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Pagan Blood in Christ's Lineage

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:51am on September 11th 2017
I'm just curious about what the pope said that Christ had pagan blood running through his veins. (This is the proper translation. I've run it a few times and double checked it with Catholic sites that posted his full Homily in english)

What does he mean that Christ has Pagan blood running through his veins? The only thing I can find in his lineage would be Ruth who was born a Moabite but became a convert to Judaism. Is that what he means by Pagan blood in Christ's veins?

Cause It just doesn't sound right.

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Hi Dee, Pope Benedict in his wonderful little book, The Infancy Narratives, notes that in the genealogy in St Matthew's Gospel, before Mary is mentioned at the end, 'four women are mentioned by name: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah... none of these women were Jewish [though as you say, Ruth converted to Judaism]. So through them the world of the Gentiles enters the genealogy of Jesus - his mission to Jews and Gentiles is made manifest' (pp. 6 - 7).

But Abraham wasn't Jewish either, since we can say that it's only with him that the Chosen People came into existence. As we see often in the life of Jesus, the pagans, like the Sidonian woman, like the centurions, are often way ahead of their Jewish brothers and sisters in their openness to Jesus -- so that what counted with Jesus, and then, after some hiccups, with St Peter and obviously St Paul, isn't blood but faith. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is Allowing Divorce a Redefinition of Marriage?

A Xt3 Member asked at 2:12pm on September 9th 2017
Hello Father,

I have been watching Catholic talks on marriage. One speaker gives examples of important pillars within marriage that are under attack. One example is that the life-long union aspect of marriage was removed through no-fault divorce.

The speaker says that marriage before no-fault divorce would probably be best as the statistics in everything were much better. He does say that during this time people needed serious reasons for divorce (abuse, abandonment or adultery) which meant the divorce rate was so low.

My question would be, if marriage was reverted back to the way it was, wouldn't it still be a redefinition of marriage since it allowed for divorce? Would we then campaign for no legal divorce at all? If so, wouldn't this be the opposite of separation of Church and state?

I 100% agree with Catholic teaching on marriage and the talks were really good but I was trying to think of questions an opponent might bring up so I thought of this but couldn't really give a good answer.

Thank you

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Hi again, Miguel, I think the basic point here is the clear distinction between Church and State, as Jesus put it, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Mt 22:21). So whatever laws about marriage the state makes, they don't touch the nature of Christian marriage, which is always a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, which is open to the generation of children.

It's true, as you say, that legalized divorce, and especially no-fault divorce, very deeply affects how people perceive marriage as no longer a lifelong commitment. The reality is that the society surrounding us can either support marriage - as it did in most Western countries until divorce became easier and more acceptable to many. Or it can undermine marriage, by offering divorce as an easy way out of difficult relationships.

The Church has never said that a couple can't separate - which may be necessary due to seriously abusive behaviour or infidelity by one of the spouses. But, following Jesus' words against divorce, 'what God has joined together let no man put asunder' (Mk 10:9), the Church can never approve remarriage, once the first commitment is understood to have been a valid one.

In Ireland many Christians campaigned against the introduction of divorce, which was explicitly forbidden by our 1937 Constitution. But the grounds of that 1986 campaign had to be put forward in terms than anyone, Christian or non-believer could accept - especially the huge impact on children of divorced couples. Now, while Ireland's divorce rates are not as high as neighbouring countries, they're currently around 4,000 a year. Since divorce is allowed in almost every country in the world except the Philippines, I don't think you'll be coming across that many opponents in this matter.

Of course the Christian answer to a divorce culture is the witness of happily married couples and families - I've heard of couples with young families volunteering to live in some African countries where polygamy is practiced, since it's less by preaching than by the example of their lives that people are won over to the Christian vision of marriage in the light of the Trinity. As St John Paul II notes in his 1994 Letter to Families:

'In the light of the New Testament it is possible to discern how the primordial model of the family is to be sought in God himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of his life. The divine "We" is the eternal pattern of the human "we", especially of that "we" formed by the man and the woman created in the divine image and likeness' (S6).

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

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

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

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

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

I doubt very much if an online discussion would be what you need, since it's only face to face that whoever you're turning to for advice can get the full picture. Maybe if you're not in a big town you'd be best off to check out on various websites, what are the religious establishments in the nearest big town or city to you. I'm putting you in my list of people I pray for every day, that please God, you can find a good adviser. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Does Revelation 12 symbolising the rapture?

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:38am on September 3rd 2017
In the passage Revelation 12, it states this:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her childthe moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angelsfought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

There have been articles about this signalising the rapture on September 23, as that is the day that the stars align in such way. However, I may be wrong, as God says that we shouldn't obey the star signs.

Thanks again and God Bless!

