Year of Youth 2018

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Is it a sin to download music from YouTube?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 11:20am on March 11th 2016
<p class="p1">Hello Father,

<p class="p1">I am a fan of music and so when songs were freely available on YouTube, I would use a YouTube downloader and download them. I have started to question whether what I was doing was stealing or not. I recently read an article that said downloading from YouTube is illegal because some content creators on the site get paid by the views they recieve.

<p class="p1">While a lot of music on the site is not uploaded by the original artist or by people getting paid through their views, I question whether copyright of the music or some other issue would make it stealing. I have also been told that listening to downloaded music where you have the choice to hear it online, is no different than listening to the same music on YouTube.

<p class="p1">So I am feeling somewhat confused by points on both sides wanted a definitive answer. Is downloading music on YouTube a sin (stealing)?

<p class="p1">Thanks Father.

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Hi Antonio, a basic point in moral theology is that, unless the laws of the country we're living in are clearly against natural or divine law, they are binding on us in conscience.

Unfortunately, I'm not a lawyer, and the law on intellectual and artistic property is developing in most countries. Speaking as a person unqualified in this area, it seems to me if I downloaded music for my own listening from YouTube, it would be alright. But if I downloaded it and distributed it to others, that seems like an infringement of copyright unless it were clearly indicated the music was in the public domain. (I'm working on my own experience of buying cheap DVDs of films for about $5, which make it clear they're for personal use at home and not for public showing.) Hope that's a help, I've everything to learn here about the law in this area. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Can I be a bridesmaid?

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:55pm on August 4th 2018

My husband's brother is getting engaged. His fiance might ask me to be a bridesmaid in the wedding. They will be getting married by a justice of the peace, as my brother-in-law hasn't been to church since he was a pre-teen, and his fiance does not have any strong religious beliefs (as far as I know). Would it be okay for me to be a bridesmaid in this wedding? I wasn't sure if I could. Thanks so much! God bless!

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Hi Nicole, you certainly can! Last year I was 'principal bridesmaid' at the civil wedding ceremony of a great Korean friend who teaches piano here-she was marrying an Iranian man I also know well, neither belong to any religion, and since the witness for the bride is generally the bridesmaid, I could claim I was that! Of course I wore my clerical suit and collar, having checked if it was ok with the archbishop. It's great you were asked by the fiance, because it means both she and your husband's brother will experience your love-which is the way we share our belief most deeply with others. And who knows in the future where your relationship with the married couple may lead to in terms of sharing more of your faith with them. Very best, and keeping you all in my prayers for their wedding day, Fr Brendan
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Death penalty

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:52am on August 4th 2018
Hi Father,

Wishing you a very happy feast of St. John Vianney. My question is in regard with Death penalty. I have heard that the Catholic Church doesn't support death penalty for anyone either. Can you please enlighten on this topic regarding the official teaching of the Church.

Awaiting your reply

Thank you

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Hi Jones, thanks for your greeting on the feast of St John Vianney, who reminded us that 'the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.' And maybe that love of the Heart of Jesus and of his mercy is what moved Pope Francis to make this insertion on the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So, on August 3rd of this year, the Osservatore Romano inserted a new paragraph in the Catechism, which now reads:

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Some commentators have remarked that the word 'inadmissible' isn't a term used in canon law, and that the new insertion doesn't state that the use of the death penalty in those cases where it was previously regarded as morally acceptable is intrinsically immoral, as for example are murder and abortion. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is it a sin to use stolen property?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 1:03am on August 4th 2018
Hello Father,

I recently bought a copy of Microsoft Windows 10 Pro on eBay for about $4. I read online that it may have been sold so cheaply because it's stolen property, or because it's a key meant for a different computer (which I suspect is the case), which violates Microsoft's terms of use.

I called Microsoft, and they said if the key activated, it's good to use. It did activate. But I don't know if the rep really knew what he was talking about.

In any case, if the key is stolen, or if using it violates Microsoft's terms of use, is it a sin for me to use it?

If this seems silly, I'm sorry. I just wanna do what's right.

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Hi Liam, it's just great that you want to do what's right! I'm no expert on the complications of the use of computer software. But when you called Microsoft, I think you did all you could be reasonably expected to do, since by contacting them you were showing you were prepared to do whatever the rep said, including not using the program you bought. Once he had no objection to your using that program if the key activated (I've no understanding of what that means!), it seems to me that you're morally entitled to use it. Very best, Fr Brendan
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May I receive the Sacrament of Penance before Confirmation?

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 9:56pm on August 2nd 2018
Hello Father,

I plan to start RCIA next month, but I've been interested in the Catholic faith since January/February. I was baptized in a Protestant church. I'm aware of my current state and it concerns me greatly. Would I be able to confess my sins and receive absolution before I'm confirmed?



