Saturday, June 6, 2020

Adult Ed, June 4th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 1, Introduction: St John and the History of the Writing of Revelation (Part 1 of 9)

In this series, through June and July, we are discussing the Book of Revelation.

Outline of Session 1:  Introduction, St John and the history of the writing of Revelation, Revelation as New Testament “prophecy”, why called Revelation or Apocalypse, Revelation as part of the Bible, and debates in the early Church about the book of Revelation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Pentecost Sunday Sermon, May 31st -- Desiring God's Will with the Holy Spirit's Aid (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Pentecost is often seen as a healing of the Old Testament event of the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel, and this is certainly correct.

Another aspect to Pentecost is to recognize that, according to a Jewish Tradition (which seems to be from about the time of Jesus, or perhaps just after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 - but still was influential on the early Christians and Fathers of the Church), the Jewish feast of Pentecost was not merely an agricultural feast but also a commemoration of the giving of the Law (the 10 Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In this respect, we see a parallel insofar as the Holy Spirit rights the commandments of God upon our hearts. If we love God, we will fulfill his commandments - and the Law will not be something seen as restrictions placed on us from without, but as fulfilling our true desires.  The key to salvation, and the key to happiness in this life as well is to desire what God desires, to love what he loves - to say always, "Lord, thy will be done."   The Holy Spirit moves our hearts to be united with God's will.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 24th -- The Theological and Historical Foundations of the Rosary (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

After the Lord's Ascension, St Luke (who wrote Acts of the Apostles) tells us that the Apostles gathered around the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer as they awaited the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This image, the Church gathered around Mary, meditating upon the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, is the theological and historical foundation for the Holy Rosary.

The Rosary itself was revealed by Our Lady to St Dominic in the early 1200s, but it is based on much older traditions.  In the early Church, Christians would recite all 150 psalms every day - and this eventually developed into reciting 150 Our Fathers or Hail Mary's daily.  This is where the 15 decades (150 Hail Mary prayers) comes from, and why many of the saints recommend attempting to recite not just 5 decades of the Rosary, but even 15 decades daily.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 17th -- On Confirmation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

St Luke tells us in Acts 8 that Philip had baptized the converts of Samaria but that they had not received the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and prayed over them.  What can this mean?

This was Philip the Deacon (not the Apostle), and the converts did receive the Holy Spirit and his Seven Gifts in Baptism, but they did not receive the full outpouring or perfection of the Gifts until the sacrament of Confirmation was given them by Peter and John.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is to Baptism what growth and maturing are to birth - Confirmation completes Baptism and brings to perfection the graces of Baptism.  Confirmation is not absolutely necessary for salvation, but it is very difficult to make it to heaven without these graces.

Confirmation gives the Christian the sacramental strength to preach the Gospel and to endure persecution for the truth -- in this way, the Christian is united to the work of the Bishop, whose primary duties are to preach the Faith and to be willing to suffer martyrdom for the Gospel.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 10th -- The Priesthood of the Baptized and of the Ordained (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

"Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

By virtue of baptism, all the faithful are true priests in Jesus Christ. The baptized Christian offers the spiritual sacrifice of his life - most especially in the Mass, but also throughout his whole life in obedience to the commandments.

The ministerial priesthood of the ordained is different not merely in degree but in kind - it is not a matter of more or less, but the ordained ministry is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.  This is why there is no inequality or unfairness in that Jesus restricted ordination to the priesthood to men.

The three degrees of Holy Orders are bishop, priest and deacon - the deacon assists in the Mass, the priest celebrates the Mass, but the bishop has the power to ordain men as priests to give them the power to celebrate the Mass.

Sunday Sermon, May 3rd -- Meditation in Prayer, and Hearing the Good Shepherd (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the official teachings of the Church and in the Revelation God has given through Scripture and Tradition.  Further, we recognize the voice of Christ through regular mental prayer and meditation.

Outline of an holy hour, or period of mental prayer:
1) Recognize the presence of God - looking down on you from heaven, present throughout the world but most especially in your soul. Choose the mystery upon which you will meditate - most especially focusing on the life of Christ.
2) Make your meditation, staying focused on the love that God has revealed through this mystery. Offer acts of love in return.
3) Make a simple resolution for how to grow in holiness today and tomorrow, and thank God for the graces given in this meditation.

Sunday Sermon, April 26 -- Jesus is with us even in our sorrows (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

Pre sermon note on the great grace it is to be living in Montana and in our Diocese where confessions and prayer in the churches continued throughout the time of the lock-down and where public Masses are resuming.  Let us keep the Bishop and all bishops in our prayers.

