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.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Sunday Sermon, June 2nd -- Why Did Christ Ascend into Heaven? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[pre-sermon note on the Paschal Candle as a symbol of the Risen Christ during the forty days between Easter Sunday and Ascension Thursday]

For many reasons, it is better for us that Jesus ascended: Our faith is increased (since faith is about that which is not seen), our hope is lifted up (since he went to prepare a place for us), and our love is directed above all to heaven rather than the things of earth.

For the Lord, it is also fitting that he should ascend. A glorified body is not fittingly restricted or contained in the fallen world, but rises above the heavens.  St Thomas (and the great Thomistic theologians) offer an explanation of how the true physical body of Christ could ascend "to heaven" if heaven is not a "place up there".

By ascending, Jesus reveals that he is the true Judge seated at the right hand of the Father - he will come again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sunday Sermon, May 26th -- First Friday and First Saturday Devotions for Peace (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you."

The peace which our Lord gives is a true interior peace which rests in the heart of man, springing from the union of God and the soul. This interior peace then overflows to bring peace into the world.

Through devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, God desires to give true peace to the earth. The First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart and the First Saturday devotions to the Immaculate Heart are heaven's plan for peace.

First Friday Devotions consist in receiving holy communion as an act of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months.

First Saturday Devotions consist in receiving holy communion (either on the first Saturday the following Sunday, with the permission of the priest), making confessions (even ten or more days before or after the first Saturday), praying five decades of the Rosary, and spending an additional fifteen minutes in meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary -- all offered as an act of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sunday Sermon, May 19 -- The New Heavens and the New Earth (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

What does St John the Evangelist mean when, in the book of Revelation (aka Apocalypse) he speaks of the "former" heavens and "former" earth passing away, and the coming of the "new" heavens and "new" earth?

Following St Thomas Aquinas and the best of Catholic commentaries as well as the insights given from other passages of Scripture, we give the best explanation of the Sacred Page.

The "heavens" does not refer to heavenly glory enjoyed by the angels and saints, but to the stars and planets of the universe. Thus, "the heavens and the earth" means all that is in the physical universe.  The "new heavens and new earth" are not some entirely new creation made out of nothing, but rather the renewal of the "old" to make it "new" - hence, Jesus says, "Behold, I make all things new."

This renewal of the heavens and the earth is similar to what is brought about in the resurrection of the body, which is why we consider this mystery during the Easter season. As the corruptible body is raised glorious, so also this material world is transformed and made glorious on the last day.


Sunday Sermon, May 12 -- Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd, Confirmation and First Communion (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"My sheep hear my voice."

If we desire to hear the subtle and gentle voice of the Good Shepherd speaking in our souls, we must listen to his clear and manifest voice speaking in the public revelation of Scripture and Tradition as well as through the official teaching authority of the Church.

We hear the voice of our Good Shepherd through reading Sacred Scripture together with a good traditional Catholic Bible commentary (like that of Fr George Leo Haydock), as well as the writings of the Fathers of the Church (especially found in the "Catena Aurea" or "Golden Chain" Gospel Commentary compiled by St Thomas Aquinas).  Likewise, we can follow our Good Shepherd by imitating the lives of the saints who have been the good sheep of our Good Shepherd.


Monday, May 6, 2019

Sunday Sermon, May 5th -- St Peter, Supreme Shepherd of the Church (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

A detailed line-by-line study of the Sunday Gospel taken from John 21, concluding with a reflection on the last days of St Peter's life.

We discuss the following phrases: The "disciples", the "sea of Tiberias", "Zebedee's sons", "I am going fishing", "that night they caught nothing", "already dawn", "children", "the disciple whom Jesus loved", "one hundred fifty-three large fish", "the net was not torn", "the third time", "Do you love me?", "you know everything", "feed my sheep", "signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God", "follow me".

After having escaped from imprisonment in Rome, St Peter received a vision of Jesus returning to City. "Lord, where are you going?" "I am going to Rome, to be crucified again." And St Peter follows the Lord, and does not deny him this time, but returns to suffer being crucified upside down.


Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28th -- Divine Mercy and the Traditional Liturgy (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[Pre-sermon note on receiving the indulgence for Divine Mercy Sunday as well as the promise our Lord makes to those who confess and receive communion on this day]


The popular devotions of the faithful are meant to flow from the Liturgy and return to the Liturgy. Personal devotion and personal prayer finds its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist in Holy Mass. We see that, in this respect, the devotions of Divine Mercy bring us to the very heart of the public worship of the Church in the Sacred Triduum and through Easter Week to the Sunday Octave.

In particular, the Divine Mercy devotions are rooted in the practices of the Traditional Latin Mass and in the ancient traditions of the Church which were are most striking on Good Friday (the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena) and the Octave Sunday (now, Divine Mercy Sunday).

Although the richest connections between the Liturgy and the Divine Mercy devotion were greatly obscured in the years following the Second Vatican Council - when the new Mass is celebrated in a traditional way, we can still see how the Divine Mercy devotions highlight was is most essential to this sacred season.

Easter Sunday Sermon, April 21st -- The Resurrection was Hidden from the World (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

No one saw our Lord rise from the dead. Although there are many "proofs" of the resurrection, and although our Lord appeared to his disciples many times after rising - the resurrection itself occurred in an hidden and mysterious way.

The very same physical body in which Jesus suffered, is truly raised to a new and glorious life. Many historical facts testify to the truth of the resurrection -- the empty tomb, the transformation brought about in the lives of the disciples, the burial cloths, and more.

However, the risen Jesus did not appear to all people, but only to those few disciples who had been chosen. This surprises us - wouldn't it have been better if Jesus had appeared in a clear way to all people? Why doesn't he go about preaching and teaching and working miracles before the crowds, as he had before his passion?

The Lord is teaching us that we must rely on spiritual means rather than look to worldly power or worldly success in spreading the Gospel.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Palm Sunday Sermon, April 14th -- On Perfect Contrition (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The story of the conversion of the Good Thief, St Dismas, inspires us to make acts of perfect contrition.  Contrition is a sorrow for sin -- an interior pain in response to the reality of sin, and a real detestation or hatred of sin.

Contrition is not primarily the emotion of sorrow, which can even be a hindrance to true spiritual growth. Rather, true contrition is expressed in the firm resolve to never sin again, and the willingness to make any sacrifice necessary so as to avoid sin.

Imperfect contrition, which is still very good and a gift from God, is to be sorry for sins so as to avoid the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. Perfect contrition, however, will be the greatest motivator -- it is to be sorry for sin because we realize how much God loves us, and also that we truly do desire to love Him in return.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Sunday Sermon, April 7th -- The Stations of the Cross (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The history of the development of the Stations of the Cross from when Our Lady first led the Apostles through the streets of Jerusalem to our own day.

Thoughts on how to benefit from this devotion and the particular insights of St Alphonsus Liguori.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Sunday Sermon, March 31st -- The Mercy of Christ Supersedes the Justice of the Old Testament (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The traditional Old Testament reading associated with the Gospel Parable of the Prodigal Son is the story of Jacob and Esau. These are two tales of brothers, in which the younger is favored and the elder becomes angry. However, notice the difference of these two -- in the Old Testament, it Jacob who is just and Esau who sold his birth-rite; but in the New Testament, it is the prodigal son who is favored while the older brother seemed to be just.

Again, consider the traditional association of the Old Testament passage of Susanna with the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery. Susanna was innocent and so was vindicated, but the woman of the Gospel was truly guilty and yet was spared.

The Law given through Moses indicated innocence and guilt, but the Grace and Truth which comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ goes further yet: Jesus makes the guilty to become truly innocent.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sunday Sermon, March 24th -- In Defense of Moses and the Violence of the Old Testament (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Moses towers as the great figure of perfection and virtue in the Old Testament. Called from the Burning Bush to be the liberator and future lawgiver, Moses is likewise the great prophet and inspired writer of Sacred Scripture (of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Job).

However, how can we justify the violence that occurred under Moses' authority? Did God really kill the innocent children of the Egyptians? Did God really command Moses to exterminate whole peoples - not just the soldiers, but even the women and the children?

