Archive for February, 2007

Last week I drove across town to NW Washington, DC for a funeral Mass, then to the other side of town to Fort Lincoln Cemetary, around the Beltway from Montgomery to PG County, to a deanery meeting with Archbishop Wuerl, after which we had dinner and a penance service, and then after being on the road all day, my car breaks down in my parish church’s driveway.  Boy!  My angel must have been watching me! 

The engine died.  I could start it up again, but each time it immediately died.  My brother who is a mechanic has had it at his garage for a week and despite taking apart the entire front-end of the engine, can find nothing wrong with it.  It just will not go.  Meanwhile I have been borrowing a car from my sister and her husband. 

Maybe my car needs some holy water splashed upon it and a deliverance prayer or two?  Speaking of such things, what is left of this van (truck?) in the picture below might need some kind of spiritual intervention.


Goodness!  Look at it go, and hey, what is with its wheels!  Funny!  …and there’s only two of them!  Where’s the other half of it?  Sure glad it is not my vehicle.  Of course, unlike my car, at least it goes.  It would also quickly be the talk of town… particularly with the police.

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Susan asks:

Father Joe,

What do you think of Catholic School?

I am having a hard time because I chose to send my son to Catholic School. Where I live there are not a lot of choices and I have to drive 1/2 hour each way to send him. I want him to have the spirituality and religion in school and feel that with all of the things kids today are bombarded with, it would be good to have my values reinforced in school. But, on the flip side, it is stressing me out to make this drive on a very busy interstate to get there, which in a sense has made me less Christian because I become irritable. It also has the added stress of the financial burden because we are not wealthy and this is really stretching our budget.

I guess I’m wondering in the long run if it is worth the effort and money?

FATHER JOE RESPONDS: Years ago when Catholic education was virtually free, Catholic families were often obliged to put their kids into Catholic schools. However, as the population grew, the schools, even in their heyday, could not hold them all, and so we saw the growth of CCD programs (usually on weekends) to supplement public school education with Catholic religion. I have a definite preference for good Catholic schools, but must also admit that I have been highly impressed with homeschooling efforts. Speaking for myself, I was the oldest of seven. We were poor but the religious sister in charge of the parish school said she would take my brother Mike. However, she told my mother that I was “too sickly and stupid”. Mother told her that if she could not take one then she could not get the other. We all went to public schools and went to CCD, first on Saturdays and later on Sundays. My public school first grade teacher did not think much of my abilities either. Halfway through the year, I recall her telling my mother in the hallway adjacent to the classroom, “your son Joey is retarded and needs to go to a special school.” Mother raised hell and another teacher took charge of me the following year– yes, I repeated first grade! I was always very studious about religion and later this got me into trouble. Because I was often able to correct my high school CCD teacher, he called my father in one morning and told him that I did not have to come anymore. Yes, you heard me right, I got kicked out of CCD!

Hum, maybe I am the wrong person to whom to ask this question?

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Susan writes:

What do you think of James Camerons new Documentary?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 — Mary Magdalene: The Ringo of Jesus’ Tomb?

The BBC has more news on the claims of world-renowned theologian James Cameron that he has proved that Jesus never rose from the dead.

The new information is scant, but here’s the gist: Cameron believes that he has proven that the tomb filled with ten 2,000 old coffins was actually that of Jesus’ family. What’s his proof? Even though all of the names carved into the ossuaries were common Jewish names at the time, he’s putting all his cards on the fact that “Mariameme” (Mary Magdalene, apparently) was buried with “Jesua” (Jesus).

Unveiling his documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Mr Cameron said the chances of finding that combination of names together was like finding a grave marked Ringo next to others marked John, Paul and George.

“Mariamene is Mary Magdalene – that’s the Ringo, that’s what sets this whole film in motion,” he said.

Except, well, wait. Why are we meant to believe Mary Magdalene is the same person as Mariamene? She was simply called Mary in the New Testament. In the Talmud, there’s some argument that Mary Magdalene is the same as “Miriam Megadla se’ar”, a woman who gave birth to a person called “The Son of Stada” in Sabbath 104.2. This is an apocryphal Talmudic passage though, and there’s nothing else to link the two.

If that’s all Cameron has to go on, he’s not going to make a very strong case to anyone besides the skeptics who want to destroy Christianity. Yet what will be so ironic about skeptical acceptance of such paltry evidence will basically be that it will involve cynics swallowing many basis Christian beliefs (such as the Bible’s reliability and the existence of Jesus) that they have always sneerfully eschewed.

