Ask the Priest

January 3, 2016

 

Q.  What does EMHC mean on the pew in front near the piano in church? –DGB

A.  The letters stand for:  Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  That section is the waiting area for those authorized by the bishop to help distribute Holy Communion.  They gather there just before the Lamb of God part of the Mass.

 

Q.  If you go to a Catholic Church that also offer communion with the Precious Blood of Christ in a cup, would it be a sin not to take it? –Elliot Boyko

A.  Not at all, there is no sin from skipping communion from the cup.  It is totally optional to receive the consecrated wine.  Jesus is completely present in the Eucharistic Bread alone (Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity) and therefore you are already receiving both the Sacred Body and the Precious Blood of Jesus.  Jesus is also completely present in the consecrated wine alone.  The Church has actually declared it a heresy to believe that one must receive from the cup to receive the Precious Blood.  The person who receives communion under both species (consecrated bread and wine) also does not receive extra blessings or graces by receiving communion twice in the same Mass.  The entire sacramental grace of the Eucharist is received under one species.

 

Q.  If you had coffee 45 minutes before you would receive Holy Communion, should you refrain from receiving the Eucharist?  Also, on another occasion I once inadvertently popped a mint into my mouth.  In both situations I didn’t receive communion because 60 minutes hadn’t passed.  Was the right thing to do? –“Confused seeking sainthood”

A.  Yes, you did the appropriate and saintly thing to do.  Catholic Church law mandates the 1-hour Eucharistic fast and a pastor cannot even dispense a parishioner from this discipline.  [Note:  Medicine and water does not break the fast and may be taken as needed.]  Before anyone thinks this is a “harsh” rule, until the early 1960’s Catholics had to fast from Midnight until after Holy Communion!  Some Catholics couldn’t go to communion on some Sundays if they have to work and need to eat before Mass.  This was also the reason why Christmas Midnight Mass was so popular and well attended.  Back then Vigil Masses weren’t in existence so the earliest you could attend Mass for Christmas was Midnight.  Picture this:  You could have late dinner on December 24 and not have a long fast and then go to Midnight Mass.  Afterwards you would have the entire Christmas day with your family for a nice big breakfast followed by the excitement of opening the Christmas presents.  If Vigil Masses weren’t around and the Eucharist fast was still very strict every parish would still have packed Midnight Masses.  Now there are fewer Midnight Masses due to lack of attendance.  Even Christmas Day Masses have dramatically shrunk for the same reason.  But Easter Sundays are still packed because there is only one late Vigil Mass permitted and it is not well attended because it is usually 2-3 hours long (or more)!  This is really unfortunate because Easter Vigil is the most important and glorious of all the Masses in the entire liturgical calendar.  [By the way, I don’t think you’re a “confused” person at all. With a good conscience and respect for the Eucharist like yours I think you’re quite saintly already!]

 

 

 

January 10, 2016

 

Q.  Who was the oldest person in the Bible? –Gabriel G.

A.  The oldest person recorded in the Bible was Methuselah (Genesis 5:27).  He died at the age of 969.  That’s about 13 lifetimes by today’s standard.  (If he had a midlife crisis it would have been around 484-1/2 years old!)

 

Q.  My mom told me that when Jesus returns the world would end.  What does this mean?  I’m not sure what all this means.  Can you explain this? –Anonymous

A.  Jesus will return at a time when the world is in its worst shape filled with wars, famines, natural disasters, and terrible persecution of Christians.  The world will not “end” in the sense of being obliterated by God but it will end in the way we know it now.  Jesus will end all the man-made evils, its natural disasters, and even its pollution when he returns.  In the Bible it speaks of a beautiful new heaven and earth (Revelation 21) in the future.  So the current Earth as we know it will be made far better and will become a place of total paradise for God’s holy people to enjoy.

 

Q.  What would have happened if Jesus didn’t die for us? –Addison

A.  If Jesus didn’t have to die for us, he would still probably be living today.  Without original sin the body of Jesus did not need to die.  Death is one of the consequences of original sin.  Or, Jesus could have done what Mary did and just go into heaven, body and soul, after completing his mission of saving us.  Jesus did not have to necessarily die for us in order to redeem us from our sins to reopen the gates of heaven.  God the Father could have chosen another means to do this.  However, it was God’s great love for us that he did not hold back from anything to save us from our sins.  So when great evil was surrounding Jesus toward the end of his life, God the Father did not spare his own Son, Jesus, from intense suffering leading up to his crucifixion.  We should often meditate on the mystery of Jesus’ suffering and death.  Understanding this great mystery allows us to get a better understanding just how much God truly loves us.

 

 

 

January 17, 2016

 

Q.  What is a rectory and what is it like in there? –Anonymous

A.  The rectory is where the priests in the parish live.  The variations in how rectories look is usually dependent on what the parish could afford to build to house their priests.  Our 2-story rectory was built almost a quarter of a century ago (1992) and has the components of the most common rectories.  There are 3 bedrooms with a bath for each priest plus a 1 small guest room with a bath.  It was originally built to house up to 4 Franciscan priests who use to staff the church until the late 1990’s.  Another room with a bath has been converted to the pastor’s 2nd office (and that’s where I do a bulk of my desk work often till late in the evening).  Like most homes our rectory has a dining room, kitchen and living room (ours does not have a basement).  Parishioners who have had the opportunity to visit the inside of the rectory have described it looking like a regular house.

 

Q.  How many angels are there? –Mary Gutshall

A.  Scripture tells us there are many angels but does not give a specific number.  John wrote in Revelation 5:11 that he couldn’t count the numerous angels he saw:  “I looked again and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  There were countless in number…”

 

Q.  During the readings at Mass the “Book” is mentioned but not the chapter and the verse.  I like to follow along in my Bible but have a hard time finding the text being read.  –Anonymous

A.  The list of readings for the Masses of the week is published in the bulletin.  Just cut out the readings section for the upcoming week and Sunday and place that in your Bible as a bookmark and you should be all set.  The readings are also provided for you in the pew in the Saint Augustine Hymnal.  The page number for the Sunday Mass readings is listed on the 1st line on both hymn boards starting with the initial “A”.

 

Q.  Who are considered “clergy” members in the Catholic Church? SBC

A.  The clergy members are those who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders.  Specifically, they are the bishops, priests and deacons.

 

 

January 24, 2016

 

Q. If confession doesn’t count unless you do your penance, they why can’t you just do your penance without going into the confessional? –Gabriel G.

A. Because going to confession is about confessing your sins to God in order to be forgiven.  In the Gospel Jesus gave the power to the apostles to forgive sins (and not forgive them if the penitent was not sorry for the sins!), “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:22).  The assigned penance is not for forgiveness but to make up for your sins and you don’t get that until after you have gone to confession.

 

Q. Can we have a box in the narthex to tell how many Hail Marys we’ve prayed? –Anonymous

A. We’re no longer counting the Hail Marys we pray after Mass.  We are now counting the number of rosaries prayed for the Rosary Challenge.  You report the number of rosaries you’ve prayed to our website (under Challenge button) and the count is listed on the homepage: www.rosarygraces.com

 

Q. I am having trouble with my faith.  What can bring me back into the light of Jesus? –Anonymous

A. The first thing is to pray to Jesus and ask for his help.  I also recommend that you speak to someone who really loves God and is familiar living our Catholic faith.  Sometimes we really need to open up our struggles with another person who is truly in love with God.  A good chunk of our struggle is that we do not recognize God’s love for us and we don’t know how to deal with it.  Prayer connects us with God and the more we speak to him in a heart to heart conversation the stronger our faith becomes.  Talking to a priest about your faith would help a lot and we’ll be more than happy to help you in rediscovering your faith.  Don’t feel you are alone in your crisis of faith.  We live in a society that has become very anti-God and there are fewer people now you can turn to for spiritual help.  But your church is always here to give you a helping hand.  For a nice collection of Catholic faith resources you can go to www.catholicscomehome.org.  They also have very encouraging short videos that will instantly jumpstart you in getting excited about our faith.  For prayer, I recommend that you learn to pray the rosary.  This prayer has helped more people than anything else out there.  Just go to our website and click on the Rosary Campaign button for more info:  www.saintfrancisparish.org.

 

 

January 31, 2016

 

Q. Could a girl take name Bernard for her Confirmation saint? –M. G.

A. Yes, a Catholic may select a saint from either gender for his or her confirmation saint.

 

Q. Do you get distracted when children make noise in church? –Anonymous

A. I actually do very well not getting distracted with the initial noise they make.  The parents in our parish have been very good about calming their kids in church or take them to the narthex in a timely manner when they recognize their child would have a prolonged noise factor.

 

Q. Why have we started music on Friday Mass? –R. K.

A. Because sacred music goes well with sacred Mass!

 

Q. Are you allowed to tell the penance you received at confession to your friends? –Anonymous

A. Yes.  You can tell everyone everything what happened in the confessional including the sins you confessed if you wish (but it’s not recommended!). It is only the priest who is bound by the seal of confession who cannot discuss with anyone what was revealed in confession.

 

Q. Is there such a thing as “good” terrorism? –Gabriel G.

A. Not really.  Terrorism of any kind is considered a sinful act even if the person intended that good might come out of it.  Even kids are not morally allowed to deliberately terrorize their parents or anyone who has lawful authority over them.

 

 

February 7, 2016

 

Q. If you use white wine for the consecration at the Mass, will it turn red in color like Jesus’ blood? –Gabriel G.

A. The color will not change but regardless of the wine’s color it will turn into the real body and blood of Jesus once it is consecrated.

 

Q. Why did God make the world? –Trinity Yevoli

A. God made the world because he wanted to share his happiness with the creatures he made.  Of all the creatures, human beings were made in his image and likeness.  This means we can live forever and have the power of free will.  With free will we have the ability to do great things especially to love God wholeheartedly and our neighbor as ourselves.  The world was made for our benefit so that we can live in it and enjoy it as we prepare for heaven.  Unfortunately, some people misuse their free will and choose to reject God and do bad things to themselves and to other people.  Some of them even do bad things to animals and other creations of God.

 

Q. Why did God make Mary to be good all the time? –Andrew Yevoli

A. God made Mary just like the rest of us.  The only difference was she did not inherit original sin.  She would have been the equivalent of Eve (Adam’s wife) who first came into existence without original sin.  Unlike Eve, Mary always remained obedient to God and did not choose to sin at all all the way through the time of her death.  That’s why Mary was always good—by choice.  She could have chosen to sin but did not.  Mary had challenges in life just like the rest of the people in the world.  It is for that reason that God chose her to become of the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God.  Later, Jesus at the crucifixion gave Mary as the Mother for all of God’s children.

 

Q. Can God be bad and not good? Anonymous

A. God is perfectly good and perfectly loving.  It is not in God’s nature to choose to be bad because that would make God imperfect.  Since God is perfect in everything he can never be bad.

 

Q. Is there an easier way to get rid of all the snow that we got other than praying for it not to come? –Anonymous

A. Yes, I do have one small tip that could make it easier for you to shovel the snow.  I learned an old trick that’s been around for years.  Spray either WD 40 or PAM cooking spray on the top and bottom of your shovel and you will find the snow sliding in and out a lot easier.  You can also use either of these sprays to increase the speed of your sleds!

 

 

February 14, 2016

 

Q. Can you see angels?  Can they appear to you sometimes? –Caleb C.

A. God allows people to see the angels only on very rare occasions.  Most people will never get to see the angels until after they die.  But they are around us all the time especially our personal Guardian Angel even though we don’t see them.

 

Q. In the Hail Holy Queen there is a part that says, “and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of they womb, Jesus,” what does that mean? –Neo

A. Living here on earth away from God is like living “in exile” because we have to live away from our heavenly home for now and not by our own choice.  To live in exile means to live unwillingly away from one’s home.  Asking Our Blessed Mother to show us Jesus after our “exile” means to lead us to her Son in heavenly paradise at the end of our life here on earth.

 

Q. When reading the descriptions of hell and purgatory they sound like the same place except that one is permanent (hell) and the other is temporary (purgatory).  In what other ways are they different and is there any way to avoid purgatory? Neo

A. The biggest difference would be that the souls in purgatory get relief from their state of purification and they experience a form of joy knowing that it is only a matter of time before they will experience eternal happiness.  The souls there also experience love and prayer while the souls in hell are completely absent of love and prayer.  There is no element of joy or relief of any kind in hell.  The best way to avoid purgatory is live a good holy life and to offer up one’s personal sacrifices towards God in reparation for sins.  That’s how we can make our purgatory here on earth.  Receiving the sacraments can also remove partially or fully our time in purgatory.  Private prayers and devotions also have indulgences attached to them by the Church (and they’re completely free!) that can also take away our purgatory time partially or fully.

