Ask A Priest

Are you curious about something you've seen at mass? Do you wonder what it's like to live in a rectory
or to hear confessions? Have you ever wondered, "Why does the Church do that?"

Go ahead – ask a priest!

Ask A Priest

Is it okay for a priest to contact you directly?

Can a freemason go to Ash Wednesday in the church, or to a Catholic funeral, and wearing his lodge badge?

If a free mason were to come to the Ctholic church it would be best to leave the badge at home. That being said, he will not be kicked out of the church for wearing his lodge badge.

A Catholic friend of mine recently passed. When talking with her family about it, It would helpful to know 1) If they do or do not believe that their passed family member can see and know what is happening in their lives. 2) If the passed family member can affect things that are happening to them in their daily lives. Thank you for your time.

To the first question, God has not revealed to us the exact details concerning a departed soul's awareness of Earthly (temporal) events. So, while it 'might' be possible, it is rather unlikely because if the person is to enter heaven, they are either a) undergoing a purification of their soul in order to arrive at a perfect love of Almighty God or b) already in heaven where they are consumed in love & adoration of God. Their complete love of God would naturally extend to God's children still on their Earthly pilgrimage.

To the second question: In God's providential wisdom, he does permit some of the Saints in heaven extraordinary gifts of intercession concerning prayer requests from those still on Earth. Notable examples: the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, & "fan favorite" St. Anthony (patron of lost things!).

That being said, it is highly encouraged for Christians to pray for their deceased loved ones and it never hurts to ask for their prayers in return. Our prayers will be answered in one way or another in accordance with the loving will of the Father.

What are we to make of the Christianity Today article "Trump should be removed from office"? It seems to be between abortion and morals. Who are we supposed to be voting for come November? I personally think the article speaks truth. I'm conflicted. I can't imagine voting for someone who thinks killing innocent children is okay, but I also can't imagine voting for someone with such gross moral turpitude. Hoping I can get some guidance.

I did not read the article, but I have heard much about it. I never like it when religious leaders wade into the fray and opine about a particular candidate for public office. I think it takes advantage of a particular moral authority that the religious leader has and exploits the faith of others and sows confusion amongst the Christian faithful. No matter who is in office we must respect them, the office they hold, and the will of the people who put them there even if we disagree with their policies and their morals. That goes for every person in office – not just Mr. Trump, but Mr. Clinton, Bush, Obama, etc…. To use the pulpit to wade into the political waters addressing particular candidates and not issues or policies is irresponsible and dangerous for religious leaders.

I know I did not tell you how to cast your ballot, but I hope this gives you some guidance.

Ave Maria! As a Priests how does it feel to celebrate/say Mass versus populum?Does it feel weird? Do you like facing the congregation? Is it easier to say Mass ad orientem for Priests?

I cannot speak for ALL priests. When I was ordained, I celebrated versus populum each and every day and really didn’t think anything of it. However, after some time celebrating mass ad orientem in the Novus Ordo and the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, I prefer celebrating mass ad orientem. It is easier for me to pray the mass when celebrating ad orientem. But, no. It doesn’t feel weird facing the congregation because that is what I grew up with and what I was trained in.

When we are speaking to someone, we face them. It seems odd and foreign to our normal posture to speak to someone while facing others. The orientation of the priest versus populum or ad orientem has repercussions in how we view what we are doing.

If we vote for a pro choice candidate, do we have to go to confession afterwards?

The short answer is no, unless you vote for them because they are pro-abortion. If you vote for someone because they are pro-abortion, then, yes, you would need to go to confession. However, voting for someone who publicly supports greater access to abortion and increased funding for places that perform abortions seems inconsistent to our Catholic faith.

Is it bad to question because doesn't it show that we don't trust God?

No, questioning can lead us to a greater knowledge and love of the truth. St. Anslem described the Christian life as “Fides quaerens intellectum”, that is faith seeking understanding. We have faith and we seek a greater and deeper understanding of the mysteries of God.

Am I still considered a catholic if I cant go to church?

The answer is YES! You are still considered a Catholic if you cannot go to church. It would be good to speak with your pastor about that so that someone can bring communion to you.

I am looking to join the Catholic Church. I was baptized via the trinitarian formula, in a Non-Denomonational Protastant Church. I have read through the Catechism and believe all of it's doctrine. I have also went to Confession to be in the grace of God. What is next on my journey?

