In the know with Father Joe

What's the point of going to Church?

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.

Why should I get married in the Church?

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.

Why can't Catholics be Masons?

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:

Why is the word ‘catholic’ in the Methodist Creed?

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.

Why should we pray to saints? Shouldn’t we go directly to God?

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.

I hear there is a new Anglican rite, along with married priests. How does this work?

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.

Am I really supposed to be an evangelist?

Dear Fr. Joe: I hear talk that we are supposed to evangelize, but I’m not sure I want to do that. What does it mean?

I think it must be a tough thing to hear so many people talking about evangelization without telling us exactly what it is. For a lot of people, the idea of evangelization conjures up images of people yelling from street corners, condemning others or trying to get people to think just like we do. If that is our image of evangelization, then no wonder it has no appeal to us!

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