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.