Our questions this issue are all centered around the environment and our response to it. I confess some sense of dread, as I suspect I’m going to have to do something that we as Americans don’t handle well at all right now: dive into an issue we perceive as having an effect on our politics. Ugh.
In the know with Father Joe
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.
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.
Dear Father Joe: Is it OK to pray for Notre Dame to win their football games? After all, they have “Touchdown Jesus.”
You can feel free to pray for whomever you’d like, but we know that God’s favorite team is the Michigan State University Spartans! Seriously, though, it’s fine to pray that your favorite team plays well and safely. You just need to understand that God’s desired outcomes for those players’ lives might not have anything to do with whether or not they win the game that day.
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.
Dear Father Joe: Why do we talk so much about charity at Mass?
Q: Dear Father Joe: The pope’s new encyclical on the environment contains assertions I don’t believe, specifically that we humans have anything to do with climate change. What’s this encyclical all about?
A: There’s a lot of discussion around the pope’s new encyclical, which is always a good thing. There are numerous excellent (and some not so excellent) summaries of Laudato Sì’ out there and, in an article of this length, there really is no way for me to do any summary justice.
That’s my disclaimer.
Dear Father Joe: What is the difference between the sacrament of the sick and last rites? I thought you could only be anointed once.
A: Let’s get right after it …
Dear Fr. Joe: What exactly are the principles of social justice?
The first principle of Catholic social teaching is the life and dignity of the human person. We hit this pretty hard last issue, so I hesitate to go into it too heavily, yet, at the same time, can you really say too much about human dignity?
Dear Father Joe: My Father was sick and recently died. I was touched by how the people in his parish came by during his illness and now I want to do that at my own parish. How do I get involved?
God bless you for your question! Beyond answering it directly, I want to point out that, in this situation, you are allowing God to do something beautiful: heal your pain by helping others. Let’s dive right in!