Ask Father Mike

Every month the Diocese of Duluth publishes a diocesan newspaper, “The Northern Cross.” Father Mike is a regular columnist answering fundamental questions of the Catholic faith. To read more of the Northern Cross, click here! Or if you have a question you would like Father Mike to answer, send him an email!

Advice for When the Unexpected Happens

Have you ever felt so sure you’re going in the right direction and really seeking God and then all of a sudden it’s like the rug is pulled out from under you?

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What If God Revealed Himself Completely to Us?

In a previous column, you wrote that God doesn’t “send” people to hell, but that we choose to live without God. I think that, when we die, God reveals Himself so fully and truly that we are so overwhelmed by his goodness that no one could possibly choose hell.

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Why Does God Allow People to Commit Evil Acts?

If God knows everything, then He would have known what Hitler would do. In that case, why didn’t God just not make him?

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“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”: Far From Founding Fathers’ Call for Happiness

I sometimes get frustrated with the Church and all the rules about “do this” and “don’t do that.” I believe that God just wants us to be happy.

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Contraception Turns Acts of Love Into Lie

Last month, you talked about contraception always being wrong. In fact, you called it “evil.” Isn’t that a little much?

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In Confession, Priest Sees Mercy, Love, and Humility.

What is it like to hear confessions?

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy? Prayer, Action Help Ease Anxiety.

I worry a lot. I know that the Bible teaches that we are to “have no anxiety,” but I can’t just pretend like everything is fine when it isn’t.

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Forgiveness Might Not Erase Pain, But It Sets You Free

I know that I am supposed to forgive those who have hurt me, but it is so hard. Every time I see this person, I get so mad! What do I do?

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Struggling to Believe is Not the Same Thing as Doubting

In your last column, you said you believe everything the Church teaches. What if I struggle with believing? Where does that put me?

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Opposing Same-Sex Marriage Does Not Make One a Bigot

It seems like every time I try to explain the Church’s teaching regarding same-sex “marriage” I am accused of being a “bigot” or a “homophobe.” I am told that I “hate” and that it is a violation of a person’s civil rights to say that they cannot marry whomever they want. How do I respond?

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How to Make the Most of the Christmas Season

Every Christmas I feel drained and am relieved when Dec. 26 finally comes around. What can I do to really celebrate the season of Christmas?

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You Can Bring Someone Back to the Faith–But First…

I’ve been trying to help a family member come back to the church. They seemed so “on fire” when they were younger, but have since lost their faith.

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Angry With God? Tell Him How You Feel.

How can I pray to God when I am so disappointed in him? I am often angry at God because it feels like nothing I do ever works out. It feels hypocritical to then just go and tell God that everything is OK. Things aren’t OK in my life!

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Being “Spiritual But Not Religious” Carries Consequences

I believe that I am a very spiritual person. I don’t personally believe in any religion, but that doesn’t mean I am not spiritual.

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Examining the Role of Conscience in Making Moral Decisions

I disagree with some of the teachings of the Catholic Church. I was once told that I don’t have to follow all of the Church’s teachings if they violate my conscience. But still, I’m not sure that’s right.

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Before You Go to “communion” at Another Church…

I recently attended a wedding in a non- Catholic church. The minister invited everyone there forward to be united at this wedding to receive Communion. I didn’t know what to do, so I went up to receive. Did I do something wrong?

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Mind Wandering at Mass? Try being more active.

I can’t focus at Mass. I try, but my mind wanders. Why is this?

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“Love Your Enemies, and Pray for Those Who Hate You…”

Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies. Lucifer, and all of the other fallen angels, are our real enemies (according to Saint Paul). Does that mean that we should pray for Lucifer?

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How is Natural Family Planning Different from Contraception?

Is contraception really that big of a deal? As if using contraception wisely and occasionally in marriage could affect my relationship with God. And even if it really did, how is natural family planning any different from contraception?

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What’s the Problem with Contraception?

I’ve been hearing about the Catholic bishops getting upset about Catholic institutions providing contraception for employees. They say that this goes against church teaching. What is so wrong about contraception?

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Same-Sex Marriage Laws force the Church to ‘Fuss’

What does my same-sex marriage have to do with you? Why the fuss over this?

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Why Don’t Same-Sex Couples Have a Right to Marry?

It seems unfair to say that gay people can’t get married. It is a violation of their civil rights.

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“I Believe…”

Do you believe everything that the Catholic Church teaches?

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American Catholic

Back when I went to Catholic school, and later when I served in the military, I was taught that, when it came to serving our country, I need to be an American first and a Catholic second.

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“God Made Me This Way”

I don’t know how to respond when someone “explains away” their bad behavior by just saying, “God made me this way.” Is that true?

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Can We Get Married Outside?

I want to get married outside, but my priest says that I can’t. My fiancé and I love the outdoors, and it is really meaningful to us. Why can’t this be a part of our wedding day?

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Pro-Choice Catholic?

I recently read an article where a person described themselves as being a “pro-choice Catholic”.  How can that be?

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Can a Christian Fight in War?

Can a Christian fight in war?  If a Catholic soldier killed someone in battle, would they have to go to Confession?