 

Q. When you are in purgatory why can’t you pray for yourself? Anonymous

A. Because we can only gain merits from our prayers while we are still alive on earth.  However, the souls in purgatory do pray for us because they are part of the communion of saints (aka the Church in heaven, purgatory & earth).  As a matter of fact, that’s the only thing souls can do in purgatory:  pray!

 

Q. Does the priest have the discretion to choose the Eucharistic Prayer or is he mandated to read the same one for the liturgical season?  I would like to be able to follow along with the priest but I can’t find it in either the St. Michael or St. Augustine hymnal.  –Anonymous

A. The choice of which Eucharistic Prayer to use for the Mass is at the sole discretion of the celebrating priest and the liturgical season is irrelevant.  You can follow the Eucharistic Prayer in the St. Michael Hymnal.  They are found in these pages:  Eucharistic Prayer I (p. 39), EP II (p. 59), EP III (p. 67), and EP IV (p. 75).  You can also invest in purchasing your own personal Missal so that you can easily follow the Mass.  I usually announce which one I will use before I begin.  (You have one guess which Eucharistic Prayer Father Mullaney will use and you will probably get it right!)

February 21, 2016

 

Q. Is it a sin to leave Mass right after Holy Communion? –Dylan

A. If someone leaves Mass early without a very good reason it would at least be a venial sin and would also miss the final blessing.  Remember, Jesus celebrated the first Mass at the Last Supper and the only apostle who left early was Judas Iscariot!  

 

Q. When do we have Sunday Pancake Breakfast served after Mass? Anonymous

A. The Knights of Columbus offers the Pancake Breakfast on the 1st Sunday of the Month from September thru June.

 

Q. Can you still go to hell if you died just having venial sin on your soul? –Alec

A. No.  But you may spend some time in purgatory for spiritual purification.

 

Q. What is Mary’s middle and last name?  And what is Jesus’ last name? MJL

A.  They didn’t have one.  People back in the time of Jesus didn’t use last names yet.

 

Q. Are your sins still forgiven if you forget a couple of them when you are in the confessional but remember them after you are already out doing your penance? –Anonymous

A. Yes, all your sins are still forgiven as long as you did not deliberately skip over your mortal sins.  Even if you accidentally forgot to confess your mortal sin(s) they are still forgiven as long as you intend to confess the mortal sins the next time you go to confession.  God understands we don’t have a perfect memory recall.  Venial sins are automatically forgiven when we go to confession because we’re not required to confess them but it is always a good spiritual to do so.

 

February 28, 2016

 

Q. I know the rule concerning the 1-hour fast before Holy Communion.  If my timing was off and only 55 minutes elapsed, should I skip communion? –Anonymous (typed)

A. You should be able to receive communion since you consciously attempted to do the 1-hour fast but accidently went under by just 5 minutes.  [If you really want to feel less guilty for unintentionally doing less than a one hour fast, you might want to go in the back of the line to receive last and just tell the Lord, I really want to receive you in Holy Communion and tried everything to make the one hour fast and this is my best effort!]

 

Q. Does Jesus need to pray? –F.T.W.

A. Not anymore.  Jesus only prayed when he was here on earth.  Prayer is conversation with God and Jesus in his human nature prayed or “conversed” like us with his Heavenly Father during his earthly living.  Now that Jesus is united in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit he no longer needs to pray.  But while we are still here on earth we still need to pray to Jesus, Mary, the saints and the angels to hear our petitions.  At the end of time those who are in heaven will no longer need to pray for special petitions either.  The only kind of prayer we will be doing will be in adoring God in His divine presence.  [If you pray any of the litanies you will notice that when we invoke Mary or the saints we say, “Pray for us.”  But when we invoke the Holy Trinity we say, “Have mercy on us.”]

 

Q. What is the purpose of the Sign of Peace at Mass and what is the proper etiquette?  In addition to a handshake can one give a hug, kiss, wave of the hand, or two-finger peace sign?  Do we give the sign of peace to those on either side of us, in front and behind us, or a wave to someone across the church?  I’ve seen all of these and am confused. –Anonymous (typed)

A. The peace greeting is an ancient practice in our liturgy that dates back to apostolic times and was mostly limited to the clergy in the sanctuary (e.g., between bishops, priests, and deacons).  However, the present practice of the congregation expressing a general sign of peace to each other during Mass only dates back to around 1970 when the New Order (Novus Ordo) of the Mass was put into effect after Vatican II.  But it only calls for the expression of peace to those immediately around you.  The directives today specify the person to your immediate right and left.  Most nations only greet each other with a slight bow (no physical contact) and the words, “Peace be with you.”  This is the only proper gesture that is widely accepted and recommended.  The handshake is more of an American practice and something I did not see in Europe or in Asia.  The churches in parts of the Caribbean and Africa have prolonged peace signs that include hugging and waving across the aisles and many of their practices made it to the American parishes.  Nevertheless, you are not required to make any physical contact for the sign of peace even if that is the practice of the local parish.  This is not social time of the Mass.  Many forget that the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is taking place during Mass and it is not appropriate to be in the spirit of partying like those rejoicing at the death of Jesus in Calvary!  [FYI:  The practice of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) is not included in the liturgy at all.  So don’t feel obligated to do anything if someone invites you to hold his or her hand during this part of the Mass.]

 

March 6, 2016

 

Q. On the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord, you mentioned something about a “portal” to Rome.  How is that possible? –K

A. That was the “nickname” I gave if you walk through the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy Holy Doors designated by our local bishops that would have the similar effect of traveling to Rome through the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica and receive the special blessings and indulgences.  You can read more about it online by going through our website and click on Bulletin (January 10, 2016).

 

Q. I have heard some people say, “You’re not Catholic if you vote for a Democrat.” But I believe that helping the less fortunate, caring for the environment, and keeping people safe from gun violence is equally important as fighting against abortion and euthanasia.  What is the right thing to do since Catholic morals rest on both political sides? –Anonymous

A. First of all, the Catholic Church teaches that the Church does not endorse any political party or candidate.  The Church will work with any form of government regardless of their political affiliation to ensure the freedom of worship and that the exercise of faith is respected.  This includes respecting the individual’s God-given rights and fairness in treatment.  When people vote they often use party loyalty as their basis for selecting a candidate.  This is a mistake because what the candidate stands for should be the determining factor.  Let’s start with the issues you mentioned regarding “helping the less fortunate, caring for the environment, and keeping safe from gun violence.”  It would be outright ignorance and a violation of God’s 8th commandment (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor) to label any major political candidate to be in opposition to the issues you mentioned.  All major politicians are passionately in favor of those goals and the voter must decide who has the more effective and realistic means of achieving them.  In other words, the arguments on either side of those issues are not necessarily immoral but rather arbitrary regardless of who’s right or wrong.  However, when it comes to the issue of abortion, there is absolutely nothing arbitrary about the killing of an innocent child in the womb of the mother:  abortion is cold-blooded murder and a clear violation of the 5th commandment: “You shall not kill”.  Abortion is intrinsically evil (which means it’s always an evil act w/out exception).  I hope you can see now how important not to equate abortion on the same scale of political argument with feeding the poor, environmental concern, and violence.  Pro-choice politicians who do not recognize intellectually that abortion as murdering the innocent will also not likely to have the correct judgment on other important political issues. Self-proclaimed Christians/Catholics (and may even claim to be “pro-life”) who do not see the importance of being pro-life as a priority and rationalize their pro-choice/abortion politicians’ position are either ignorant about what abortion really is or in denial that abortion is satan’s most effective way to murder people in our society and getting his way thru people’s votes.  Abortion is the worst form of child abuse and child violence as more than 1 million babies are legally aborted annually in the U.S alone.  [And pro-choice politicians are trying to preach about preventing violence?]  The comparison is even more radical than apples and oranges.  Both fruits are good!  Abortion and air pollution management don’t even come close.  To make a Christian responsible choice at the voting booth, it is best to remove the political label and just examine what each candidate really stands for.  Then honestly weigh that according to the moral standard that God has established in scripture and in Catholic teaching.  Pray to God for guidance that you will make the right choice.  If after you voted you can still proudly proclaim that you voted for Candidate X and not feel guilty about going to communion as a Catholic, or worry about going to hell for what you did, then there’s a chance that you may have made the right choice. [Reality check:  pro-abortion candidates come from Democrat, Republican, and other labels.]  Before you support a candidate that promises to support abortion, I invite you to first learn just what an abortion is by going to this website:  http://www.abortionprocedures.com.  True loving Christians (or any person of good faith) will be shocked what pro-choice/abortion advocates are actually pushing for society to accept.

 

 

March 13, 2016

 

Q. When are we doing the “Catholics Got Talent” show?  I have not heard any more about it since it was announced in the bulletin. –Anonymous

A. There was a lot of interest attending the show but, unfortunately, only 5 people wanted to compete:  2 singing canaries, 1 dancing bear, 1 “88 fingers” piano player, and 1 who could slice a watermelon with his bare hand.  We were off to a nice start but couldn’t get enough competitors to put on a show.  I really hope we can do this someday.

 

Q. Is it okay to pray the rosary during Mass? –Anonymous

A. In general, the answer is no.  The New Mass (Novos Ordo) was liturgically intended by the Church to be in a dialogue format.  This means the congregation has spoken parts for the Mass.  The Mass is a public (liturgical) prayer and the rosary is a private (devotional) prayer.  The Mass dialogue would not be possible if the person is praying the rosary.  The meditation on the Mass should be focused on the mystery of thesacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  However, if a person has already attended Mass that day and would like to pray the rosary in church while Mass is going on, that’s all fine.  Another good reason is if a person is not familiar with the language, and decides to pray the rosary as a meditation during Mass, that should be all right too.  [FYI:  The practice of praying the rosary during Mass dates back to the old days when all the Latin Rite Masses were celebrated in Latin.  For centuries there were no microphones to hear much of the Mass and some could not read or write.  This made following the Mass even with a Missal very difficult.  So back then some of the faithful were praying the rosary during Mass and it was permitted.]  Nevertheless, the most important part of participating at Mass is the internal spiritual participation by the individual.  Just reciting the words does not automatically make one a true participant at Mass.  Our love for God and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist needs to involve our whole heart, mind and soul to properly participate at Mass.

 

Q. Can children commit mortal sins that does not include killing? –Anonymous

A.  If you define children as anyone under 18 years old, the answer is yes.  Teenagers can commit all the mortal sins associated with the 10 commandments.  As far as the youngest of children, those before the age of reason (around 7) are unlikely to commit any sin at all.  Around age 10 and up (puberty) is when children are tempted to do more serious offenses and can therefore be guilty of mortal sins.  Sometimes we hear of 11-12 year old kids already involved with gangs, drug dealing, stealing, and physical assaults.  Many also tell serious lies to purposely get others in big trouble. 

 

 

March 20, 2016

 

Q. Is there a patron saint for reptiles? –Anonymous

A. St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint for all the animals so he could be the advocate for the reptiles.  The only saint I can think of associated directly with reptiles was St. Patrick.  Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.  St. Benedict is invoked for protection against venom and other poisons.  I highly doubt the reptiles would like to claim either one of them for their patron saint!

 

Q. Did Jesus speak a different language? –Mathilde

A. Jesus spoke a Hebrew dialect called Aramaic.  It is still spoken in some places in the Middle East including in Syria and Lebanon.  The language has its roots in Hebrew, Arabic and Syriac.

 

Q. As a teenager, what can I do to help the imprisoned? –Anonymous

A. For starters, don’t get locked up and join them in jail!  Right now the prison rules are very strict in our area so there’s not much you can do directly to work with the prisoners.  However, you can pray for the imprisoned everyday.  We do have a wonderful prison ministry in our parish directed by our own, Deacon Larry Hammel.  Perhaps you might want to contact him for suggestions.  For security reasons, it is very difficult now to send anything to the inmates but you might inquire about sending “care mail” to them.  You can email Deacon Larry at:  lmhammel@verizon.net

 

Q. Do babies feel pain during an abortion procedure? –SBC

A. Yes, and now there is ultrasound proof for it.  Former Ob/Gyn abortionist, Dr. Bernard Nathanson (d. 2011), recorded an ultrasound abortion in the early 1970’s and was stunned to see the 12-week old fetus screaming while being torn to pieces.  The life changing experience turned him from a pro-choice leader who claimed to be personally responsible for more than 60,000 abortions at his facilities (including one of his children) to a pro-life crusader while still a “Jewish” atheist.  He converted to the Catholic Church in 1996 with the help of Fr. C. John McCloskey and baptized by the late Card. John J. O’Connor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.  I first saw this amazing video, Silent Scream, back in the late 1980’s and found out this week that you can access it thru YouTube (viewer discretion is advised as this is an explicit video that I don’t recommend for minors to see w/out their parents’ consent).

