Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 30 -- Predestination and Calvin's Heresy (Sermons on Romans, Part 5 -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"For those he foreknew he also predestined. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."  (Romans 8:29-30)

The Catholic Doctrine of predestination teaches that those who are to be saved are foreknown by God who gives them grace to do good works in the present and rewards them with glory in heaven. God's foreknowledge is a cause of all things, but, although certain, does not impose necessity upon all things. God knows all that we will do, and he knows he will do it freely. God's grace does not destroy free will.

The protestant heresy (especially as by Luther and Calvin) maintains that man is saved without works but only by God's grace. However, if man is saved without any consideration of his works and without his free cooperation, so too will man be damned without any consideration of his sins and without his freedom. Thus Calvin will affirm that God creates some men for hell, and not because of their sins but because of God's sovereign choice. God predestines some men for hell, even as others are predestined to heaven - and all without any choice or merits on the part of man.  This is what the "reformation" revolution was really all about, to give us a God who is a devil. This is why Calvin and Luther had to be condemned.

As we move forward, recall that the prime example of predestination is Jesus Christ in his humanity. Predestined from eternity, Christ was still entirely free and his choices made a real difference in the world.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 23 -- Speaking in Tongues and the Prayer of the Spirit (Sermons on Romans, Part 4 -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."

St Paul is not referring to "speaking in tongues" (that miracle in the early Church whereby the Apostles and others would suddenly know new languages and speak the native tongue of their listeners fluently).

Rather, the Apostle teaches us that the Holy Spirit moves the soul through the Gifts (especially the Gift of Counsel) to pray for those things which are truly according to God's will.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 16 -- Man is justified by works, not by faith alone (Sermons on Romans, Part 3 -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Quotes from Scripture related to Faith:

Romans 3:27-28, "Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the Law."

Romans 11:5-6, "There is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace, it is not by works: otherwise grace is no more grace."

Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works, that no man may glory."


Quotes from Scripture related to works:

Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his works."

1 Corinthians 13:2, "And if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing."

Philippians 2:12, "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling."

James 2:24, "A person is justified by works and not by faith alone."


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It is amazing that Luther and Calvin (and the Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Fundamentalist Protestants today who follow them) could claim that man is saved through FAITH ALONE. This phrase "faith alone" is only used one time in the Bible, specifically to reject the very heresy that the Protestants promote -- "A person is justified by works and NOT by FAITH ALONE." (James 2:24).

How could the Protestant heresy have gotten it so wrong? There are two main errors which led Luther into his heresy 500 years ago. 1) A Scriptural error: Luther read all of the Bible in light of St Paul and especially placed Romans as the most important book of Scripture; but the true approach to Scripture places the Gospels first and reads St Paul in light of Christ presented in the Gospels.

2) A philosophical error: Luther thought that if I do 50% of the work of salvation, then that would mean that God could only do 50%, or if God does 100% then I must do 0%. However, the work of salvation is fully divine and fully human (even as Jesus is fully God and fully man) -- salvation is both 100% the work of God and 100% my work.

We affirm: Of course man can merit salvation! After all, Jesus was a man, and he merited salvation for the whole world. In Christ, we too merit our own salvation, as we cooperate with the grace of the Lord.



Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 - The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Informational Bulletin, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)


The History of the Brown Scapular
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

On 16 July 1251, St Simon Stock, who was then the superior of the Order of the Carmelites, received an apparition from Our Lady. She handed him a brown scapular saying, “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I obtained for thee for they children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

However, the history of the brown scapular begins long before the 13th century, originating with the mantle of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament! To bring the people back from their worship of the false god Baal the prophet Elijah prayed for a drought, which lasted for three and a half years. After this, Elijah climbed Mt. Carmel to petition for the rain to return. A cloud in the shape of a foot came and provided much-needed rain. (See 1 Kings 18:41-46)

Pious tradition holds the cloud represented Our Lady’s heel crushing the devil, as prophesied in Genesis. We also recognize Mary as the Mediatrix of graces, for out of a single cloud flowed an immense quantity of rain, or grace, which quenched the parched desert.

Following the event, Elijah formed a community of hermits on Mt. Carmel. These Jewish “carmelites” awaited the return of Elijah to announce the coming of the Messiah. After Pentecost, it is believed that these hermits were converted to Christianity. It was out of this community the Carmelite Order was born in the late 11th century.

Sunday Sermon, July 9 -- Sin, the Flesh, Death, the Law and Salvation in Christ (Sermons on Romans, Part 2; Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Romans 8:1-13, from which our second reading is taken in today's Mass, put forward four major themes which are essential to St Paul's understanding of the human condition prior to redemption in Christ.

Before man receives the grace of Christ, he is under the law of sin, the law of the flesh, the law of death, and the Law of Moses. The law of sin: Man is conceived in sin, in a state of rebellion against God. The law of the flesh: The lower part of man's soul, his passions and emotions ("the flesh"), rebels against the higher part of man's soul, his reason and will. The law of death: Man is conceived destined for death, not just bodily death but also eternal death. The Law of Moses: Although the Law pointed out the way to do good, it did not give man the grace to actually follow the path to heaven.

But Christ liberates us from sin, the flesh, death, and the Law of Moses! Christ makes us free! This is the joy and good news of the Gospel! However, because our hope is in heaven and not in the vanities of earth, we live a life of penance and mortification - putting to death the deeds of the body. As G.K. Chesterton once said, "It is better to fast for joy, than feast for misery."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 2 -- Introduction to the Letter to the Romans (Sunday Sermons on Romans, Part 1 -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

We read from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans from the 9th to the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time this year (Year A). For an additional 8 Sundays or Holy Days, we read from Romans as well. Practically, we will be reading from Romans for three months straight - from the last Sunday of June to all but the last Sunday of September (with the exception of the Transfiguration on August 6).

Catholics are often intimidated by St Paul's Letter to the Romans, thus we will be preaching on Romans many of the weekends over the next three months. It is my hope that we will all feel familiar with Romans by the end of September.

A basic outline of the Letter can be found below. We also point out the historical context: This letter was written by St Paul in the year 58, the 6th and longest of 14 letters included in Scripture, the final letter written prior to his arrest. Rome, at the time, had about one million inhabitants, with 50,000 Jews and 13 synagogues. The Christian community in Rome was made up of a good number of Jewish converts, but certainly there were even more gentile converts to the faith. St Peter was the bishop of Rome at the time.

St Paul is writing about the grace of Christ, and shows that neither the Law of Moses nor the wisdom of the pagan philosophers will bring salvation. Thus, all (Jew and gentile) are united as one by the grace of Christ and by the Catholic religion.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon, June 25 -- The Dogma of Original Sin (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned."  (Romans 5:12)

Original sin can be understood as the sin of Adam originally committed in the garden, or as the privation of grace which is inherited by all men. As the sin in the garden, it was specifically Adam's sin (not Eve's) that caused the Fall of the human race - since all men (including Eve) come from Adam. As the privation of grace, original sin is transmitted to all by generation not merely imitation.

Adam spoke for us all when he sinned and, although each of us did not personally choose to sin, original sin is considered "voluntary" insofar as is the effect of the voluntary choice of Adam. However, even as in Adam all sinned, so also in Christ we have been victorious over sin and death! Just as Adam spoke for all when he disobeyed, Christ Jesus has spoken for all who are baptized into him and in Christ we have been obedient!