Comment and Dialogue Articles

  • Hey Father - Why is the church opposed to contraception?

    This is an often difficult and confusing moral question. The church teaches that the sexual act is expressed in accord with the intention of our Creator when it is open to the transmission of life between a man and woman united in marriage. Therefore, using chemical or physical “barriers” to interrupt one of the intended purposes of human sexuality, that of the transmission of human life (the other being the expression of love through physical unity between spouses), we change the meaning of the act of sexual intercourse, whether we know it or not. Read More
  • Principles of discernment Live constantly in God, Part 1

    The second phase of discernment is to live constantly in God. The special ability that enables us to easily recognize and respond to the divine movements of God is the development within our interior of a spiritual sense. This spiritual sense is almost nonexistent at the beginning of our life; however, a person can refine this sense with experience by resolutely and faithfully following the path of Jesus Christ. This grace-filled gift allows us to recognize the unmistakable voice of Jesus. It is a loving instinct that permits us to distinguish the voice of the Spouse more easily in concert Read More
  • Considering perfectionism and what Jesus wants us to do

    My name is Kevin, and I am a perfectionist. Some will read this and wonder why I seem to be boasting. Many people think that being a perfectionist is a good thing. Read More
  • Hey Father - Must we stay for the final blessing at Sunday Mass to fulfill our Sunday obligation?

    Must we stay for the final blessing at Sunday Mass to fulfill our Sunday obligation?— Maria in Jacksonville Read More
  • Hey Father - What does the church teach/believe regarding the souls of those who passed away before Jesus’ time on earth, death, and resurrection?

    What does the church teach/believe regarding the souls of those who passed away before Jesus’ time on earth, death, and resurrection?— Scott in Springfield Read More
  • Principles of discernment To recognize God as the center of my life, Part 3

    In the past issues we have looked at the first of two phases of discernment: to recognize God as the center of my life. What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God? What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will? Read More
  • Principles of discernment To recognize God as the center of my life, Part 2

    The action of the Holy Spirit on the person oriented toward God: The Spirit of God always attempts to maintain and keep reason and feeling oriented toward God. The Holy Spirit will try to make the believer’s level of adherence to God not only ideal and profound, but also detached from feelings of the heart. When a person is seriously oriented toward God, the Holy Spirit nourishes his feelings with spiritual consolations. Read More
  • Hey Father - Why does the Catholic Bible have more books than the Protestant Bible?

    Why does the Catholic Bible have more books than the Protestant Bible?— Bill in Quincy Read More
  • Hey Father - However, it has been a long time since I've seen any mention made of the "Easter Duty." Has this been changed?

    Throughout the Lenten Season, we are continually reminded of the Lenten regulations. However, it has been a long time since I've seen any mention made of the "Easter Duty." Has this been changed?— T.J. Read More
  • My call. Your call?

    With June and the his celebration of 70 years as a priest fast approaching, Father John Ostdiek, OFM, remembers a life-changing event that happened to him 80 years ago, when he was just 16 years old. I suspect that like me, many of you can also pinpoint some event/occasion/person in your life which brought about a significant change in direction in your life. Here’s mine. Read More
  • Remembering Vanier and how he helped his fellow man

    Jean Vanier, a groundbreaking and profoundly influential Catholic activist, died in Paris, France, on May 7, at age 90. Born to Canadian parents, Vanier told them, when he was 13, that his interest was in naval affairs. Accordingly, he proceeded to prepare for a naval career in England and had spent time with the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy by the time World War II ended in 1945, the year he turned 17. Read More
  • Principles of discernment To recognize God as the center of my life, Part 1

    The first of two phases of discernment is to recognize God as the center of my life. There are primarily two entities involved: God and me. In discerning, we ask ourselves: What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God? What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will? Read More
  • Hey, Father! Why do Catholics have the crucified Christ in their homes and churches and even sometimes wear it around their necks?

    Hey, Father! Why do Catholics have the crucified Christ in their homes and churches and even sometimes wear it around their necks? Read More
  • First time in the front pew

    I am a cradle Catholic. Like many Catholics, I prefer to sit comfortably toward the middle or back of church. Tuesday of Holy Week, I attended the chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. In my new role with the curia at the diocese, I was tasked with taking a few photos. Unfamiliar with the best way to do this, while being discreet, I decided to sit in the front pew — the dreaded front pew. As I settled in, it suddenly hit me that people may watch the front pew to know when to sit and Read More
  • Principles of discernment How does God speak to us?

    God speaks through our thoughts and feelings. It is of fundamental importance to know our thoughts and arguments and to understand where they come from in order to discern which to follow. The interaction between thought and feeling is important because it permits us to verify adherence to God or to the realities that take us away from God. Feelings can betray the effective adherence to God. I can have a good thought of Gospel content but associate it with a negative feeling. The question becomes: What is it that resists this thought that is good in itself?   Read More
  • Jesus accompanies us in our sufferings

    As we survey the highlights and “lowlights” of human history, there is a category of achievements (or achievements’ opposite) which have been classified as “dubious distinctions.” Especially now that baseball season has started, we may recall the obituary of Randy Jackson, who died on March 20 at age 93. His New York Times obituary noted that he hit the last home run for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Sept. 28, 1957, at Philadelphia) before the team found itself playing home games in Los Angeles. The Times called this a “melancholy achievement.” Read More
  • Penance and Purification Discovering our predominant fault (Part 3)

    Some final considerations: Any predominant fault will be opposed to either an active or passive pursuit of God’s will. We will either fail to actively do what God wants by disobeying, sinning against the virtue of charity or seeking our will over his own; or we will fail to passively desire what God does by rebelling against his will for us with complaining and growing impatient because things seem out of our control. Read More
  • Hey, Father! I am confused about holy days of obligation.

    I am confused about holy days of obligation. What or who decided that if the holy day falls on Saturday or Monday, we are not required to go to Mass unless for certain feast days? From childhood, it did not matter what day the holy day fell on, it was still a holy day of obligation. In addition, how come some dioceses and the requirements to attend Mass on these days sometimes differ?I am confused about holy days of obligation. What or who decided that if the holy day falls on Saturday or Monday, we are not required to go Read More
  • Hey, Father! Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just go directly to God?

    Hey, Father! Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just go directly to God?— Maddison in Springfield Read More
  • Penance and Purification Discovering our predominant fault (Part 2)

    The examination of conscience is indispensable for gaining self-knowledge. Frequent confession and spiritual direction are also wonderful aids in finding our predominant faults. We must seek to divide and conquer. Trying to root out all of our faults at once will only unsettle us and we will lose heart. It is not possible to do this anyway. Aim at only one objective at a time. Read More
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