Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sunday Sermon, September 8 -- The Letter of St Paul to Philemon (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

The Letter to Philemon is St Paul's shortest letter, with only 25 verses. It is also among the most personal writings in the Bible, with St Paul pleading for clemency toward Onesimus, the run-away slave who stole from his master and fled to Rome where he was converted and baptized by St Paul.

We consider how the Christian life means making real sacrifices and setting right things in our life -- Onesimus had to set things right with Philemon, even though it meant risking not only being made a slave again but even the possible punishment of death. Philemon had to set aside worldly possessions and forgive Onesimus even though that meant a significant financial loss.

There are some in the Church, even in the Vatican, who want to set aside this call to conversion, but this is the demand of Christ -- Those who are in invalid marriages must set things right (even if this means separating) in order to be authentic Christians, those who have defrauded people or who have business practices that are immoral must change and repay those of whom they have taken advantage, couples need to accept the plan of God for marriage and family rejecting contraception, etc.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September 3rd, Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 6 of 16, The Fall, Sin and Death

In this series, which will continue for about six months, we are discussing the City of God by St Augustine - one of the most influential books in human history, a book that formed Western Civilization.

In Session 6, we conclude our discussion of the creation and fall of the angels and more forward with the state of man before the Fall, the Fall itself and the reality of Sin, and the effects of the Fall.

Sunday Sermon, September 1st -- The Letter of St Paul to the Hebrews (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

While all the letters of St Paul discuss the grace of Christ in the Church, the Letter to the Hebrews discusses grace in our Lord as the Head of the Church. Thus, this Letter is an extended theological reflection upon the Person of Jesus in his human nature.

Notice certain peculiarities about this Letter to the Hebrews:  While all the other Letters of St Paul are named either by the city in which the addressees live (eg. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, etc) or by the individual who received the Letter (eg. Timothy, Titus, Philemon), this Letter is named after the race of the people to whom it was addressed, Hebrews.  In fact, this Letter was written to the Jewish converts to Christianity living in Jerusalem.

St Paul does not begin in his usual way, by setting forth his name and authority -- and the whole style of the Letter is very eloquent and much fancier than his other writings.  This is likely because the Letter was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek by St Luke.

Overview of the Letter to the Hebrews:
Part I (Chapters 1-10), Grace in the Person of Jesus Christ who is greater than the angels, than Moses, and than Aaron and the Old Testament Priests.
Part II (Chapters 11-13), Faith by which we are united to the grace of Christ

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

August 27th, Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 5 of 16, Introduction to Books XI-XXII, Creation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In this series, which will continue for about six months, we are discussing the City of God by St Augustine - one of the most influential books in human history, a book that formed Western Civilization.

In session 5, we begin the study of the second half of the work (Books XI-XXII), and discuss St Augustine's theory of creation and why he does not believe that the "six days" refer to 24 hour periods or any passage of time at all, but to the angelic knowledge of creation.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Sermon, August 25 -- The Heresy of Modernism

Pope St Pius X (who established our Diocese of Great Falls - Billings, MT) condemned modernism as the "synthesis of all heresies". But what is modernism, and how does it relate to the Church today?

Modernism claims that all truth and even the revealed dogmas of the Church are to be adapted, changed, and subordinated to the spirit of the modern age. Modernism teaches not simply the development of dogma (where what was believed from the very beginning is made more explicit and taught more clearly as the ages progress), but the evolution of dogma according to which the truth essentially changes for the modern era. Modernism, then, places man at the center of all things and defines truth and reality as subject to man's experience.

Though modernism was condemned over 100 years ago, we see it is still causing confusion in the Church today -- it is modernism which is at the root of Fr Sosa SJ (the superior of the Jesuits throughout the world) heretically stating that the devil doesn't exist as a real person, and it is modernism that leads people to reject our Lord's words in the Gospel that very few are saved.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Sermon, August 18th -- The Prophet Jeremiah, Recognizing the Catastrophe and the Call to Repentance (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The prophet Jeremiah is himself a prefigurement of our Lord in his passion. Having written the book of Jeremiah as well as Lamentations, and influencing Baruch as well, Jeremiah is the "weeping prophet" who calls Judah to repentance but is rejected by the people as they face destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

We consider the history of the times of Jeremiah and the ways in which this prophet foreshadows our Lord.  Further, we recognize that the false prophets of Jeremiah's day said that all was well and that the nation was strong, and Jeremiah was seen as an enemy of the people for preaching the need to change course and repent. So also today, there are many who claim the Church is flourishing and parishes are vibrant and all is well, but we recognize a massive loss of the faith (only about 1/4 of Catholics under 40 believe in the Real Presence, and so few attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, etc). Today also, those who speak prophetically of the need for conversion and a change of course from what we have been doing in the past 40 years since Vatican II are seen almost as enemies of the Church -- but we must heed the voice of Jeremiah, and embrace the opportunity to return to the solid traditions of the Catholic Faith before all is lost.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

August 15th Sermon for the Assumption: The Memorare Prayer (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The Dogma of the Assumption states that Mary was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven. She was preserved from corruption after her death while her body lay in the tomb for some days, then she was raised to life and taken up to heaven.

However, Mary does not abandon us, but remains ever our good mother. Her care and protection remain always with us.  We think of this especially in the beautiful prayer, the Memorare. "Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee oh Virgin of virgins, my Mother! To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, answer me. Amen."

This prayer which, even if perhaps not composed by St Bernard of Clairvaux certainly captures the spirit of his devotion to the Mother of God, has been influential in the life of St Francis de Sales and so many other saints. I too know the value of this prayer in my own life.  Say it often, every day, and many times each day!