Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples

Faith Answers with Fr. Jerry

May 28

Do I have to go to Mass When I’m on Vacation?

The short answer is yes. The 3rd commandment does not distinguish between any Sundays as a lesser or greater emphasis on “keeping the Lord’s Day”. For Catholics, that means to participate in Mass. Therefore, every Sunday, wherever you are, requires the fulfillment of that commandment.

“Well, we couldn’t find a church.”  Everyone has access to a phone, just type in Catholic Church near you and follow the GPS.

However, there are occasions where Mass can be excused on Sunday.

  1. If you are sick (too sick to do anything else that day), don’t bring the sickness to church. Try to provide a substitute for Mass. (T.V. Mass, Bible reading, and/or prayer to take up that time to be spent with God.)
  2. If someone you care for is sick and you are the only care giver, you must stay and care for that person if they need the help.
  3. You find yourself on a plane and you can’t possibly hit a Mass, same as being sick. (Video Mass, Bible reading and/or prayers to substitute.)
  4. You find yourself in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, camping/hiking, and you just can’t get to a church, again; prayers and quiet time for God.

In our part of the world it is extremely rare to not find a Catholic Church nearby.

May 21

What is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church?

The magisterium is the teaching body of the Church. It consists of all the bishops gathered as one group in union with the Pope (himself a bishop; the Bishop of Rome).

When needed, all bishops are gathered together to discuss a particular item. This gathering has become less needed as the dogmatic principles of the Church have been defined.

At the Second Vatican Council, the magisterium was gathered to discuss the changes introduced by Pope John XXIII.  Their input guides the Pope in making decisions. The Pope has the last say since, guided by the Holy Spirit, and through the promises of Christ at the establishment of the Church, the Holy Father has the authority to conclude decisions. However, the Pope always gathers information to make decisions.

The Pope’s decisions are final; infallible. However, the infallible question is often misunderstood. The Pope is ONLY infallible on matters of faith and morals. The doctrine of infallibility did not suddenly appear. Rather, it is founded on Christ’s promise to the apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit, who “will guide you to all truth” (Jn. 16:13). This provides the secure sense of protection from error on fundamental teachings.

May 14

Don’t Hide Your Light Under Bushel Basket.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

These words of Jesus are the command given not just to His Apostles, but to everyone that follows the teachings of our Savior.

In the world today, there are many voices seemingly “yelling” their agendas at us and it can often even become combative; physical in nature.

It can be quite understandable to step back and hide; to protect our children from the world and remove them and ourselves from the “public square”. But this is not the commandment of Jesus. “Go out to all the world and proclaim the good news!”

Many of us want to avoid confrontation, but without confronting the anti-Christian messages in our world, and not saying anything, we are letting the enemy win. When our children repeatedly see and hear that people are being hurt if we don’t let them have their way, which is contrary to Christ’s teachings, they can be easily swayed that perhaps the other side is right. After all, our children have a propensity to not want people hurt. 

So who’s right? Hopefully, not just the loudest voice in the room, but the correct voice in the room.

May 7

We celebrate Mary as the exemplar of our faith daily, but in a special way, we honor her during the Month of May. Our Faith Formation classes will have a traditional "Mary Crowning" of Mary and we pay particular attention to her life. 

The most common misunderstanding among our non-Catholic brothers and sisters is that we worship Mary. This is completely false. We pray to her to pray for us in Heaven. 

It is quite true that several times in the New Testament we hear that we have one mediator between God and man; that being Christ. Mary does not serve this purpose, but she intercedes for us to her Son, Jesus. We ask Mary to pray for us just as we would ask anyone on earth to pray for us. After all, Heaven is eternal life, not eternal death so we believe those in Heaven can pray for us.  

There are four Marian Dogmas that we, as Catholics believe: 

  1. Immaculate Conception - Marywas  conceived in the womb of St. Ann without sin                     
  2. Motherhood of God (Theotokos) (Gr) "God bearer"; - Mary is the Mother of God
  3. Perpetual Virginity  - Mary was a virgin before and after the  birth of Christ.
  4. Assumption  - Mary was assumed into Heaven; body and soul

April 30

How long does it take to be a priest?

Criteria for becoming a priest is pretty standard, but there are a few variations depending on the diocese or religious order you choose. Most religious orders require a year of preparation; a year of discernment before entering studies. The Nashville diocese requires this particular year.

After High School, a priest candidate will need to procure an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. This will take four years. Then, there is a four-year program of work which includes obtaining a Master’s Degree in Theology. However, the scholastic work for this upper degree is only two years. Interspersed with the educational element is the formation of other areas expanding the upper level education to four years.

There are four pillars of priestly formation:  Human Formation, Intellectual Formation, Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Formation. 

