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March 2015
Ask a Franciscan
CNS PHOTO/HEINZ-PETER BADER, REUTERS Why Incense?
Why do we use incense and what does it symbolize during Mass? Also, what does it mean when we strike our heart while reciting the “I confess” prayer at Mass?
Answer
Same Prayers, Different Responses
Thirty years ago, my 15-year-old son suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was struck by an automobile while walking home from football practice. The injury left him totally disabled. We continue his care at home, trying to make his life the best it can be.

During his initial hospital stay, we met a young girl in her teens and a 30-year-old man—both with brain injuries.

Our families prayed in the hospital chapel for miraclous healings. Afterward, we would ask each other how things were going, was there any progress, etc. As it turned out, my son survived in a minimally conscious state, the young girl died, and the man survived to lead a normal life.

We all prayed for the same thing, yet there were three totally different outcomes. How can that happen? Why are some prayers answered, and some are not? No one seems to be able to provide an answer.

I was taught that God hears and answers our prayers for healing, and all someone needs to do is ask. Some Bible quotes make this point. Well, we and others have been asking for 30 years and are still waiting.

Answer
Is Agnosticism a Sin?
I know that being an atheist is looked down upon, but I want to know if being an agnostic is a sin.
Answer
If you have a question for Father Pat, please submit it here. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Some answer material must be mailed since it is not available in digital form. You can still send questions to: Ask a Franciscan, 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
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