My short bio: I'm a Roman Catholic priest in my late 20s, ordained in Spring 2020. It's an unusual life path for a late-state millennial to be in, and one that a lot of people have questions about! What my daily life looks like, media depictions of priests, the experience of hearing confessions, etc, are all things I know that people are curious about! I'd love to answer your questions about the Catholic priesthood, life as a priest, etc!

Nota bene: I will not be answering questions about Catholic doctrine, or more general Catholicism questions that do not specifically pertain to the life or experience of a priest. If you would like to learn more about the Catholic Church, you can ask your questions at /r/Catholicism.

My Proof:

Meeting the Pope in 2020

EDIT: a lot of questions coming in and I'm trying to get to them all, and also not intentionally avoiding the hard questions - I've answered a number of people asking about the sex abuse scandal so please search before asking the same question again. I'm doing this as I'm doing parent teacher conferences in our parish school so I may be taking breaks here or there to do my actual job!

EDIT 2: Trying to get to all the questions but they're coming in faster than I can answer! I'll keep trying to do my best but may need to take some breaks here or there.

EDIT 3: going to bed but will try to get back to answering tomorrow at some point. might be slower as I have a busy day.

Comments: 7678 • Responses: 110  • Date: 

AustrianReaper4162 karma

Ok, since someone has to do it, let's get the obvious one out of the way:

How often do you walk into a bar with a rabbi and a minister?

balrogath2683 karma

Can't say that I have, though at a wedding reception a few weeks ago I sat at a table with a Protestant youth pastor.

king-geass3019 karma

Do bishops have a hard time going through life only being able to move diagonally?

balrogath1901 karma

yeah probably

balrogath2905 karma

Someone asked about weed but then deleted their comment. Here's my reply:

It seems to be that at the very least it shouldn't be a Schedule I drug and should be allowed for legitimate medicinal use. Catholic teaching on recreational use of drugs is that we shouldn't use them to the point of, or for the end goal, of losing our ability to reason (e.g. getting drunk, etc) and that would apply to any drug - alcohol, weed, etc.

24GamingYT387 karma

Can I just say that I'm very happy that you are being a real priest. Not trying to force others into your religion but politely and humbly answering everyone's questions here. your one of the very few people (let alone a priest) that ive met who has actually been polite when asked question about their beliefs. It is very reassuring to see people as humble as you still exist.

balrogath244 karma

thank you!

MachadoDeAssis1939 karma

My question is how do you reconcile your faith in God and in the Church while at the same time witnessing all the crimes against children that are so pervasive in the church? Sorry to be blunt with the question, but I guess this is something which you have already thought about before/during becoming a priest right? Is this something that is discussed at all during your formation years in the seminary?

EDIT: to everyone messaging me with the argument that more kids are hurt in schools than in churches, hence the issue with churches is not a big deal - stop. You are just making yourself look stupid.

balrogath2006 karma

Part one:

Part two: the need to protect children and not have a "good old boys" culture is something that was taken very seriously in seminary. Before I entered I had to take a whole battery of psychological tests, and in seminary we always had drilled into us to call law enforcement the moment we would ever suspect abuse happening. My diocese was involved in a scandal that caused bankruptcy and our bishop resigning during my time in seminary, I saw the pain it caused victim/survivors and the pain it caused the faithful struggling to believe and I vow not to allow that to happen ever under my watch. If I smell smoke, I assume fire and make sure the right people hear about it.

MisterWoodhouse667 karma

A guy I went to college with was ruled out of the seminary by one of these tests.

We could've saved them the time and told them not to take him.

balrogath751 karma

Which is also why we need letters of recommendation!

ThinkPan210 karma

Please, people. Limit yourself only to questions about Rampart.

balrogath186 karma

Writing up a reply now, don't worry!

Recovering_simp1828 karma

if someone confesses attempted suicide and they are going to try again how do you handle that?

balrogath3571 karma

I try to refer people to mental health professionals as best I can, recognizing that I'm not a therapist and I'm not trained to deal with depression, etc. Walking with people and being compassionate does wonders. Having gone through a period of depression myself, I try to relate and encourage as best I can.