What is next on your journey? Contact a parish where you are from and speak with the priest or the Director of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. They will lead you on your next step towards coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Should you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Daniel F. Firmin

Can someone commit an act of apostasy if he switches to another religion for few seconds and then goes back to Jesus instantly afterwards. Am I excommunicated?

The answer is NO. That is not an act of apostasy. It sounds like you are going through a questioning and struggle with faith. That is normal. One of the greatest prayers we can say is, "Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief."

I simply have a question about love and boasting. I know that 1 Corinthians 13 love is not boastful. Would you consider it boastful if I told someone that I loved them, despite our views and opinions not being similar? (For example, when it comes to abortion). If I were to misunderstand love, would it be sinful?

No. Telling someone you love them even if your views are not similar is not boastful. Our love for people goes beyond agreement on issues and opinions.

My daughter is getting married and has decided not to get married in the Catholic Church and has instead opted for a civil service. Am I able to attend out of respect for my daughter and her new husband or would that be considered a sin?

It is unfortunate that your daughter has chosen not to get married in the Church. I wonder what her reasoning is. Attending your daughter’s wedding outside the church out of respect and love for her is not a sin. We don’t have control over our children’s decisions, but we can be there to help guide them and do our best to shepherd them back to the faith. By attending, you are giving her an example of love and are avoiding giving her another reason to turn away from the Catholic Church. Not attending could do more harm than good and push her further away from the faith.

I am advising this way because she is your daughter. I do not know all the dynamics of your relationship with her, but I think this is the best avenue to take. If she were a friend or a niece or other relation, I would give different advice. Show her a father’s love. Be an instrument of God the Father and show her the face of the Father’s love.

If I don't feel bad for a sin, felt very justified doing it and confessed, is the confession legitimate?

Quick Answer: It would have been best to let the priest hearing your confession know that you did not feel subjectively guilty for the sin and that you felt it may have been justified. Most priests are happy to address such concerns so as to help you make the best confession possible.

Longer Answer:

  1. A distinction exists between objective and subjective guilt. That is,something can be always and forever immoral objectively, but the person committing this immoral act may have no subjective feeling of guilt after completing the act. The lack of subjective guilt feelings may stem from a habit of sinning in this particular way, so that the sensitivity to sin flowing over into one’s emotional life (feelings) is lessened or even completely removed. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grievous sin can blunt one’s sensitivity to sin. Additionally, it seems that a culture that forcefully promotes sin and which frequently uses erroneous philosophical principles (often unspoken assumptions) that allow for such approval can dull the subjective knowledge of the natural law in us to a certain degree.
  2. It is possible for one to be mistaken about the moral law or church law and its application to a given situation, even to the extent of believing something is a sin when it is not. For instance, sometimes revealing a truth about someone that harms his reputation is necessary, but the person revealing could believe it to be gossip or detraction, even though it is not.
  3. The lack of knowledge (ignorance)and the circumstances (lack of freedom) can reduce one’s subjective responsibility for an act that is immoral, even to a great degree. If this is so in your case, the sin may have been venial and not strictly required sacramental confession.
  4. At least the fear of hell (imperfect contrition or attrition) and a sincere desire to, with God's help, not sin in that way in the future are required for the confession of mortal sins to be valid (effect the forgiveness of sins). Guilt feelings are not required for confession to “work”.
  5. It would be good to study what the Church’s Magisterium has said about the particular act about which you are concerned. Praying and asking for the light of understanding can assist in re- aligning one’s passions with objective reality.

Why did the Church come up with a new Catechism when we already had the amazing Roman Catechism? Why not just simply update the Roman Catechism instead of writing a new one? I actually don't get moved at all by the "poetic" language in the new Catechism. I only really read the Roman Catechism. Why did they write a new one?

There have been many different Catechisms in the Church throughout the centuries. There was a Jerusalem Catechism, the Catechism of Trent, the Baltimore Catechism, a little Catechism of St. Francis, etc…. Many of these were designed and written for different audiences varying according to age, geography, devotions, and other things. For instance, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an Adult Catechism and a Youth Catechism. Both of these target specific demographics.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council asked that a new Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church be produced as one of the fruits of the Council. When the Catechism was promulgated and published under the Pontificate of St. Pope John Paul II, this goal of the Second Vatican Council was achieved. This is why the Church produced this new Catechism. All the other Catechisms can be used for teaching and for growing in our faith. One Catechism does not necessarily replace another one.