Jesus appears to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, comforting them in their sorrow. We realize that Jesus always remains with us - no matter how difficult circumstances may be, he always joins us on the way.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Sunday Sermon, April 19th -- St Thomas the Apostle (Sermons during Coronavirus Pandemic, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

[Pre-sermon note on the Divine Mercy Sunday promise and indulgence.]

Thomas is often thought of as the “doubter” – but there is so much more to him!  Indeed, as the Church Father’s remind us, we have gained more from the doubts of Thomas than from the faith of the other Apostles!

When Lazarus had died – Thomas was ready to go back with Jesus to Bethany, even tho it was close to Jerusalem and likely that the Jewish rulers would try to kill our Lord.  “Let us go to die with him also”

Thomas is called Didymus, which means “The Twin”. Didymus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Thomas”.  Perhaps he had a twin brother?  Maybe.  But perhaps a deeper meaning—He became like a “Twin” of Christ Jesus, mirroring so closely our Lord as to be a sort of “Twin” or “Second Christ” in is work as an apostle.  

But he is most known for his doubts regarding our Lord’s resurrection – the Gospel we hear on Divine Mercy Sunday.  He did doubt, but by his doubt we gained a greater proof of the resurrection.  His finger touched our Lord’s wounds – and proved to us the Jesus is Risen!

Thomas is also a great patron for Eucharistic Devotion. For we often say “My Lord and My God” at the elevation of the Eucharist.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 29 -- Veiling the Cross, Joining the Penitents (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In the last two weeks of Lent, we enter the season of Our Lord's Passion, Passiontide.  We focus all the more intensely on our Savior's suffering and death as we prepare for the Easter mysteries.

The primary visual characteristic of these last days of Lent is the covering of the Cross and other images in the church with the purple veil.  Why do we veil the Cross? The veil symbolizes how our Lord began to hide himself from the crowds in the last months of his public ministry. Further, it symbolizes the wounds which covered and veiled his whole body during his Passion.  Finally, it represents the order of Penitents from the early Church - those who were not permitted to participate in or view the Sacred Liturgy during Lent as they made public penance until the time of being reconciled to God and the Church.

We are called to embrace penance in our own days - we are called to join these Penitents, and be reconciled to God.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 22 -- Rejoicing in the Lord in this Time of Trial (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi -- Sermons during Pandemic)

[note, on this Sunday, public Masses are prohibited in the USA. Thus, this homily is recorded privately, and perhaps does not contain the same spirit as true liturgical preaching]

"Rejoice, o Jerusalem; and gather round, all you who love her; rejoice in gladness, after having been in sorrow; exult and be replenished with the consolation flowing from her motherly bosom. I rejoiced when it was said unto me: Let us go to the house of the Lord."

Do not these words from the Introit antiphon cause us some pain as, perhaps for the first time in our Nation's history, all public Masses have been banned throughout the USA this Sunday. For many, this will be the first Sunday in which they will not "go to the house of the Lord" to worship God in Holy Mass.

Yet, we are commended to rejoice in the Lord this day!  Recall also the words of Nehemiah 8:9-10, "Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to the Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for the joy of the Lord must be your strength!"

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit - and is understood in relation to two others, love and peace.  According to St Thomas, the fruit of love is the act of loving God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves. This act of love brings us into union with the God who is love. But this union with our Beloved God causes joy - since joy is overflowing when lover and beloved are united.  Finally, this joy establishes peace, for nothing can take this joy from us - excepting if we abandon it through voluntary sin.

Even the coronavirus pandemic, and the restriction of public Masses and devotions, cannot take away our joy.  So long as we do not sin, we still possess God, and we still must rejoice in him!

"The disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.'"
We recognize that coronavirus is an affliction permitted by God to call humanity to conversion. Indeed, perhaps this pandemic is given as a punishment for the nearly international abandonment of Natural Law - whether the widespread legalization of abortion and gay marriage, or the abuse of the poor. It is particularly striking that this virus has come from China, the great Communist Nation - as the errors of Communism spread throughout the world, so also this pandemic.

But God will bring good even out of this great evil!  What a great good he must have in store for us, if he should allow such a great evil!

Plenary Indulgences More Available Than Ever, During Time of Pandemic

The Vatican has issued a new decree which allows us to gain a daily plenary indulgence even in this time in which most are not able to receive Holy Communion or (in some places) make confession! The Vatican has been so generous, and there are new (and very easy) ways of gaining a daily plenary indulgence!