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Hi Bryce, I think this Apocalypse text isn't too difficult, the sign from heaven of the Woman (both spouse and mother) clothed in the sun (meaning in divine presence: see Apoc 1:16), with the moon under her feet indicating she has power over time and history (since the moon was traditionally the measure of time), and the crown of 12 stars probably referring to the Church founded on the 12 Apostles, with the back reference to the 12 tribes of Israel.

The Woman and the Dragon recall Genesis, 3;15, with its prophecy that she will crush the serpent under her feet. Her Son is identified with the Messiah, Christ. The verb describing birth is continuous, referring to her continual struggle with the devil, so that Mary here refers to the Church's painful struggle in giving birth to Christ continuously throughout history. While the word 'taken up' can be translated in the Latin form expressed by the English 'rapture,' there's no intention in the Apocalypse to refer to a particular date, nor would it depend on any alignment of stars, since the verses after this quote, 10 - 12 are a liturgical interval explaining the battle between God and Satan: 'Now the salvation and power and the kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down...' There's no mention of the beliefs associated with the 'rapture' - of the elect being swept up to heaven before the final tribulation on any particular date. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Does God hate me

A Xt3 Member asked at 4:23am on August 31st 2017
Hello Fr. Brendan, I'm not sure how to start, in order to understand, I'll have to tell you about my childhood. I grew up in a poor Catholic Christian family. My dad wasn't too religious though, and didn't even want us to go to church. As a matter of fact, I had to take baptism doctrine lessons in secret and I was baptised when he had gone out of town. He was abusive especially to our religion. And even though he did all that, I always had that energy not to let that get in my way of serving God. I became a mass servant, and was even thinking of becoming a priest. And during this period, weirdly everything was fine. I had good grades, always at the top of my class, I went for confession almost every 2 months. Until I reached the university and it all changed. I come from a very poor background so I had to work to pay for my tuition, then I got a scholarship to study abroad. That's when things started going downhill. I stopped going to church, I started questioning the existence of God, why there was a crucifix of Jesus Christ in church, why we had to pray, if God loved us so much then why was there war, hunger, why my family was so poor (and this also coincided with when I became a volunteer helping the Syrian refugee kids, and saw how some of them had lost everything) etc, my grades became a mess, financial I'm barely surviving . In short, I'm lost, and unhappy. I have though once or twice of just ending it all. So my questions are, is God punishing me? I mean does he hate me for questioning or doubting his existence and love for mankind in the first place? And how do I pray for his mercy on me.
Thank you so much in advance for your response.

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Hi Becklie, just last year I wrote a little book called Where is God in Suffering?, and there's no way God hates you for questioning his existence or his love for mankind in the light of the various sufferings, natural, physical, moral and spiritual, that come our way. I found that while we could understand all sorts of natural disasters, like earthquakes and tsunamis, are part of the way a rocky planet like our Earth is made, while the physical sufferings caused by various illnesses and disabilities are inevitable results of creatures with bodies like ours. If we wanted to get rid of a lot of physical disasters, we'd probably have to get rid of gravity - but that would mean not having a material universe at all. And to avoid every kind of physical breakdown, we'd have to do without any living things more complicated than bacteria.

The hardest disorders to understand are the moral ones, those due to the evil actions or omissions of human beings or of the evil spirits we call devils. Again, if we wanted to put an absolute end to these, God would have to have stopped creation at the animal level, and not created humans or angels, since we and they are endowed with free will. In my little book, since I can't say I've had any major suffering in my life, I drew on people like Blessed Chiara Badano, who transformed her experience of dying from an extremely painful form of bone cancer into an ever deepening love of Jesus - one of her phrases I love is, 'if you want it, Jesus, I want it too.' Then there's the experience of Etty Hillesum, a Jewish woman imprisoned by the Nazis in Holland, then sent to her death in Auschwitz.

In one of her last letters to friends outside Westerbork concentration camp:

'All I wanted to say is this: The misery here is quite terrible; and yet, late at night when the day has slunk away into the depths behind me, I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire. And then, time and again, it soars straight from my heart - I can't help it, that's just the way it is, like some elementary force - the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent, and that one day we shall be building a whole new world. Against every new outrage and every fresh horror, we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness, drawing strength from within ourselves. We may suffer, but we must not succumb. And if we should survive unhurt in body and soul, but above all in soul, without bitterness and without hatred, then we shall have a right to a say after the war' (July 3, 1943).

And a month or so later, a few months before she was murdered, she could say:

'My life has become an uninterrupted dialogue with You, O God, one great dialogue. Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised toward Your heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. At night, too, when I lie in my bed and rest in You, oh God, tears of gratitude run down my face, and that is my prayer' (August 18, 1943).

