In the know with Father Joe

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.

Are Catholic superstitions OK?

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.

A vocabulary lesson for Mass

GREETINGS IN CHRIST! This article is going to be a little different. The last few years, I’ve received a lot of questions about some of the words or phrases we use in the newest translations at Mass. This article is going to serve as a bit of a “vocabulary lesson” to help us understand better what we pray. So, let’s dive in!

Dear Father Joe: Why do we talk so much about charity at Mass?

Do I have to believe everything the Pope says about the environment?

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. 

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