Masked_Death1593 karma

So, I barely know anything about how this works.

Is being a priest the end goal, or do you expect to move up in hierarchy (eg. bishop, archbishop etc)?

balrogath3658 karma

Generally, if you want to be a bishop you probably shouldn't be. The best bishops aren't the ones looking towards careerism, but the ones who are humble and just want to serve.

rattalouie1049 karma

Just like other politics!

Kaiser_Hawke616 karma

and just like other politics, this, unfortunately is usually not the case.

--GrinAndBearIt--366 karma

OP seems very idealistic lol

balrogath785 karma


Tvg1221330 karma

Now do 5 Hail Mary's

balrogath588 karma


GWBush20161447 karma

Why do all new church buildings look like gymnasiums?

There’s a beautiful old church building in my town going unused in favor of some stadium seating-style windowless brick den of sadness.

balrogath2230 karma

idk man i dont like it either

the_jud1211 karma

Mass is only one part of the work week, how else are you spending your time, and how do you manage to be on point constantly??

balrogath1715 karma

Meeting with parishioners, funerals, teaching religion in our parish school, teaching RCIA for people who want to become Catholic, youth group, young adult group, etc etc!

illimitable1468 karma

What do you reckon your average hourly wage would be, all told?

balrogath1058 karma

If I worked 40 hours a week, it'd be around $17 an hour.

A_Naany_Mousse226 karma

Are housing expenses paid though? Aren't certain expenses covered?

balrogath454 karma

yeah, housing is provided, this is just off of straight salary

erinlp93674 karma

Did you always want to be a priest or did you have an “aha” moment at some point?

Celibacy. Why? Do you personally feel it’s important to being a priest and did you struggle with that part of the lifestyle in any way?

How do you feel about women being unable to be priests?

balrogath930 karma

I wanted to be a priest when I was young, but that desire fell away when I realized girls were pretty. I then had an aha moment in college. So, a bit of both.

Celibacy is important for a few reasons; it allows a total commitment to God and it points that there's more to existence than sex. Certainly can be difficult at times, but ultimately is rewarding.

Princessleiawastaken283 karma

Ok this is vulgar and very personal, but I have to ask it on the off chance you’re going to reply: Do you masturbate?

balrogath355 karma


moolawn30 karma

Adding onto your question- for op, were you intimate with someone else before discernment?

balrogath109 karma

I was in a relationship prior to entering seminary but am a virgin.

CustosClavium633 karma

How much you deadlifting now, broseph?

balrogath917 karma

455 yeet

tommies_aquinas284 karma

Is lifting weights big amongst clergy?

balrogath440 karma

not particularly

Corvid187538 karma

What'd be your top 3 priorities as pope?

balrogath1935 karma

  1. End the liturgy wars among progressive and traditional Catholics by a gradual transition to a modified version of the Roman Missal of 1965
  2. Rebuild credibility of the Church in the wake of the sex abuse crisis and enact swift and harsh justice against people who abuse the positions of trust they are given
  3. Last but certainly not least, make Jesus Christ known and loved

Duganz536 karma

How do you spend non-priesting hours?

I grew up Catholic (no longer) and it was always weird see Father Murray out doing normal things. It immediately made something normal (buying milk) weird. Like I expected him to be in his vestments.

balrogath1232 karma

Weightlifting (455 DL, 245 bench, 365 squat) , hanging with friends, and Netflix.

stablegeniusss378 karma

Are you using protein powder in your holy water? 💪🏻

balrogath489 karma

good idea

CaptainPick1e172 karma

Preacher Curls.

balrogath124 karma


otiac112 karma

How's it feel to be the second strongest moderator on /r/Catholicism?

balrogath13 karma

rofl says the dude who cant deadlift

nicka163439 karma

How far does the vow of poverty go? Are you forbidden from holding property/excess personal possessions? Do you draw a salary? If you do get a windfall, are you bound to donate it to your parish?