 

 

March 27, 2016

 

Q. What can you do with ALL the religious materials you receive in the mail—rosaries, prayer books, Mass cards, etc.?  We get them in abundance and don’t want to put them in the trash. –Anonymous

A. Burning or burying is the proper way of disposing religious materials if you cannot give them away.  If it is not possible, you can place them in appropriate recycle bins for pickup.  Recycling usually involves burning or melting for reuse or disposal.  A few years ago there was a nice article in the Arlington Herald about disposing of religious items and it is still available online:  http://catholicherald.com/stories/Disposal-of-religious-items,26265

 

Q. Is it okay if we do magic in the name of God?  I’m talking about magic as in witchcraft as long as it was done in God’s name? –Anonymous

A. We cannot have anything to do with witchcraft at all including their form of magic because their work always involves the devil.  There is no such thing as a “good or white” witch that dabble with black magic.  God is very clear with his commandment, “You shall not have other (strange) gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).  The only kind of “magic” we can practice is illusion or sleight of hand magic because this involves only human skill and deception of the eyes and it does not involve any supernatural activities (even though sometimes it is acted out that way but only for showmanship).  It is also practiced solely for entertainment.  And that is the only kind of magic that I and the other priests have practiced (our patron is Saint John Bosco who was also an excellent magician!).  So make sure to stay away from witchcraft and any form of black magic.

 

Q. After Jesus had risen from the dead, was he still human? –FTW

A. For all eternity Jesus will now have both natures:  God and man.  But after the resurrection Jesus had an even more perfect resurrected body that can no longer be destroyed or injured.  Jesus could also travel at the speed of thought and can even go thru walls as we’ve seen in John 20:19 when he just appeared out of nowhere thru a locked room.  And that’s the kind of resurrected body we’re going to get when (or if) we get there.  Wow, do we have a lot to look forward to in heaven!

 

 

April 3, 2016

 

Q. Why is Ash Wednesday not a holy day of obligation? –Gabriel G.

A. The Catholic Church reserves holy days of obligation (required Mass attendance) only for the commemoration of major important events in our salvation history (e.g., Sundays [The Lord’s Day], Christmas, Immaculate Conception, All Saints, etc.).  Ash Wednesday is just the first day of the season of Lent when we are marked with ashes to symbolize the first day of the penitential season.  While Catholics are encouraged to go to Mass on Ash Wednesday, getting our foreheads marked with dirt is not significantly important enough to make it obligatory for all Catholics to attend.

 

Q. Is it bad to roll your eyes when asked to go to church or for something not mandatory like the Stations of the Cross? –Anonymous

A. Yes, it would be bad to roll your eyes if someone asks you to go to Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation because you are really resenting God’s direct command to “keep the Lord’s Day holy.”  Our eyes should perk wide open and light up with excitement when we’re asked to go to the sacred house of God!  If we resent going to church then we are not quite ready to go to heaven and still need a lot of spiritual formation.  For non-obligatory devotions such as the Stations of the Cross, it is not a sin to skip them and it might be okay to roll your eyes.  But getting excited to attend church devotions is a great sign that we have become very close to God since we are willing to do beyond the minimum of what God has asked us to do.

 

Q. If someone is dying and praying for forgiveness, how can they know if they are really repentant or just scared and desperate? –N.

A. If they don’t know we certainly wouldn’t know for sure either.  This is why we are taught to pray for the virtue of hope since our youth.  We can only do our best and hope that God is pleased with what we are doing.  Our faith encourages to do our best in living for God and we hope for the best with the rest.  In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI gave us a beautiful encyclical Spe Salvi (“Saved in hope”) that taught us important lessons on the theological virtue of hope.  Drawing from the spirit of Romans 8:24-25, the pope recalled from St. Paul’s writing that our personal salvation is closely related to hope:  “For in hope we were saved.  Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.”

Q. Why is the priest’s communion host larger than what the people receive? –L.

A. The reason why priests use a larger host at Mass is to make it more visible for the people who are farther away from the altar.

 

 

April 10, 2016

 

Q.  Are you allowed to bless a dog? –Collin Price

A.  Yes.  I have blessed many dogs and all sorts of other animals including cats, birds, fishes, a variety of reptiles (including snakes), and numerous farm animals.

 

Q.  Why does it say in Acts 5:30 that Jesus was hanged from a tree when we know and were taught that he was crucified on a cross? –“Confused”

A.  St. Luke carefully used the reference of hanging Jesus on a tree to show how Jesus’ own people violated one of their Mosaic laws by conspiring to have Him hang on a tree for execution.  Jewish law prescribes that serious criminals were first put to death (commonly by stoning) before hanging them for display in public to warn others of the severe punishment for serious crimes.  Jesus was alive when he was hanged on the cross to die.  The Jews would have recalled then that this was a prophecy fulfilled from Deuteronomy 21:22-23:  “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight.  You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.  You shall not defile the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you a heritage.”  St. Paul made the same reference in Galatians 3:13-14:  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’—that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  But for many who do not need to recall the Old Testament reference can simply read the text as a “figure of speech” since crosses used for the crucifixion were made of wood that originally came from trees.

 

Q.  If a priest celebrates Mass more than twice a day is he allowed to receive the Eucharist more than twice a day (the limit for lay people)?  --Peter Karanski

A.  Yes, that is correct.  A priest must receive the Eucharist at every Mass he celebrates if he needs to celebrate more than two Masses a day.

 

Q.  Would you go to hell if you don’t believe in God? –C.P.M.

A.  Unless they find faith in God before they die, they will end up in hell.  Anyone who rejects God here on earth will not live with God in heaven.  Jesus says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32-33).

 

 

April 17, 2016

 

Q. Why does God not have a beginning? –Livia Tuman

A. God is the creator of everything in existence.  If God had a beginning then someone else greater made God to exist.  Therefore, He could not be God.  So God would have to be someone who always existed and has no beginning or end.  We will understand this better once we get to heaven.  God’s presence is so mysterious it is very difficult for humans to understand since we always base everything according to its existence in time.  We know little about eternal life and we don’t have a very good understanding of it yet.

 

Q. How many Sundays of Lent are there? –Keira

A. There are 5 Sundays of Lent plus Palm Sunday that begins Holy Week.

 

Q. Would God ever give you a sign to stop relying on him so much and try to stand strong on your own?  It would not be a denial of help but more to help you realize the strength you have within yourself.  I hope this makes sense.  –Anonymous

A. God loves it when we rely and call upon him and He would never ask us to stop.  Without God we are nothing so don’t be too shy to always ask God for anything whether in time of prosperity or adversity.  God never tires of hearing from us.  If we have any strength at all it is because God has provided us his grace to make that happen.  It would be a spiritual mistake if we try to do things on our own and not rely upon God’s grace to help us.  When God remains silent behind the scenes when we feel like God is not there, especially in times of trial, He is still really there helping and providing help with His grace.  Calling upon God regularly gives us the confidence to remain strong and close to Him as we read in Hebrews 13:6, “Thus we may say with confidence:  ‘The Lord is my helper, [and] I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?’”  

 

Q.  What is a definition of a Christian?  Can you be a Christian yet support the security of our nation’s borders?  Can you be a Christian yet allow the genocide of Christians?  Can you be a Christian and put global warming in perspective? –SBC

A. A Christian is a baptized person who professes that God is the Holy Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  It is also someone who believes that Jesus is God the Son who suffered and died to redeem us for our sins.  Yes, you can be a Christian that supports the protection of a nation by protecting its borders.  Take the Vatican City for example.  It is the smallest sovereign country in the world and the capital of Christianity yet it protects its borders with 50-foot high walls to safeguard the pope and its few citizens inside the walls.  No, you cannot consider yourself a Christian if you support the genocide of Christians (or genocide of any group!).  The scientific debate on global warming in itself does not affect the Christian status of a person.

 

 

April 24, 2016

 

Q.  Instead of praying before/after communion, can I just sit in silence? –Anonymous

A.  You can as long as your silence includes meditating (thinking) about God and the mysteries of our faith.  It is a good spiritual practice, and highly recommended, to spend time in silence so that we can internally hear God’s silent voice.  If we spend too much time “speaking” while praying, we don’t allow our soul to hear God’s response to us.  Spiritual meditation requires moments of silence.  So spending time in silence is very spiritually beneficial to us.  Scientific studies also show that those who practice meditation regularly significantly reduce their stress level and tend to live peaceful lives.

 

Q.  Why was confession not offered after Stations of the Cross on Good Friday? –Anonymous

A.  As in previous years, confession was extensively offered before and after Stations of the Cross this past Good Friday.  By doubling the count from my baseball pitch counter (2 priests hearing confessions), we heard more than 300 confessions from Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and Good Friday morning before Stations of the Cross, and on Holy Saturday morning and afternoon (both were after Friday’s stations).  Some parishes don’t even offer confessions at all during the Triduum—but we do!

 

Q.  If Jesus died for our sins, then why is confession still necessary? –Anonymous

A.  Redemption does not mean we are no longer capable of sinning.  When Jesus redeemed us by dying for our sins, one of the main effects was the “reopening” of the gates of heaven.  Heaven remained closed after the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden.  Beginning with Baptism, Jesus made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and go to heaven.  After redemption and even with the help of the sacraments, our weakened nature remains capable of sinning and that’s why we still need to go to confession.

 

Q.  Is it possible for a cannibal to heaven? –“Xprince”

A.  Truth is often stranger than fiction and this may sound strange (and probably heretical) to many of you.  Yes, a cannibal can go to heaven!  The Catholic Church does not teach that cannibalism is intrinsically evil (always evil by nature).  Obviously, if you kill a fellow human being and eat him you would be guilty of murder and that is a mortal sin punishable by the eternal flames of hell if you die unrepentant.  Let me give you an example of an actual event that happened back in 1972 when the plane carrying the Uruguayan Old Christian Rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains at nearly 12,000 feet altitude.  Of the 45 passengers (all Roman Catholics) only 16 were eventually rescued 72 DAYS after the crash!  They survived by ingeniously working together.  One of the means of survival was to eat their fellow passengers who died during/after the crash.  When the Catholic Church was asked about the morality of the survivors resorting to cannibalism, the response was a complete justification for their desperation to survive.  It was paralleled similar to the legitimacy of receiving blood or body organs (i.e., heart, kidney) as transplants to preserve the life of another.  One of the survivors, Nando Parrado, wrote a book detailing their survival if you want to read about it:  Miracle in the Andes:  72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home.

 

 

May 1, 2016

 

Q.  How many Catholic bishops are there?  --Charley C.

A.  The latest number I could find for this answer was from the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church. It lists the number of the Catholic bishops worldwide at 5,133.

 

Q.  Who answers the “Ask the Priest” questions? –SUV

A.  99% of the time, I do (Father Escalante)!  There were a couple of occasions when I had to ask other priests to respond because they had a better way of addressing the questions.  For example, I had an African-American place a question in the box (w/name included) asking why God made dark-skinned people (July 19, 2009).  With permission from the parent, we re-phrased the question and I had a black South African holy priest who was living with me at the rectory at that time respond to it.  His response was beautiful and insightful.  I don’t think I could have answered it any better!

 

Q.  Why is there a B.C. (Before Christ) if nothing was before Christ? –Anonymous

A.  B.C. is used as a historical timeline reference before the birth of Jesus Christ.  History is based on factual events.  It is mindboggling that there are those who do not believe that Jesus actually lived in our human history.  If Jesus did not, then why do history books separate the world’s time period between a before and after a “supposedly” non-existent Jesus by designating the world’s timeline with B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini or the Year of the Lord)? 