Human Formation is the development of the ability to know yourself and to be able to deal with personal issues. A priest can “burn out” quickly and needs to know when and how to take care of themselves, but the knowledge of ourselves is also to help others.

Intellectual Formation is, of course the classroom work for the theological degree.

Spiritual Formation is developing a discipline of prayer and communion with God

Pastoral Formation is the ability to deal with the many issues faced by a priest with the people he serves.

If a man enters the priesthood training after already receiving an undergraduate degree in another discipline than philosophy, the candidate will be placed into a two year pre-theology program through which they will receive, basically, a minor in philosophy, then the four years of theology.

There are no stupid priests. Look at all of the work to be done to get to ordination. However, each priest has their own strengths and weaknesses to which the laity must exercise patience. Every priest is human containing human flaws.

April 23

Altar Girls?

Some priests (and laity) express an intention that only boys should serve at the altar. Their argument is that it attracts young men to the priesthood. Do girls have a calling for a vocation?  Aren’t we supposed to inspire our young girls to consider a consecrated life as a religious sister?

Yes! At Nativity, we are blessed with many fine boys who do a spectacular job of following directions and serving at Mass with respect and reverence. We also have several young girls who do exactly the same thing.

Yes, we need priests but we also need to build up the ranks of our religious sisters. All of us are called to a life of holiness! We pray for an increase not just to the priesthood but to the vocation of a religious life; priests, brothers and sisters.

The respect shown to the Mass and the intention of our servers to carry out their roles well at the Mass is inspiring, not only to me, but to the laity who see the Mass celebrated well.

We should encourage all of our youth to be involved in the church community. Notice we have younger lectors and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. Our youth are in the choir, (what a beautiful addition to the Mass is our Children’s Choir). Our youth serve as Mass ambassadors and ushers.

Since all of us are called to a life of holiness, let us always encourage our young people to participate in the Mass to the fullest!

April 16

Is it a sin to miss Mass on Sundays?
Well, yes it is. God gave us the Ten Commandments, and that’s just what they are;
commandments! The third commandment is to keep holy the Lord’s Day. As
Catholics, we keep that day holy by attending Mass.
Some tell me they can find God fishing, golfing or mountain climbing. And that’s
very true! However, you cannot receive the Eucharist; the Body and Blood of Jesus
outside of Mass attendance. This is how we keep the Lord’s Day holy. We are to
assist at Mass (attend and participate). At Mass, we are fed with the Word of God
and the Body and Blood of Christ; we “fill up our tanks” to have the grace to be
Christ in the world for the next week.
If we don’t fill up our tanks, we grow weak and unable to stay off temptation and
sin. Nor do we have the grace to be Christ in the world.
On vacation, traveling, visiting family, etc…, we are called to keep the Lord’s
Day; to go to Mass. The most powerful example we can send to the world of our
Christian faith is simply to go to Mass.
It brings to mind to others our devotion to God and our desire for Christ.

April 9

The “3” Churches of Catholicism.
In the Catholic Church, we have a list of 3 Churches: the Church Triumphant, the
Church Militant and the Church Suffering.
The Church Militant is us. We are on earth “fighting” our way to get to Heaven.
We fight to resist temptation and the earthly pleasures to receive the gift of
complete happiness in Heaven with God for all eternity.
The Church Triumphant are those who have made it to Heaven. We believe that
those in Heaven enjoy eternal life, not eternal death. And so, since they are alive,
we believe they can assist us with their prayers.
The Church Suffering are those in Purgatory. These are the souls, who have been
forgiven of sins, but have not yet paid off the penalty due those sins. Jesus tells us
to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Purgatory is the opportunity to
purify ourselves to be perfect so that we can step into the boundaries of Heaven
and join the Church Triumphant.
All 3 Churches work together in what we call the Communion of Saints. This is a
circular aspect of prayer; we pray to the saints in Heaven, the saints pray for us.
We pray for the souls in Purgatory and they pray for us.

April 2

How do Become Loved and Liked by Everyone?

You too can become well-loved and accepted by every person in the world if you agree to whatever they do in acceptance and not offer the Gospel of Christ to them. Remember, Jesus said that the world hated Him and we will also be hated because we are not of the world. We are meant to be in Heaven with God to gain happiness forever.

The world is directed by Satan. The world allures us to things of the world rather than the things of Heaven. We must remove ourselves from the lies of the world which tell us to do whatever makes us feel good.

Our three weapons are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Fasting makes us mindful to limit pleasure. Prayer reminds us to acclimate ourselves to the will of God. Almsgiving reminds us to limit our need for wealth.  Any of these three “earthly” promises can lead us away from the eternal happiness designed for us in Heaven: pleasure, pride, greed.

Accepting the world’s lies and accepting everything people do without standing up for the truth will bring us the love of the world and the love of everyone we meet. However, standing up for the truth will bring us back to the words of Jesus; the world hates you because you are not of this world but meant for something more.