I was wondering if there's a priest who does house blessings? And if so, is there a stipened for it?

Any priest can do a house blessing! There is not a stipend attached to it at all. However, if you would like to give the priest a little gift for doing it, that would be fine. Reach out to your local priest and ask him.

What is lukewarmness and is it a mortal sin?

The following definition is given in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Lukewarmness or tepidity, in spiritual theology, signifies the state of soul to which the warmth and fervor of charity is wanting, but has not yet completely deteriorated into the coldness of indifference and hatred.” In this understanding, lukewarmness would not be a mortal sin as such, but can eventually (and quickly) lead to mortal sin.

The lukewarm soul tends to neglect the duties of its state in life. To always strive for the bare minimum fulfillment of temporal and spiritual commitments is to be lukewarm. In the book of Revelation Our Lord says to the Laodicean church, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”( 3:15-16). Here Christ reminds us that if we are not going forward in the spiritual life, we are going backwards.

The Diary of Saint Faustina has this to say about the lukewarm:

“There are souls who thwart My efforts (1682). Souls without love or devotion, souls full of egoism and selfishness, proud and arrogant souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls who have just enough warmth to keep themselves alive: My Heart cannot bear this. All the graces I pour out upon them flow off them as off the face of a rock. I cannot stand them because they are neither good nor bad (1702)...My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: "Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will." For them, the last hope of salvation is to flee to My mercy.”

Is Holy water "unholy" if it is sold and/or bought?

No. Holy water remains holy because it is blessed, and selling it or buying it does not make it unholy. However, the person who sells or purchases Holy Water (water that has been blessed by a priest or deacon) commits the sin of simony (the selling or purchasing of holy or spiritual things). Therefore, the person who does this becomes unholy, not the water.

How old was Jesus wen he died on the cross?

Though the exact age is unknown, tradition holds that Jesus was 33 years old when he died. Given historical contexts and data, it seems that he would have been around 33 when he was crucified and he died. The current way of noting the year (2019 AD) begins from the year of his birth ) Anno Domini is Latin for "Year of the Lord"). The years prior to the Birth of Jesus are referred to as BC – Before Christ.

Questions about the chotki prayers

Does the Catholic Church permit the faithful to pray the prayers appropriate to the chotki?


Are the chotki prayers of Eastern Orthodox origin?

Doubtfully.  To my knowledge, the chotki prayers were said by the eastern monks in ancient times before the Great Schism.  They are still said by non-Roman Rite Catholics in full union with Rome.

Does the Church have anything to say about the chotki prayers?

In The Raccolta (1946 version), an official collection of prayers of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church,

“Jesus Son of David have mercy on me.” is indulgenced with 500 days and a plenary indulgence (given the usual conditions) if it is said every day for a month.

Therefore, the Catholic Church highly recommends this short prayer to the Son of God (and by logical extension other variants of the Jesus Prayer).

Is it ok to pray the chotki instead of the holy rosary due to the difficulty I find meditating on the mysteries and saying the prayers?

The repetition of the Jesus prayer is a spiritually fruitful way to pray.  However, there is a particular greatness to the rosary and it should not be given up too easily. Numerous saints have affirmed the excellence and privileged efficacy of the rosary. The Blessed Virgin Mary at both Fatima and Lourdes explicitly requested the rosary to be prayed.  Moreover, at least twelve encyclicals and several other papal documents exist on the subject the holy rosary, exhorting the faithful directly and indirectly to pray it regularly, with Leo XIII affirming its miraculous origin.

Perhaps focusing on a word or very small part of a mystery while reciting the Hail Marys would help.  Alternatively, you could simply announce the mystery at the beginning of the decade and focus on the words of the Hail Marys until meditating upon the mysteries becomes more natural.

When you go through confirmation, do u recieve something physical that proves it? and if so, do you have to go through confirmation again if you lose it?

Everyone who receives the Sacrament is sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and there is a mark on our souls that never goes away. Some parishes will distribute certificates. If you lose the certificate, you do not need to receive the Sacrament again! You cannot be re-confirmed. Once you are confirmed, it is for life. The record of your confirmation is held at the parish where you were confirmed and is also noted at the place of baptism. So, there is no need to go through the Sacrament of Confirmation if you lose the certificate you received. You don’t become unconfirmed if you lose it!

