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Nancy Isaac wrote:

Hi, guys —

  1. Who do priests choose as their confessors and why?
  2. Is masturbation a mortal or venial sin?
  3. What do the letters INRI mean (on the Cross)?
  4. Why do some Catholic parishes permit an atmosphere where the parishioners talk to each other after entering the Church before Mass begins?

    It is very distracting for people who are there to concentrate on their prayers and this is not a time for socializing! Years ago, you could hear a pin drop in all Catholic churches and it was a wonderful, serene and holy feeling to be in Church.


  { Who do priests confess to, what does INRI mean, what about this sexual sin and the atmosphere? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Nancy —


  1. Priests can choose any other priest to confess to.
  2. Masturbation is, objectively, grave or serious matter. Subjectively, it may or may not be grievously sinful depending on the person's knowledge, awareness, and freedom.
  3. INRI are the first letters of the Latin inscription Iesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum,
    Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews.
  4. I don't know. It may be because people no longer believe in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Also, many have been raised in this different atmosphere.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi, Nancy —

Seeing that my faith has come from a monastic upbringing, I empathize with your last question.

Even today, I can't in Natick find a Catholic Church that is quiet after Mass so I can say my Rosary. Currently I'm going to the one that fits the bill the best.

Previously, at other Churches, when people have been really loud, I just kindly tell them:

Could you bring your conversation down to the

{Dunkin Donuts, Friendly's, or Star bucks} down the street.

Then you can quote either: Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 or Luke 19:46.

He said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer. They will either ignore you, get mad at you, or leave, but very slowly.

No priest in his right mind will defend them, though many probably will. I think Mary Ann's point on a lack of belief in the Real Presence of Christ, is right on!

Hope this helps,


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