The Gospel message collides with the world’s message. Truth hurts!


March 26

Holy Week is coming up. Part of the week is called the Triduum? What is the



Triduum means “3 days”. Palm Sunday begins Holy Week with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday we begin the Triduum. Thursday, Friday and Saturday comprise the Triduum. They are celebrated as one long liturgy which begins on Thursday and ends at the end of Sat.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper and the Priesthood. The first part of every Mass is called the Liturgy (work of the people) of the Word. The Church took this from the Jewish worship service. The Jewish worship service opens with a hymn, greeting, reading of the scriptures, and commentary on the readings, etc…. Very much like the first part of the Mass. The second part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is a re- presentation of the Last Supper of Jesus with His Apostles in the Upper Room before He was crucified. At that supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist: “this is My Body; this is My Blood”. Then he calls his Apostles to be the first priests of the new Church. The Mass, however is not closed as we do on Sundays, there is no dismissal.

On Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Mass. We have an order of servicea to recall the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. Again, there is no dismissal. On Holy Saturday, we recall Jesus’ death in the tomb. There is no Mass and no sacraments may be celebrated except the Sacrament of Confession, Anointing of the Sick (for serious illness) and Viaticum (receiving the Eucharist for the dying).

These three days we refer to as the Triduum.

March 19

Questions from the First Grade

I recently visited the First Grade in Faith Formation. See if you know the answers to the questions they came up with!

If Jesus never died for our sins, what would happen?

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were removed from the Garden and the gates of Eden were shut tight and locked. No one could get back to the Garden (Heaven).  There is always a penalty for sin and for the Original sin, there was a huge penalty. The wages of sin are death. To undo the sin, a human had to pay the price. Jesus, true man/true God took the penalty upon Himself for all of us. Since a man sinned, a man must pay the price. When Jesus died on the cross, the penalty was paid and the gates of the Garden were opened. If He had never died (paid the price) the gates would still be locked!

Where did people go before the gates of Heaven were unlocked?

Since no one could get into Heaven, they went to a place called Sheol (shadow lands) In the Apostle’s Creed, we say that Jesus died and descended into Hell. Not the Hell of damnation, but the shadow land of Sheol.  He gathers all the good people who were waiting and took them to Heaven after He died on the cross.

What did God do before He made the world? 

Where does an eight-hundred-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants to. What did God do before the earth? Anything He wanted to do!

Why did God create us if He knew we were going to sin? 

Everyone is going to mess up because we are human: everyone. But our parents love us when we mess up. They correct us and always love us.  God loves us no matter what we do; He will always love us. He made us to love us. Since God is love and love, by definition reaches out, God created us to receive His love; to share His love.

March 12

Why do People say the Rosary Differently?

Originally, the Rosary was a loop of 150 beads. The number of beads equals the number or psalms in the Bible. In communities where the psalms were read, for those who were illiterate, a Hail Mary Prayer was recited for each psalm. 

150 prayers are a lot for the working person, so the Rosary was divided into 3 groups of 50 beads and to focus on prayer, each 50 beads were devoted to a mystery of Christ’s life: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious. (St. John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries during his pontificate.)

As time went on, extra prayers were added. The Our Father and the Glory Be helped to keep the prayer on track by dividing the 50 beads into 5 sets of 10 (decade). The Apostle’s Creed was added to begin the Rosary, then the three Hail Mary Beads to focus on the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love (Charity). For some, the Hail Holy Queen was added along with “O God, Whose only begotten Son….” for the ending.

Additional prayers are added by individuals for devotion. Most notable addition is
the Fatima prayer. But the specific Rosary began as 150 beads to match the


March 5

What is the Breviary? 

The Church requires its priests, sisters, monks, etc… to participate in a cycle of prayer. The cycle repeats every day in a collection of seven prayers. The collection of the prayers for the entire liturgical year is called the Breviary. The cycle of daily prayer is to be said at certain times throughout the day. 

The daily cycle consists of 7 prayers: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Mid-Morning Prayer, Mid-Day Prayer, Mid-Afternoon Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. 

Why seven?  We take the tradition from the Jews who prayed seven times a day, with the number seven being the number of “completion”. 

The number of prayers to be said are divided among levels of religious states of life. For those in community: monastics and cloistered communities, all seven prayers are said. 

For diocesan priests, only five prayers are required due to their workload in theworld. They pray the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, then they choose ONEof the “day time” prayers: Mid-Morning, Mid-Day, or Mid-Afternoon dependingon their prayer opportunities during the day. Additionally, they are required to sayEvening Prayer and Night Prayer.

Deacons are required to say only Morning and Evening Prayer.

The prayers consist of a rotation through the psalms, scripture readings, writings of Church Fathers and saints, and specific prayers. The prayers can be sung or recited.


