Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Sermon, March 17th -- St Patrick, Apostle of the Irish (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

Like Moses and Elijah, St Patrick preached in a time of incredible darkness. Like Moses and Elijah, St Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. And, like Moses and Elijah, St Patrick leads us through Lent to the glory of Easter.

Born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387, after being taken as a slave to Ireland and safely returning home, St Patrick returned to the green isle to preach the Gospel among the Gaels. By the time of his death, St Patrick had converted nearly the whole island and ordained over 430 bishops.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sunday Sermon, March 10th -- On Temptation, and How to Profit from It (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Our Lord was tempted in the desert, and all the saints endured temptation - and yet, we so often are surprised to find ourselves weak enough to suffer temptation.  However, God permits temptation to help us grow in holiness, especially through gaining the virtue of humility.

There are three stages of sin: Temptation to sin, delectation (delight) in the thought of sin, and consent to commit sin. There are two extremes which we must avoid: Either thinking that temptation is already sin, or thinking that taking delight in thoughts about sin is no sin at all.

How do we resist temptation? By making strong acts of faith, resolving to follow God's commands and trusting that his grace will sustain us. By praying when tempted, and praying before temptation that we will have the grace to pray during temptation. And, by practicing penance.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Sunday Sermon, March 3rd -- On Devotion to St Joseph (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[Pre-sermon note about Lent (12 minutes). Obligation of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and of abstinence on all Fridays of Lent, and of either abstinence or some other penance on all Fridays of the year.  Father Ryan's recommendations for prayer (daily Mass, Stations of the Cross), fasting (giving up meat, as well as eggs and diary), and almsgiving (various opportunities through the parish)]

March is the month of St Joseph, and we look to him as the universal patron of the Church. He was chosen as the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. Our devotion to St Joseph is founded in the marriage between Joseph and Mary.

St Joseph is so intimately tied to the mystery of the incarnation, we cannot truly or authentically come to Jesus without being devoted to St Joseph.

Sunday Sermon, February 24th -- What Catholics Believe About the Pope (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In honor of the Feast of the Chair of St Peter (Friday, February 22nd), we consider the authority of the Pope and his role in the life of the Church. Many are confused about what we truly believe about Papal infallibility and how the Pope is chosen.

Papal infallibility refers to how God preserves the Pope from error in very specific moments when he invokes his supreme teaching authority -- however, it does not mean that he will necessarily say things in the clearest way, or that he will say everything he should say, but only that what he does say will not be incorrect.  The Pope isn't able to teach anything new, but only to hand on the faith.

God doesn't choose the Pope, and the cardinals are not directly inspired by the Holy Spirit in whom they chose. Neither do we believe that the Pope is necessarily "the best man for the job" -  but only that, whoever is chosen as Pope and whatever politics may have been involved in his election, God will preserve his Church through the papal office.

God didn't give us the Pope to change things, but to keep things the same - namely, to preserve the Catholic faith unchanged and entire. Even if there were a Pope that caused lots of confusion, or who did not teach the faith clearly, or who was involved in corruption; we would remain obedient to him but without defending or promoting the confusion. In this regard, we would imitate David who opposed wicked Saul but remained perfectly respectful and obedient.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sunday Sermon, February 10th -- What Makes and Apostle?, and St Matthias (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

During his life, our Lord established the hierarchical structure of the Church and chose twelve men whom he named as his Apostles, and whom he sent out with authority to teach, govern and sanctify. These Apostles, having received instruction from the Lord and through the Holy Spirit's inspiration, established the means by which their authority would continue in the Catholic Church, specifically through the bishops of the Church.

We consider the meaning of the word "Apostle" and what were the "requirement" of becoming an apostle. The role of the Apostles in the early Church shows us the divinely instituted structure of the true Church of Jesus Christ. The vocation of an apostle is made evident in the calling of Peter and Andrew (from the Sunday's Gospel) and Paul's own insistence that he is a true apostle (Second Reading from 1 Corinthians)

Finally, we look to St Matthias, patron of the Diocese of Great Falls - Billings, who was chosen to join the Apostles after the fall of Judas.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sunday Sermon, February 3 -- God Loves You (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

1 Corinthians 13 contains the hymn to Divine Love, sixteen characteristic of love/charity.  Love is a theological virtue (together with faith and hope) given by God and which directs to God in himself. As St Thomas Aquinas teaches, love is a certain friendship between God and the soul. The Lord desires not merely to be our king and master, but more to be our friend. He is the dear Friend of your soul!

As we consider the characteristics of love/charity, we recognize that God has so much love for each of us - God is love. What is our primary image for God? A God of wrath who looks to condemn us to hell, or a God of love who desires an eternal friendship with us in heaven?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sunday Sermon, January 27 -- A Sermon on a Book: Introduction to the Devout Life (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

What is devotion? St Francis de Sales tells us, "Devotion is the very real love of God." Jesus says, "Whoever loves me, keeps my commandments." Thus, devotion is not simply to keep the commandments, but to rejoice in following the law of God, to find one's great joy in the keeping of the commandments.

Yet, even as the body has many parts (as St Paul reminds us in the second reading of today's Mass), so too every member of the Church has his own particular vocation and state in life. Devotion means fulfilling God's commandments in the particular details of each one's circumstances and state in life.

We all want to become more devout, we all want to more joyfully fulfill God's commandments. But how do we grow in holiness? Who will guide us?  I propose to you, as your personal spiritual director, St Francis de Sales, and his classic book, "Introduction to the Devout Life."

If you have not already read "Introduction to the Devout Life," I would encourage you to set everything else aside and read this book. Read from it every day, read it two hundred times! I have found no other book to be as helpful to me as a priest, and St Francis de Sales has been for me a dear friend and spiritual father.

In this sermon, I give an overview of the book, and also offer a few points to help you appreciate the book all the more.