miss mass?

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Hi Emma, this isn't an easy question to answer, since they are few details here. So please accept I don't have enough of these details. I'm presuming we're talking about the obligation to attend Sunday (or Saturday evening Mass).

Since in most countries, Sunday Mass doesn't take more than an hour, it doesn't seem asking too much to take that hour and dedicate it to God. When you visit your grandmother you are bearing within you the presence of Jesus - you might even consider becoming an extraordinary Eucharistic Minister so you could bring your grandmother Jesus. You'll find the answer to your question on missing Mass in the Catechism of the Catholic Church S2042.

Normally someone is excused from attending Mass if they're seriously ill, have just become a mother and what I find hard to understand is that not being with your grandmother for just one hour a week (are there no others who could help out here?), or, and forgive me for this, is there some kind of personal difficulty between you and your mother that could be resolved in an a friendly discussion? With very best wishes and prayers, especially for your grandmother's tragic situation. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Sin Question

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:40pm on September 15th 2018
Father, I'm really having trouble with a situation I just faced in church. It involves my conscience and spiritual warfare. Our priest had just given a powerful homily on making the right decision, life or death, fire or water after a reading prophesying Christ's coming. The priest mentioned facing mocking and opposition when carrying your cross, even from those in your church, mentioning Jesus turning himself from Peter saying Get behind me Satan. The sermon cut to my core and I understood it.

The situation was after however, when the ushers were walking by they passed a lady next to me and she said "Oh Jesus, they always do that." So I had strong feelings about whether or not to say something in my spirit, to make the right decision. At the same time, I felt like I was being rushed and messed with to say something as a Catholic. It's a sin to not correct or rebuke a fellow Christian correct? Saying the Lord's name in vain is one of the 10 commandments so isn't my job to rebuke her? I thought about whether or not she meant it like that and if it was ok. I do not want to be a coward and I would have gently said something but I felt like I was being messed with spiritually. However, I'm not trying to be scrupulous and do right. I'm not supposed to consent with that behavior, right?

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Hi Zachary, what's called 'fraternal correction' is when Christians help one another by noting a defect in their Christian lives. It's often used in spiritual communities where it's seen as an expression of Christian love. And it only works when it's experienced as occurring between people who love one another. In your example, I'd certainly let it go - maybe mention to the usher another time to pay that lady more attention.

The Venerable Pierre Toussaint was given the cold shoulder by an usher in Old St Patrick's Cathedral, NY, and when the Archbishop heard of this he hit the roof as Pierre Toussaint was from Haiti, and while as African American had to walk everywhere, was the most generous contributor to the church. So ushers can make mistakes too!

So, rather than correcting that parishioner, maybe if you get chance you can strike up a friendship with her. Soon to be Pope St Paul VI used to say it's not much of a parish if everyone's down in the register, pay their dues, etc., but aren't living 'where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name' - that is, ready to die for one another - without that, there isn't the true Church. Then Jesus promised us, 'I am there among you.' Very best, and wishing you that beautiful presence of Jesus among you all in your church. Fr Brendan
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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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Is it immoral to purchase products that test on animals?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:49pm on September 9th 2018
Especially if they are not necessarily for our care and saving of human lives like cosmetics and shampoo, even household cleaning supplies? I have read that even a chocolcate company is doing tests on animals. Must we avoid them or can we buy from them since our cooperation is remote? Or must we buy alternatives and boycott those companies. Although I read in some of the comapny's websites that they are trying to reduce it and find alternatives and that they do it when required by law and when it's necessary.

I can't find an answer anywhere whether or not this is a sin. it has been bothering me a lot and would like an answer. thanks.

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Hi Karen, here's one of the most recent Church statements on animal testing, where in paragraph 130 of his encyclical letter on ecology, Laudato Sii, Pope Francis wrote:

While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only "if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives".[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly".[107] All such use and experimentation "requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation". [108]

Most of us haven't a clue as to whether products we're buying have been developed by means of animal testing, but because people have been questioning animal testing for beauty products, there have been a range of these goods which explicitly say that animal testing wasn't involved in producing them. So if you have a choice, it'd be better to use those products.

I don't think we can speak of sin whether or not you use these products, since as you say, a person's cooperation in the wrong of unnecessary animal experimentation is pretty remote, but the more people protest about this abuse and boycott those products, the quicker will producers find more ethical means of production.

Very best, 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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NFP while breastfeeding

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:41am on August 31st 2018
First of all, sorry for my English. I'll try to do my best to make myself clear.

The thing is: we understand women's cycles and how to abstain during the fertile windows. But what about the breastfeeding time? It is very common not to have an ovulation and being infertile while breatsfeeding. But when ovulation comes for the first time after birth it's tricky to know the exact time you have to abstain. And it takes some months to be regular again. Should we ban sex of our lives until the regular cycles are back??? It's also dangerous getting pregnant very soon after birth (we already had a miscarrige, because I got pregnant on the first ovulation 6 months after giving birth and my body was not prepared). Now, after my third pregnancy (second child alive) we would like to wait some time to get pregnant again. NFP cant be applied in this case and we dont know what to do.

My second question is: Is the withdrawal from coitus accepted by the church? Which is the moral difference between the withdrawal and condoms?


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Hi Mag, your English is great! I'm really sorry as I'm not an expert on the details of NFP and would hate to be giving you wrong advice in this difficult matter. I think the best thing for you to do is to have a face to face meeting with a female NFP expert - I'm sure many women have had similar difficulties and she should be able to talk you through whatever is recommended in a situation like yours. She may be able to tell you about a method in tune with the Church's teaching that can help to regularize your cycles including during breastfeeding. My mother, who breastfed us all, had several miscarriages too and hope you can find a good solution.

Before going into detail on your second question, just a few Sundays ago you'll remember we had the reading from St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. There, having said to husbands and wives, 'be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,' he goes on to remind us that both belong to the Body of Christ, both are Jesus, and, comparing it to the self-sacrificing love of Christ for the Church, and calls the vowed relationship of marriage 'a great mystery' (Eph 5: 21&32).

It's in this Trinitarian context that St John Paul explained (in his Theology of the Body, S123 & 124) how the act of marriage expresses both the love of the spouses for each other in an act that's never separated from its potential fruitfulness. If this separation happens by withdrawal or the use of a condom (morally there's no difference between them), by their misuse of 'the language of the body' the spouses would effectively be lying to their own true nature and to each other. I'm certain that in your difficult situation Jesus will give you both his grace and support, including in carrying the cross that all true love forces us to carry from time to time. That support will come through his presence among you in the sacrament of marriage and especially in the Eucharist, the celebration of the great mystery of the love of Jesus for us through his death and resurrection. Very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 8:58am on August 28th 2018
All human beings will die at some point. Is it a sin if I ask God to let me die sooner rather than later?

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Hi Laura, I think the best answer to your question can be found in Jesus' own attitude to his death - as man, he feared death, and yet as the Son of the Father, completely open to his Father's will, he prayed, 'Father...let not my will but yours be done' (Lk 22:42). If you make Jesus' prayer your own, you're opening your life to God's will, and then you can be sure you're on the right way. I've quoted before what Blessed Chiara Badano's version of this prayer. Undergoing great suffering, at 18, from the bone cancer she knew would kill her very soon, she used to pray: 'If you want it, [Jesus], I want it too.' Let me assure you of my own prayer for you too, in any difficulties and pain you may be going through, very best, Fr Brendan
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