 

Q.  Does the Catholic Church believe in aliens in outer space?  If not, why would God create a big never-ending universe? –Anonymous

A.  The Catholic Church does not teach there are other living beings outside our planet Earth because God has never revealed to us their existence.  However, it is not contrary to our faith to believe there is life in other parts of the universe.  But the universe is not infinite (never-ending) despite its size and has its outer limits even if the “expanding universe” is true.  Anything that deals with matter is created and is therefore limited.  The universe is definitely super big and we simply cannot see its extremities.  Someday in eternal life we’ll learn the secrets behind this amazing creation of God that has mystified and awed even the most knowledgeable scientists.

 

May 8, 2016

 

Q.  In the Bible it only took one stone hurled from David’s sling to kill Goliath.  But how big was the stone? –Anonymous

A.  The story is found in 1 Samuel 17.  On verse 40 it only mentions David selecting “five smooth stones” but does not mention their size.  In the ancient days armies utilized men armed with a sling to hurl stones at their enemies.  Soldiers trained using the sling could hurl stones at over 60 mph and with pinpoint accuracy.  This tactic slowed or weakened enemies as they get into close range battle.  But if the stone hits the person in the head it could seriously injure or even kill a person.  Ancient Roman military texts show how trained soldiers practiced with bow and arrow at targets 200 yards away but with sling and stone at 400 yards.  The stones can also inflict serious internal wounds on the body on impact that arrows could not.  The Bible mentions army slingers as in Judges 20:15-16 [this one says these elite slingers “do not miss”!] and in 1 Chronicles 12:2.  The average size of the stones used for the sling was about the size of a golf ball and not all used stones.  Others were made of lead or dried pottery clay.  As a shepherd David would have had plenty of practice hurling stones with his sling to keep predators away from his sheep.  So one solid hit on the forehead of Goliath going 60+ mph killed him very quickly (1 Samuel 17:49).

 

Q.  Is there such a thing as a person who is bad but good on the inside? –Anonymous

A.  There are some who may be mistaken to be bad people but are really good but that’s because people didn’t know them really well.  Their wrong perception caused them to make a wrong judgment.  That’s why God says not to make rash judgment of people because only God can see what is in the person’s heart.  On the other hand, Jesus also says that bad people from the inside can never do good things.  “Every good tree bears good fruit, nor can a rotten tree bears good fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  So by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:17-20).

 

Q.  If you as a Catholic are asked if you are an “Evangelical Christian”, should you say “yes”? –SBC

A.  No.  Catholics are not classified as Evangelical Christians and can never be.  By definition an Evangelical Christian is a Protestant who has personally accepted and experienced being born again (already saved through their faith alone) in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and sees the only Bible as its definitive source of Christian doctrine and moral values.  While Catholics share many similar Christian and moral values with Evangelicals, our salvation is not based on faith alone (sola fide) nor do we consider the Bible as the only source of our faith (sola scriptura).  Catholics believe that complete revelation of Jesus Christ comes from 2 sources:  Tradition and Sacred Scripture.  Much of the revelations from Jesus came from Tradition.  The Church and the Traditions of our faith predate the New Testament by several years and it was the Catholic Church that determined which 27 books of the New Testament to be added to the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament).  Faith and good works are necessary for salvation (James 2:14-26 and Matthew 25:31-46).  We also need to worthily receive the sacred Body and Blood of Jesus (Eucharist—read John 6) and other sacraments for our salvation.

 

May 15, 2016

 

Q. We know Jesus ascended to heaven at 33 years old but how old was Mary when she was assumed (taken up) into heaven? –Anonymous

A. Tradition tells us that Mary was in her early 70’s when she was taken up into heaven.

 

Q. How do some people know so much about Jesus? –KL

A. It is because they constantly study their faith by regularly reading the Bible and other books about God, attending lectures that help understand their faith better, taking part in retreats, watching DVD’s or online faith courses, etc.  They also learn a lot by listening to the homilies and reading what is offered in the bulletin about ways to get to know God.  But the most important way to get to know Jesus is to pray to him a lot.  You can read everything about Jesus but unless you develop a good relationship with him through prayer you will never get to know him well.  And I highly recommend praying the Rosary as one of the best means to get to know Jesus because you will be meditating on his life’s history and you will have our Blessed Mother to guide you!

 

Q. How many religions are there? –George

A. Thousands and thousands of them!  Nobody really knows the exact number.  The number of churches that claim to be Christian alone amounts to over 34,000 when you combine the different denominations, sects, and independents.  But the only religion that Jesus Christ founded and is still going strong today is the one our parish belongs to:  The Roman Catholic Church!  Jesus founded it upon St. Peter the Apostle, the first pope, and we’ve had an unbroken succession of popes leading the same church since 33 A.D.

 

Q. Some say that on our deathbed an angel will appear before our final breath and ask if you want to be with Jesus for eternity.  If you say yes you will go to heaven.  If you say no you will go to hell.  Is this true? –Anonymous

A. Our final destination either in heaven or hell is determined by the state of our soul when we die and not by an angel asking a question.  That sounds like a myth and I have not heard that one before.  Our faith tells us that if we die in the state of grace, that is, without an unconfessed mortal sin in our soul, we will end up in heaven.  On the other hand, if we die in mortal sin and did not have the opportunity to confess our sins or make a perfect act of contrition, we are destined for the eternal fires of hell.  Jesus is the only one who judges who goes to heaven or hell:  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

 

May 22, 2016

 

Q. Are God and Jesus the same person in the Holy Trinity? –from ?11

A. Our one God is in three divine persons whom we call the Holy Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is God the Son—He is both God and man.  God took on human nature when Jesus was conceived and born through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

Q. If someone wants to go to Mass for the shortest time possible, when should he come and when should he leave? –Frank, age 9

A. On Sundays our 7 AM Mass has been nicknamed by longtime parishioners as the “in-and-out” Mass.  There is no music so the Mass is celebrated significantly shorter than any of the other Masses.  A lot of parishioners like it because they find its quiet nature very meditative.  Amazingly, it is the Mass with the largest percentage of people showing up on time and the least leaving before the Mass is over!  As far as when one should come and leave Mass, everyone should be there before Mass begins and not leave until after the priest has recessed out of the church.

 

Q. How long do you work as a priest before you can retire? –Lillian Vale

A. The Arlington Diocese priests’ retirement age is 75.  [That means I have almost 24 more years before retirement!]

 

Q. Is it okay for an adopted child to marry one of the children of the family in which they were adopted? –Anonymous

A. No.  The Catholic Church treats adopted children as if they were naturally born in the adoptive family.  Canon Law 1094 specifically forbids marrying someone adopted in the family:  “Those who are legally related by reason of adoption cannot validly marry each other if their relationship is in the direct line or in the second degree of the collateral line.”

 

 

May 29, 2016

 

Q. Why is Mary the Mother of God? –Joseph

A. Of all the women in the world, Mary was the most perfect of all God’s creation and therefore was chosen to become the Mother of Jesus.  Since Jesus is the Son of God, Mary became the Mother of God.  You can read about this in Luke 1:28-38.

 

Q. When I pray, should I look towards the tabernacle or the crucifix? –M

A. The most important part of praying is focusing one’s mind towards God.  We look towards the tabernacle to recognize the real presence of Jesus in the church.  When we look at the crucifix and other sacred images, they are there to help picture in our minds the mysteries of our faith.  You could call them meditative aids because that’s what they are.  That’s the reason why Catholic tradition promotes the use of multiple statues and sacred images in church—to help us to pray and think about God and heaven.  Sometimes it’s not easy to picture spiritual things so God gave the gift of the arts (and music) to certain people help others imagine the mysteries of God and heaven.  Just look at any pilgrimage brochures.  Companies pick churches that have traditional paintings and statues inside for people to admire.  [No one has successfully promoted a pilgrimage to visit modern/barren-looking churches that have radical designs.  They feel empty and do not inspire people to pray!]  Traditional music has outperformed “pop” music that gets old fairly quickly.  We have chants composed about 1,500 years ago still regularly sung, played, and re-recorded to this day.  Church music from Mozart, Bach, Schubert, and Beethoven from centuries ago is listened to regularly even by non-churchgoing seculars.

 

Q. Why did Pope Francis meet last month with Bernie Sanders, a well-known radical pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage, and presidential candidate?  What message is he sending? –SBC

A. As successor to the apostle Peter as pope, Bishop of Rome, and Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis is the spiritual shepherd of every single person in the world.  Popes have always met with anyone regardless of the status of their souls.  After all, every pope’s goal is to lead everyone to heaven even if that means meeting with people who hold views contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  In scripture Jesus received the same criticism for meeting with public sinners regularly to try to make them turn away from sin. “While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.  The Pharisees saw this and said, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  He heard this and said, ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13).  When popes meet with politicians they do not intend that as an endorsement of their political views.  Predecessors of Pope Francis, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have also met with politicians who hold views contrary to God by radically promoting laws favoring abortion and same sex marriage.  The list includes Pres. Barak Obama, Pres. Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many others.  So do not be alarmed by media reports.  By the nature of their duties, popes (and the Catholic Church in general) are apolitical and do not favor political parties or ideologies.  However, the Catholic Church will passionately oppose laws that are contrary to God while at the same time seek “common ground” with political leaders and lawmakers for the good of the people.

June 5, 2016

 

Q. What is the youngest age you can receive the Holy Eucharist? –Douglas

A. The answer might surprise you if I tell you that a Catholic can receive the Eucharist as early as an infant.  But this is only done in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church (Orthodox Churches do it as well) when infants are given Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist at the same ceremony when they are brought into the church.  We belong to the Latin (or Western) Rite and the largest membership among 1 billion Catholics).  There are about 16.5 million Eastern Catholics spread worldwide according to the last census I read.  Many of their priests are also married with families.  Only their bishops are unmarried and come from the monasteries (monks).  In the Latin Rite our rites of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) are done at different age intervals.  Ordinarily, Baptism is administered at infancy, First Eucharist at the age of reason (around age 7), and later Confirmation (anywhere between 3rd grade thru high school—depending on the local bishop’s decision).  Eastern and Western Rites are equally 100% Roman Catholics and recognize the pope as its supreme spiritual leader.  We can fulfill our Sunday obligation and receive Holy Communion from either church.  But if you’re not familiar with receiving communion from the Eastern Church, make sure you get instructed on how it’s done because it is very different from the Western (Latin) Church.  In the Diocese of Arlington there are 3 Eastern Catholic Churches:  Epiphany of our Lord Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite in Annandale under the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Passaic, N.J.; Holy Transfiguration Melkite Rite in McLean of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Mass.; and Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Byzantine Ukrainian Rite in Manassas of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Pa.  You can read a summary of the 2 rites here:  http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-eastern-rite-church.html

 

Q. Would you consider moving the “Faith In Action” prayer at the time of the Prayers of the Faithful?  It seems to stop the flow of the liturgy where we say it now before the final blessing. –Vincent Terreri

A. It would be liturgically inappropriate to add the parish Faith In Action prayer at the Prayers of the Faithful.  Liturgically, the devotional prayers and announcements are appropriately added after the Communion Prayer and before the Final Blessing.

 

Q. When Stephen the Martyr was stoned, it was written that those who were witnesses lay their cloaks at the feet of Saul (later St. Paul).  What does this symbolize? –SBC

A. You’re referring to Acts 7:54-60 where St. Paul before his conversion was called Saul and was a severe persecutor of Christians.  When we need to do something and leave valuables as our jacket or purse, we usually do with someone we trust or at least share our views.  St. Luke wrote in Acts 7:58,“the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul” (before stoning St. Stephen), to indicate that prior to his conversion he supported the persecution of anyone who followed Jesus even to the point of executing them.  It was reference point to show how much St. Paul truly converted to Christianity by doing a complete turnaround in his faith in favor of Jesus.

 

 

June 12, 2016

 

Q. Why do we not have speakers in the hallway?  My mom is back there with my sister a lot. –Anonymous

A. With the exception of unusually large Masses such as Christmas and Easter, the people attending the Mass as much as possible should be within the visible confines of the sanctuary.  As other parishes have witnessed, “broadcasting” the Mass in the hallways only encouraged some people, especially younger ones, to hang around there away from the Mass.  Even without the speakers I’ve “chased” young teens from our hallway back to the church because they were just hanging around socializing (and texting!).  So don’t expect any speakers installed in the there.  However, I’m looking into getting permission to have a TV monitor placed in the oratory to make it an auxiliary overflow area when the narthex gets full.  The liturgy office informed me just last week that this can be permitted.  This would give us between 30-40 extra seats.  When we renovate the church to replace the new pews and get a larger/permanent altar we’ll include this in our plans!

