Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon, August 27 -- What we do and don't believe about the Pope (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In his own life on earth, Jesus himself established the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, with the Pope as Supreme Shepherd and Head of the Church on earth. The Pope is the visible source and sign of unity in the Church.

What do we really believe about the Pope and Papal Infallibility? We don't believe that Pope will teach clearly, or even teach everything that he should teach; we don't believe that he won't make a mess of things -- what we do believe, is that when he invokes his supreme authority and teaches infallibly, he will not state what is false (he may not speak the truth clearly, but he won't actually teach what is false).

We also don't believe that the Pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit, or that he is "the best man for the job". But, whoever the Cardinals choose, even if he isn't the best man for the job, even if he is very weak or sinful -- the Holy Spirit will preserve him from leading the Church into error. 

This is the gift of the Papacy: The gates of hell will never prevail even against the bad Popes. And that proves that God is the one who truly guides the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

13 October 1917: An Apocalyptic Miracle, An Apocalyptic Message (Laurel, MT - Fatima Conference; Father Ryan Erlenbush)

Talk from Fatima Conference in Laurel, MT - August 9, 2017

This week we have heard the account of the history of the apparitions of our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal. From 13 May to 13 October 1917, our Lady appeared six times to the children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. 13 October was the occasion of the great Miracle of the Sun, which I propose is a miracle of absolute unprecedented proportion. A truly UNIQUE event in all of human history.

This great miracle, which confirmed the previous apparitions as well as the message which Mary had given, this miracle was promised by our Lady during the July apparition. Recall that the numbers of the crowd who had been coming to witness the apparitions had been steadily growing. However, with the children promising a miracle from our Lady in October (predicting this three full months in advance), the crowd ballooned to somewhere between 70 and 100,000 people.

This is what is so unique about 13 October 1917 – a great miracle, with tens of thousands of witnesses, which was predicted three months in advance as to the precise day, time and place.

I. Background: What is a miracle? How do we verify if a miracle has occurred? Why should we learn about miracles?

II. The History of the Miracle of the Sun: Eye witness testimonies.

III. Answering objections to the Miracle of the Sun: Not hysteria, not power of suggestion, not a natural phenomenon.

IV. Proposing an "explanation" for the Miracle: Similar to the Star of Bethlehem, or the Pillar of Fire.

V. The apocalyptic overtones of the Miracle: The Flood and the destruction of Sodom.

VI. Fatima: A message for the Last Times.

Sunday Sermon, August 20 -- The Conversion of the Jews (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish - Sermons on Romans, Part 7)

St Paul tells us that, even as the Jews as a whole rejected Jesus opening the way for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles, so also the Jews as a whole will ultimately receive the Gospel prior to the end of the world and the day of Judgment. Although nobody is saved simply for being Jewish, the Jews do remain the "chosen people" of God, and they have a crucial role to play in salvation history.

This dynamic of proclamation from Jews to Gentiles and finally back to the Jews is symbolized in the ritual of the traditional Roman Liturgy, as interpreted in the beautiful liturgical commentary of St. Albert the Great, the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Mass begins with the Missal on the "Epistle side" of the altar. The singing of the Epistle by the subdeacon, facing the altar, "towards the east," facing Jerusalem to the east of Rome, symbolizes the preaching of the prophets, and especially St. John the Baptist, who proclaimed Christ to the Jews.

Then the Missal is moved to the "Gospel side" of the altar and the deacon sings the Gospel facing the side wall of the church, "towards the north," facing the pagan Gentiles to the north of Rome. This action symbolizes the proclamation of the Gospel by the Church to the Gentiles. The Missal stays on the "Gentile side" for almost the whole Mass, but at the end it returns to the side of the Jews, to symbolize what St. Paul prophesies in our second reading: their final acceptance of Christ at the end of the world!

Sunday Sermon, August 6 -- The Transfiguration: Who was St James the Greater

A sermon in honor of St James the Greater. Why he was chosen to be a witness to the Transfiguration, and why Jesus called him a "Son of Thunder". The history of the life of the great apostle, and his marvelous intercessory power for the Church after his death.

St James was the first of the apostles to be martyred, but before AD 44 he had already preached in Spain - he is the great missionary apostle! The Spanish people claim him as a special patron, as well as Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar (she appeared to St James in AD 40, when she was still alive).

St James is a patron of Spain but also of the New World, which was discovered by Columbus on the feast of our Lady of the Pillar, October 12, 1492.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Introduction to Sacred Music - Chant 101 course (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

On Sacred Music:

1. We don't create the Liturgy, we receive it -- this is why we use antiphons rather than hymns.
2. We don't sing at Mass, we sing THE Mass -- this is why we prefer gregorian chant as well.
3. The human voice is God's instrument by which he desires to be praised -- this is why we favor the organ and flute over other instruments.
4. Notes on the Liturgy of the Word.

Below are a number of reference quotations.

Holy Day Sermon, August 15 -- The Assumption of Mary (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

The Dogma of the Assumption: That Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. It is the common teaching of the Church that Mary died, was raised, and then was assumed.

This feast reminds us all of our call to heaven -- God wants us all to be saved. This is our vocation!

Sunday Sermon, August 13 -- Salvation and the Jews (Sermons on Romans, Part 6 - Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish

"They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen."

We discuss the division of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans.
I. The Doctrine of Grace
   A. The Necessity of Grace (Chapters 1-4)
   B. The Effects of Grace (Chapters 5-8)
   C. The Origins of Grace (Chapters 9-11)
II. The Life of Grace (Chapters 12-16

The consideration of the relation of the Jews and the Gentiles in the one Church of Christ. None are save by being Jewish, but only through the grace of Christ. Like all people, the Jews do not inherit salvation, but must be evangelized and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Modern Judaism is not the same religion as ancient Judaism, because the holy men and women of the Old Testament believed in the Messiah who was to come, but modern Judaism explicitly rejects this Messiah who has come, Jesus Christ. We Catholics are of the same religion as Abraham and Moses, of David and of St Joseph.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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