Thursday, December 4, 2014

The end of NTM blog

Dear Readers,

After five years, we must sadly announce the end of the New Theological Movement Blog. Unfortunately, it is simply too difficult for me to keep up with writing for the blog in the midst of the demands of parish life.

I sincerely hope that some of the articles over the years have been helpful to at least a few. For any theological errors or lack of charity, I beg your pardon and your prayers.

The previous articles will remain posted, and the blog will remain up - but there will be no new posts.

For a regular update of my daily and Sunday homilies please click [here]!

Peace and good, 
Oremus pro invicem,

Fr Ryan Erlenbush

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sunday Sermon, November 23 - The Last Judgment as the Church's Vindication

Sermon for Christ the King, given at Corpus Christi Church, Great Falls, MT.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Adult Formation Series on Prayer, 11/18 - The Last Petitions of the Lord's Prayer

Adult faith formation series on prayer, given at Corpus Christi Parish. 11/18
The last petitions of the Lord's prayer -- from "Give us this day our daily bread" to the end.

Daily Sermons, November 18-22

Daily Mass Homilies at Corpus Christi Parish, Great Falls, MT

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts Peter and Paul, St Elizabeth of Hungary, the Presentation of Mary, St Cecilia

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Did you know that Mary was raised in the Temple and made a vow of virginity?

November 21st, The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

“Congratulate me, all ye that love the Lord, because when I was a little one I pleased the Most High.” (from the Common Office of our Lady)

Though it is related nowhere in the sacred books, ancient tradition tells us of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple when she had been weaned from her mother at the age of three. This presentation is quite diverse from that of our Lord in his fortieth day – for Blessed Mary was given over to the Temple for her rearing and education, as Joachim and Ann returned to Nazareth, she remained in Jerusalem until her fourteenth or fifteenth year.

It was during these twelve years of dedicated service in the Temple that our Lady made her vow of virginity, which God then protected through the ministry of St. Joseph.

Let us consider the outline of the history of the presentation of Mary in the Temple, and then further the vow of Blessed Mary to remain a virgin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday Sermon, 11/16 - Damned if you do not pray, saved if you do pray

Listen online [here]!

Sunday Sermon, November 9 -- Why Catholics venerate relics, and How to become a saint

Listen online [here]!

Advent mini-retreat, November 15 -- From meditation to contemplation

These sermons were given as part of a mini-retreat for the perpetual adoration society of Corpus Christi Parish and Great Falls, MT.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The one talent, prayer, gains all the rest

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 25:14-30

To one servant he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one.

In the parable of the talents, our Savior teaches that of each an accounting will be required for whatever gifts God has bestowed. From the one who has received much, much is expected; from him who has received more, still more is expected.

But what shall we say of the servant who has received but one talent? We seek to discern what this talent symbolizes, so that we may know how to make it fruitful in our own lives.

Following that great Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus, we will consider how the parable of the talents instructs us of the necessity of prayer as the great means of our salvation.

Daily Sermons, November 11-14

Daily Mass sermons for the week of November 11 through 14.

St. Martin of Tours, Pope St. Martin I, The Dies Irae.

Sermon for All Souls Day

As the previous recording of this sermon was difficult to hear, I have re-recorded the All Souls Day sermon.

Daily Sermons, November 4-8

Daily Homilies from Monday, November 4 through Saturday, November 8.

St Charles Borromeo, The Fires of Purgatory, Don't become a poor forgotten soul, The Last Sacraments and purgatory, Purgatory on earth.

Adult Ed Series on Prayer, 11/11 - On the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer

This is part of a series on prayer given for adult faith formation by Father Ryan at Corpus Christi Parish, Great Falls, MT.

We consider the first three of seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer.
1) Hallowed be thy name
2) Thy kingdom come
3) Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

The handout for the session can be found below

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's with Catholics and bones? Why we venerate the relics of saints

Relics at the Church of St John Cantius, Chicago

November 9th – Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? … For the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

As we praise God for the dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and of Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist on the Lateran, commonly known as St. John Lateran’s, we have a moment to consider that the soul is truly the temple of the Most High God.