A few common answers cannot be correct: "The Bible isn't a history book" or "The Bible is determined by the culture of the day" or "Moses justified his people's violence by claiming that God had commanded it."

In this sermon, we explain that God's mercy is present even in these violent moments. The God of Moses is the same God who promised Abraham that he would not destroy the innocent along with the guilty, and the same God who tells the prophets that he desires the conversion of the sinner and not his death.

God is not to be accused of the evil, violence, and death which has entered the world because of sin.

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.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sunday Sermon, January 13th -- The Baptism of the Lord as Epiphany (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In our Catholic Tradition, the Epiphany of the Lord commemorates three mysteries: The visit of the Magi thirteen days after out Lord's birth, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by St John, and the miraculous changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. In each of these mysteries, our Lord's divinity is made "manifest" (Epiphany means manifestation). This is what connects our Lord's Baptism with Christmas, it is the manifestation of the incarnation, that the man Jesus Christ is truly the beloved Son of the eternal Father, God from God and Light from Light.

Thus three-fold Epiphany also calls to mind the key role of Mary and Joseph in the manifestation of who Jesus really is. If we desire to understand the divine relation of Jesus to his heavenly Father, I propose we may learn much from meditating upon the relation of Jesus to Mary. On the other hand, we look especially to St Joseph as we meditate upon the relationship of Jesus in his humanity to his heavenly Father.


Monday, January 7, 2019

Sunday Sermon, January 6th -- Epiphany and Interior Conversion (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The feast of Epiphany really is the Christmas of the Gentiles, the day in which the mystery of Christ's birth was revealed to all the nations (symbolized by the Three Wise Men). This feast, in the early Church, was celebrated with even more solemnity than Christmas!

The historical journey of the Magi is a model for our interior conversion as we progress through the spiritual life. First, the Magi must set out from a pagan land and people - even as we must abandon vain and worldly pursuits, setting out in earnest to gain the great good of holiness.

However, this first conversion of the Magi was not sufficient, for although they sought spiritual goods, they still had a worldly approach. They went to the palace, where the rich and powerful are found - but the Child was born among the poor in the city of Bethlehem. So also, when we begin to seek spiritual things, we tend to retain a worldly or secular approach to the faith and to the Gospel. We want to be faithful, we want to embrace the teaching of Jesus; but we also want to be popular, to be accepted by the world, or at least to be acceptable to our fellow Catholics. There is a tendency to want to be "middle of the road" and not "rock the boat" - seeking to be successful while also following the Lord.   But like the Magi, we are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful - Epiphany is an invitation to follow the Wise Men along a path of humility and fidelity to the Lord, seeking spiritual goods in a spiritual manner.


Holy Day Sermon, January 1st - Mary, Mother of God - The Octave of Christmas and Mary's Joy (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

There are three mysteries commemorated on January 1st: The Octave Day of Christmas, The Circumcision of the Lord, and the Maternity of Mary.

The Octave of Christmas: We must remember that Christmas is not over, in fact, it has not even yet fully begun. We are still in the twelve days of Christmas, and the feast of Christmas is not even complete until Epiphany on January 6th. Yet, the liturgical season of Christmas extends to the feast of Our Lord's Baptism on January 13th. Furthermore, the spiritual devotion of Christmas extends for forty days through to our Lord's Presentation in the Temple on February 2nd. Be sure to celebrate Christmas through the whole of Christmas Season!

The Circumcision of the Lord: This is the day in which the Child began to be called Jesus. January is month of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Mary, Mother of God: Our joy in Christmas is the joy of Mary. Even as there is so much joy in a new mother over the birth of her child, we are invited to rejoice with Mary and St Joseph in the birth of the Christ!

Sunday Sermon, December 30 -- Jesus' Obedience to Joseph and Mary, and Obedience in Our Lives

A preliminary note regarding two common heretical errors people (even priests) often make when interpreting the Sunday Gospel about the Child Jesus being found in the Temple after he was lost for three days.

First, "He grew in wisdom and age and favor before God and men." Our Lord Jesus did not "grow in knowledge" simply speaking through his life, for he knew everything from the first moment of his conception. However, he grew in knowledge "before God and men," meaning that the perfection of his knowledge was progressively revealed to men - indeed, the very revelation of this passage of St Luke's Gospel is that Christ's perfect wisdom aroused admiration in men.