How, as a young adult, do you go back to reconciliation after having not been in awhile? I just graduated from college and didn't go at all. I have read all about what is supposed to be said and the order of things, but it all seems so awkward to do. Like the priest is going to just chop me up to be another millennial who doesn't know a whole lot about their faith.

Priests are not as mean as you think! If you go to confession and explain to the priest that it has been a few years since your last confession he will walk you through it. Each time I sit in the confessional, there is always someone I have to help through the Act of Contrition or an examination of conscience. Many people avoid going to confession, you’re not the only one! People come in and haven’t been to confession in decades. I think the longest away from the sacrament of confession that I have heard has been 60 years.

What is the punishment for reading the quran in christianity?

There is no punishment for reading the quran. We are called to seek the truth wherever it may be found and we believe there to be some truth in the quran.

Thank you for asking that question! I appreciate the opportunity to answer it!

What is the purpose of confirmation?

The purpose of Confirmation is to receive the Holy Spirit so that we can be witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world.

Do you remember your confirmation? How did you prepare for it?

I do. It was a wonderful evening and we had a great celebration. Preparation included classes throughout the year, service projects, and retreats. We met with the pastor as well.

What are the words said when you anoint someone with chrism oil?

The words the bishop says are, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Why do we need to be confirmed if we are already baptized? What do we receive in confirmation?

Confirmation is a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As Pentecost was for the Apostles, Confirmation is for us. When we are confirmed, we receive the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

What are confirmation sponsors for?

Sponsors are for good gifts! ;) A sponsor is supposed to be someone who models for us what it means to be a good Catholic, a good disciple of Christ.

Are you assured of going to heaven if you are confirmed?

NO! We still need to make good decisions and live our lives as sons and daughters of God and witness to the faith and Jesus Christ by the way we live our lives.

When is the best time to be confirmed?

This has been a subject of debate for a long time. The early church confirred the Sacrament of Confirmation on people when they were young, right after baptism. The Eastern Churches still do this. Many dioceses in the United States confirm in the 8th or 9th grade. A few have the Sacrament of Confirmation before First Communion in the 2nd grade. The Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Eucharist is a symbol of being fully initiated and fully in union with the church, a full member of the Church. Some Dioceses preserve that order and others have gone with a different order. There is no age specified for confirmation.

How long do confirmations usually take?

It depends on how many people are being confirmed. At St. James, we had 59 young men and women who were confirmed. The liturgy was 2 hours.

Does the Bishop buy your clerical shirts?


What is Lent?

The Lenten Season is like a spiritual Spring Training until Easter. The penitential season of six Sundays and 40 weekdays prepares for the high feast of Easter. Lent begins Ash Wednesday and ends with the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the evening known as Holy Thursday. Lent is form the Anglo-Saxon word which means Spring. Sundays are considered mini “Easters” as you celebrate the Lord’s Day. If you are exercising a Lenten discipline, some people cheat on this day and some don’t; let your conscience guide you.

I spent one year in the occult, but I recently became a Christian, and I regret my past. I found out about the mark of the beast, and I am worried now, because the mark is supposed to be on the right hand or the forehead, and last year (when I was in the occult) I got a tattoo on my right hand. That tattoo means a specific card from the tarot deck. Will I not be forgiven for that? -----------

Praise God for your conversion and his work in your life! Thankfully, there is no sin or evil that we choose that is beyond the Lord’s mercy, provided that we turn away from it with sorrow and humbly ask for His forgiveness. The Lord can surely forgive your decision to get a tattoo that is evil or contrary to the Christian faith.

Two suggestions:

  1. I have heard of similar situations where people have had the tattoo removed OR had an artist “Christianize” the current tattoo. This can relieve you of a permanent reminder of the Occult and instead, you’ll have a reminder of Christ the Victorious King who conquers all evil.
  2. If you are Catholic, I highly encourage you to visit with your local priest in order to renounce your past involvement with the Occult. We have some beautiful and powerful prayers that were specifically written to break any bonds, promises, or oaths that may have invited demonic influence in a person’s life. This is a powerful spiritual remedy and can provide a greater experience of the freedom that the Lord Jesus desires for your life.

St James the Less Catholic Church

St. James the Less Catholic Church
8412 Whitefield Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31406
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Office Hours: M–F | 9A – 5P

  • Church Office

    912 355 1523
  • FAX

    912 353 7226
  • School Office

    912 355 3132
  • Early Learning Center

    912 629 2430
  • Convent

    912 355 6815