 

Q. Why are there handles on the communion patens? –Gabriel G.

A. The handle gives more room between the priest and the server.  Without the handles the server would have to stand so close to the priest and they would frequently collide shoulder bumping each other (like athletes when they offer congratulations after a score!).  Also, the younger servers with shorter arms wouldn’t be able to place the paten below the chin or the hands of taller communicants.

 

Q. My dad sometimes says, “Pont-i-ous Pilate” instead of “Pon-tious Pilate.”  How do you pronounce it? –Anonymous.

A. Your two-syllable pronunciation is the correct one if we’re praying or speaking in English.  The whole name is pronounced like this:  Pon (as in pawn shop), –tious (as in shoes, something everyone should be wearing while attending Mass), Pi (as in apple pie), and –late (as in DO NOT BE late for Mass):  (Pontius Pilate) Pawn-shoes Pie-late.  However, in Latin the Romans would have pronounced his name similar to your dad’s:  Pon-ti-yoos Pee-lah-teh.

 

Q. How can hell be a separation from God when God is omnipresent even in hell? –Anonymous

A. The separation between heaven and hell remains a mystery to us and the word separation in this context is a figure of speech.  It is primarily a separation from the life of grace of the individual and the inability to experience the beatific vision (vision of God’s perfect beauty).  The greatest joy in heaven is seeing God face to face.  On the contrary, the greatest suffering in hell is not seeing God at all.  Some people today who do not recognize the omnipresence of God are already living a miserable hell-like.  We can only imagine what it will be like in hell when they finally recognize the existence of a great loving God whom they willfully rejected and will never see.  Omnipresence is not the same as omni-visual.  [This is a very good philosophical question.]

 

 

June 19, 2016

 

Q. Why is the Greek line, “Kyrie eleison”, maintained in the Latin Mass and the Latin Rite Mass in general (including the vernacular)? –Anonymous

A. Liturgists say that it is a way to maintain a connection to the sacred liturgical language celebrated going back to apostolic times.  Hebrew was not the common language back in the time of Jesus (if you recall most of the New Testament was written in Koine [common] Greek) so the early Christian liturgies were celebrated in Greek.  The Kyrie eleison part of the Latin Mass is traced back to the 5th century Western Roman Rite (according Jesuit author/liturgist, Rev. Joseph A. Jungman).  It was adopted from Eastern Rite liturgies from about a century before.  Aside from Greek, our Roman Rite has also retained a few Hebrew words:  Amen, Alleluia and Hosanna.  As Roman Catholics we like to hang on to traditional words, values, faith, and all sorts of good things!

 

Q. God punished Eve’s sin by having a painful childbirth.  Why wouldn’t it hurt if she had not sinned and was trying to “push” a baby out of her body? –Anonymous

A. It is believed that since the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin she did not have to go through a painful labor and delivery with Jesus.  When the Catholic Church proclaims that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after childbirth, it is a statement that both the conception and birth of Jesus were miraculous.  The conception of Jesus was made possible by the Holy Spirit and would have been something like an invisible beam of light that conceived Jesus.  His birth would have had a similar effect of passing Mary’s body into our world miraculously and painlessly.  (I’m certain that mothers today would have really appreciated it if Eve had not sinned so that this way of childbirth is still available!)  Before you think this sounds like an absurd theory, remember that Jesus passed through walls and locked doors when he appeared to his disciples after the resurrection (see John 20:19-23).

 

 

June 26, 2016

 

Q. Who was the longest reigning pope and for how long? –Anonymous

A. Since the Catholic Church recognizes Peter the Apostle as the first pope, he reigned the longest somewhere between 32 to 37 years.  After St. Peter, Pope Pius IX served the longest as pope at 31 years, 7 months and 23 days (1846-1878) followed by someone we know very well:  Saint John Paul II at 26 years, 5 months and 18 days (1978-2005).

 

Q. I understand attending Mass on Sundays but where did the Holy Days of Obligation come from? –Anonymous

A. The origin of celebrating mandatory Holy Days of Obligation comes from the same authority that changed the Lord’s Day from Saturday to Sunday and celebrating Mass in place of going to the synagogue:  The Roman Catholic Church!

 

Q. When will the renovation of the church happen? –Anonymous

A. We ordered the 14 window replacements and they should arrive around the end of July for installment.  We also need to make roof repairs this Fall (cost is at premium during the summer) and the first quote we received is slightly over $100k (yikes!).  We expect the major renovation (new crucifix & altar installation, new pews & floors, church repainting, new confessionals in the building addition, etc.) to begin in early summer 2017.  Due to weddings, Confirmation and First Communion we cannot close the church for about a month until 2017.  We set a goal of renovation completion in time for Saint Francis de Sales Church’s 50th anniversary as a parish on September 1, 2017.  Bishop Loverde says he looks forward to that occasion and would like to be there even if we have a new bishop by that time.

 

July 3, 2016

 

Q. Was Moses a prophet or a saint? –Anonymous

A. Moses was both a prophet and a saint.  We know that Moses is in heaven so that makes him saint.  Jewish tradition believes that Moses was taken up into heaven like Elijah.

 

Q. I don’t understand why we fast for an hour before we receive communion. –Nate

A. It is a sign of respect for receiving the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  By fasting from food and beverage we are distinguishing the difference between eating food for the body and the spiritual food for the soul.

 

Q. If you drink too much of the Blood of Christ (at Mass), will get drunk? –Anonymous

A. Yes, you will!

 

Q. What happened to the church-shaped mailbox in front of the church? –KM

A. As our actual church, it started to experience bad water leak inside.  Unfortunately, none of the fixes prevented the leaks and our mail was regularly getting wet when it rains.  One of the staff members took the church-mailbox home and I believe it is now home to pigeons!

 

July 10, 2016

 

It’s the little ones’ turn:  Vacation Bible School!

 

            Once again we’ll have a jam-packed church filled with youngsters for the annual Vacation Bible School.  The theme this summer is “Egypt:  Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace.”  Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, was one of the most beloved heroes of the Old Testament.  His life story of faithfulness to God even through difficult adversities is the central theme of the weeklong spiritual camp.  For several centuries Joseph’s faith has inspired so many not to lose hope and to trust that God does not forget his faithful people even when they are in the bleakest situations.  We look forward to capturing the spirit of Joseph as our volunteers have been working hard preparing their props, talks, skits, songs and dance.  With the help of our new education center the number of participating kids have dramatically increased.  We expect Saint Francis de Sales Church to swell beyond 250 excited kids from Monday to Friday (July 11-15).  Please keep our Vacation Bible campers in your prayers this week.

 

Pray that this “rumor” is true…

 

            There’s some renewed interest that our diocese may look into taking over the failed attempt by a private group to build a cemetery right here in Purcellville.  This time the plan is to make it a Catholic cemetery.  There are still a lot of details that need to be worked at but I heard that there are serious conversations going on regarding this project.  A lot of our parishioners were very disappointed (I was too!) when I shared the news that the private investors working on the cemetery ran into some roadblocks and could not continue.  But now there is renewed hope that a future Catholic cemetery may still be built and it could happen right within our parish boundary.  The proposed location is in the same place of the original plan just across the road from Loudoun Country Club.  Wouldn’t that be nice and I know other parishes would support it too.  Let’s add this intention in our prayers and let the Lord guide those involved to be successful.  When I hear more news I’ll let you know.

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

July 17, 2016

 

Record-setting Vacation Bible School!

 

            We capped off the final major summer youth activity for the 2015-16 academic year this past week with Vacation Bible School setting a new record of 215 campers with ages ranging from nursery to 5th grade!  VBS also had 130 volunteers that put on another spectacular and memorable presentation.  The pictures inside show only a glimpse of the immense talent and hard work the VBS crew did.  This year’s theme focused on the faith of Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons.  The faith program was titled, “Egypt:  Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace.” I would like to acknowledge and thank our religious education staff and volunteers for hosting another very successful Vacation Bible School.  The kids also contributed to this year’s VBS charity contribution by supporting building water wells for the poor in the Dominican Republic.  Vern and Mary Sue Conaway gave a very nice presentation on this urgent need to the VBS kids and we thank them for their superb project.

 

Great job, everyone, and what a great year we had!  Thank you, so much, dear Lord Jesus, for helping us minister to so many youthful souls in our parish!  I also want to thank everyone who prayed for the success of our mission.

 

            Now that VBS is done for the summer we can now start working on the physical upkeep of the church.  First on the list are the 14 badly worn windows.  All the rectangular windows need to be replaced and many of the windowpanes are rotting.  We were able to get a good price of just under $15,000 to get all the windows replaced and windowpanes repaired.  The round and curved windows were replaced back in 2011.  Thank you so much for your generous contributions for the maintenance of our church. 

 

We’re working hard to have a super nice house and church of God in time to celebrate our 50th anniversary as a parish on September 1, 2017 and for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, 2017.  Keep praying your rosaries as we are trying to reach the goal of 100,000 prayed by the time of the anniversary.  We’re currently inching our way up to 25,000 a couple of months from our halfway point.

 

Very nice Catholic Charities YouTube video

 

            The Diocese of Arlington recently released a well-done video giving a brief look at the kind of services Catholic Charities does in our diocese.  I really think you’ll enjoy watching this short 7-1/2 minute video.  Here’s the link to the YouTube video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzy0KYBE2hE

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

July 24, 2016

 

How do we respond to troubling news?

            In the past month we have been hit hard with troubling news of extreme violence.  In our nation alone we’ve had the killing of innocent people in Orlando, Minneapolis, Dallas and Baton Rouge.  We also hear of violent activities in other countries most recently the bloodshed in Nice, France and Turkey.  How do we cope with these kinds of somber news?  Is there anything we can do?  Yes, there is!  Our response is the same way that God has prescribed for us to do:  prayer, atonement and sacrifice.  The atonement and sacrifice can be done through fasting or offering up some hard tasks to God.

            Perhaps now you realize why we launched the Rosary Campaign last year on September 12 on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  The rosary is a simple meditative prayer but it is a very powerful tool in combatting the forces of evil.  This devotion is the perfect complement to the graces we receive from the sacraments and the official prayer of the Church.  Since St. Dominic popularized the rosary 802 years ago (1214) it has helped a lot of people overcome many challenges in life whether it was personal or even an international level.  The Battle of Lepanto (1571) serves as a reminder of how praying the rosary averted Europe falling into Muslim rule when Christians fought with sword in one hand and a rosary on the other. 

            I encourage everyone not to lose heart when we hear troubling news.  Jesus prophesied that the world would continue to get worse before he returns and restores peace (read the Book of Revelation and you’ll see).  Everyday we wake up is one day closer to the return of Jesus.  We celebrate Advent primarily because we are keeping vigilance for Jesus’ return.  I encourage everyone again to pray the rosary regularly even if just one mystery/one decade a day.  Families, try praying together even briefly at least once a week and you’ll notice the difference.  You’ll give your kids the confidence to face the challenges in life far better than if you didn’t spend time together in prayer.  If you are able, offer a fast or a partial fast sometime during the week or the month.  A combination of prayer and fasting overcomes the powers of evil by leaps and bounds (see Matthew 17:14-21).

 

On a good note…

            The Vacation Bible Campers raised $2,242.40 to help build the first water drinking fountain in the Dominican Republic!  It will be installed in the NPH orphanage where our parishioners, Vern and Mary Sue Conaway, have been involved in helping for several years.  Another parishioner, Amanda Gingras, just returned from there after serving as a volunteer for one year.  She and the Conaways made their presentation to the kids about NPH during camp.  I spent almost a week there last year at NPH and was impressed with the incredible ministry they have to the kids.  Here the grade totals of the collection arranged according to amount raised:  4th Grade ($517.87), 3rd Grade ($402.03), 2nd Grade ($264.13), 1st Grade ($224.19, 4-year olds ($176.75) & Kindergarten ($161.01).  The 4th Grade winners were treated to an ice cream social last Tuesday and we had a fun time in the gym/patio. Thank you all for your great generosity!

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

July 31, 2016

 

New church windows are in!

 

            The major church repair/renovation has begun with the replacement of 14 new church windows and windowpanes.  On July 19 all the rectangular windows have now been replaced with triple-paned windows and and everyone felt difference.  The previous weekend several parishioners were fanning themselves during the midday Sunday Masses because of the heat.  Last weekend the temperature was much higher in the mid 90’s but several said the church was too cold for them.  The thermostat has been set at 68º for the whole summer so the new and better-insulated windows must have caused the new cooler church!  Perhaps now we can raise the temperature slightly and save cost and energy.