Second, "Son, why have you done this to us?" We must never think that Jesus was in any way disobedient to Joseph and Mary, or that he ever did anything that was less than perfect. In fact, the very point of this passage is that "Jesus was obedient to them" - the Christ Child is the model of obedience, who give true honor to his foster-father and mother. Indeed, Jesus' obedience to Joseph and Mary reveals the perfect obedience he has as man to his heavenly Father.

The obedience of Christ is a model for our own obedience. Charity is the virtue which brings the soul to perfection, but three other virtues protect and advance charity in the soul: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Poverty consecrates our external possessions to God, chastity consecrates our body to God, but obedience (which is most interior, and therefore most necessary) consecrates our heart to God.

Our obedience to God is expressed and realized in our obedience to them God has placed in authority over us. Children, obey your parents. Wives, obey your husbands. Men, obey your pastors and your government.


Christmas Sermon, December 25 -- The Eucharistic Mystery in Christ's Birth (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Christ is born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread." He is laid in a manger, which is a food basket for the animals. He would one day teach us that he is the "Bread of Life." The shepherds of Bethlehem who came to adore him were those entrusted with watching over the sheep which would be sacrificed in Jerusalem for the nation of Israel - and now they adore the true Lamb of God.

The circumstances of Christ's birth point us to the Eucharistic Mystery of his Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

Sunday Sermon, December 23 -- Even the Protestants Become Catholic at Christmas (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Christmas is a time to emphasize Christian unity, and there are many graces available to bring about conversion. In this sermon, we present a number of arguments or examples which show that even the most fundamentalist Protestants can't help but become a little bit Catholic at Christmas time.

1) The veneration of holy images and of saints, in the Nativity Scenes.
2) Greater attention given to Mary so as to come more fully to Jesus, in Christmas songs.
3) Celebrating "man-made" Holy Days, in the very celebration of Christmas.

The deeper reality that draws Protestants to a Catholic manner of worship during Christmas season is that the mystery of Christmas is the incarnation, that God truly became Man. The real heresy of Martin Luther and the other Protestants turns out to be a rejection of the importance of Christ's humanity.

Advent Adult Ed Course on the Traditional Latin Mass for the Church Today (December 4th, 11th, 18th -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We consider the significance of the various words and gestures of the priest during the Traditional Latin Mass, and how we can more fully participate in the Traditional Mass. Further, we point out many ways in which the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass is helpful for both the priest and the people, and how the Traditional Mass will bring a much needed healing to a deep wound of division which has occurred in the Church in the years since the Second Vatican Council - the Church today seems almost to be divided against herself, her history, her tradition, and her Mass.

Sunday Sermon, December 16 -- The Right to War, the Right to Private Property, the Love of the Poor (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

St John the Baptist gives an implicit approval of both just war and private property when the people come to ask him "What should we do?"  To the rich, he does not deny the right to private property, but only says they should be generous to the poor. And, to the soldiers, he does not deny the right of nations to go to war (in just circumstances), but only commands them to be good soldiers.

Nations have a right to wage war either for their own defense or the defense of their rights, or even for the defense of weaker peoples who are suffering oppression. Still, this should only be a last resort - as war does bring much suffering.  The right of nations to wage war is a safeguard to check unjust aggression and greed.

Individuals have a right to private property, and this is why communism and socialism are true heresies which Catholics must reject. Socialist strive to take the wealth of the rich and redistribute it to the poor, and they further strive to subject the family to the whim of the State (redefining the nature of marriage and family life). We note that the democratic party in the USA is dangerous close to socialism, and the Church (Bl Pius IX and St John XXIII especially) has stated that a Catholic cannot be a socialist.

But private wealth is meant to be not only for the benefit of the rich, but also to be used to relieve the sufferings of the poor. If we desire to grow in a love for the poor (which is one of the essential fruits of the Christmas mystery), we can look to the great saints (like St Wenceslaus) and to our Lord (who became poor so that we might be made spiritually rich).