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Hi Liam, congratulations on your taking on RCIA next month. Since the ceremony of being received into the Catholic Church and of being confirmed normally takes place within a Mass, when the new Catholic would also be receiving their First Holy Communion, I'm sure the people preparing you for confirmation will also prepare you for your First Confession which you'd make before your confirmation and First Holy Communion.

Since different dioceses may have different ways of receiving people into the Church, just ask the RCIA people you'll be meeting up with what's normally done and I'm sure it'll be much the same as I've said. What's wonderful is that your baptism already was the biggest preparation for becoming a Catholic, so you're not turning your back on the faith of your parents, but bringing it to completion. Keeping you and all your preparation towards becoming a Catholic in my prayers. 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 God tell us to pray to Mary in the Bible?

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 9:13am on August 2nd 2018
Did God tell us to pray to Mary in the Bible? I have recently wondered that but all I can find is when Jesus said, "Behold your mother". When did God tell us to pray to her? Thank you!



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Hi Gabriel, as you know, Mary appears at key moments in the New Testament-obviously at the Annunciation, in her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, then throughout the birth of Jesus, and at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Then there's the time Jesus, Mary and Joseph go up to the Temple when Jesus was twelve years old. Later she appears at the wedding feast of Cana, and at least once during her Son's public life, when he's told she and members of his family are waiting to see him. Then she's standing by him as he's dying on the cross, when, as you point out, he says to St John, 'behold your mother,' and the Gospel goes on to say that he took her into his own keeping. Soon afterwards, St Luke in the Acts of the Apostles tells of her presence at Pentecost. And in chapters 12 and 22 of St John's Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament, St John shows us how Mary, the Mother of God, fulfils the prophecy God made to Satan in the first book of the Bible when he promises to make 'the woman' the enemy of Satan, whose Son ('offspring') will crush the evil spirit's head.

Obviously the first task of the early Church was to clarify who Jesus was and what the Blessed Trinity was-so the earliest Church Councils developed our understanding of Jesus as One divine Person with two natures, divine and human. This was to deal with the Arian heresy, which regarded the humanity of Jesus as if he were a separate being, somehow taken up into the Second Person of the Trinity. Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicea (325 ad). Since later, another heretic, Nestorius, held that Mary was the mother of the man Christ, a century later, the Council of Ephesus (431ad) declared that she was the 'Mother of God, Theotokos.' But even earlier in the life of the Church, there was deep appreciation of the role of Mary-already outlined by St John, with Saint Irenaeus calling her the 'New Eve' about 180ad.

The devotion the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have for Mary, the Mother of God, then flows naturally from who she is in relation to her Son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in the Church, as Jesus told us when he said: 'When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth...He will declare to you the things that are to come...he will take what is mine and declare it to you' (Jn 16: 13, 14). So the Church's Tradition (what we know from the writings and practices of the Church after the Resurrection up to the later centuries of the first millennium) and Teaching Office or Magisterium, not to mention the writings and lives of many saints, all inform our understanding of and devotion to Mary-and I think could be seen to be an expansion of those words Jesus said to John which you quote, 'Behold your mother.' It's in that light that the later Marian dogmas, of her Immaculate Conception (1854) and her Assumption (1950), can be understood, as expressing the Church's growing understanding of the mystery of the Mother of God. Very best, Fr Brendan
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William LeMaire

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:41pm on July 30th 2018
Why is the Roman Catholic Church forbidding the use of artificial contraception? I can not find anything substantial in the Bible that states that only natural family planning is allowable.

Thanks. WJL

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Hi William, I'm sure you've often said the Nicene Creed at Mass. Most of the articles in the Creed, while of course they correspond to what has been revealed in the New Testament, aren't found with the same clarity in the New Testament. One of the key words there, 'consubstantial' isn't in the New Testament at all, and some of the Council Fathers at Nicea (325 ad) objected to it precisely because it wasn't in the New Testament. But the Council Fathers realized that they couldn't resolve Arius' questioning of the nature of Christ without going beyond but not against what was written in the New Testament.

You could make a similar point regarding the notion of 'transubstantiation,' which again was a term needed to indicate beyond doubt the real presence of Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity, under the appearance of consecrated bread and wine.

As you know, the Vatican Council's Constitution on Revelation, Dei Verbum, points out that 'sacred tradition, sacred Scripture, and the teaching of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others' (10). So, for a Catholic, the Church's teaching in faith and morals has from earliest times been required to go beyond what is written in the Bible. Certainly, the famous incident of Onan (Gen 38:12-14) has been referred to by Christian leaders, including Luther and Calvin, as a clear condemnation of a form of contraception. Much earlier, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

(c. 80ad), among a list of prohibitions for Christians, says: 'You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a new-born child. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods....' Commentators connect 'practice magic' and 'use potions' with artificial birth control.