 

            We are still projecting that we will need to close the church and relocate the Masses in the gym in July-August 2017.  Our contractors estimate they’ll need 5-6 weeks to finalize interior repairs, repainting, tiling, pew replacements, and installing of the new altar and crucifix.  Scaffoldings will need to be installed in church to do the work.  We got a great deal with the windows costing us only about $15k including labor.  Right now we’re working on a good price for the repair on our 24-year old roof.  The early estimate right now is a little over $100k!  Thank you for all the prayers and financial help you’ve given to the church maintenance fund and please continue your support as we head towards the major part of our renovation as we close in on the 50th celebration of our parish in 2017.

 

Choir Camp success

 

            I almost forgot to mention that we have one more summer kids’ camp that took place:  our Choir Camp!  Congratulations to our music director, Michael Galdo, for having another good turnout for the weeklong choir camp (July 18-22).  The kids finished their camp by singing at the Friday, Noon Mass on the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene.  What a blessing that was!  A couple renewing their 50th wedding anniversary at that Mass received an unexpected bonus blessing that day when the 41-strong kids choir sang the hymns and parts of the Mass.  They added an angelic aura to the Mass and everyone loved it!

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

August 7, 2016

 

Save these 2 parish dates:

 

September 18, Sunday – Parish Picnic (Everyone)

October 8, Saturday -- Bella Notte Gala 2 (Adults)

 

            We have two fun-filled parish events coming right up so make sure to reserve these in your calendars.  The annual parish picnic is so much fun for the whole family and the Knights of Columbus does a great job organizing the free food, games, and other activities.  I also do my annual kids’ magic show at this event.  This is a great fellowship gathering for the parish and fun for all ages.  The Parish Picnic is scheduled for Sunday, September 18 from Noon-4 PM.

 

            The 2nd annual Bella Notte Gala will be held on Saturday, October 8.  Last year was a tremendous success and well over $30k in one night to help pay for our new parish center!  Paul Kerstanski and his amazing crew are anxious to host the 2nd Bella Notte Gala so make sure to reserve this evening on your calendar.  Tickets will soon go on sale so keep an eye on them in the bulletin. 

 

Save another fun date:

Special RCIA Alumni gathering on August 30

 

            If you were part of the RCIA program especially in the past 7 years (that would be Easter Class of 2009-2016) you are invited to a special alumni gathering at our own Catholic Educational Center.  We’d love to see you on Wednesday, August 30 at 7 PM and tell us how you’re doing and how your Catholic faith journey has been.  Even if you were in RCIA from a different parish you are still invited.  This is a new program that James Blankenship and I are doing to enhance the faith of our converts and Catholics who took the refresher course.  Surveys show that many RCIA alums in the country became inactive Catholics shortly after joining the Church (within 7 years) because they were somewhat “forgotten” and did not receive a follow up spiritual care and guidance.  We certainly would like our “new” Catholics to continue to have a vibrant spiritual life by inviting them to become active in the parish community and to hear their insights about keeping the faith.  Please contact James (j.blankenship@saintfrancisparish.org) or me (countryparishpriest@gmail.com) if you can make the evening gathering.  It should be a fun night for an RCIA reunion.  I very much look forward to seeing you there!

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

August 14, 2016

 

2nd St. Francis de Sales altar boy going to the seminary:

David Kieran

 

            One of our longtime parishioners and former altar boy, David Kieran, was recently accepted to study for the diocesan priesthood.  His family moved a couple of years ago to Louisiana and David discerned to study for the priesthood in his new hometown in the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana to be closer to his family and relatives.  David has served Masses for several years with us since his youth including many 6:30 AM weekday Masses.  He was a good meticulous server and we’ll certainly miss him.  He continued serving during college breaks so he’s served at my Masses for the last 7-1/2 years.  It was very nice to see him this past week before leaving for Louisiana.  He is also an excellent pilot and worked most recently giving flying lessons at Leesburg airport.  One of my fondest memories with David was when we flew in his plane over our parish and I got to take aerial pictures of the new parish center while it was under construction.  It has been many years since I had a couple of flying lessons but he was kind (and brave!) enough to let me take the wheel while we hovered over Purcellville, Round Hill and Berryville.  I’ve always admired David’s deep love for Our Lord Jesus and the Holy Mass so I’m not surprised that he’s been called to be a seminarian.  He is scheduled to study in the Fall at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA.  Lucky for him he will get to enjoy a lot of authentic Cajun food during his seminary days!  [David is the 2nd altar boy from our parish to enter the seminary after Deacon Jordan Willard who is scheduled to be ordained a priest in about 10 months.]

 

Interested in the Catholic faith?

 

            If you know of anyone who might be interested in the Catholic Church, our RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) begins on Tuesday, September 20 at 7:30 PM in the parish center.  Adult Catholics who have not received Confirmation and/or other sacraments can also fulfill this obligation through this program.  All adult Catholics who want to take a refresher course in the Catholic faith are also welcome and encouraged to participate.  There is also a program for young children called RCIT (for teens) & RCIC (young children).  Call the Religious Education office or contact me directly to register/sign up or just show up for RCIA at Room 107 (Saint Agnes).

 

MAC-PAC this Sunday Night!

 

            Middle school kids (including rising 6th graders) are invited to the MAC-PAC (Middleschoolers Acting In Christ- Prayer-Action-Charity) Kickoff after the 5 PM Sunday Night Mass (August 14).  Our new MAC PAC leaders, Danielle & Pat Orender, are looking forward to seeing you at the picnic to start a new season of MAC PAC activities.

NOTE:  Assumption, August 15 – Not a Holy Day of Obligation this year

 

                                    Your shepherd in Christ,

                                    Father Escalante

 

 

August 21, 2016

 

Q. I was in confession and the devil put something evil in my heart right after I was absolved of all my sins.  I prayed for forgiveness but what else should I do to keep that from happening again? –Anonymous

A. Don’t lose heart when that happens.  The devil knows that your best way of staying on the road to heaven is frequent confession.  He will do everything to discourage you from going to confession so trying to make you sin as soon as you’ve gone to confession is not a surprise.  It is a common evil tactic the devil uses.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Each time you go to confession is a victory for you.  Remember that having an evil thought in your mind is only a temptation and there is no sin involved there.

 

Q. Why does God the Father know when the world will end yet Jesus Christ doesn’t know when the world will end? –Peter Karanski

A. You are referring to Matthew 24:36 (and Mark 13:32):  “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”  Some have difficulty understanding how Jesus could not know this since He is God Himself.  The explanation is a lot simpler than what it appears.  When Jesus was sent by the God the Father to save us from our sins, he took on our limited human nature beginning at his conception in the womb of Mary (Annunciation).  St. Paul describes this beautifully in Philippians 2:6-7:  “Who, though he (Jesus) was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found in human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”  When Jesus “emptied himself”, this means that in his human nature he had to be taught a lot of things just like any other humans.  Joseph and Mary taught him a lot just as any child growing up.  So while in his human nature Jesus was not aware of lot of things that would happen in the future including when the end of time (world) would come.  However, after his death Jesus would no longer have this limited knowledge because his glorified state would have given him perfect awareness of everything again.  In other words, Jesus knows now when the end will come.

 

Q. Why doesn’t God address slavery in the Bible? –Alec

A. Actually, God did address slavery in the Bible.  Here are some places where I found references to slavery:  Exodus 21:1-11, Deuteronomy 23:15, Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 6:9, and Colossians 4:1.

 

 

 

August 28, 2016

 

Q. Was Jesus born out of his Virgin Mother’s womb the normal way or was it in a different way? –Anonymous

A. There is no definitive declaration from the Church that Jesus was absolutely born miraculously and did not have to go through the birth canal as most children do (some go through cesarean birth).  However, many definitive church declarations and highly respective theologians such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas have taught that Jesus’ birth was miraculous.  It was described as something like a “spiritual cesarean.”  Just as the unique miraculous conception of Jesus did not require the aid of a man so neither did his unique birth require the normal procedure.  The pain of birth is the consequence of original sin who by grace Mary did not inherit being immaculately conceived.  Birth through the birth canal would have been painful for Virgin Mary.  The Catholic Church officially teaches Mary as a perpetual virgin: before, during, and after the birth of Jesus.  Remaining a virgin during birth has been interpreted by many as Jesus’ birth being miraculous and not going through the norms of a physical birth.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church even alludes to this (CCC 499):  ”The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.  Personally, I side with the tradition of the Church and with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas that Jesus’ birth was indeed miraculous.  The image I have in my mind was that Jesus easily passed through Mary’s body similar to the way he miraculously passed through the walls and locked doors of the Upper Room on the evening of the resurrection.  Jesus just suddenly appeared before his disciples as light passes through clear glass.

 

Q. Who organizes all the raffle and Bingo? –Charley

A. The Knights of Columbus organizes the annual raffle.  Parishioner Paul Kerstanski, and his crew of volunteers organize the bingo games.  They are also handling the Bella Notte Gala and dedication bricks.  Our parish is very grateful to everyone who has generously organized these and all the wonderful fundraising efforts to help our parish.

 

 

 

September 4, 2016

 

Q. If you were put in a position where you or your family will die, would it be a sin to die in their place? –“March”

A. It is not a sin at all.  Sacrificing one’s life to save another is a form of martyrdom as in the case of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  In 1941 he offered to die in place of a family man at the concentration camp in Auschwitz.  His death was declared by the church as a martyrdom of charity.  Jesus also tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). 

 

Q. What does it mean in the Bible when men were asked to “Gird your loins”?  Where does this come from and what does it mean? –SBC

A. The expression simply means to be ready and vigilant to respond with quick action. The use of wearing of pants (trousers) in history has been around since antiquity and found in ancient eastern and some middle-eastern cultures.  Many found them useful especially for horseback riding.  However, a majority of the population used robes and tunics including most cultures mentioned in Biblical history.  Greek and Roman Empire nobles viewed trousers as “barbaric” outfits and looked down upon those wearing them.  But he use of robes limited one’s mobility especially when moving in great haste.  So when God called upon the men to be manly to fight (or flee quickly) and “gird their loins” meant they had to lift up their robes and tie them in a certain way above their knees close to the waistline.  If I’m wearing my black cassock I could demonstrate this but here’s an easier way to visualize how to “gird your loins” in 6 easy steps.  Type this in your computer browser and the mystery will be unfolded before you: https://churchpop.com/2016/02/02/an-important-biblical-skill-how-to-gird-up-your-loins/

 

Q. Is the pope the only one that could celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican? –J.A.C.

A. If that were the case, I must be a pope!  (We all know there’s not a chance that will ever happen).  I have celebrated Mass a few times already at St. Peter’s Basilica and the last time was in January 2015 when I returned to Rome to celebrate my 30th anniversary of devotion to Saint Agnes, 20th year as a priest, and 50th anniversary of my baptism.  So any priest in good standing with the Catholic Church can arrange to celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s as long as he makes the proper connection and has the necessary documents provided by his bishop.

 

 

 

September 11, 2016

 

Q. I see people placing something on the tabernacle altar occasionally.  What is that thing? –Anonymous

A. That’s called a pyx.  It’s a container to place the Eucharist for the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to bring to the homebound.  Sometimes you’ll see a few pyxes up there if there are several ministers going to different homes.

 

Q. If a person is mentally ill on medication and commits suicide, would that person be committing a sin? –Anonymous

A. We’ll let God judge a person in that mental state.  Presumably, if the mental health is quite severe that person is doing the act unknowingly and there’s more of a chance he or she may not be guilty of a mortal sin or any sin at all.

 

Q. Do you place the same host in the monstrance for adoration every week? –Anonymous

A. No.  The Eucharistic host is changed every Friday before Adoration.  The old consecrated host is divided into smaller pieces and distributed at Holy Communion.

 

Q. Why was the Sunday evening Teen Mass moved from 6 PM to 5 PM?  What triggered the change?  I like it! –Anonymous

A. The motion was originally made to accommodate the new middle school MAC-PAC meeting on 2nd Sunday evenings.  The organizers and the pastoral council recommended that we would probably get better participation if the kids from 6-8th grade could be home around 8 PM instead of 9 PM and prepare for school the next day.  So far everyone seems comfortable with the switch to an earlier time.  The high school youth group expressed their appreciation that they also get to home early.  In all the parishes that I’ve been assigned to this is the first time that I didn’t hear anyone complain about a change in Sunday Mass schedule so we presume that no one really had a special affinity to the later 6 PM time slot.  As far as the priests…we’re not complaining either that we get to celebrate the 7th and final Mass of the weekend an hour earlier!