balrogath1015 karma

As I'm a diocesan priest and not in a religious order, I am allowed to have personal property and do draw a salary. I am expected still to life a life of simplicity and not cause scandal - no Joel Osteen here! I, give or take, donate 10%+ of my income to charity and people in need.

fartbox_mcgilicudy249 karma

Since you brought it up, how do you feel about Joel Osteen?

balrogath1328 karma

I'm not fond of those who see Christianity as a self-help get-rich-quick prosperity-Gospel scheme, rather than about a fundamental relationship with Jesus Christ..

whistnow422 karma

Have you seen midnight Mass? Opinions on how the priest was portrayed?

balrogath267 karma

Have not, no.

ironsheik84412 karma

Have you ever watched Father Ted, and if did you enjoy it?

balrogath751 karma

yes, and that would be an ecumenical matter.

daenerysdragonfire65 karma

Have you ever seen Keeping The Faith? Or read The Exorcist?

balrogath63 karma


BrownyGato401 karma

My family is super religious. I have left the church. When they pass I know I will inherit all the religious things, crosses, nativity scenes, rosaries, etc.

What do I do with them all? It is just too much for me to keep it all as it is not my faith anymore and I don’t want to throw it away (cause that would be rude). What do I do with it all?

Thank you.

balrogath568 karma

You could donate them to a local parish.

shadowpawn329 karma

Is it bad to let the communal wafer touch the roof of my mouth?

balrogath338 karma


manfurtherforward301 karma

There is a lot of interest in exorcism, naturally. Movies and TV make you think that there lots of busy exorcists out there with backlogs of work to do. What is the current sentiment among the clergy about exorcism in the church, and how much of what we see is fiction about its role in church life?

balrogath410 karma

They happen but are rare. Not usually as sensational as movies make them out to be.

queenkaleesi287 karma

What's your opinion on the childrens bodies dumped in septic tanks in Tuam, Ireland?

balrogath585 karma

Messed up and those responsible will have a reckoning before almighty God.

MyHorseIsAmazinger255 karma

Can you please pray for the intercession of Blessed Solanus Casey to pray for a little baby Jacob to live? He has terminal brain cancer and is only 2 months old. The power of prayer is his hope right now. Thank you

balrogath228 karma

sure thing

jasimon250 karma

What's your current Wordle golf score?

balrogath321 karma

1: 0
2: 0
3: 8
4: 15
6: 2
X: 0

jasimon91 karma

You're +6/35

balrogath104 karma

ty, gotta step my game up

updootmineplez249 karma

Do you like turtles??

balrogath495 karma

i like turtles

commandrix231 karma

What are some areas you think the Roman Catholic Church could stand to improve in?

balrogath812 karma

We're far too often in damage control mode and not enough in "humbly admitting and apologizing for fault" and "spreading the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ" mode.

adavadas93 karma

Do you feel like you have been empowered in any way to help change that?

balrogath257 karma

In a boots on the ground sort of way, I walk with people on all paths of life, including those who have been abused - either within the Church or without. It's a blessing and helpful.

kent_eh17 karma

We're far too often in damage control mode and not enough in "humbly admitting and apologizing for fault"

I'd prefer to see more behavior that won't require future apologies.

balrogath67 karma

That too, but I assumed that was implied.

Lar5031230 karma

Do any Catholic priests learn Latin anymore or hold fully Latin mass?

balrogath448 karma

We're required to have a working knowledge of Latin to be ordained. This looks different from place to place but I took three semesters of Latin. I will on occasion say Mass in Latin.

Mikeyseventyfive201 karma

At what point do you agree to stop having sex? Is it the day before you become a priest?

balrogath274 karma

On the day I was ordained a deacon (about a year before I was ordained a priest) is when I took my promise of celibacy. But, if I would have had a sexual encounter while in seminary that would have likely ended that!

shag377178 karma

Hello Father.

How does it feel to have people well your senior refer to you as Father?

Pax vobsicum

balrogath236 karma

It took a lot of getting used to!

sgfreak711106 karma

Does your father call you Father?

balrogath177 karma

When around other people, yes.