FATHER JOE RESPONDS: I thought about writing a post but have been battling all day with the installation of a new Nortion Security system. It just does not want to work! Took hours to fix! Anyway, Cameron is in it for the money. He is a sensationalist, not an archeologist or biblical expert. He has a couple of paid goons to parrot what he wants as experts and expects the rest of us to buy it. The ancient testimony is overwhelming. Jesus died and rose from the dead. His name was a common one, as was Mary. There was a movie with a similar pliot called THE BODY (2001). It starred Antonio Banderas as Father Matt Gutierrez, a priest-expert sent to investigate a tomb purportedly that of Jesus. Everyone seems to jump to the conclusion that the tomb is really Christ’s, although the priest’s faith refuses to allow him to accept this. Ironically, an explosion at the tomb destroys a hidden inscription that identifies the tomb as belonging to one who followed Jesus. However, only the movie viewer is given this inside information. Only fools, the ignorant and the faithless will be swayed by Cameron and his so-called tomb of Jesus. We should tell him to go back to his wife and stop preaching to the rest of us.

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It is always the one you least expect who ends up monkeying around.

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Hey, the cat a couple of posts back might need dentures, but this smart mouse still has his own teeth and brushes after every meal! Eek! Eek!

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Ever play with a yoo-yoo?  It takes a fair amount of practice and patience.  I used to find that it helped me to think.  Some days I would be dog-tired, but that yoo-yoo would help keep me awake until I acomplished what had to be done.  The weather and church attendance is a topic that has dogged me lately.  Dog-gone-it!  Temperatures go down and fuel bills go up.  There is sleet, rain and snow outside right now as I compose these few words.  There goes the collection, again! 

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Either DNA gene-splicing has gone too far or grandpa is missing his teeth!

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An Irishman’s been drinking at a pub all night. The bartender finally says that the bar is closing. So the Irishman stands up to leave and falls flat on his face. He tries to stand one more time, same result.

He figures he’ll crawl outside and get some fresh air and maybe that will sober him up. Once outside he stands up and falls flat on his face. So he decides to crawl the 4 blocks to his home and when he arrives at the door he stands up and falls flat on his face.

He crawls through the door into his bedroom. When he reaches his bed he tries one more time to stand up. This time he manages to pull himself upright but he quickly falls right into bed and is sound asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

He awakens the next morning to his wife standing over him shouting at him. “So, you’ve been out drinking again!!”

“What makes you say that?” He asks as he puts on an innocent look.

“The pub called, you left your wheelchair there again.”

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Recently I discovered that some readers really did not understand how to view this Blog.  While I am not entirely happy with the typeface and size of the presentation, the Regulus template offers SUBPAGES.  What does this mean?  Note the boxed links across the top, just below the header.  Each of these, home, author, catechesis, apologetics, ministry, priest & mass, life & sex, various and stories are specific PAGES.  Each of these PAGES, in the right column, has SUBPAGES. 

For instance, if you click APOLOGETICS above, you will get a non-dated page with the following SUBPAGES: 


HOT OFF THE WEB (19 devilish letters)

DEBATE (73 topics)


Click any one of the links for these SUBPAGES, and you get a page with further links to other SUBPAGES, again listed in the right-hand column. 

Sometimes questions are asked as comments or in emails that are already discussed on the various pages and subpages.  This function allows the Blog to also function as a full-feature webpage.  It is really quite cool.

Pages are distinguished from posts in that they are not dated.

As for categories of posts, there are tags on the side-bar that allow for some specific navigation of these as well.  Hope this helps!    

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swimm1.jpgTraditional Catholics and Homeschooling parents are always lamenting the fact that they cannot find modest swimsuits for the young women in the family. Everything is designed these days to show ballooning cleavage and legs extended past the waistline, or so it seems. It is all a very scary business, especially if there are young men and teenage boys on the beaches too. Remember, the most dangerous thing for a teenage girl is a teenage boy! Many of us have not visited beaches in years so as to preserve the custody of the eyes. Well, if you are tired of parading your young daughters to the ravenous beach wolves, there is hope in sight. It comes from a highly unlikely place, the Muslims.