Further, reflecting upon how the exterior place of worship (the church) is a symbol for the interior place of worship (the soul), we will further consider how the dedication of a church recalls the theological basis of the Catholic veneration of the relics of the saints.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adult Education Series on Prayer, 11/4/14: Session 7, "Our Father Who Art In Heaven"

Commentary on the Lord's Prayer, following St Teresa of Avila. "Our Father who art in heaven"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two Homilies For All Souls: The Nature of Purgatory and How To Not Become A Forgotten Soul

These two homilies discuss first the nature of purgatory and then the means by which we can avoid becoming one of the poor forgotten souls of purgatory.

Sermon for the Feast of All Saints -- To Not Honor the Saints is to Theologically Decapitate Christ

If Christ is the head and we are his members, then to separate Christ from his saints (by not honoring them) is nothing less than to cut the head from the body -- it is theological decapitation!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Daily Homilies, October 28-30

Weekday homilies, October 28 through 30 -- Sts Simon and Jude, Christ the King, St Marcellus

Friday, October 31, 2014

If the Holy Sacrifice is of infinite value, why doesn't one Mass empty purgatory?

November 2nd, All Souls’ Day

There need be no defense of the obvious truth that the Holy Mass is of infinite value. Considering who is offered and who makes the offering, there can be no doubt that the Holy Sacrifice is enough not merely to redeem this world, but a thousand and ten thousand more worlds. Indeed, even then, the value of the Mass would not in the least be exhausted.

Thus, given that the Mass is enough to redeem ten thousand worlds and more, one may rightly ask why it is that a single Mass offered on All Souls’ Day for all the Faithful Departed does not suffice to empty out purgatory. Why is it that we must continually have Masses offered for the poor souls in purgatory?

Adult Education Series on Prayer: Session 6, Spiritual Reading

The adult ed series on prayer is being given on Tuesday evenings at 7pm at Corpus Christi in Great Falls, MT by Father Ryan Erlenbush.
On the importance of spiritual reading and the lives of the saints.

Sunday Sermon, October 26 -- Contraception as the Seed of the Culture of Death

We ask ourselves, "How did our nation ever become so lost? How is it that our doctors and nurses are killing the sick? How is it that the vaccines which are meant to protect our children are themselves made from aborted babies? How did it ever come to the point where products of abortion are even in our food?"

The answer: The seed of the culture of death is contraception, which treats the human person not as a child but as a choice. But pregnancy is not a disease, therefore contraception is not medicine.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Keeping the Apostles straight: Which Simon? And, Which Judas?

October 28th, Feast of Sts Simon and Jude

The Church honors two of her Apostles in a single feast, as Sts Simon and Jude were united in their last ministry and martyrdom. According to the Traditional Roman Martyrology, St. Simon first preached in Egypt and Jude in Mesopotamia, but they both ultimately came to Persia where they suffered martyrdom.

It is interesting to note that these two Apostles share names with two others of the Apostles – Simon called Peter, and Judas who betrayed the Lord. We will consider how the Church has added “nick-names” to our two Apostles so as to distinguish them from the others: Simon is called the “Zealot” and the “Canaanite”, while Judas is commonly referred to as “Thaddeus”.

Sermon for the Feast of Pope St John Paul II -- The canonized interpretation of Vatican II

A restating of what was said in a Sunday sermon at the time of the canonization. Pope St John Paul II is the canonized interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.

Adult Formation, Sessions on Prayer: Session 5 - Meditating with Sacred Scripture

This is a talk on Meditating with Sacred Scripture: The Breviary, The Psalms, Lectio Divina. Given at Corpus Christi Parish in Great Falls, MT by Father Ryan Erlenbush.

Adult Formation, Sessions on Prayer: Session 4 - The Three Ages of the Interior Life

This was a talk on the Three Ages of the Interior Life, given at Corpus Christi Parish in Great Falls by Father Ryan Erlenbush.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Daily Sermons, October 14 - 18

Daily Sermons: St Callistus, St Teresa of Avila, The Sacred Heart, St Ignatius, St Luke

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunday Sermon - October 12 - End of life issues, euthanasia, living wills, organ donation

A sermon on the dangers of living wills and organ donation, as well as why we should have Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  Why euthanasia and assisted suicide are wrong.