 

 

 

September 18, 2016

 

Q. Where in the Bible is the concept of purgatory? –Anonymous

A. I can give you the references but you really need a good explanation of these unless you are already familiar with the Bible and context around the verses.  At the end of the references you’ll find a good article available online for the casual Bible reader to help understand these verses.  Purgatory is not mentioned by name in the Bible but its presence is clearly there.  This should not be unusual for Christians as they would know the word Trinity is not in the Bible either nor its theological concept clearly spelled out.  But every true Christian believes that God is the Holy Trinity.  This is why Sacred Tradition must be read alongside Sacred Scripture to fully understand the complete revelations of Jesus Christ.  Here are the key verses to read on purgatory:  1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 2 Maccabees 12:39-46, Matthew 12:32 and Revelation 21:27.  Now if these references didn’t quite sink in then you really need to go to this link:  http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/is-purgatory-in-the-bible

 

Q. Is it worse to say “hell” or “Gehenna”? –Anonymous

A. In general, it is not bad to say either term since they are simply Biblical references to the place of damnation where those who die in mortal sin will spend eternity.  Hell came from “sheol” which in Hebrew means a “lower place.”  Gehenna was a city trash dump section (where fire was constantly kept burning) in Jerusalem that Jesus used as a reference to liken his teaching on the perpetual burning place of hell.  These terms only become bad if we use them irreverently as in cursing.

 

Q. Is there grass in heaven? –Dominic M.

A. No, there is no grass in heaven.  But there is going to be “great grass” in the new earth mentioned in the book of Revelation (chapter 21)!

 

Q. In the song “Stand By You” it says, Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you.”  Is it okay to sing this? Anonymous

A. It’s not certainly something I would recommend singing even though it was likely used only as a figure of speech.  There are a number good songs out there that may contain non-preferable lyrics that may make us cringe singing them but we don’t really want to just throw the songs away.  If we like a song that contains uncomfortable or objectionable words we can always use substitute words when singing them.  I’ve done this a few times with some of the catchy songs I grew up listening to!

 

September 25, 2016

 

Q. Why did the devil appear to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake? –Michael G.

A. The snake likes to slither quietly to sneak up on its prey to snatch and kill it with its venom.  The devil does the same to the people in the world.  He likes to quietly sneak into people’s lives with the intention of destroying their soul by injecting his spiritual poison of sin before snatching them into their eternal punishment.

 

Q. What does it mean to be a Christian? –Anonymous

A. A Christian is someone who believes in God as the Holy Trinity, accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and has been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Since Jesus Christ himself originally founded the Catholic Church, Catholics are the first Christians among many in the world.  A person is not officially a Christian until he or she has been baptized.

 

Q. How many people currently have bodies in heaven other than Jesus and Mary? –Anonymous

A.  We don’t know for sure.  Scripture tells us of 2 people who were “taken up” by God and they were Henoch (Genesis 5:24, Sirach 44:16, 49:14, Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11, 1 Maccabees 2:58).  Some have speculated that since Moses’ body was never found after his death that his body may also have been taken up into heaven.  At the Transfiguration both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus (Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30) in the presence of the apostles Peter, James and John.

 

 

 

October 2, 2016

 

Q. Were Adam and Eve married? –SBC

A. God created the first marriage when he made Eve from the flesh and bones of Adam.  Adam and Eve did not need to have a ceremonial wedding because God already made them bone of each other’s bone and flesh of each other’s flesh.  The earliest references of the married terms “husband” & “wife” are found as early as Genesis 2.  God respectively referred to Adam and Eve as husband and wife before and after they committed original sin.  That’s why we’ve always referred to them as a married couple.  Genesis 3:20 says, “The man gave his wife the name ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all the living.”

 

Q. Will a person sin if he or she gets a tattoo? –Anonymous

A. Yes, it is possible to sin by getting a tattoo especially if he or she gets an offensive image because our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and we are not to deface to them.  Marking temples and churches inappropriately is a sinful and sacrilegious form of vandalism.  The same happens when one gets a morally offensive tattoo.  The Old Testament mentions prohibition against tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) but there is no mention of them in the New Testament so the Catholic Church has neither issued condemnation nor approval them.  Offensive and sinful tattoos include depiction of satanic/antichrist symbols, witchcraft, human trafficking gang affiliation, rebellion, sexually suggestive words/images, racist/hatred remarks, etc.  If you really want to have a permanent mark that pleases God, then get baptized & confirmed.  These will leave indelible marks on your soul!  [FYI: Before getting a tattoo, the American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that in 2011 there were 40,801 tattoo removal procedures in the U.S. alone and the rising numbers jumped to 45,224 in 2013!]

 

Q. Lineage question:  If Jesus descended from the house of David, and Joseph is not his biological father (Joseph being a descendant of David), how does Jesus’ lineage descend from that house? –Anonymous

A. Many have wondered about the genealogy of Jesus as a “descendant” from the line of Judah and King David since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus.  (He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary—Luke 1:26-35.)  There are 2 accounts of the genealogies in the New Testament:  Matthew 1:1-17 & Luke 3:23-38).  Tradition tells us that Luke received a lot of his information in writing the Gospel from Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  So his genealogy account came from the line of Mary whose bloodline was also from the house of David.  Since Jesus received his flesh and blood through Mary, this makes him a true descendant from the line of Judah and David.  The Biblical commentary from the Ignatius Bible summarizes this well:  “The two genealogies are substantially the same from Abraham to David, but diverge significantly in the generations that span from David to Jesus.  It is quite possible that Matthew records the ancestry of Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, and Luke records that of his biological mother, Mary.  In this case, Matthew gives us the ‘dynastic’ line that passes from David to Joseph, through King Solomon (Mt 1:6)), and Luke gives us the ‘Davidic line’ more generally as it passes from David to Mary through Nathan (Mt 3:31).  As with his Infancy Narratives, Luke may have obtained information about Jesus’ family traditions from Mary herself.”

 

October 9, 2016

 

Q. What is the purpose of the tonsure (haircut) that we see in some religious order members? –SBC

A. The tonsure (from the Latin tonsura means “clipping or shearing”) was a uniquely shaped haircut practiced as a sign of humility and devotion especially by monks.  It’s not something an average person would request from a hairdresser or a barber to try to make a fashion statement.  Believe me, if you’re not a monk and you get this done on your head you’d look ridiculous.  If you do a web search you’ll understand why this type of haircut has a “humbling” look about it.  Monks were routinely given this haircut as a sign that they have renounced vain looks to seek an ascetical life of prayer, penance, chastity and poverty in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Until the early 1970’s all diocesan priests used to get a simple tonsure but the practice was discontinued under Pope Paul VI.  The diocesan tonsure shaving of the head was lot smaller in size roughly 3” in diameter as compared to the monks that had most their hair shaven averaging 8” in diameter.

 

Q. What is the Church’s view on gender equality? –Anonymous

A. The Catholic Church has always taught what God has taught us:  namely, there are only two genders (male and female) and that both are equal in dignity.  In scripture we read, “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

 

Q. Is it wrong to play video games centered around killing even if I am of age and does not break the commandment “Honor your father and your mother”? –Anonymous

A. That’s very commendable that you always honor your father and your mother—keep up that great example for other young people to imitate!  As far as video games, violent and graphic visual killings certainly would not meet a preferred Christian standard and some of them can be harmful and should be avoided.  However, not all “killing” type of games are automatically considered immoral to play.  Some games mimic real historical battles whether an army battling another army or jet fighters in a dogfight.  [A couple of times a year I whip out my Wii Play and my favorite is tank warfare.  It’s a harmless game where you “kill” the enemy tanks before they will kill you!  And back in high school I’ve played Atari videos where I shot down tons of aliens in Space Invaders.]  When in doubt get your parents’ opinion on the type of game you should be playing since you admirably have great respect for them.

 

 

October 16, 2016

 

Q. Can you see Jesus in your mind? How about in your sleep?  --Joey

A. You can see Jesus in your mind when you meditate or think of Jesus.  We can do this while praying or just thinking about his holy life.  When we think of Jesus in any form we imagine him we are seeing him with our “mind’s eye.”  In our sleep our subconscious mind sometimes allows us to “see” him in our sleep.  It is possible Jesus can appear to us in our sleep but it’s hard to distinguish just dreaming about him or if he actually appears in our sleep.

 

Q. After a permanent deacon’s wife dies, can he become a priest? –Anonymous

A. Yes, it is possible but it doesn’t happen very often.  Permanent deacons were ordained with the purpose of serving only as a deacon for life.  In the Arlington Diocese I only know of one who was ordained a permanent deacon and was later ordained a priest.

 

Q. Do you pray as a punishment? –Corey Votello

A. We don’t really pray as a punishment because prayer is about freely talking to God.  It’s hard to imagine that talking to God can be a punishment because it is a good thing to talk to God and it should be an honor to speak to Him.  The closest thing to having prayer as a punishment is when we are given penance at confession.  But those prayers are considered prayers of reparation and not punishment.

 

Q. Can a boy choose a female Confirmation saint? –Anonymous

A.  Yes, absolutely!  A person may select either a male or female Confirmation saint.  The criteria used for selecting a Confirmation saint should be based on the person’s spiritual life that inspires us to become closer to God regardless of the saint’s gender.

 

October 23, 2016

 

Q. If heaven is always a happy place, how could you be happy there if you know someone who ended up in hell? –Anonymous

A. It is a mystery how we could be completely happy in heaven if we know some of the people who end up in hell especially family members.  In heaven our greatest joy is seeing God face to face among the many other joyful experiences we’ll have there.  Our relationship ends completely with persons who chose to reject God forever at the time of their death and will spend their eternity in hell.  Jesus warned us so much about hell and even died to save us from going there.  However, it is still up to the individual to choose one’s final destiny.  If a person does not choose to love God and live a good holy life here on Earth then it is that person’s own punishment to be cutoff forever from God and the people in eternal life.  So those who think they’re being “cool” now living a sinful and rebellious life against God’s wishes, especially those who claim to be atheists or agnostics, will not be so cool in the future because they are only carving a “hot deal” real estate with the devil.  It is dumbfounding how so many take this notion for granted!

 

Q. How do you still be a Christian even when someone you work with is very difficult? –Anonymous

A. What makes a person a true Christian is one’s willingness to suffer for righteousness.  Suffering for Jesus is one of the key signs of being a Christian.  Our Lord says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Whenever we are placed in a difficult situation, it is always an opportunity to manifest the strength of our Christian faith.  Challenging situations also reveal the strength of our faith and virtues.  If we do not respond well, then obviously we have some work to do in exercising our virtues.  A strong prayer life and relationship with God is the key to living a good Christian life and overcoming the daily challenges. St. Francis de Sales gave this advice once to a woman who was in a similar situation you described:  “Remain innocent among hissing serpents!”

 

Q. Are you allowed to tell the penance you received at confession to other people? –Anonymous

A. It is only the priest who is bound by the seal of confession.  The penitent can say whatever he or she experienced at confession (and some do!).

 

 

October 30, 2016

 

Q. Which priest answers the “Ask the Priest” questions? –Anonymous (with an nice puppy face drawing)

A. 99% of the time, I do (Father Escalante).  But if another priest is consulted to give the response I always credit him for his contribution.

 

Q. What is your favorite sacrament to give and why? –SBC

A. The Holy Eucharist!  Every Mass I celebrate I become part of the most important miracle in the world:  bread and wine changing into the real presence of Jesus Christ—God himself.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

 

Q. What is the significance of having the priest’s forefinger and thumb together during the consecration of the bread and wine? –Anonymous

A. Our faith tells us that after the bread is consecrated, every particle becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  For many years breadcrumbs easily broke off from the Eucharistic bread and can be felt by the priest between his forefinger and thumb. So the priest kept those fingers together (except while giving communion) until after the cleansing of the sacred vessels.  Most modern communion hosts do not fragment as easily as in the past so the practice of keeping the fingers together was no longer an issue.  It is not included in the rubrics (instructions) of the new Mass either.