Less willing to go naked as many so-called Catholics and other Christians these days, these girls also want fun in the sun, laying on the beach, and swimming in the surf. But, they do not want to forfeit their virginity or be prey to voyeurs in doing it. It is here that we can take a lesson from their book.

moslemsuit1.jpgSPLASHGEAR MODEST SWIMWEAR has been designed with loose-fitting swim shirts (yes, even that pretty neck is covered!), swim pants (legs, what legs?) and hair covers (which she can use at Mass, too!). Why these girls look almost like boys they are covered so effectively. Fathers will no longer have to worry, indeed, they can get modest swim-gear for their wives too (they come even in jumbo sizes!).

An article about these wonderful swimsuits ran in an AP (Feb 18, 2007) article by Peter Prengaman that you can read in full at the Splash Gear site:

“America is predominantly coed, and increasingly the norm is skimpy swimsuits. Enter the new-and-improved all-body suit. The suits are also increasingly stylish, with aqua to purple to hot pink colors, intricate sequin designs and miniskirts that go over long pants. ‘We want to be modest, but we also want to be fashionable,’ said Shereen Sabet, who last year founded Splashgear, an online swimwear store for Muslim women based in Huntington Beach.”


The flipside to all this is that it will help us save our young Catholic boys from corruption, too. No matter how we raise them, let us be honest, when it comes to the flesh, the male of the species is weak. Girls flirt and shamelessly show themselves off to boys, arguing that it is okay as long as they do not get the boys’ engines running. Silly silly girls, boys are born with their motors running. Sexual morality will always be what young women want it to be. If most girls set limits and said “NO!” more often, boys would accept it and be better off. These swimsuits will help…out of sight, out of mind. All the bumpy parts are covered, even down to the ankles. Strategic scarves cover necks and chins and the headgear on other outfits goes all around the chin. Some might regard the hair-guard as optional, but don’t you chance it! Who knows what a pretty neck or a rosy cheek might do to a hormonal crazy boy!  The Bible talks about the allure of a woman’s hair, best to keep that under cover as well.

moslemsuit3.jpgmoslemsuit2.jpgThe Church should start its own line, and we could sell to “good” Catholics and Muslims alike. But until then, the Muslims have online and mail-order catalogues!  If our kids are afraid that others might make fun of them, we can start groups that will go to pools and beaches together. Catholic homeschoolers and Muslim girls can swim together and urge authorities to force those nasty boys to go somewhere else!  With strength of numbers, our families and girls can admonish the other so-called Catholic females on the beach: “Have you no shame for exposing yourselves in underwear? Protestants, I mean Prostitutes wear more clothes than you! Why don’t you save money and just wear a couple pieces of cotton thread instead of that $500 string-bikini! Your butt is fat! My newborn baby sees you and all he wants to do is nurse!” You’ll have those immodest sirens running from the beaches in tears.


Compare this girl to the ones shown in modest-wear above!  It is no comparison!  This girl is nothing but temptation and sin looking for trouble.  Look at her with that “come-hither” stare–disgusting! 

Let us make a revolution for purity and modesty today!

If everyone starts wearing these new outfits, we will finally be able to take our clergy on beach vacations and not have to be embarrassed by the local sights. Take back the pools and beaches for the Lord and for us modest believers. We can make a difference! Finally we have found something worthwhile we can do with our Muslim neighbors!

On the Net:

Splashgear: http://www.splashgearusa.com/

Primo Moda http://www.primomoda.com/

Ahiida: http://www.ahiida.com/

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QUESTION: Does primacy of conscience override church teachings as it relates to taking holy communion for a Catholic who has divorced and remarried outside of church?

QUESTION: If he believes that it is better for the sake of his children to not seek an annulment, and he has truly had a conversion of heart through the grace of God, should he be denied from receiving holy communion at Mass if his conscience tells him it’s the right thing to do?


A few things to keep in mind:

  1. True marriages last until the death of a spouse.
  2. Jesus hates and forbids divorce.
  3. Marriages by Catholics outside the Church are null-and-void.
  4. Annulments are simply declarations that there was no true marriage.
  5. Attempted marriage without an annulment is adultery.

People often do what they want, despite what the Church teaches. However, the Church has the right to control and administer her own sacraments. Remember, there are seven sacraments or divine mysteries only because the Church, herself, is the Great Mystery. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. Established by Christ, never in the history of the world had God given such authority to men as Jesus did to his apostles and priests. Priests can confect the Eucharist and offer the sacrifice of Calvary. They can also forgive sins. The Church is where we have our sacramental encounter with the living Christ.