February 26

Is Divorce a sin? A Myth Destroyed!

I have encountered people who tell me they have not gone to communion because they are divorced. One man even told me that he had not been to communion in 20 years! Because he was divorced.

Divorce is not a sin! Divorce is not a sin! It is a separation of married people, period! Often, the divorce is to protect one from abuse; physical, emotional, physiological or other types. Often it is to protect the children from a negative atmosphere that will harm them emotionally. 

Whatever the reason, divorce is not a sin and does NOT KEEP YOU FROM RECEIVING THE SACRAMENTS! The issue is when one remarries without the benefit of an annulment from the Church. There are many possibilities to get things worked out to remarry; some are VERY easy. Please contact a priest to check this out. However; If you are divorced and not remarried, GO TO COMMUNION!


February 19

What is the Difference Between a Diocesan Priest and a Religious Order Priest?

A Diocesan Priest works for the bishop of a particular diocese. The chances that they would be sent outside the diocesan area to work are extremely rare (some may be placed on loan to teach at seminaries). A Religious Order Priest is a member of a group of priests (Franciscans, Carthusians, Salesians, Jesuits, etc…) who reside in community and are connected to other priests by way of their order.

There are three Evangelical Counsels: chastity, obedience and poverty. Religious orders take all three counsels. In regards to poverty, none of the Religious Order priests can own property and all monies they earn are sent to the director of the specific order. The priests who take the evangelical order of poverty, truly own nothing. If they have a car, it belongs to the community. They will receive a stipend from the community for clothing, food, etc… Even their personal items are really owned by the community. These priest also take the Evangelical Counsels of obedience to the head of their community and practice chastity. They may be sent out into the world to any place the community needs them to serve. In terms of obedience, they also are required to adhere to the instructions of the Bishop who is placed over the specific region they serve. In retirement, the community takes care of the member until death.

As to Diocesan priests, they only take the Evangelical Councils of obedience and chastity. They can own property and accumulate wealth from the salary they are paid. However, they are urged to hold to the conduct of a simplicity of life. This means, to live meagerly as a representative of Christ in their work. Diocesan Priests must provide for their own retirement through savings and investments.


February 12

Why is the Catholic Bible different from the Protestant Bible?

The Catholic Church gathered together the books of the Bible. The Church “made” the Bible. It took, as the Old Testament the scriptures of the Jews for the Old Testament and added the New Testament writings.

This collection of books (Bible means “library) was the ONLY Bible until the Reformation 1500 years later. Martin Luther utilized a more recent collection of scriptures from the Jews, but also removed some books from the Old Testament that did not stand up to HIS ideas of the faith.

All Protestant communities took on this “reformed” Bible with less books than the original Catholic Bible held in the Old Testament.

Over time, a misunderstanding has occurred to the point where Protestants ask us Catholics, “why did you add books to the Bible”? The reality is, “why did the Protestants take books out of the Bible”

For both Catholics and Protestants, the New Testament is the same. 


February 5

What does Confirmation give us?

When we are Baptized as infants, someone answers for us. We receive many items from Baptism, namely our salvation. We also receive the implantation of the Holy Spirit.

As we grow and are educated, we develop a relationship with Jesus and are able to articulate our faith on our own. Confirmation is the acknowledgement of our personal belief, not by another person, but on our own.

At Confirmation, the candidate receives the fullness of the Holy Spirit, that is all of the gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, piety and fear of the Lord.

Now, as many Confirmations as I have celebrated or witnessed, no one glows or floats. It is not an earth shattering moment (although it can be). But the reality is that you receive every gift. You will have the gift surface when and if you ever need it.


January 29


Lent comes from a word meaning lengthening (the days are gaining more sunlight each day heading towards the Spring). This is a time to take stock of where we are spiritually and where we want to be spiritually. The length of Lent reflects the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for His death on the cross.

For the Jews, numbers are very symbolic. The ancient 4 elements of the world (earth, wind, fire and water) are overcome by the 10 Divine commandments of God. Rather, earth is overwhelmed or purified by the Divine. 4X10 =40. So, for the Jews, 40 is the number of purification.

It rained for 40 days and nights when God cleansed the world and only Noah and his family, faithful to God, survived. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai preparing to receive the 10 commandments. Jesus spends 40 days preparing for His ultimate sacrifice. Jesus remained on earth for 40 days from His resurrection to His ascension to purify the beginning Church.

Lent is a few weeks away. Prepare to have a good Lent. Usually, we give up something. Make sure that something is reflective of a true sacrifice. OR, do more for God for 40 days; celebrate more Masses during the week, pray more, works of mercy. But make sure they reflect the importance of a true sacrifice to imitate (as best as humans can) the sacrifice of Jesus for us.