Denying Yourself, Why is God referred to as He, and Catholic Social Teaching

Fr. Josh answers questions about Jesus’ teaching on denying oneself, why God is referred to as “He” , and how to grow in our understanding of the Catholic social teaching.

Snippet of the Show

God has both maternal and paternal attributes, but we refer to God as Father because we imitate Jesus, and Jesus himself referred to God as Father.”



Denying Yourself

Hello and thank you so much for the podcast! I have several questions that have really been troubling me for some time. I know that God loves us, but are we allowed to love, or even just not hate ourselves? It seems to me sometimes that in Catholic spirituality, one is supposed to hate themselves. In the Bible Jesus says “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Does this mean that we should not enjoy life or anything worldly at all?

I also know that I am supposed to deny myself and reject a life of earthly comfort, and recognize that I am a wretched sinner. For this reason I feel extremely guilty when I find myself enjoying something, like a cookie or a warm shower, or when I feel proud of myself or content. Are we called to lives of asceticism all the time, or is it okay to enjoy the things of this world, like tv, movies, music, food, comfort etc.?

Reading about the lives of the saints also makes me very anxious, as many of them inflicted harsh penances upon themselves such as extreme fasting, self mutilation, etc. Does Jesus want us to hate ourselves and harm ourselves? 
As Catholic I know we are called to a life of prayer and fasting. Should we always be in a state of self denial? Does God expect us to deny ourselves of all good, pleasurable, or comfortable things? Why is it good to seek out suffering and take away things that are not inherently evil that make us happy? 

Thank you,


Why is God referred to as “He”?

Hi Father Josh! I was introduced to your podcast a few months ago and I love everything that you do! Your spontaneous singing makes me laugh out loud and your straightforward, digestible answers to Catholic questions have helped me grow very much in my faith. I apologize if this question has been asked before since I’ve only heard a few episodes, but it’s something that’s been a stumbling block for me in the past. I was wondering what the Church’s teaching is on God always having a male pronoun and being described/depicted as an (often old, white) man. I know it is very complicated and tied up with the human understanding of divinity, biblical phrasing, and so much more, but maybe you can clarify a bit on how God is always described as a man. I was also wondering if and how a Catholic should respond when people, jokingly or not, call God a woman or change His supposed gender in some way. Thanks so much and love the work you’re doing! 🙂


Catholic Social Teaching

Hi Father Josh, I really enjoy your podcast. I have heard you say that you wish people who are really serious about following Catholic tradition were also serious about social justice concerns and vice versa. I am wondering if you have any practical guidance for how Catholics can engage in the social justice issues of the day with integrity to our faith? I feel a tension with knowing exactly how to proceed. I also recognize that I cannot personally take on every issue, and may be called to focus on certain areas. Thank you so much for your advice!


Catholic Social Teaching for This Generation

We live in a broken and hurting world. Teens today see division, anxiety, and tension all around them. Connected: Catholic Social Teaching for This Generation brings Christ’s healing message to a world that sorely needs it through the topics that are most important to teens right now. It addresses:

  • Session 1 – God’s Creation and Stewardship
  • Session 2 – The Dignity of Human Life
  • Session 3 – Solidarity, Race and Responsibilities
  • Session 4 – Poverty and the Dignity of Work
  • Session 5 – Family: The Foundation of Society

Connected offers a unique presentation that blends glimpses of Catholic organizations at work in the world today, with accessible and attractive explanations of Church teaching, as well as engaging stories of the saints. This combination cuts through the noise to touch the hearts and enlighten the minds of your teens.


Meet Fr. Josh Johnson

While Fr. Josh was raised Catholic, he didn’t like the Church growing up. Then, one day in adoration, he fell in love with Jesus and received the call to become a priest.

Now, Fr. Josh is the Vocations Director of the Diocese of Baton Rouge in Louisiana. He is a presenter in four of Ascension’s programs: Altaration, YOU: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body, The 99, and Connected: Catholic Social Teaching for This Generation, as well as the author of Broken and Blessed: An Invitation to My Generation, Pocket Guide to Adoration, and co-author of Pocket Guide to Reconciliation.

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