In the know with Father Joe

How can I invite my family and friends back to church?

What a great question – it can be such a difficult thing to invite someone into practicing the faith without coming across as self-righteous or as somehow a bit “off.” A big part of the process of bringing someone back is to start with the recognition of a couple of points.

First, remember that what you are desiring is holy; it’s good. Sometimes, what we desire isn’t so good, isn’t so holy. You have in your heart a hunger to bring someone back into a communal practice of the faith and that is a blessing. You desire something good.

Why is there so much violence in the world?

I write this article with a heavy heart.

We live in violent times. Some will say that things have always been this violent, and that may or may not be true. What is objectively true is that we’ve never been able to observe and process the present violence in the way we can now. Social media have, for better or worse, revealed our interconnectedness in a way that has never been possible before.

If you are like me, each event of great violence prompts feelings of sadness, fear and powerlessness.

Sadness, because people were killed.

Do I really have to talk about Jesus?

Dear Father Joe: To be a good Christian witness, is it enough to be a good person – or do I have to talk about Jesus?

Thank you for your question: It’s an important one. Often, when we imagine ourselves talking about Jesus to co-workers or friends, it comes across as an uncomfortable requirement, instead of an organic reality that comes about from living our faith well. What I’d encourage us to do is get us out of the either/or idea and into the both/and.

Priest, pastor, nun, brother: How are these roles different?

These questions sure made me do some research! It’s funny, but I found that there were some elements to this that I simply didn’t know. One of the first things I discovered is that there are official terms and designations and there is the way we talk – these can be two different things! Think of what happens when you want to blow your nose: you ask for a Kleenex. What you are really asking for is officially called “paper facial tissue”, but we all call it one brand of paper facial tissue: Kleenex. (Massive props to the Kleenex marketing department).

What's the point of small faith-sharing groups?

All over the country, a movement is really taking shape in the form of small faith-sharing groups. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the value of and need for this practice, so we’re going to talk about it here and now.

Small faith-sharing groups meet a very practical and human need: the need to belong. In a large parish, there is always the danger of getting “lost in the shuffle.” In a small parish, there is always the challenge of being the “new person” or outsider.

Why should I go to Holy Week services?

I’m glad you asked that question: I know that, at first glance, the Holy Week schedule at church can seem quite intimidating and, because we aren’t sure what is happening there anyway, we may be tempted simply to skip it.

I hope that, as I share with you each step of Holy Week, you see that these services are nothing short of an invitation into the heart of our Christian faith.

There really is no way that we can get after the richness and depth of all the services for Holy Week, so I’ll do my best here to give you a snapshot.

Should we send our kids to Catholic School?

Someone told me that, as Catholics, we are supposed to send our kids to Catholic schools. We are wondering if it’s really worth the financial struggle; are we obligated to do this?

Thank you for asking this: it’s quite the important issue. I’ve been blessed to serve as a priest for a little more than 17 years, and every assignment I’ve been given in that time has had a school connected to it. Over the years, I’ve really come to see that Catholic schools are a great gift God offers us; a gift that we often overlook.

Are there sins my pastor can't forgive?

Dear Father Joe: I read that, as part of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is allowing priests to absolve people of the sin of having an abortion or helping someone get one. Why can only bishops absolve some sins and what happens to all those people who were only absolved by a priest?

Thanks for this question! There has been a lot of talk about different things that our Holy Father has said and or done and this is one that really got messed up in translation.

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