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Tattoos and Christians

Can I get a tattoo and still be a faithful Catholic?

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The Need for Purgatory

I get that Purgatory exists. But why?

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What to Do When Prayer Feels More Like Work

I have been trying to pray, but sometimes I just don’t feel like anything is happening.  Also, I am nervous because prayer has started to feel like an obligation.

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Going Deeper In Prayer

I want to go deeper in my prayer life, but I’m not sure how to start. What is my first step?

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Centering Prayer

I’ve recently come across something called Centering Prayer.  What is it and is it Catholic?

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Choosing God, Not Blaming Him

How come whenever something good happens I am supposed to thank God, but when something bad happens, I can’t blame Him?

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The “One, True Church”?

Why be Catholic? Aren’t all religions basically the same?  Aren’t Catholics arrogant in thinking that they are the “one, true Church”?

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The Church and Suicide

What does the Catholic Church teach about suicide?  Do people who kill themselves automatically go to Hell?

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The Precepts of the Church

I’ve been reading more about the Church and I’ve come across something called the “precepts” of the Catholic Church.  How important are they?  Why these five extra “rules”?

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Conservative Catholic?

I go to school in another part of the state.  Some of my professors told me that the Diocese of Duluth is a “conservative” diocese.  What does that mean?

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The Shack

A lot of my Christian friends have been raving about a book called The Shack. What is it about and should I read it?

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Mean God?

I’ve been reading the Bible and I’ve run into a problem.  The God I’m reading about in the Old Testament doesn’t seem to be the same God I’ve come to know my whole life.  He seems angry.  It seems like He kills people left and right.  I don’t get it and it is really unsettling.

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Do I Have Faith?

Why do some people have faith and others don’t?  What if I personally don’t feel like I have faith?

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Is Heaven Really “heaven” If Even One Person Is Not There?

How could a person in Heaven ever be happy if they know that someone they love is not there or will never be there (is in Hell)?

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Keeping Holy the Sabbath Day

So the Bible says to “keep holy the sabbath”.  How do I do that?  Is it a sin to do any work at all?

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Where to Draw the Line in the Media

I heard a Christian speaker talking about needing to avoid certain movies and TV shows.  Is it really a big deal what kind of entertainment I watch, listen to, or read?  Isn’t it better to know what is going on in the world than be closed off?

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Defining Homosexuality

Why is homosexuality a sin?

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Discerning Your Vocation

I’ve heard that everyone is called by God to some vocation.  How do I find my vocation?

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Old Testament Laws

Why don’t we follow all of the laws of the Bible?  Like, what about Old Testament dietary laws, or going to synagogue on Saturday, or laws about stoning someone if they commit adultery?

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Satan

Can you tell me something about the devil?  I read in an Examination of Conscience that it is a sin to use horoscopes, tarot cards, or ouija boards.  But what if it is just for fun?

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Formula Prayers Give Us Words When We Need Them

I’ve tried prayer, but what do I pray about?

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Cremation

I heard that Catholics aren’t allowed to be cremated, but I kind of think that I would like to be cremated rather than just buried when I die.  Can I be a faithful Catholic and be cremated?

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Do Not Judge

I know that we are told that we shouldn’t judge, but what does that mean?  Shouldn’t we be able to judge some things?

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Remorse vs. Repentence

I want to go to Confession, but don’t really feel bad for my sins.  What do I do?  Can I still be forgiven?

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God a “He”?

Why do you refer to God as “He”?  Are you implying that God is male?  Doesn’t this support a patriarchal worldview?  I don’t see the point.

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Do We Need Confession?

Can a non-Catholic who doesn’t go to Confession have their sins forgiven? If so, why do I (a Catholic) have to go?

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Why Do Catholics Venerate the Bodies of Dead Saints?

Why do Catholics venerate the bodies and body parts of saints? With the display of St. Padre Pio in the news lately, it’s something I’ve been wondering about. I know it’s a much more common practice in Europe, but it’s not something we’re used to, and it kind of creeps me out. Why not just pray for the saints’ intercession and let their bodies be at rest?

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Will there be animals in Heaven?

Are there animals in Heaven?
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Why Don’t Catholics Eat Meat During Lent?

Why do Catholics not eat meat on Fridays during Lent?  What’s the point?  And why doesn’t fish count as meat?

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Do I HAVE to Raise My Kids in the Catholic faith?

The Church teaches that I have a duty to raise my children in the faith. But shouldn’t it be their choice? Is it fair to indoctrinate them?

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Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

I’ve heard that Christmas is a pagan holiday, and that we Christians should not celebrate it because it is based off some pagan celebration of the birth of the “Invincible Sun”.  What’s the story?

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“Oh, my G…”

Is taking the Lord’s Name in vain still a big deal?

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Married Without Children

I heard that a couple has to want to have kids in order to get married in the Catholic Church.  My fiancé and I don’t, why won’t the Church let us marry each other?

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Distractions In Prayer

I try to pray, but I keep getting distracted.  Am I doing something wrong?

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Receiving the Eucharist

My non-Catholic friend comes with me to Mass, but she insists on receiving the Eucharist.  Is that okay?

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Who Does It Hurt?

Is it a sin to miss Mass if you’re on vacation?

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