Father Ryan's homily is below. A homily on the same topic by another priest can be found [here], simply skip the first three minutes to get to the homily itself.

Is it really a mortal sin to skip Sunday Mass?

Pope Innocent XI has condemned the following proposition: "The precept of keeping Holy Days is not obligatory under pain of mortal sin, aside from scandal, if contempt is absent." (4 March 1679)

Thus, it is the teaching of the Catholic Church, that it is always a mortal sin intentionally to skip Mass on Sunday or on a Holy Day without a serious reason. Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on Sunday itself, or on the Saturday evening before.

Let us consider the proof of this precept, and show the falsity of the contrary opinion that it is enough usually to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, and that skipping only one Sunday here or there is merely a venial sin.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The political sects of Jesus' day

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees sent their disciples to Jesus, with the Herodians, saying…

In the Sunday Gospel of the Novus Ordo, we hear the question of the lawfulness of the tax put to Jesus by the Pharisees together with the Herodians. Not unlike today, there is much politicking at work behind the scenes.

Understanding the politic sects among the Jews of Jesus’ day will be of the greatest advantage in grasping what is at stake in this simple question:  Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?  We follow the statement of St. Jerome: “The prime virtue in one who gives an answer is to know that mind of him who asks the question.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

What really happened during the Fatima Miracle of the Sun?

October 13th, 1917 - Miracle of the Sun, Fatima

Although an hundred thousand individuals, from many diverse faiths and from no faith, spread out even over several miles, saw the “miracle of the sun,” at Fatima in Portugal on 13 October 1917, yet not a single shred of astronomical data indicates that the sun really did “dance” on that day.

What is the believer to make of this fact? How ought we to respond to the doubts of many who claim that, since the sun does not seem to have moved at all from his normal place in the heavens (at least, no scientific observatory noted any such motion), the event must have been nothing more than mass-hysteria?

In 2011, we wrote an article [here] discussing the nature of the Miracle of Fatima. At that time, we indicated that the “miracle of the sun” was indeed a real miracle, but had nothing to do with the sun at all.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekday Homilies, October 7-11

Weekday homilies: The Rosary, Rosary Meditations, Hierarchies, The Interior Life, and The Mother of God

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunday Sermon, October 5 -- How to pray the Rosary well

Homily from last Sunday, October 5 -- How to pray the Rosary well. October is the month of the Rosary.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What the man without a wedding garment was lacking, A reflection on the day of judgment

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 22:1-14

My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?

The Savior invites all people to the wedding feast of the Lamb, the eternal banquet of heaven. Yet, though salvation is offered to each, yet only few accept the gift and come to the wedding. However, what is most striking about this Sunday’s parable isn’t only that many who are called refuse to be saved, but that even this one who had come was cast out into the darkness.

What is the symbolic meaning of the wedding garment which the man lacked? What is our Savior teaching us about the judgment?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekday Homilies - September 30, October 1, October 2

Weekday Homilies, Tuesday (September 30) through Thursday (October 2) -- St Jerome, St Therese, Guardian Angels.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Adult Ed Series on Prayer - How to make an Holy Hour (9-30-14)

Below is the audio and handout of the second lecture for a series on prayer I am giving at Corpus Christi Parish in Great Falls, MT -- Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8pm.

"How to make an Holy Hour"

Sunday Sermon, September 28 - The Eucharist, Benediction and Processions

At Corpus Christi Parish, we have the custom, on the last Sunday of each month, of making some special act of Eucharistic devotion. Weather permitting, we make an Eucharistic Procession; in foul-weather, we spend 30 minutes in adoration. All this takes place after the 9am Sunday Mass. After the Saturday evening 5:30pm Mass, we have adoration and benediction.

This sermon is an explanation of the history, devotion, and theology of Eucharistic adoration.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Adult Ed Series on Prayer, session 1 - Corpus Christi Parish, Great Falls, MT

Below is the audio and handout of the first lecture for a series on prayer I am giving at Corpus Christi Parish in Great Falls, MT -- Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8pm.