 

Q. At communion time I find myself watching everyone make sure they consume the Eucharist.  Can it be made mandatory that everyone takes it by the mouth?  So far I’ve caught 3 people (teens) pocket in the past! –Anonymous

A. It is very sad that some pocket the Eucharist after communion and I’m so glad to know that you keep an eye for those who do.  Both children and adults commit this very unfortunate and sacrilegious act.  It happens especially at weddings, funerals, Christmas and funeral Masses.  We also find guests at First Communion and Confirmation Masses doing the same thing.  I’d like to ask these extremely irreverent people why they even bother to go to communion.  In the past we’ve found the communion host under the pew cushions, on the floor, on the grass and parking lot.  Unfortunately, we cannot require everyone to receive communion directly on the tongue that would undoubtedly minimize the chance of the Eucharist getting sacrilegiously discarded. 

 

 

November 6, 2016

 

Q. I have a dog that should be euthanized.  Is it a sin to this? –Anonymous

A. Not at all.  The forbidden practice of euthanasia is restricted to humans only.  It does not apply to animals.

 

Q. If the gates of heaven were opened after Jesus died on the cross, what happened to the people who died before him? –Kerry Chmielewski

A. The good people who deserved to be in heaven were in a place of waiting until Jesus redeemed us from our sins.  Others who weren’t quite ready were sent to purgatory.  But the bad people went straight to hell and didn’t have to wait for their eternal punishment.

 

Q. What is the formal way to address the pope, cardinal, archbishop, bishop, monsignor and priest? –SBC

A. Some are addressed with more than one salutation.  Starting from top to bottom:  pope = Your Holiness, Holy Father, Pope (current name); cardinal = Most Reverend, Your Eminence, Cardinal (+ name); archbishop/bishop = Most Reverend, Your Excellency, Archbishop (+ name) or Bishop (+ name); monsignor = Reverend Monsignor or Monsignor; vicar general, judicial vicar, rector or dean = Very Reverend or Father; pastor/parochial vicar (assistant priest) = Reverend Father, Reverend or just Father.

 

Q. I’ve seen Advent crafts for sale that are supposed to help explain the meaning of the four candles:  one for hope, one for love, one for joy, and one for peace.  Is this a Protestant practice? –M.

A. I’m not sure where that interpretation came from but it’s definitely not Catholic.  The four candles in the Catholic Church symbolize the four Sundays of Advent before Christmas.

 

 

November 13, 2016

 

Q. Where is the Garden of Eden located in reference to today’s map? –Leo

A.  In Genesis 2:10-14 it describes the location of the Garden of Eden placed around these four rivers:  Pishon, Gihon, Euphrates and the Tigris.  We do know the location of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers but not the other two.  So based on the known rivers the location of Eden would likely be in the Mesopotamia region that lies mostly around modern day Iraq and parts of Turkey, Syria and Kuwait.  After the Great Flood during Noah’s time, some of the rivers got shifted around and that may explain why the other two rivers’ locations are unknown.

 

Q. If you die in the state of mortal sin but are truly sorry for your sins, do you still go to hell? –Anonymous

A. If a person has “perfect” sorrow for one’s sins and asked for God’s forgiveness before dying, that would be minimally sufficient to be forgiven of mortal sins and avoid eternal punishment in hell.  [However, if a dying Catholic refuses a priest offering the sacrament of confession by preferring to rely on just being personally sorry for one’s sins, the perfect contrition may not apply and seriously risks not getting forgiven by God at all.]

 

Q. How many have been declared saints by the Church? –Isaac Allgood

A. A lot!  For about the first 1,000 of the Catholic Church the saints were declared by popular demand and they number an estimate of 10,000+ individuals.  In 993 AD Pope John XV made the first official canonization of an individual person, St. Ulrich of Augsburg.  Pope Gregory IX declared in 1243 that only the pope could officially proclaim someone a saint and the canonization process he introduced is very much what is used today.  Because of this new process there were fewer saints canonized for the next several hundred years until St. John Paul II (d. 2005) canonized a whopping 482 saints—more than all his predecessors combined in the previous 500 years!  St. John Paul II also made a significant change of decreasing the number of years after death for the canonization process to begin from 50 years to 5 years.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized 45 saints while Pope Francis so far has canonized 36 since 2013 including Pope St. John XXIII, Pope St. John Paul II, and St. Teresa of Calcutta.  But technically, Pope Francis canonized even more saints because his first canonization on May 12, 2013 was for St. Antonio Primaldo & “812 Companions (who were beheaded by Muslims in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam).  But let’s not forget that anyone who makes it to heaven is a saint!  Let’s work on our personal sanctity daily so that we too can be numbered with the saints in the heaven.

 

November 20, 2016

 

Q. Can you be taken up to heaven in your sleep?  Not because your dead, but just because you’re asleep? –Caleb

A. With God nothing is impossible.  He can take you to heaven while sleeping or awake even though you are not dead.  I recommend that you read Genesis 28:10-22 where Jacob saw heaven opened up and watched the angels going up and down the ladder while he was sleeping.

 

Q. How do you bless water to make it “holy water”? –Anonymous

A. To make more holy water the priest just takes any regular water and blesses it.  If the Book of Blessing is available he will use the prayers prescribed for holy water blessing.  But if needed the priest can bless the water at any time without the book by giving it a simple blessing (e.g., “May this water be blessed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”).

 

Q. My CCD teacher told me that one’s soul could be so turned dark if they keep committing mortal sins and cannot be forgiven.  Is this true? —There is no sin that God will not forgive if one truly repents.  However, if one persists in serious sin and refuses to change, it makes it more difficult for them to come back to God and risks eternal loss in hell.  But in general, any repentant sinner can be forgiven of any sin no matter how terrible they are.

 

Q. With so many people/entities asking for money, how does one know which are the priorities? –SBC

A. The best way is always through prayer.  Ask God to help you discern where your stewardship support should go.  You should always start with your own parish because one of the Church’s precepts is to contribute for the support of God’s church.

 

 

November 27, 2016

 

Q. Is considered “bad” to consume holy water? (Not that I would!) –Edgar Noodle

A. No.  There is no known extra benefit from drinking holy water.  Blessing yourself with holy water is all you need to receive the graces attached to this sacramental.  If you decide to drink the holy water make sure it is from the one that comes directly from the holy water tank in the back of the church for you to take home using your own holy water bottle and not from the holy water fonts that people dip their fingers from (yuk!).

 

Q. Is it a sin to wear the rosary around your neck? –Anonymous

A. In general, it is not.  There are some people who say that’s a sin but the Catholic Church has never listed it as a sin.  People who wear the rosary and use it for prayer are not sinning at all.  It’s a convenient way to carry it around and you’ll always have it when you need it.  What’s sinful is if one wears it for jewelry out of vanity.  It’s even worse when some wear it as part of their costume for concerts especially performers who make an indirect mockery of the rosary and the Catholic Church.

 

Q. What came first, the chicken or the egg? –Anonymous

A. In the story of creation (Genesis 1) God created the animals first and not their eggs.  So that means the chicken came first.

 

Q. What kind of candy do you like best—please answer! –Anonymous

A. A very interesting question.  My sweet tooth has lessened a lot since my younger years and I now prefer to eat dark chocolates.  But I still enjoy Reese’s Cups and Kit Kat milk chocolates.  Giving up sweets for Advent and Lent has not been as challenging for me as in the past.  But I do enjoy feeling the healthiest during those 2 penitential seasons by simply avoiding eating lots of sugar!

 

 

December 4, 2016

 

Q. With so many people/entities asking for money, how does one know which are the priorities? –SBC

A. It is true that there are plenty of options to choose which charity to support.  Pray to the Lord and ask which you should support and that should get you started in the right direction.  There’s also an independent organization that rates the efficiency of charitable organizations that I highly recommend for everyone to check before donating.  Go to https://www.charitynavigator.org for more info.

 

Q. Father, is there a saint for migraine headaches? –Anonymous

A. Yes, there are a few of them including St. Teresa of Avila, St. Denis and St. Alphonsus Liguori.  But the most often invoked saint for help with migraine or any type of headache in our time is St. Gemma Galgani of Lucca, Italy (1878-1903).  She was once miraculously cured of a severe headache that she patiently suffered and offered to God as a personal sacrifice.  St. Gemma also had the privilege of seeing Jesus, Mary and her Guardian Angel.  She was only 25 when she died in 1903 and was canonized a saint in 1940 by Pope Pius XII.

 

Q. What does “piety” mean? –Celine Willard

A. Piety is a desire to serve and worship God out of love and not just out of duty.  A person with the gift of Piety has a true love and a real relationship with God.   One who exercises the gift of piety sees God as a loving Father rather than a distant powerful God.  It also disposes a person to honor, love and respect one’s parents, lawful authorities and country.

 

December 11, 2016

 

Q. How many sacraments can one receive? –Patrick, 9

A. Most single Catholics can receive at least 5 sacraments:  Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, and Confirmation & Anointing of the Sick.  If the Catholic marries a Christian (Catholic or baptized Christian) then a 6th sacrament can be received:  Matrimony.  Is it possible to receive all 7 sacraments?  For a male Catholic, yes, it is possible and has been done on a few occasions.  A qualified married man can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and become a Permanent Deacon.  Also, a widower can be accepted in the seminary and receive Holy Orders as a priest.

 

Q. Why do some people sign their name “anonymous”? –Craig Creighton

A. Because they don’t want others to know they are asking the question.  If a person does not leave a name with the question I automatically label it as “anonymous.”

 

Q. How do you empty the Poor Box? –Anonymous

A. With a key!  The money collected is deposited to the bank under our “Peoples’ Need” account which is used to help the poor people in our area.

 

Q. Is the church bell in the tower working?  Will we be able to hear it ring soon? –Bruce Hudak

A. The church bell works but there is no easy access to ring it.  The mounting of the bell is also not very stable up there.  We’re working on a plan with a bell company to make the bell(s) ring in time for our 50th parish anniversary next year.  “Stay tuned!” [Pun intended :-D]

 

December 18, 2016

 

Q. Why do priests wear the white collar? –Elliot Boyko

A. To identify us as priests.  Without the Roman collar there is nothing to distinguish us from other men.  St. John Paul II reminded the priests while he was pope that the people in public should be able to identify that we are priests.  It’s like when you need the police it’s best that they are wearing a uniform rather than just regular clothes.  You wouldn’t know if the person carrying the gun is a robber if he’s wearing regular clothing just like the rest of the people.  But you would have the confidence to approach a uniformed cop in time of need.  In public I’ve been asked by some to bless something, requested spiritual advice, or even heard their confessions when they recognized me as a priest.  They wouldn’t have done that if I weren’t wearing my white Roman collar and black shirt.

 

Q. How do you decide which questions get answered in the Ask the Priest bulletin column? –Justin Cannata

A. I start by randomly picking from the pile of questions inserted in the box.  If the question has been previously answered the question is discarded.  If not, I then work on answering the question.  By the way, previously asked questions are archived and available on our website under Ask the Priest.

 

Q. A group of people prays the rosary together.  How should that be counted for the rosary campaign?  One rosary per person or is it counted according to the number of people praying in the group? –Anonymous

A. Each person would report on the website having prayed only 1 rosary.  However, according to St. Louis de Montfort God will grant you the graces as if you said the rosary as many times as there were people praying with you.  So if a group of 10 prayed 1 rosary together, they would receive the graces as if each of them prayed the rosary 10 times. 

 

Q. Did God create everything? –Will Twetten

A. Yes—except sin and the evil effects of sin.  The devil and those who cooperated with the devil through sinning (both the fallen angels and sinful people) are responsible for the evil effects of sin in the world today.

 

December 25, 2016

 

Q. What time was Jesus born? –Luke

A. We don’t know the exact time but the Gospel of Luke 2:8-12 (how about that, same name as yours!) records that shortly after Jesus was born an angel announced to the shepherds who were keeping watch at night, likely past the shepherds’ bedtime, that the Savior of the world was just born:  “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”  We at least know that Jesus was born while the shepherds were keeping a night watch and it was dark.  So Jesus would have been born between late evening and early dawn.

 

Q. Does the “Our Father” that we say at Mass count as a (confession) penance? –WPW

A. No.  The Our Father is prayer within the Mass while the penance prayer given to you at confession counts as a prayer you need to say separately.

 

Q. Can you stay in Purgatory forever?  Can you go to hell from Purgatory? –Anonymous

A. Everyone eventually goes to heaven after purgatory—no exceptions!

 

Q. Are Catholics allowed to lay hands or pray over someone? –SBC

A. Yes.  This gesture of prayer pre-dates Christianity and can be traced back to our Jewish ancestry.

 

 

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