The primacy of conscience does not mean that a priest must give holy communion to everyone who comes up to him. However, he must also avoid scandal and do nothing to violate professional secrecy and the seal of Confession. This means that despite his convictions, a priest might sometimes be compelled to give holy communion to people who should not receive.

Only Catholics properly disposed (in a state of grace) should make themselves available for holy communion. I regularly make an instruction about this during Masses. A person’s conscience should be properly informed and respectful of Church teaching. Freedom of conscience does not mean license.

Technically, if a couple were living as “brother and sister” (usually elderly) and recourse to an annulment had failed or was impossible, a couple married outside the Church might be permitted to receive communion. They would have to promise the pastor that they would not engage in any sexual activities or divulge to others in the parish their true relationship. After going to confession and receiving sacramental absolution, they could again receive holy communion. However, this type of “internal forum” with the pastor should be sparingly used. If there is any chance of scandal, it cannot be pursued.

Annulments do not have any impact upon the legitimacy of children. People need to know this. They are attempts by the Church to balance compassion to her people with the permanent character of marriage and the prohibition of divorce.

If a man has had a genuine conversion of heart then he would seek an annulment, not only for his own sake, but for the woman he is with now. Does he not want her to go to heaven?  Indeed, I know of one case where a couple separated because they wanted to be in good standing with God and the Church.  Love of God and the love for another human being sometimes means detachment, distance and heroic sacrifice.  Pretending to be married and clinging to each other is something people do in their weakness and sinfulness, both in the cases of attempted second marriages and those who live together without recourse to sacrament or license.  But it is a situation which one should try to quickly remedy. I am reminded of the old Perry Como song, IMPOSSIBLE.  He has the line, “I would sell my very soul and not regret it, for to live without your love is just impossible, impossible.”   In actuality, by God’s grace, sometimes such is made possible, not as a rejection of love, but as an acceptance of all its implications.  The greatest love always casts its eyes upon eternity.  How can you say, “I love you,” or “I would sacrifice anything for you,” when that bodily affection and relationship might forfeit the beloved’s acquisition of heaven and eternal life in Christ? 

In the eyes of God and the Church, the second relationship noted in the question is not a marriage and is reckoned as adultery. People who are living in a state of mortal sin do not have the capacity to function as vessels of salvific grace. This is very serious. I would urge them both to see a priest about the possible regularization of the relationship.

As a priest, I would strongly urge them not to receive holy communion. However, I would ask them to regularly attend Sunday Mass and to attempt making a spiritual communion in their hearts. Because the relationship is deemed sinful, the reception of holy communion would constitute the further sin of sacrilege. The Eucharist is truly the sacrament of salvation for those abiding in a state of grace. However, that same holy communion convicts us and comes to the judgment of those persons not in right relationship with God.

It is not enough for such a man to follow his conscience, he should also follow the laws of the Church and God. His conscience must be formed by the Gospel and the teachings of faith.



Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, said the conscience is not like a new car’s satellite navigator — a voice coming from inside the car’s dash telling the driver to turn here, continue or stop there. And it is not simply a gut feeling about the best way to act in a certain situation, he said.

“Too often in recent years those desperate for moral education or guidance have been fobbed off with ‘follow your conscience’ or ‘do whatever seems right to you’” without being helped to understand what a correct conscience is and how it is formed, Bishop Fisher said.

“The classical Christian conception of conscience is of the natural perception of basic moral principles, their application in particular circumstances and the final judgment about what is to be done,” he said.

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Three Little Pigs went out to dinner one night. The waiter came and took their drink order.

“I would like a Sprite,” said the first little piggy.

“I would like a Coke,” said the second little piggy.

“I want beer, lots and lots of beer,” said the third little piggy.

The drinks were brought out and the waiter took their orders for dinner.

“I want a nice big steak,” said the first piggy.

“I would like the salad plate,” said the second piggy.

“I want beer, lots and lots of beer,” said the third little piggy.

The meals were brought out and a while later the waiter approached the table and asked if the piggies would like any dessert.

“I want a banana split,” said the first piggy.

“I want a cheesecake,” said the second piggy.

“I want beer, lots and lots of beer,” exclaimed the third little piggy.

“Pardon me for asking,” said the waiter to the third little piggy,”

But why have you only ordered beer all evening?”

You’re gonna LOVE me for this…

The third piggy says -


“Well, somebody has to go ‘Wee, wee, wee,’ all the way home!”

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