"Introduction to Christian Prayer"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Will I really go to hell for just one mortal sin?

The Serpent said, "No, you shall not die the death" (cf. Gen 3:4)

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 18:25-28

When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.

 “Do you really think that God is going to send me to hell just because I skipped Mass one Sunday?! I mean, I was on vacation!”

To this, we must respond, “If you die without true repentance, you will surely go to hell.”

Speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, Our Lord makes clear that one mortal sin causes not only the loss of the state of grace, but also the loss of all previous merit. For, by a single mortal sin, by which a just man turneth himself away from his justice and comitteth iniquity, all the good he has done will be set aside and forgotten, and he will not live but he shall die eternally.

Without sanctifying grace habitually present in the soul, no man can possibly be saved. The question of a man’s eternal destiny comes down to this: If he should die in the state of grace, with the divine life present in his soul, he will live eternally in heaven. If he should die in mortal sin, without the divine life present in his soul through grace, he will die eternally in hell.

Let us consider why all the good deeds of a lifetime are not enough to save a man who dies in the state of mortal sin.

If the just man turn himself away from his justice and do iniquity … all his justices which he hath done shall not be remembered. (Ezekiel 18:24)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekday Sermons, September 23 through 27

Daily Mass sermons, September 23 through 27: Padre Pio, Our Lady of Ransom, the Eucharist, Sts Cosmas and Damian, Ember Saturday

Weekday Sermons - September 16 through 20

Daily Mass sermons, September 16 through 20: Sts Cornelius and Cyprian, St Joseph of Cupertino, St Januarius, Our Lady of Sorrows

September 14 - Sunday - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

This sermon is from two weeks ago. On the Cross as exalted in the lives of the saints.

Listen online [here]!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last Sunday's Sermon, 9/7 -- Excommunication

The biblical and rational foundation for excommunication.
What excommunication really means and why the Church has the authority and the duty to excommunicate.

If the stream below doesn't work, listen online [here]!

Daily Mass Sermons: 9/9 - 9/13

Daily Mass sermons, September 9 through 13: St Peter Claver, Nativity of Mary, Holy Name of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Cross as Perpetually United to Our Savior

September 14th, Exaltation of the Holy Cross

We adore your Cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify your holy resurrection: Behold by the wood joy has come into the whole world. (Antiphon from Morning Prayer)

The Catholic Faithful pay a special honor and veneration to the Holy Cross of our Lord. Indeed, we even speak to the Cross as though to Christ Jesus himself as we sing, Ave Crux, Spes unica! “Hail O Cross, our only Hope!”

The True Cross of our Lord, whose feast we celebrate this Sunday, is given such honor, love, and adoration by the Church on account of the marvelous union it shared with our Savior. Let us consider how the Cross was united to the Lord by comparing this union to the Hypostatic Union of Humanity and Divinity in Christ.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mary was rational while in the womb of her mother

September 8th, Feast of the Birth of Mary

Some may be surprised to learn that St. Alphonsus, whom the Church recognizes as the most learned and to trustworthy theologian regarding doctrine about the Blessed Virgin Mary, teaches as certain and deserving of pious belief that Our Lady had the perfect use of reason from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. Mary was no ordinary child in the womb, nor was she a typical infant or young girl.

Rather, according to the Marian Doctor, the Blessed Mary had attained to the use of reason even while in the womb of her mother. Let us consider the reasons for holding this pious belief, and then ponder what it would take for Our Lady to be so exceptionally blessed.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Daily Sermons, August 5 and 6 -- Mother Teresa, and the Sorrowful Virgin

Friday, August 5: Blessed Mother Teresa, Love Means Giving Till It Hurts

Listen online [here]!

Saturday, August 6: Consoling the Sorrowful Heart of Mary

Listen online [here]!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sunday Sermon, August 31 -- How Catholics Suffer Well

Listen online [here]!

Daily Sermons: September 3rd and 4th

September 3rd: Christ Knew Everything, Even You (Feast of St. Gregory the Great)

Listen online [here]!

September 4th: Why we celebrate Mass in a Sacred Place with Sacred Things

Listen online [here]!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Should the Church excommunicate anyone? Can the Pope send a man to hell?