I'm not saying at all that I'd have the spiritual strength and openness to God shown by Etty Hillesum and Chiara Badano, but I think what Jesus went through while it isn't an answer to the mystery of suffering and evil in our lives, it is what Pope Francis calls 'a path.' More important than any crucifix in a church are people like them who are living crucifixes, who are - again with more courage than I might have - following Jesus' invitation to take up their crosses every day and follow him. So he certainly doesn't hate you for asking those big questions we all have to ask. And there's no prayer we repeat more often than 'Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lamb of God... have mercy on us.' Pope Francis said a few days after being elected Pope, that 'God never gets tired of giving us mercy, but we can get tired of asking for it.' I've no doubt that God loves you immensely, and is dying - as he does at Mass every day - to pour out his mercy and support to you in all your great difficulties. I'll certainly be adding you to my prayers every day that your studies will go better and that your financial situation will improve. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Right to refuse: Divorcee Re-marrying vs Same-Sex Couple

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:48pm on August 22nd 2017
Hi Father,

As the postal vote for same-sex marriage is coming up, I have been hearing more debate around the topic.

One objection to Christians who oppose same-sex marriage is "it seems hypocritical for a Christian baker to make a wedding cake for a divorcee who is re-marrying and refuse to serve a same-sex couple's wedding cake because both actions are condemmed in the Bible".

How should one respond to this?


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Hi Miguel, I'd be inclined to reply, 'it seems hypocritical to make arguments that are so strange it's hard to imagine them happening (like the one you mention) instead of discussing the real issue. That is that to apply the word 'marriage' which has for thousands of years referred only to committed relationships between a man and a woman to same sex relationships gives the word a new meaning - is a lot harder to understand than saying say, that in the name of equality, all sports should be called cricket.

Then the SSM lobby should be asked, why do some gay activists, once they've achieved their goal of having gay 'marriage' legalized, go out of their way to force their views on those who disagree with them. A week or so ago, Christine Forster, a Sydney councillor, said it was ridiculous to think such things could happen. I'm Irish, and over the last two years, married couple Ashers, who run a small bakery in Belfast, Northern Ireland were targetted by gay activists who ordered a cake with 'support gay marriage' and two Sesame St figures, Bert and Ernie on it. When, as the activists expected, they politely declined, they were immediately sued, lost their case in court, and effectively put out of business, with legal costs well over $200,00. The UK's most well-known gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell said that the

"verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression [and could set a] dangerous, authoritarian precedent. Although I strongly disagree with Ashers' opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea that they oppose. The judgment opens a can of worms. It means that a Muslim printer could be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed and a Jewish printer could be required to publish a book that propagates Holocaust denial."

There's a lot more than could be said, for example the 2015 court case against Archbishop Julian Porteus in Tasmania, again brought by a gay activist, because the archbishop dared to put into print Catholic teaching in homosexuality. That case was later withdrawn (I'm sure because it just wouldn't look to good at the time, and not because there wasn't a case in terms of Tasmania's notorious Anti-Discrimination Act).

I'd be inclined to ask those folk you mention what they propose to do to prevent a tsunami of such legal cases if the Yes vote in the SSM plebiscite wins and SSM is legalized in Australia. Already Catholic adoption services have been forced to close down in the UK and the US because of such legal challenges. Very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 9:02pm on August 19th 2017
Hi, Fr. Brendan, I've got one more question about confession (huge thanks for helping me with the other question I had): in regard to impure thoughts related to chastity, how specific should one be? I mean, are we supposed to say what it was each thought we have had, or simply saying "I've entertained impure thoughts" is enough? I'm always afraid to leave things unconfessed or confessed not properly. Is there any situation or kind of thought in which do we have to specify our thoughts? Like with who we thought, etc? Specially because I've read the story told by saint Alphonsus Liguori about the woman who was considered a saint due to her good behaviour, but let a sin of impure thought unconfessed due to shame and was condemned when she died. It looks like she had to detail what she thought to receive absolution, not only say she had impure thoughts, or did I understand it wrong? This kind of story scares a lot because I've never said my thoughts one by one, just stated the kind of them, and one priest told me I shouldn't give details when confessing, but I've seen many different opinions on this subject and I'm confused. Thanks for all the help, again!

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Hi Maria, I hear lots of confessions in Sydney, and certainly for me, the only detail I ever want to know regarding sins in this area is the one you mention - 'I've entertained impure thoughts.' The danger of going into detail is that we could bring the thoughts back again as a temptation, the last thing we want to happen.

My only problem with that story you've attributed to St Alphonsus Ligouri is, how on earth did he know what happened to that woman when she died? Especially since not even the angels are able to penetrate our consciences unless we allow them.