You gain a plenary indulgence by any of the following:

1) Making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or time in Adoration (no length is specified, generally understood to be 30 minutes)
2) Reading Scripture for 30 minutes (anywhere)
3) Praying 5 decades of the Rosary (anywhere)
4) The Way of the Cross (apparently even outside of a church, anywhere)
5) Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet (anywhere)

Offering this prayer for an end to the epidemic, relief for those afflicted, and eternal rest for those who have died.
With the intention of making confession and receiving communion when it is possible.
And praying for the intentions of the Holy Father (Our Father, Hail Mary).
Being in the state of grace (remember, a perfect act of contrition will suffice, even if you are in a place where confessions have been suspended), and having no attachment to sin.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 15th -- On Hiding Sins from Confession (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"Come and see a man who told me everything I have done."

Jesus knew everything about the Samaritan woman at the well (St Photina, feast on March 20th and buried in the Basilica of St Paul outside the walls of Rome).  When she referred to her irregular marital situation, our Lord shows that he knows all of her sins - and desires to forgive her, giving her the living waters of repentance unto eternal life.

We discuss the importance of naming and numbering our serious/mortal sins when we go to confession. To intentionally hide a mortal sin (or to intentionally hide the number of times we have committed a mortal sin) would cause the confession to be invalid, and only add yet another mortal sin upon our soul - a sacrilegious confession.

Jesus already knows everything we have done! He knows everything we ever will do! And he still loves us! We do not need to fear! There is no need to be ashamed! The Lord Jesus will give us the living water of true repentance - because he loves us, he will bring us to eternal life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 8th -- The Transfiguration in Historical Context (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

When we recognize the place of the Transfiguration in the historical context of Jesus' public ministry, we will appreciate even more the deeper meaning of this miracle (which St Thomas Aquinas describes as the greatest of all Christ's miracles).

The Transfiguration occurs late in our Lord's life, perhaps only a half a year or less before his death - and it is a real turning point, in which Jesus moves towards his passion and death.  The Transfiguration occurs on the Octave Day of the establishment of the primacy of St Peter ("On this rock, I will build my Church") and of the first prediction of the Passion.  Further, immediately after the Transfiguration, our Lord tells all the Apostles that certain demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Thus, the Transfiguration inspires us to persevere in our Lenten Fast.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 1 -- On Avoiding the Occasions of Sin (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent.

Jesus allowed himself to be tempted, even though he could never sin (both because of the grace of the union of humanity and divinity, and because he is a divine Person) - in doing this, he teaches us that temptation will always accompany the believer.

The second temptation in St Matthew's Gospel, in which our Lord is taken by Satan and placed on the pinnacle of the Temple, stands for us as a warning to avoid not only mortal sin but also the occasions of sin.  We consider, in particular, the dangers of the internet (especially pornography), alcoholism, and gossip.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ash Wednesday Sermon, February 26 -- More Fasting This Lent (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

100 years ago, our fathers in the faith would fast every day of Lent except Sundays. Further, abstinence meant not only abstaining from meat but from eggs and dairy as well.  We should all consider adding at least one or three days of fasting during Lent. Further, we might also abstain from meat from all of Lent, or at least abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday Sermon, February 23rd -- The Corinthians and All Early Christians Were Roman Catholics (Fr Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We consider that St Paul sent his letters under the care of bishops and to be interpreted and applied by bishops. The Church and the Mass are older than the Bible, and the Bible comes from the Church and from the Mass. No early Christian could even imagine the Protestant heresy of "Bible Alone" without the Magisterium of the Bishops of the Church.

Further, we consider the Letter of St Clement, Pope of Rome to the Corinthians. Written in about AD 75 (only 5-10 years after St Paul died and during the lifetime of St John the Evangelist but before he had written the 4th Gospel), this Letter emphasizes that Jesus and the Apostles established the hierarchy of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. The lay faithful do not get to vote for their priests, but these are appointed by the bishops.  Further, this Letter shows the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope - that he has supreme, universal and immediate authority over all Christian faithful.

The Corinthians and all early Christians were not only Christians, they were Roman Catholics -- and, the study of Church History is the death of Protestantism.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 16 -- Women Veiling and Other Liturgical Matters in 1 Corinthians (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We continue our three part series on the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, turning to the various liturgical matters discussed in the Epistle.

