In the know with Father Joe
Dear Fr. Joe: I’m reading and hearing about all the horrible things happening to Christians in the Middle East and I don’t know what to do – how do we respond to this as Christians?
The situation for Christians in the Middle East is dire. Catholics suffer and die for their faith all over the world in real, tangible ways. For this article, I’m going to focus on the Middle East, as that is where the suffering of our brothers and sisters is most intense and somewhat public.
Dear Father Joe: Why should I believe in God? Do you have proof he exists? And if he does, how do I know he gives a hoot about me?
You’ve got some great questions here and I think the best approach is to take them one at a time … let’s go!
Dear Father Joe: I am spiritual, but I have a problem with organized religion. Why can’t I just pray out in my back yard or when I’m sitting by the lake, rather than sitting in church and listening to a boring sermon?
As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I can assure you, it is not very organized. OK, that’s a joke, let’s get right to your question.
I want to start off by defending religion as a concept. Look at the word “religion.” The origin of the word itself is the word religare, which means to bind or tie together.
Dear Father Joe: My parents are demanding that my fiancée and I get married in the Church, even though we are not practicing Catholics. Why should I get married in the Church?
Thank you for your question. It is a rare gift that you are offering here: Some couples, it would seem, enter into marriage in the Catholic Church with little to no intent of ever going to church again and, as a priest, it’s quite sad to see. What you may be experiencing here is something called integrity and that, my friend, is a gift.
Dear Father Joe: What is the Church’s teaching regarding being a member of a Freemason Lodge? I was taught it is a grave sin and that members of a Masonic Lodge should not go to communion, but I know Masons in my Church who do.
In many ways, this question leads to many disputed points. There is a lot of bad or contradicting information out there about the Masons and what the Church teaches about it. Let’s start with why there is some confusion.
Some confusion revolved around the Code of Canon Law published in 1917. In this code was the following law:
Dear Father Joe: My parish has merged with another one and everything is changing. I feel leftout and I am considering leaving the Church altogether. Why should I stay?
God bless you - what a difficult time. As a priest, I’ve been a part of a merger and am currently assigned to two parishes, so I have some understanding of the pain you are going through.
Dear Father Joe: Why does it say ‘catholic’ in the middle of the Creed in the Methodist church I attended recently for a wedding?
I’ve gotten no small amount of “creed questions,” especially since the release of the Mass translations in 2011.Your question will help us kick off a special column that I hope will help us understand the creed we say at Mass and the reasoning behind some of the changes. Let’s start with some history.
Dear Father Joe: My friends who are not Catholic say we should only pray to God and that praying to saints is idolatry. Why should we pray to saints?
This is a great question and can really lead us to some good ideas, so let’s get right to it!
First, let’s be clear about something – when we pray to saints, we are not offering them the worship due to God. We are asking the saints to pray to God for us.
Dear Father Joe: I hear there is a new Anglican rite, along with married priests. How does this work?
You’ve got it right: there is a new Anglican rite in our Church that brings some married priests into our mix. How this happens is a testament to our belief in the power and beauty of truth – and it’s great stuff.