Lar5031161 karma

1) What do you feel is the reason for the decline in men joining the catholic priesthood?

2) what did you think of Father Intintola in the Sopranos?

balrogath321 karma

There's obviously the decline in the practice of religion as a whole, but also in the 70s and 80s the theology of the priesthood was very weak and often created priests who weren't that on fire for their priesthood, so to speak. When the example of priests that you have are grumpy old men who don't seem excited about their life or about God, it's hard to think that would be something you'd want! Most priests I know are able to point to another priest who concretely affected their life in a positive way, so having that influence is important.

Believe it or not, never seen the Sopranos but am a big fan of how priests were portrayed in Silence and Gran Torino. Could really see a bit of myself in the idealistic young guy in the latter.

MurderDoneRight-8 karma

Most kids stay home and play at their computers instead of going to church

fistymcbuttpuncher44 karma

Less chance of being molested.

balrogath-37 karma

You're a clever comedian! You should do stand-up. Never heard that one before!

this_tuesday156 karma

What connections do you find between Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s broader legendarium and catholic/christian theology?

balrogath293 karma

I love them and there are too many to list, but the idea of sacrificial love and also the fun lembas bread reference to the Eucharist.

mitkw149 karma

Mac or PC?

balrogath631 karma

I'm a former mod of /r/linuxmasterrace so that might answer your question

superperps229 karma

A reddit mod turned priest. God works in mysterious ways

balrogath226 karma

heck, at one point even a default mod

tgf344123 karma

Thank you for doing this! Fellow Catholic here but have been bad about going to mass since the pandemic. I’m not sure if anyone has asked this yet, but when you do reconciliation, do you ever judge the person or feel embarrassed to see them at mass again?

balrogath224 karma

I only ever feel joy when someone returns after a long time! That's how Jesus says to react in the Gospel, after all.

bzsbal123 karma

I was raised Catholic, and wanted to get married in the same church my grandparents did to honor them. When my now husband and I first met with priest to start the process for our marriage, the priest really left a bad impression. Unfortunately he was the only priest at that church to marry us. The very first thing he told us was all men are priests and all women are temples. After marriage it’s ok for the priest to enter the temple. My husband and I were a little uncomfortable getting the sex talk from a man only a few years older than us, but it gets worse. The priest then said “You may not think that applies to me, but I’m a priest and when I walk into church or God’s temple, I give my seed up to God and it comes back through to me through my balls and I then have super natural balls.” My husband has never practiced religion and I was absolutely mortified and was worried he would back out of our marriage right then and there. He didn’t thankfully. But wait it gets worse. The morning of our wedding, I go to confession. I think things are going smoothly. Because the priest never even tried to get to know us as a couple, I tried to give him some talking points for his homily about how compatible we are. This priest TOLD ALL OF OUR GUESTS MY ENTIRE CONFESSION!

After my wedding I ceased going to church, because I lost my faith in the church. My question is, how can I ever learn to trust another priest again when something so personal was violated in front of hundreds of people?

balrogath211 karma

Violation of the seal is super serious. I'm super sorry that happened to you and don't know how I can bring you to be able to trust priests again, but as a matter of justice you can bring it to the bishop and it will be dealt with.

agoodusernameno1has117 karma

I heard once that the "No meat on Friday" rule was actually a form of lobbying by the fishing industry in the Old days - curious to hear your comment and if the Church believes it has a greater meaning?

Edit: sorry I think you say in your intro you wont be answering these questions, fair enough

balrogath333 karma

Nope, not accurate, iirc fish was more accessible to poor people so it made rich people who had access to meat eat what the poor people had to. the good people at /r/catholicism would know more though

arkiemike999a113 karma

1) what are your thoughts on the rosary? i think some people actually enjoy doing it but its like punishment to me.

2) how "catholic" can you be if you go on regular basis but dont believe everything.. for example i have a really hard time taking transubstantiation seriously. If two people were in line and one had a horrible allergy to meat/flesh, and one had a horrible allergy for bread, would you let them take the communion? (oh and i think meat guy would be just fine). its a lovely symbolic thing but i cant buy that its "magic".