St Paul states that women must wear a veil or some sort of head covering when worshiping in Church, and this is primarily for modesty. However, St Paul has a theological meaning behind the practice - which is based on the diversity and complementary of man and woman. St Paul makes many other arguments, and we note also that the 2,000 year tradition of the Church likewise maintained the custom of women wearing a veil or hat at Mass.  However, let each woman do as she sees fit - whatever will be most helpful to her prayer is fine, since the Church no longer requires the veil. But, if any woman tells me that she is thinking of wearing a veil at Mass, I say, "By all means, do!"

From this Letter, we get something of a picture of liturgical worship in Corinth at the time - and it might look quite different from what we do today! There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that we now have a New Testament (which was not yet written then), and the Gospel has spread to the ends of the Earth! St Paul wrote this Epistle to be delivered by two bishops (Timothy and Titus), and interpreted in the the life of the community - not to be read alone and interpreted by individuals. This reminds us that we need to look to the Church to interpret difficult passages of Scripture.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 9th -- The First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, History and Introduction

Between Christmas season and Lent, we are reading from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. In a three part series, we are preaching on this Letter: History and Introduction, Difficult or Confusing Passages, and the Effect of the Letter on the Corinthians.

St Paul established the Church in Corinth in AD 51 at what was one of the lowest points in his Apostolic ministry (but Jesus had appeared to him and encouraged him). Six years later, many divisions had grown among the Corinthians, and St Paul writes this Letter to remind them of the Charity that unites us as one Mystical Body of Christ.

Further, St Paul discusses the Eucharist, which is really and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. He warns that receive Communion unworthily can cause not only physical death, but loss of faith. Finally, he teaches that the Sacraments are true causes of Grace, and that the Eucharist makes us to be the Body of Christ.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 2nd -- Mary's Virginity and the Law of Purification (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord - Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The feast of the Presentation of the Lord is also the feast of Mary's Purification. However, Mary had no need of purification because the Child was born in a miraculous manner and without any labor pains - but he came into the world like light passing through glass.

We consider the Law of Moses regarding the purification of the mother after childbirth and the ritual sacrifices offered for the child. Mary and Jesus were exempted from all of these, but in submitting to the Law, the Law was fulfilled in them and so passed away.

Further, the perpetual virginity of Mary (specifically, that she had no other children) is highlighted when we consider that Simeon was perfectly fulfilled when he saw the Lord, and so also Mary's virginity shows us that Jesus satisfies all our desires and nothing else and no one else is needed.

January 30th -- Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 4, Celibacy and the Nature of the Priesthood (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

In this final session in our series on priestly celibacy, we consider the essential link between Holy Orders and celibacy.  Reflecting on the person of Jesus as a celibate priest, we see that celibacy is tied to the very nature of the priesthood.

Sunday Sermon, January 26th -- Scripture in the Mass and Why Homilies Should Be Long (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time will now be known as "Sunday of the Word of God" in which Pope Francis is asking that we reflect on the place of Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church and in the life of each Christian.

The pre-eminent place of Scripture in the Mass is not so much the readings, as the antiphons (the entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons, as well as the gradual verse).  However, most parishes throw out the Word of God in the Scriptural antiphons of the Mass and substitute man-made hymns. The use of hymns or songs instead of the antiphons is one of the gravest deficiencies of the Vatican II liturgy, and something which must be corrected.  To use an opening hymn in the place of the Biblical antiphon is comparable to reading from the writings of Martin Luther King Jr (in honor of MLK day) in place of the prophet Isaiah!

Secondly, we consider the role of the sermon or homily in the Mass. There is no difference between a sermon and a homily -- and anyone who claims that a sermon is one thing and a homily another simply has not read the Vatican II documents carefully (since the Church uses both words to mean the same thing).

Often, people will emphasize that the most important characteristic of a good homily is that it be short.  However, there is no justification for this claim - indeed, we argue that it is precisely the emphasis on short sermons which has caused Catholic preaching to be so poor.  Whenever anyone says what a homily is supposed to be, we should ask them if they can quote what Vatican II said a homily is or what Trent said a homily is -- The proclamation of the wondrous works of God in the history of salvation, and teaching the essential truths of the faith necessary for salvation.

The Church teaches that preaching is the most important duty of pastors of souls, without a renewal in Catholic preaching, there will be no true renewal in the Church.

Friday, January 24, 2020

January 23rd, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 3, The Theology of Clerical Celibacy (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

In this course on priestly celibacy, we discuss the history and theology of clerical celibacy and show that celibacy is a great gift to the Church which must be preserved.

