Answering the Tough Questions

July 26, 2011
Communion rails
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Why are Catholic churches/parishes bringing back communion rails?

Not all Catholic churches are bringing back communion rails, nor are many, but – it is evident -  some are.  Broadly speaking, we are watching the pendulum of liturgical reform – which was accelerated by the Second Vatican Council – swing back in the other direction, with the approval and encouragement of our Holy Father Benedict XVI, and in response to a true “sensus fidelium” (the public opinion of the faithful),...

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July 19, 2011
Tithing and sacrificial giving
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Could you please tell me more about what the Catholic Church believes about tithing?

Tithing is first mentioned in the books of the Old Testament and represents a 10 percent sacrificial gift of one’s produce or income for the benefit of the worship of God by maintenance of the temple and the priests caring for temple worship. Tithing represents a sacrifice, and sacrifice is one of the acts of the virtue of religion, the others being prayer, adoration, and worship.  All peoples in all...

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July 12, 2011
By Father Rocky Hoffman

A dear friend in a neighboring state lives in a parish with two deacons. She sponsors RCIA candidates, teaches RCIA, CCD, and now she and her husband are asked to counsel engaged couples. She tells hem the only means of birth control approved by the Catholic Church is the condom. I was appalled and shocked, asking her where she got that information. She said from the deacon. Am I out of touch? What has changed?

You are not out of touch.  Nothing has changed.  It’s possible that your dear...

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July 05, 2011
Discerning a religious vocation
By Father Rocky Hoffman

I am considering joining a religious order as a brother after certain obligations to my family are met. I am interested in orders active in communities (Franciscans, Marians, etc.). Is there a good general source of information on religious orders in general- locations of vocational offices, admission requirements, etc.

You need to check out the website of the Institute on Religious Life available at  That’s where you should start your journey.  Prayers for you...

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June 28, 2011
Scapular usage
By Father Rocky Hoffman

I have grown up wearing the traditional brown scapular, but recently noticed that they have come out with many types of scapular jewelry.  I am interested in the wearing a scapular bracelet instead of the traditional wool scapular.  Does the bracelet contain the same benefits as the brown scapular?  Also must the wool scapular be worn over the head or can it be pinned to your clothes?

The brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a wonderful devotion richly promoted by saints and popes...

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June 21, 2011
Formation of conscience
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Is it truly possible for someone to “kill” his conscience — that is, to make it completely inoperable so that he has no moral discernment at all?

When we read about wicked crimes committed in cold blood, we wonder if the criminal is without conscience.  Sometimes that seems to be the case.  It is possible, through a willful life of sin, to dull the conscience and weaken it, perhaps even to the point of rendering it ineffective.  In such case, moral theologians speak more of a...

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June 14, 2011
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Is the use of viagra morally acceptable by the Catholic Church?

The morality of the use of any medicine depends on the object, the intention, and the circumstances.

Assuming that the Viagra medicine has only one purpose, to facilitate the marital act, then it can be taken licitly only by married people who are open to life.

If people are not married, and/or are not open to life, then it would be morally impermissible to take Viagra.  If the married couple is beyond child-bearing age, but...

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June 07, 2011
Repentance for sterilization
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae” “teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.”  If a man has a vasectomy or a woman, tubal ligation, and later repents and confesses his/her sin, may they continue to have marital relations and be in accord with the teaching of the Church?

Only God can judge our souls, and only God really knows our hearts.  Yours is a common question which, sadly, deals with a common situation today.  The root...

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May 31, 2011
Is only Rome right?
By Father Rocky Hoffman

I would like some information about being a Catholic and a question my daughter has, are all churches the same?  Do we have to be Catholic to get into heaven?   Can a person pick any denomination even though they were baptized a Catholic?  What can a person do if they are going to a church and the priest really isn't a good preacher – can they go to a different denomination and find a good preacher at another church?

You ask a litany of short and clear questions and you deserve a litany...

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