Pope Gregory IX excommunicates Henry IV
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
7 September 2014
Matthew 18:15-20

If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

There can be no doubt that the power and practice of excommunication is well established both in Sacred Scripture and in the Apostolic Tradition. Not only in ancient times under the prior dispensation, but even in the New Testament, we read of men suffering the penalty of excommunication. To reject the notion of excommunication is to reject the revelation given in Scripture and Tradition, and therefore it would be a rejection of the faith itself.

And so we ask, Should the Church ever excommunicate anyone? Furthermore, considering the effects of excommunication, we ask, Can the Pope exclude someone from heaven?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sermons, August 29 and 30: Marriage and Mortification

August 29: The defense of Marriage, the Passion of St. John the Baptist

Listen online [here]!

August 30: On Penance and Mortification, St Rose of Lima

Listen online [here]!

Why a Catholic should not attend an invalid wedding ceremony

“Father, my sister is getting married by a protestant minister in a beautiful outdoor service on the top of a mountain! Can I attend the wedding?”

If your sister was baptized Catholic or has been received into the Church, and she didn’t get permission from the bishop, then I say, “No, you most certainly must not attend.”

Although Canon Law makes no stipulation regarding whether a Catholic may attend an invalid wedding ceremony, moral law most certainly prohibits Catholics (and, sometimes, also non-Catholics) from attending.

In this article, we hope to shed some light on what can be a rather difficult question. Difficult not only because of personal ties to those involved in the wedding service, but also because many priests spew forth variant opinions which (howsoever subtle and delicate they appear) lack any substantial foundation in moral law or the Catholic tradition.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We need the Pope to know how to suffer, A reflection on the Sunday Gospel

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 31, 2014
Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

It was not by coincidence, but rather according to the divine will that our Savior gave his apostles the first prediction of his passion only after he had indicated the establishment of Peter as prince and supreme Shepherd of the Church on earth.

Christ knew that the faithful would be unable to bear his bitter passion without the visible sign of unity and peace given us in the Pope. And, if the passion of Christ is too great to bear without the Papacy, it follows necessarily that none can embrace the spiritual meaning of suffering without the guidance, support, and protection of the Holy Father in Rome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2 Sermons: What is transverberation?, and The Power of Prayer

Tuesday, August 26 - The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila

"Transverberation" - The act of being pierced through

Listen online [here]!

Wednesday, August 27 - St. Monica's prayers

Listen online [here]!

Sunday Sermon, August 24 - Remaining Faithful in the Midst of Scandal

Listen online [here]!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Can I get married after having a vasectomy? (The vasectomy question, Part II)

On vasectomy and impotence

We continue our discussion of various issues related to repentance after the commission of a vasectomy. In our earlier article [here], we discussed why a reversal would sometimes (even oftentimes) be required in order to receive sacrament absolution after a vasectomy – though it is not mandated as relating to the amendment of life, but seems to be closely linked to true contrition and repentance when the reversal procedure can be obtained without excessive cost, pain, or danger and when the couple is of child-bearing age.

To our earlier question, we may add another: Can a man who has had a vasectomy validly contract marriage without getting the vasectomy reversed?

The simple answer to this question – “Is a reversal required for marriage?” – is, “No, a reversal is not required.” However, again, there is much to consider; and, in some cases, a reversal would seem to be required by the conscience of the individual (even if not by the law of the Church).

The whole question will hang on the following point: Is a vasectomy only “sterilization” (as it is commonly assumed to be), or does it cause impotence? While it would seem a silly question, we will see that impotence is defined in a broader way than many assume.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sermons: Pius X, Queenship of Mary, Philip Benizi

August 21st - Pope St Pius X - There is no pre- or post- Vatican II

August 22nd - Queenship of Mary - In Crowning our Lady, God crowns his own gifts

August 23rd - St Philip Benizi - The slave of Mary will not perish

Friday, August 22, 2014

Can we pray for aborted babies? Did Pope Francis?