Session 3-- Theology of Priestly Celibacy
Many people either defend or attack priestly celibacy based solely on practical values (either married priests are too expensive and won't be able to work as much, or married priests would gain many more vocations and help the priests to understand the people better-- etc). However, any substantial discussion of priestly celibacy must be rooted in the theology behind this discipline -- we will show that there are important doctrines related to the discipline of celibacy.

Sunday Sermon, January 19th -- Christ Baptizes Through His Ministers (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

John the Baptist said, "I did no know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."

This Sunday, we follow up on our sermon from last week on baptism, discussing now the minister of baptism.  John the Baptist certainly knew who Jesus was, he leaped for joy in the womb and recognized Jesus and Messiah and God even from before either was born!

However, following St Augustine, we maintain that was John learned at our Lord's baptism is the He would always retain the ministry of baptism to himself - and likewise for all the sacraments. Whoever baptizes, it is Jesus who baptizes -- and this gives unity to the Church, as well as certainty to the sacraments.  The power of the sacraments does not depend on the holiness of a particular priest, but on the holiness of Jesus who instituted baptism.

This is consoling to us in an age in which many priests and many bishops have failed us, have caused grave scandal, have failed to teach the true faith.  We remain Catholic, because through baptism we are incorporated into Christ.

Friday, January 17, 2020

January 16th, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy -- Session 2, The History of Clerical Celibacy

In this course on priestly celibacy, we will present the history and theology of the discipline of celibacy. Further, we will put forward the great value of celibacy for the whole Church.

Session 2 - History of Clerical Celibacy
While it is true that celibacy was not required in the first years of the Church, there is every indication that continence was demanded of the Apostles and the priests of the early Church. Which is to say, in places where the faith flourished the most and where the disciplines of the Church were most carefully kept, even when a married man was ordained he would cease from that time from relations with is wife and would even separate from married life.
From the very beginning, Holy Orders has been moving more and more towards clerical celibacy.

January 9th, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 1 - Introduction to Priestly Celibacy

In this series, we will discuss the history and theology of the discipline of priestly celibacy. We will defend the tradition of celibacy, and present it as a great gift for the whole Church.

Session 1 - Introduction to Priestly Celibacy and Definitions of Terms
Overview of the current crisis in the Church related to priestly celibacy, and definition of key terms (continence, celibacy, virginity, the Eastern and Western Churches, etc).

Sunday Sermon, January 12th -- To Be Christian Is To Be Baptized (Baptism of the Lord, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[pre Sermon note about the Month of January dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. How we can reverence the Holy Name by reciting the Litany of the Holy Name and especially the Divine Praises. Also, we should be very cautious of any movies or TV or music which contains blasphemy. Further, we ourselves should work hard to avoid taking the Lord's Name in vain - to say "Jeez" is a direct blasphemy against the Holy Name of JESus. In fact, this is what the Greek IHS stands for JESus.]

On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that our Lord did not need to be baptized but we needed him to be baptized so as to sanctify the waters of baptism for our own salvation.

Many Protestants have lost the importance of baptism, and some do not even practice baptism any longer. However, unless someone has been baptized, they really are not a Christian (even if they read the Bible and claim to "believe" in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior). Further, if someone has been baptized, then they are a Christian -- although, one will not be saved unless he lives out his baptismal graces and dies in the state of grace which was given through baptism.

The original Protestant heresy was a rejection of the power of the sacraments to give grace -- even rejecting the belief that the work of baptizing sanctifies the soul of the child/adult who is baptized. But the true and authentic Biblical teaching is the baptism does give salvation -- this is why our Lord told the Apostles to baptize, and also why Peter answered those who asked him "What must we do to be saved?" saying, "Repent, and BE BAPTIZED!"

Sunday Sermon, January 5th -- The Gifts of the Magi (Epiphany Sermon, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

For the transferred feast of the Epiphany, we consider the Magi and the opening of salvation for the Gentiles. Further, the significance of the three gifts: Gold for a King, Frankincense for God, Myrrh for his burial.

We offer our spiritual gifts to the Christ Child: Gold of a virtuous life, Frankincense of true worship and prayer, and Myrrh of penance.

New Year's Sermon -- Octave of Christmas, Circumcision, Mother of God

January 1st is the Octave Day of Christmas (the 8th Day is the renewal of the original feast). We return to the same mystery of Christ's Birth.  For the Jewish people, the octave is a great feast - and the eighth day after the birth of a son was the day of his circumcision and receiving his name. This is the day in which the Christ Child received his Holy Name of Jesus.

Finally, this is the Feast of our Lady's Motherhood - we rejoice that God has taken a Mother to himself, and has come to us through Mary.