Just because something isn't explicitly condemned in the Bible isn't an argument for it's being morally acceptable-no more than contraception does the Bible condemn abortion. But just as there are clear Biblical texts on the humanity of the unborn, they obviously imply that abortion would be morally wrong. Similarly, there's all the texts in Genesis, Tobit, Osee, the Song of Songs, on the beauty of the marriage relationship, culminating in the presence of Jesus at the wedding of Cana, and St Paul's comparing of the love between a married couple to the love of Christ for the Church (Eph 5:32). Of course, these profound reflections on marriage as participating in the love of the Trinity for humanity (fully explored in St John Paul II's Theology of the Body) don't explicitly condemn the use of contraception, but they explain why not a single Christian Church or Community did other than regard the use of contraception as gravely sinful until the Church of England's declaration at the 1930 Lambeth Conference.

I've already written a longish reply to a similar question of yours a month ago, so I can only humbly ask you to look a lot further than the Bible for the Church's reason for regarding contraception as morally unacceptable. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Return to Catholicism

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 9:49pm on July 28th 2018
Hello Father,

Trust you are well.

I've recently made a friend who is from Germany and was born Catholic, but has moved away from the church and faith, and is currently following Buddhism. I haven't been able to speak to my friend yet about their faith upbringing at home or if their family is still in the Church. My friend is 36 years old now.

I did a bit of research on the history of Catholicism in Germany, and seems that a lot of people have left the Church mainly because of church taxes levied, behaviour of priests and stubborn hierarchy.

I personally feel that those are not valid reasons to leave the Church. We go to Church for the Lord and it's not based on who's there or not there, or what people are doing or not doing- the Church is not defined by that, it's the presence of Christ. But again these are my own thoughts.

I assume my friend is in search for the truth or something spiritual and I respect that.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I can bring my friend back to our Catholic Church and faith Father?

Thank you.

God bless.

Kind regards,


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Hi Anita, when someone has left the Church, there's surely a wound there caused by any one or several of the reasons you've mentioned. And if your friend is following Buddhism, as you say, he hasn't given up on his search for a spiritual meaning for his life. Years ago, young friends I had in Ireland went to Japan to meet up with young people of a lay Buddhist movement there, Risshō Kōsei Kai. The Irish young people, along with others in the Gen or Focolare youth movement, from different parts of Europe and Asia, were trying to put the Gospel into practice in their lives, including their love of Jesus crucified, forsaken and risen. As a result, the young Japanese Buddhists, who focused on living according to the Lotus Sutra, immediately clicked with them.

So I think the best way to relate with your friend is for you to live the Gospel as fully as you can, including loving Jesus in this friend of yours in a disinterested way-that is, without any agenda other than to love him. He may or may not respond immediately, but it's impossible for someone not to be touched by that kind of love, even if it takes a few years, or if it's only later that he remembers. If he eventually asks why is it that you're treating him like that, you will be able to explain what it is to be a Christian-which in the first place is to love. And it's that 'presence of Christ' in you, as you've said, that will make up for the wounds he's experienced in the lack of that love before. I don't think there's any quicker way than that. I'll certainly remember him and all you're doing in my prayers, very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:47pm on July 26th 2018
I have seen both God and Jesus in my dreams. I have only seen Jesus once in my dreams and God multiple times in my dreams, once during Triduum. What would this mean and are they trying to tell me something?

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Hi Grace, these dreams are perhaps gifts from God to help you in your life. But spiritual writers always remind us that we shouldn't prefer the gifts of God to God himself, so that often these gifts are encouragements for us to go further in our life of prayer with him and charity towards him in our neighbour.

Here's my favourite story about this, told by Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement: 'It's said that the disciples of Anba Bishoy, a Coptic monk who died in 417, when they heard that Christ often appeared to him, asked him to let Him appear to them too. Anba Bishoy agreed, telling them Christ would meet them on a certain fixed day.

The whole Savannah and desert people got ready for that meet up. Everyone dressed in their best clothes, so happy to be able to meet Christ. While they were going towards the place they'd been told about, they met an old man who asked each one going by: "Take me with you!" But each one had the holy excuse of having to hurry and meet Christ, so no one took him along.

Then Anba Bishoy went by and saw the old man standing there, who asked him: "Please, take me with you!" So Anba Bishoy took him on his shoulders, as an act of love towards his neighbour. Needless to say, on that day Christ met only with Anba Bishoy, while everyone else missed out on meeting him.' So if your dreams are pointing to anything they're encouraging you to find Jesus in each neighbour you meet that day. Very best, Fr Brendan
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