“Pope Francis prays at Korean cemetery for aborted babies”

So runs the headline at the Catholic News Agency website [here]. But the article fails to support the headline. Indeed, while it is clear that Pope Francis prayed at a monument for aborted babies, the text of the prayer is not given – it seems that the prayer was offered in silence, and perhaps we won’t ever hear exactly what our Holy Father said.

There is a theological problem when we it comes to praying “for” aborted babies – Are we to suppose that they are in purgatory? If so, What sin did they commit for which they must suffer purification? If not, Why would they need our prayers?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why the Pope must be infallible, even if he's not impeccable

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 16:13-20

And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

We do not hesitate to assert the Christ Jesus is the true rock upon which the Catholic Church is built – how could there be any other? And yet, we likewise affirm that Peter is the rock upon which Christ has built his Church; for the Greek is clear: “Peter” is petros while “rock” is petra, and the Aramaic would be clearer yet as the one word used for both was cepha.

It is as though Jesus said, “You are Rock (Petros/Cepha) and upon this rock (petra/cepha) [which is you], I will build my Church.” Christ is the rock and Peter is the rock, Christ is the foundation and Peter is the foundation. A man’s faith is founded upon Christ, only if it is founded upon Peter’s confession. Christ is the rock of the Church, only if the Church is set upon the rock of Peter’s profession of faith.

Let us consider why it is enough for the Pope to be infallible (i.e. unable to err in teaching), even if he is not impeccable (i.e. unable to sin).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday Sermon, August 17: When adult children leave the Church

On praying for our children.
Why a Catholic parent must not attend the invalid marriage of a child outside the Church.
Why a parent must not force a Catholic marriage on his children.
Why a Catholic grandparent should not force a catholic baptism on his grandchildren.

Listen online [here]!

Sermon: Why we believe in the Assumption

The essence of the dogma.
The Biblical proof.
The logical argument.
The proof from the Tradition.

What the Assumption looked like: Mary lived 15 years after Jesus' Ascension, was dead for 15 days, and then was Assumed to the wonder of angels and men alike.

Listen online [here]!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Can I be forgiven after having a vasectomy? (The vasectomy question, Part I)

Vasectomy, contraception, and confession

The following question was sent to me by a priest who reads this blog:
Recently, I had a discussion about proper administration of the sacrament of Penance regarding a man who confesses having had a vasectomy. This is the question:  must the man who receives a vasectomy, in order to receive absolution validly, seek a reversal of the vasectomy?

The simple answer – “Is a reversal required for absolution?” – “No, a reversal is not always required, but YES it is often required as following from true sorrow for the sin.” However, there is much to consider.

In answering this question, we will also answer the related question: Can I be forgiven for having a tubal ligation?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

When did Mary die? and For how long was she dead?

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven
August 15th

When Pope Pius XII solemnly defined as a dogma of the faith the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, into the glories of heaven, he also taught as belonging to the ordinary and universal magisterium that Mary did die before her body was raised and glorified.

And so, we may wonder, When did Mary die? For how long did her holy body lie in the tomb? And, What was the Assumption like?

In this matter, the private revelations given to St. Bridget of Sweden help to fill out the common teaching of the saints and theologians.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Weekday Homilies -- August 11, 12, 13

St. Clare and the Eucharist
This homily as given to a family with whom I had traveled to Italy and had visited the holy sites of Assisi.

Listen online [here]!

On making a vow of widowhood 
The example of St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

Listen online [here]!

On reconciling after heresy
Feast of St. Hippolytus.

Listen online [here]!

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Praying for our Children - Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 17, 2014
Matthew 15:21-28

Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.

Our Savior, willing to be conquered by the prayers of the Canaanite woman, did not disdain to free her daughter from demonic oppression. This mother's prayers won the mercy of Jesus and inspire all parents as they entreat our Lord for every good thing for their children.

How is it that our prayers for others can be of value? What can a parent do to pray more effectively for his children? Why does God seem at times to ignore our petitions for the conversion of children, relatives, and friends?

The example of this woman will profit is greatly as we answer these questions.

Can I merit salvation for another?

(Summa Theologica I-II, q.114, a.6)

The Baltimore Catechism offers a simple definition: "Merit means the quality of deserving well or ill for our actions." Merit can be understood in two respects: condign merit and congruous merit.

