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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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Struggling to Pray: Distracted and/or Lazy

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:00pm on August 25th 2018
Hi Father,

I have been struggling to pray for a while now. This becomes a daily struggle as whenever I go to pray, I daydream, get distracted and sometimes don't even want to. I feel terrible about this and end up confessing this every time but after I do, I make the exact same mistakes of distracting myself and saying "I'll do so and so first then I'll pray" but never doing it.

Its no doubt in God or the church or anything like that, it seems like I have no motivation or desire to pray while at the same time I do want to. I know this sounds very lazy of me seeing as prayer can even be just 5 minutes before sleep but even this becomes difficult for me because I just want to do other things or I start planning the next day instead.

Could you give me some advice on how to deal with this? I basically always feel troubled about this because I find it so hard to focus and when this negligance of prayer is about to happen, I can see it from a mile away but I don't do anything to stop it, its like I'm programmed to do the exact same thing every time. That is what troubles me even more, I know the problem, I see it and I have ideas on what to do about it but I just don't.

Please help. Thank you Father.

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Hi Miguel, what you're experiencing with difficulty in prayer isn't just you-it's most of us, at one time or another! That's why short prayers-shorter even than most tweets-have been used by Catholics for centuries. Take that little prayer revealed by Our Lady to the children at Fatima, 'O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.' Then there's the prayer said by many Orthodox Christians-we can surely say it too: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

Obviously you could try saying just one decade of the Rosary, or-one of my favourites, the Stations of the Cross. Often on long trips-by Irish, not Australian standards!-I'd take my time praying about each station, sometimes thinking of them in terms of Mary, sometimes as Jesus, sometimes for the sufferings the Church is going through at the moment-so many variations are possible.

Advice I've given here from time to time is that the most important moment in my prayer is that the most important element in our prayer is to connect with whomever I'm praying to-if I'm saying the Morning Offering, it's you, Jesus, I'm speaking to, if the Our Father, I'm speaking to you, Father, if the Hail Mary, I'm speaking to you, Mary, if the Glory be, I'm speaking to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A way of understanding my own distractions is, to imagine someone, while chatting to me is also looking at their mobile at the same time. You can feel a bit insulted by their lack of attention. Well, like you, a lot of my praying-even though I'm too old fashioned to be bothered using a mobile, or do my best not to-is as if I were looking at my phone rather than at Jesus, Mary, the Trinity, and so on. So I have to keep waking my faith up to get in contact again.

No one said that praying is easy: when I started my first year in the seminary, it felt as if I were lifted up onto Cloud Nine, but after that first year, way back in 1960-61, I almost never feel anything. That brings me closer to Jesus' own huge suffering at prayer, when he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' I think he wants us to be with him at that moment, unable to pray, and still pushing ourselves to say, in Him, to our Father, 'Into your hands I entrust my spirit.' Or with those who follow St Faustina's Divine Mercy prayer, 'Jesus, I trust in you.' I think the more we're like little children, barely able to say a word, the nearer we are to that prayer of Jesus. And of course the best preparation for meeting Jesus in prayer is making the effort to find him in whoever our neighbour happens to be at the time. Hope that's a bit of help, very best, Fr Brendan
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