When a penitent is unsure whether they've consented to the thoughts that pass through our minds and over which we don't have complete control, I suggest them to ask themselves, 'Did I ask that thought to come in, make itself at home and have a coffee(!)' That's just to make sure that we're not weighed down by images that won't go away even when we want them to. And of course these images that pester us when we don't want them aren't sinful. But they can help to keep us humble and praying to Jesus and Mary, 'get me out of here, please!' St Alphonsus did say, 'those who pray will be saved, those who don't pray will be condemned.'

So keep up your close contact with God-Love and with Mary and the saints, they'll always be cheering you on and help you over the finishing line during every temptation.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Exorcism/Mortal sin?

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

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

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

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

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

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:29pm on August 14th 2017
Hello! Last Lent I started to take my faith more seriously. I confessed some past sins commited when I was very young, between 7 and 15 years old, that I didn't confessed before due to fear. I guess I had no idea they were sins when I commited it (specially when I was around 7-10yo I think I didn't even know what a sin was) or didn't understand very well my faith (specially in my teens), but what if I'm lessing my fault? I don't know anymore. I'm really not sure if they can be considered mortal or only venial. So, anyway, I confessed it at Lent, saying the cathegory of sin, and asked if the priest needed more details (I didn't said the exact name of each sin, only the type they belonged to). He said no, absolved me and said to me to move on with my life, forget it and be happy. But now I'm really not sure. Was I supposed to say the actual name of the sins, one by one? Since then, I'm always having scrupulous thoughts, spending long hours examining my conscience and trying to remember exactly how things happened, but more and more my discernement become more confused. I went to confession again and other priest said that I didn't need to reconfess it, that things were okay. But I'm still confused.
I'm trying to do things right this time, fix everything, and I'm really tired, sad and scared. Do you think am I being too scrupulous (or too lax)? Did I messed up my confession? Thanks in advance for the amazing idea of creating this webpage. Since at the moment I can't have access to a spiritual director, this forum is a blessing! I'm so glad I've found it. Maybe I'll find here some peace of mind until I can get to my next confession.

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Hi Maria, first of all, huge congratulations for your deepening in your faith. As priests hearing confessions, every now and then someone like you can confess sins they've thought of from the past, including, just like you did, sins committed when they weren't aware they were, or later, when they weren't fully aware of them as sins. And once the confessor understands the nature of the sin confessed, as your confessor did, he really doesn't want to go into further details about it.

I really think you should trust that priest making the right decision regarding your confession, and having absolved your sins encouraging you to make a new start with God's help. You know what? I think for all of us, the gift of God's mercy is so infinite, that it's hard for us to take it on board. Remember when Jesus said to the paralysed man left through the roof, 'your sins are forgiven' - the educated theologians present (rightly) said, 'who can forgive sins but God alone?' (Mk 2:7). In your confessions, you met God who is Love head on, so you have a right to say, 'God loves me immensely.'

By your courage and humility in confessing your sins, you brought such joy to heaven, and God rewards you with tons of love. And all you need to do after that is become a saint, by following St Thérèse of Lisieux's motto (I've shortened it a bit), over the last month of her life, 'to love you, Jesus, I have just now.' By trying to do God's will in each moment, and if not so well one moment, not worrying, just starting again in the next moment, you could become a saint over a weekend!

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Will the upcoming solar eclipse signal nibiru/Planet X's arrival? Is David Meade credibel

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:17am on August 10th 2017
Hi again, I just wanted some more information on Nibiru/Planet X, so I can spread the word of its falseness. So i would like to ask if the upcoming solar eclipse will signal the arrival of. Nibiru/Planet X. I've read an article (actually several) that claim this, from evidence of Christian numerologist, David Meade. He says it will arrive in October and that the upcoming solar eclipse will be its signal. Is this true? Is david Meade credible? Thanks! God bless!

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Hi Bryce, a lady called Nancy Lieder invented the notion of Planet X (others called it Niburu) in 1995, making various prophecies of the Earth being destroyed on various dates, like September 2003, with other followers moving the date to December 21st, 2012. I've only had time to check out a few of David Meade's proclamations, but more than enough to put himself and Nancy Lieder into a long history of (often) American based prophets of the End time - Harold Camping, who died in 2011 kept shifting the date, for example on September 6 th, 1994, then May 21st 2011, then October 21st 2011. He made millions of dollars from easily fooled donors, and died peacefully at 92 years old on December 15th, 2013.

If you check out the internet, you'll find the one thing that never seems to end is End Time Prophecies! In answer to your question, David Meade isn't the least credible, no more than Planet X/Nibiru - they don't exist. Regarding the upcoming total solar eclipse in the US on Monday August 21st (the first total eclipse from the Pacific to the Atlantic across the US since 1918), all that means is that the moon eclipses the sun - there's no evidence that it signals anything else.

As I said in a previous answer, much better to follow Jesus, and prepare for your own end, whenever that comes, by the way you live each day, surrounded by neighbours to love. Very best, Fr Brendan
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