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.