Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sunday Sermon, July 7 -- Right Worship is the Answer to the Priest Shortage; not married priests, not deacons, and not female ministry (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he send labourers into his harvest."

When Jesus recognized a shortage of vocations, he did not look to human solutions (for example, relaxing the requirements of what was expected of the 72 disciples), but rather encouraged prayer. Prayer is the answer to the shortage of priests - and not only prayer, but right and proper worship of God. If we want more priests, if we want our young men to be able to discern a vocation to the priesthood, we need reverent worship following the norms of the Church. Even more, we recognize that traditional parishes are a source of vocations to the priesthood and religious life (some studies indicate that a young man is seven times more likely to become a priest if his family attends a traditional parish).

Many people today offer other solutions to the shortage of priests. But the solution isn't to change the norms on priestly celibacy - because celibacy is a great gift, and Christ Jesus was a celibate priest. Others recommend ordaining permanent deacons to help fill the lack of priests - but deacons aren't priests, and it is not proper to the theology of the diaconate to use deacons as a means to lighten the load of sacramental ministry for priests.  Finally, others recommend that we look to an increased role for women in the Church as a response to the priest shortage - but women have their own proper role, and it isn't to make up for a lack of priests!

July 9 -- Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 2 of 16, St Augustine's Theology and Overview of the City of God (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 of Hippo - certainly, one of the most influential books in the history of the Church, a book that formed Western Civilization.

Session 2 -- The key concepts of St Augustine's theology, especially as they relate to the City of God. Also, notes and suggestions on how to read The City of God, and suggestions on which chapters to read carefully and which can be skipped over or skimmed.

[Handouts for the session are below]

Saturday, July 6, 2019

July 2 -- Adult Formation Series on the City of God, Session 1 of 16, Introduction to St Augustine

In this series which will continue over about 6 months, we are discussing what is likely the most influential theological work in the history of the Church (excepting only the Summa of St Thomas) -- The City of God, by St Augustine.

Session 1 - Who is St Augustine? When did he write the City of God? And Why?
[The handouts for this session are below.]

Sunday Sermon, June 30 --- Samaritans and Patience (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

To understand the Sunday Gospel in which the Samaritan villagers refuse to welcome Jesus, we must know something about the geography of ancient Israel and the history of the Samaritan people.

Having discussed these points, and learning a little something about the 10 lost tribes of Israel as well as the 2 (or 3) tribes that were not lost, we then consider the two brothers James and John. Perhaps we all can learn a lesson in patience from this event -- to patiently trust that God will bring about the conversion of our loved ones, and also that he will likewise heal those areas of our souls which are yet in need of further conversion.

Sunday Sermon, June 23 -- Reflections on my 10th Anniversary of Ordination and the Holy Mass (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

This year, my tenth anniversary of ordination falls on the transferred feast of Corpus Christi and I see it as a great gift of divine providence that I celebrate Mass as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish. My ordination will only fall on the Sunday transferred feast of Corpus Christi four times in my life - so, this is a special opportunity for me to reflect upon the meaning of the priesthood and my vision of my own life as a priest in relation to the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and especially the offering of the Holy Mass.

This sermon is very different from any other I have given, it is my personal reflections and personal sharing of my own understanding of the priesthood and my priestly life.  The Mass is everything for me, being united as a priest to our Eucharistic Jesus. By God's grace, I have said Mass every day since being ordained, offering the Mass about 4,500 times over the past ten years!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Trinity Sunday Sermon, June 16th -- Person and Nature in the Trinity (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The mystery of the Trinity may be compared to the sun -- when I stare into the sun, I am blinded; but by that same overwhelming light, all reality is illumined and made intelligible to me.  So also, when I see to understand the Trinity, my mind is dazed and I am overwhelmed; but it is the love of the Trinity which has revealed to me all the other mysteries of our Faith.

The Trinity is one God in three Persons, three Persons in one Nature. But what do we mean by "Person" and "nature"? Person answers the question of "who?", while nature answers the question of "what?" -- in the Trinity there are three "Whos" (the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit) and one "What" (one God).

Reflecting further, we see that, because there is only one God and one divine Nature, the three Persons have only one Divine Intellect (one Divine Knowledge) and one Divine Will (one Divine Love). This means that there is no subordination in the Trinity, the Father is not greater than the Son nor is the Son less than the Father. Neither is there any obedience within the Trinity, the Son does not obey the Father because the Son has no personal will/desire he could subject to the personal will/desire of the Father - the Divine Will of the Son is the Divine Will of the Father.

However, we compare this to the mystery of the Incarnation:  In the Trinity, we have three Persons in one Nature; but, in the Incarnation, we have one Person in two Natures. Thus, in Christ, we have a Divine Nature and an human nature, but only one Divine Person. Hence, Jesus has a Divine Intellect (Divine Knowledge, which is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit) and an Human Intellect (human knowledge, which is proper to Jesus in his humanity). Likewise, the Lord has a Divine Will (one with the Father and the Holy Spirit), and an human will (in his humanity).

In this way, Jesus is obedient to the Father in his human nature -- the Lord submits his human will to the Divine Will; which means he is obedient as man also to himself as God, and to the Holy Spirit.

In his Love for us, God the Father sends his Son and the Holy Spirit invisibly into our hearts by grace.  And this is sanctifying grace, the created participation in the Life of the Trinity within us.

Pentecost Sunday Sermon, June 9th -- The Holy Spirit Proceeds from the Father and the Son (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The Holy Spirit is truly God and equal with the Father and the Son, adored with the Father and the Son. He is a Person, not just a general "force" or "movement".

One of the key differences between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches is that we rightly believe in the doctrine of the Filioque - which states that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father only, but from the Father "and the Son". This must be held, since the Person of the Son is defined as the one who proceeds from the Father alone -- thus, if the Spirit did not proceed from both the Father and the Son, he would not be distinguishable from the Son.

With further reflection, we see that the Holy Spirit, as proceeding from both the Father and the Son, is the procession of Love. If we desire to grow in Divine Love, we must grow in our devotion to the Holy Spirit.