3) when you go to see a band do you ever stay for the whole show? was thinking. you might have a huge urge to leave during the last song along with your deacon buddy.

balrogath188 karma

1) When the rosary is viewed as a way to meditate on the parts of Jesus' life rather than a set number of prayers you're forced to say, it's a lot more spiritual of an experience!

2) As far as teachings go, the Eucharist is kinda one of the top ones. If God is omnipotent, why couldn't He miraculously have bread become His Body and Blood? For those who are gluten-intolerant they can receive under the form of wine or we have special low-gluten hosts.

3) Hm.

WhatImMike104 karma

As someone who isn’t religious in the least bit, how was it meeting the Pope?

He seems like a cool dude to sit and chat with.

balrogath231 karma

He felt like a grandpa! A bit shorter than I expected, though.

Anonymous82195 karma

Do you write the homily beforehand and do you ever have trouble coming up with stuff to say? Do you ever get nervous up at the altar?

I'd be nervous writing and giving a 15 minute homily every Sunday in front of hundreds of people.

balrogath227 karma

It depends on the week. Sometimes I'll have a fully prepared text, sometimes I'll have an outline in my head and just send it. Sometimes I have nothing and just have to trust in the Holy Spirit and see what happens! I usually preach around 8 minutes.

Driftpeasant79 karma

I'm not Catholic but was educated by the Jesuits. Given that the Jesuits have a far longer path to full ordination compared to Diocesan priests, do you think that the standard path is possibly too short?

balrogath140 karma

Different people are prepared for different missions and need different training because of that!

greatawakening00778 karma

What do you think about the pope disappearing into thin air after the last Easter ( I think it was the last Easter)?

Why does the church interior look so dark now with those odd pics and the snake head?

balrogath178 karma

Most priests disappear after Easter because Holy Week is a super busy time. Taking time off after Easter is common.

I presume you're referring to the Paul VI audience hall and that effect of a snake doesn't appear in person; it's just when you use a fisheye lens on a camera.

cwthree68 karma

So far, how is the life of a priest meeting your expectations? Is it what you expected? Have you had any "why didn't anyone warn me not about this" moments?

balrogath131 karma

Being ordained a priest in spring 2020 as covid was raging meant that a lot of what I thought priesthood would look like was just not the case for the first year. Meeting people was more difficult and a big part of being a parish priest is being able to know and love your parishioners! Other than that, there are certain things that seminary just can't prepare you for - we did like 30 different roleplayed confession scenarios, but that obviously can't cover everything and a roleplay of someone saying they're abusing their kid is very different than that actually happening, obviously!

edit: sometimes we'd hear "the priesthood is difficult" and it was easy to say "yeah but it'll be a satisfying difficult!" but sometimes it is just plain difficult! and that's ok!

theFireNewt303057 karma

How can you justify your religion and continue to practice knowing people in your role have caused devastating, life-ruining harm through sexual abuse?

Scrags40 karma

Personal faith aside, why continue to support the Catholic organization?

cornflower053030 karma

Hi there! As religion is on the decline nowadays, do you feel judged sometimes when you tell people your profession?

What do you look forward to in your day to day at church?

balrogath52 karma

Yeah, it's easy to want to hide it when out and about and avoid the discussion but also a lot of fruitful discussions have come from it!

I love encountering people and helping them flourish, especially through the sacrament of confession.

Dman4Life26 karma

Why does the church protect pedophiles by moving them to different parishes?

balrogath58 karma

If you know where that is happening call law enforcement and then let me know so I can call law enforcement too!

___And_Memes_For_All21 karma

What’s your thoughts on metal music?

balrogath63 karma

we remember

in september

when the winged hussars arrived

znegative21 karma

Since you were a former mod at r/linuxmasterrace, are there many applications like Logos and Accordance for working with Hebrew and Greek?

balrogath38 karma

The best tool I've ever had for working with Latin is Whittaker's Words.

kJer14 karma

Do you and the other priests ever consider brewing beer like the Trappist monks?

balrogath25 karma

I have homebrewed before!

