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Ask Father Paul - 04/22/10

Father Paul Massey's picture

Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.

Dear father Paul: What do you think about the recent stories of even more cases of pedophilia by Catholic priests? — Dennis

Dear Dennis: My heart breaks for the many youngsters (who are now adults) but who were sexually abused by men they had every right to expect would never, ever abuse them in such a horrendous way. I pray that God, in his mercy, will heal these victims of their severe psychological wounds and help them to somehow forgive those who abused them.

As for the priests who sexually abused innocent, trusting children ... and the bishops who looked the other way, wrongly thinking that they were somehow protecting the Church from scandal ... I have little to no sympathy. Not only did they violate their sacred vows, but they committed grave sins against God. Yet, even these can be forgiven by God. However, up until now, I have seen little in the way of regret and remorse for the tremendous harm that they have done to the Church and to the Kingdom of God. In my view every one of these men who either committed these crimes, or, “looked the other way,” should immediately resign their positions or, with due process, be defrocked by higher authorities in the Church.

How sad too, is the fact that, because of the sinful actions of these very few, now all priests and bishops ... and even non-Catholic ministers as well, men who love God and have served him faithfully for decades, are somehow looked upon with suspicion even as they continue to serve mankind and God with the utmost integrity.

Lastly, we need to be careful and not judge the entire Catholic Church because of the heinous behavior of what is a very small number of its clergy.

Dear Father Paul: The Apostle Paul talks about “praying in the Spirit,” at several points in the New Testament. What is “praying in the Spirit?” — Wendy

Dear Wendy: “Praying in the Spirit” is mentioned three times in New Testament Scripture. You will find it in I Corinthians 14:15 ... Ephesians 6:18 ... and Jude 20. Space does not permit me to quote all of these verses, however, you can easily look them up for yourself in your own Bible. Interestingly, the Bible also tells us to “sing in the Spirit” as-well-as “pray in the Spirit.”

The New Testament was written in the Greek language. The words translated as “pray in” can also be translated as “pray by means of,” and “pray with the help of,” as-well-as “pray in the sphere of.” From this we can easily understand that “praying in the Spirit means praying in the power of the Holy Spirit ... praying by the leading of the Holy Spirit ... and praying according to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26 says this, “In the same way, the (Holy) Spirit helps us in our weakness. We (sometimes) do not know what we ought to pray for, but the (Holy) Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Most Charismatic Christians (of which I am one) believe that this (and other verses) provide a means by which Christians can allow the Holy Spirit to Himself pray to the Father through their voices. Remember that the second member of the Trinity, Jesus, also prayed to God the Father. Jesus had a body. He had a voice. So he could pray to God the Father himself. The Holy Spirit does not have a body or an audible voice as such. So he sometimes prays to the Father in the voices of those who yield their voices to Him. Charismatic Christians call these “groans that words cannot express,” their “heavenly language,” “prayer language,”...”praying in tongues,” or “praying in the Spirit.”

Do you have a question? Email me at

Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia...”the Ancient, Historic Church For Today’s Generation.” More info. directions and service times are at

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