In the know with Father Joe

What is RCIA?

Dear Fr. Joe: What is RCIA?  I see and hear a lot about it at Church but I don’t understand what is going on.

Thank you for your question! RCIA is an important part of our Catholic life and it’s good to know as much as we can about it.  So, let’s dive right in!

The initials RCIA stand for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is a process by which a person can enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. 

I don't think people at mass should dress 'like that'

Dear Fr. Joe: I’m appalled by some of the clothing I see at church on Sunday – everything from jeans to shorts to sleeveless tops. What is appropriate dress for Mass?

Thank you for this question! This is an issue that pops up fairly often and it’s good for us to pause and consider things like this.

I’d like to make something clear right off the bat: I’m not going to give you a dress code for Mass. I’m not doing it for a lot of reasons, the most important of which being the simple rule, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Dear Father Joe: So many good people I know have suffered horribly in the last month and I’m really struggling to hold on to my faith. Why do good people suffer? How do I keep my faith in these times?

I’m sorry that things are so hard for you and your loved ones right now. As a priest, it’s not uncommon for me to experience first-hand the great suffering that many people, good and bad, go through. Struggling with our faith at times like these is not something we should shy away from.

Why are Christians being persecuted in the middle east?

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.

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:

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