Condign merit (de condigno) refers to an action which of itself has a value so as to require as a matter of strict justice some response on the part of another. While congruous merit (de congruo) intends those acts which do not strictly demand a particular response by their own interior value, but may gain such response on account of the bonds of friendship with the other.

Thus, we state that Christ alone can claim to have merited condignly the salvation of others. He alone offered that which is of infinite value so as to make perfect satisfaction for every sin. 

On the other hand, a man may merit his own salvation in one respect de condigno and in another de congruo. For, if a meritorious act (that is, a good work accomplished by grace in the state of grace) is considered as a work of that man, it is meritorious de congruo, since his act can in no way be considered equal to the gift of salvation but can claim a certain right to it on account of the friendship his soul enjoys with God. Yet, if the work be considered on the be considered on the part of the Holy Spirit who inspires the good action, it is clearly said to merit eternal life de condigno since the action of God is of infinite value.

The Angelic Thomas speaks well when he states that Christ alone can merit salvation for others in terms of strict, condign merit. However, although a man may (in one respect) merit salvation for himself in a condign manner (the work being considered as proceeding from the Holy Spirit), yet he can in no way merit condignly for another since the grace of God is given each one for his own salvation and the grace of one is not sufficient unto the salvation of another.

Still, on account of the great friendship which a soul enjoys with the Good God by the union of charity and the gift of grace, a man may well expect to merit congruously both the conversion and the salvation of others. Indeed, if we who are wicked do not fail to love those whom our friends love, how much more will our Father give many graces to those whom we love when we invoke the Lord who has made himself our dearest Friend?

Thus, for one in the state of grace and a friend of God, it is entirely possible to merit the salvation of others by congruous merit. We do this especially through prayer and sacrifice offered for the conversion of sinners, the perseverance of the just, and the salvation of all.

How can I offer better and more effective prayer for my children?

The woman of Canaan is presented as a model of prayer. In particular, we see in her an example for parents who pray for their children. We turn to the great scholar, Fr. Cornelius a Lapide.

"Contemplate the ideal of perfect prayer, and imitate it. This woman of Canaan teaches us to pray. 

"1. With great humility, in that she acknowledges herself to be a dog. 
2. With faith, because she calls Christ the son of David, i.e., the Messiah, the God and Saviour promised to the Jews. 
3. With modesty because she sets before Christ the right of dogs and her own misery; yet does she not draw from thence the conclusion that Christ should heal her daughter, but leaves that to Him. 
4. With prudence, in that she takes hold of Christ by His own words, and gently turns His reasoning against Himself, into an argument for obtaining her desire. 
5. With reverence, with religion and devotion, because she made her supplication on her knees. 
6. With resignation in that she did not say, “Heal my daughter,” but “help me,” in the manner which shall seem to Thee best. 
7. With confidence, because although a Gentile, she had a firm hope that she would be heard by Christ. 
8. With ardour. 
9. With charity, in that she made intercession for her daughter, as if she were anxious for herself, saying, help me. 
10. With constance and perseverance, in that she persisted when she was twice repulsed and became yet more earnest in prayer."

We add that a parent has all the more reason to expect that his prayers for his children will be answered, for it was to him that God entrusted the children not only for their natural life but also for the right beginnings of their formation in the spiritual life. Since Jesus gave the parent his children, the parent's prayers have all the more power over the Sacred Heart of our Savior.

Indeed, whosoever is entrusted by God with the care of souls -- and here we think especially of priests in pastoral assignments, truly called "father" by those under his care -- must have a particular claim to gaining grace for his children by congruous merit.

Parents may pray like this: "Lord, you gave me these children and put them under my care. I have, for my part, given them back to you through the waters of baptism and the practice of the faith. Receive my children again this day, oh Lord, as I beg you, have mercy! You know what my children need far better than I, in my great blindness, can hope to know. You love them with a love infinitely great than the love of which my poor and too cold heart is capable. And, what gives me the greatest hope, you are far more powerful than I. Receive them, Good Jesus, and in your mercy give them, together with every good thing, continual conversion of heart, perseverance in grace, and eternal life."