Bright_Broccoli184414 karma

Do you get any days off? Thank you for being a priest.

balrogath16 karma

Yes, I get Thursdays off each week.

Natetronn12 karma

How heavy is the cross you bear?

balrogath52 karma

Well I can squat 365

Korach12 karma

Do you think faith is a reliable pathway to truth?

balrogath40 karma

probably wouldn't have promised a life of celibacy if I didn't!

tallbear4812 karma

Dear Sir, From a Protestant looking in, (if this is a doctrinal question, please ignore it) why is Mary more revered than Jesus.? Thank you

balrogath64 karma

She's not! It might look that way sometimes but love for Mary should always lead to Jesus, and if it doesn't people are doing it wrong.

3d_ist11 karma

If you saw a fellow priest raping a child would you,

a) report them to the police?

b) report them to a senior priest?

c) do nothing?

balrogath59 karma

Call the police, probably beat the hell out of the rapist, and then notify church authorities after that.

South_Captain_263011 karma

What percent of kids can spell supplication right?

(This is specifically for Fr. Paul as he posted recently about kids not spelling it right.)

balrogath15 karma

about 40%

connienewas8 karma

How do you see the Catholic Church surviving the next two generations? I was raised Catholic, and have no interest in passing it on to my children, and will actively avoid promoting the organized religion (Roman Catholic). And I do not know anyone in my peer group (30-40 age) practicing.

balrogath7 karma

I think so, though it will get a bit smaller.

RedditIsAShitehole7 karma

Do you see priesthood as a career as well as a vocation? ie do you want to be promoted, is your endgame bishop or cardinal or even the big chair itself?

balrogath29 karma

Being a bishop is a lot of paperwork and doesn't sound like a lot of fun!

christianbn7 karma

Do you know where the priest who abused me as a teen is? I need to have a good talk with him...

balrogath18 karma

No, but if you find out and tell me I'll report him to law enforcement.

TypicalBFAWashout6 karma

How does getting paid work? Or do you even get paid? Sorry for the dumb question

balrogath18 karma

I make around $36,000 USD per year salary.

nightwalkerbyday5 karma

Why don't you guys have beards (like most other holy men)?

balrogath45 karma

Beard-haver here

ThederpiestOne4 karma

Where does your income come from and is it liveable?

balrogath17 karma

I'm paid from the donations that people make weekly to the Church and yes, it's enough to life comfortably but not luxuriously.

TheGreatDingALing4 karma

Who's your favorite fictional priest in movies/shows?

balrogath3 karma

Father Ted from Father Ted, and the priest in Gran Torino. Also the guy in Daredevil.

marco19893 karma

Do you think it’s fair that priests aren’t allowed to marry or have significant others?

balrogath4 karma

It's a choice I freely made!

Shubh20043 karma

What if someone confesses about murders to a priest?

Are you supposed to report them?

balrogath13 karma

Nope, can't do anything that would betray a penitent. I would of course do all in my power to convince them to turn themself in, though.

FlyingCarbomb1 karma

How long from the point of a priest being notified of intent to convert to confirmation does it take in your diocese, provided there is no RCIA for the convert?

balrogath5 karma

All depends on the individual, there's no diocesan policy on a minimum length of time. If they're someone who grew up with strong faith and through reading, etc found they believe in Catholicism, could just be two or three months; or if they don't really know anything about Catholicism or Christianity, a year or so.

nerd866-9 karma

Yeah, can you just fuck right off with the tax exemption bullshit?

balrogath22 karma

The Church is a non-profit organization just like any other, so I'm not sure why we're so special in that regard. I also actually pay about twice as much in taxes as other people in my salary bracket due to the way clergy are taxed on their income.

swollennode-16 karma

Why are Christian anti-science?

balrogath20 karma

Look up Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre and get back to me

Trazzster-18 karma

What's it like being a Catholic after the last few years has exposed that your entire organization is nothing more than a front for child abuse?

balrogath22 karma

I've answered questions asked about this topic in good faith elsewhere in the thread, and if you can't be civil won't be dignifying yours with a response.