Three final points

If we see that a parent can gain conversion and perseverance for his children by congruous merit especially through prayer, there are three points to be observed.

First, the parent’s works and prayers are meritorious for his children only insofar as he is a friend of God. As this friendship is wounded by venial sin and destroyed by mortal sin, it is clear that a parent's prayers will be meritorious only if he be in the state of grace. Thus, sin must be avoided.

Again, as attachment to sin wounds and impedes divine friendship, a parent's prayers and works will be more meritorious as he is less attached to sin. While it is true that we cannot in this life be entirely free of venial sins, we may at least be free of attachment to all sins. 

Finally, the parent will gain the victory if he persevere in his prayer. In this respect, we warn against the passion of sorrow which can quickly lead to discouragement and spiritual sloth, eventually making the parent to give up on prayer. But, if we persevere in prayer and are free from sin and attachment to sin, we can be sure that God will not only give us the grace to be resigned to his will, but will also either fulfill our desire or give something even greater.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekday Sermons, August 4 through 8

Please note -- These Masses were all in the Extraordinary Form, following the more ancient calendar.

Tuesday, August 5 -- Our Lady of the Snows

Listen online [here]!

Thursday, August 7 -- St Cajetan and the 40 Hours Eucharistic Devotion

Listen online [here]!

Friday, August 8 -- St. John Vianney, Who is the priest?

Listen online [here]!

Saturday, August 9 -- Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

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Sunday Sermon: Dealing with distractions in prayer

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 10, 2014
Matthew 14:22-23

Prayer is necessary for salvation, but how do I learn to pray better?
There are three primary obstacles to growing in the life of prayer: Sin, Attachment, Distractions.
This homily discusses how to persevere in the midst of distractions at prayer, following St. Teresa of Avila.

Listen online [here]!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How walking on water prefigured the Resurrection

August 10, 2014
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 14:22-33

During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.

The four properties of the risen and glorified body -- namely, clarity, subtlety, agility, and impassibility -- where at various times in the life of our Savior revealed after the mode of a foretaste of things to come. Last Wednesday's feast of the Transfiguration most clearly points toward the resurrection and glorification of our Lord's sacred Flesh. On mount Tabor, the clarity which is a proper quality of the risen body was present in Christ after the mode of a transient passion.

When our Lord walked on the water to visit his apostles tossed about by the waves, he prefigured the quality of agility.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back to blogging!

After a two year hiatus, we have determined it is well past time to return to blogging. Though it is true that the life of a parish priest is quite busy, yet the greatest priest-saints, who were far busier than we, never failed to dedicate much time to catechetical instruction and popular writing.
Indeed, the Angelic Doctor also, in his final assignment wherein he was entrusted with the pastoral care of souls, did not disdain to give popular conferences not in Latin but in the Neapolitan dialect of the people.
Therefore, we too intend to dedicate our time and energy in this blog not only to popular catechesis for the edification of the faithful, but also to pastoral reflection for the benefit of our brother priests who labor tirelessly for the salvation of souls in their ministry.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Sermon, August 3 -- Jesus gave us the Eucharist as consolation in our misery

"Some people, even priest, will say that the real miracle wasn't that Jesus multiplied the loaves to feed thousands, but that Jesus got everyone to share. We should respond that the real miracle is that anyone could be so foolish as to think we would believe something as absurd as that! Of course, Jesus multiplied the loaves!"

Listen online [here]!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday Sermon, July 13, Sharing the Catholic Faith and the Hidden Judgement of Liberalism

When priests say that it is important to "meet the people where they are at", there is a hidden judgment. They are assuming that the priests are far better than the people, that priests are high and people are low, so that the priests have to stoop down to "meet the people".

Contrary to this modern idea about preaching, Jesus says that the sower scatters the same seed on all the ground - not just on the ground that seems good to him.
If a priest refuses to preach about the "hard teachings" (contraception, abortion, women's ordination, adoration, etc), he is failing in generosity and pronouncing judgement on his people - assuming that they are poor soil which won't bear fruit anyways and therefore that they don't deserve to receive the fullness of the Church's teachings.

Listen online [here]!