Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Sermon, July 28th -- Abraham, Lot, and the Sodomites (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

We recall the story of Abraham and Lot, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - considering also what this teaches us about prayer in the midst of our corrupt society.

Lot was the nephew of Abraham and chose to inhabit the region near the Jordan, while Abraham accepted the land of Canaan. Lot chose the land that as more fruitful and materially prosperous, but also more steeped in sin - for this was the land of the Sodomites.

Abraham refused to coexist with these exceedingly great sinners, and so his prayer was heard before God. While the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, Lot was preserved because of Abraham's intercession.

We should imitate Abraham, and separate ourselves from the corruption of modern society and the Gay Pride culture. Although boycotting the companies that are most insistent on destroying Christian values will mean a significant inconvenience for us, and though we may even suffer some material loss - we will be blessed like Abraham, and our prayer will also be heard by the Lord.

July 23 -- Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 3 of 16, St Augustine's Reply to Paganism and the Problem of Evil (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In this series, which will continue for about six months, we are discussing the City of God by St Augustine of Hippo - certainly, one of the most influential books in the history of the Church, a book that formed Western Civilization.

Session 3 -- The key concepts of Books I-X of the City of God. St Augustine's reply to paganism and his argument that the gods of the nations (Zeus, Neptune, Juno, etc) are actually demons. St Augustine's discussion of suffering, and why God permits bad things to happen to good people.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sunday Sermon, July 21 -- St Mary Magdalene and Religious Life (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The long tradition of the Roman Catholic Church is that St Mary Magdalene is the penitent woman of Luke 7 who weeps at Jesus' feet, dries them with her hair, and anoints them with perfumed oil. Further, St Mary Magdalene is St Mary of Bethany, the sister of Sts Lazarus and Martha.

That the penitent woman of Luke 7 is Mary Magdalene is seen from the fact that our Lord assures us that the penitent woman will never be forgotten, but does not give us her name at that moment. However, the very next paragraph (the beginning of Luke 8), he tells us that Mary Magdalene was journeying with Jesus and that our Lord has cast out seven demons from her -- the connection is meant to be obvious.  Pope Francis explicitly affirmed this when declaring the year of Mercy.

We then realize that Mary Magdalene is Mary of Bethany because St John (in chapter 11) tell us that Mary of Bethany is the Mary that had anointed Jesus -- but the only woman who had anointed the Lord at that time was Mary Magdalene (Luke 7).  Further, when Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus in the day directly before his Passion and Judas objects to this, the Lord says that Mary of Bethany has anointed him in preparation for his burial -- but then we are told explicitly that Mary Magdalene brought the perfumed oils for our Lord's burial. This again indicates that Mary Magdalene is none other than Mary of Bethany.

We point out that the Church's liturgy indicates this, since there is no proper feast of St Mary of Bethany, excepting that of St Mary Magdalene - and St Martha is celebrated on the octave day of the feast of St Mary Magdalene, indicating that the two are sisters.

Finally, we consider the words of Jesus, "Mary has chosen the better part." The Lord teaches us that the vocation to the contemplative life, the vocation to religious life is objectively the better calling. It is objectively an higher vocation to be a monk or nun, than to be a diocesan priest or to be married - and, further, it is an higher calling to be a celibate priest than to be married.  This was explicitly taught by the Council of Trent, and confirmed again by Pope Pius XII and Pope St John Paul II.

The vocation to religious life is higher because it points to heaven more explicitly -- indeed, to enter religious life is to begin even now to live the life of heaven, being married to God alone.

Sunday Sermon, July 14 -- The Allegory of the Good Samaritan (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us of the fall of Adam (the fall of the human race), the way in which the Law pointed out sin but could not heal sin, the grace that is offered in Christ, and the communion which our Lord establishes in the Catholic Church.  Every detail of this parable has a deep spiritual meaning.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sunday Sermon, July 7 -- Right Worship is the Answer to the Priest Shortage; not married priests, not deacons, and not female ministry (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he send labourers into his harvest."

When Jesus recognized a shortage of vocations, he did not look to human solutions (for example, relaxing the requirements of what was expected of the 72 disciples), but rather encouraged prayer. Prayer is the answer to the shortage of priests - and not only prayer, but right and proper worship of God. If we want more priests, if we want our young men to be able to discern a vocation to the priesthood, we need reverent worship following the norms of the Church. Even more, we recognize that traditional parishes are a source of vocations to the priesthood and religious life (some studies indicate that a young man is seven times more likely to become a priest if his family attends a traditional parish).

Many people today offer other solutions to the shortage of priests. But the solution isn't to change the norms on priestly celibacy - because celibacy is a great gift, and Christ Jesus was a celibate priest. Others recommend ordaining permanent deacons to help fill the lack of priests - but deacons aren't priests, and it is not proper to the theology of the diaconate to use deacons as a means to lighten the load of sacramental ministry for priests.  Finally, others recommend that we look to an increased role for women in the Church as a response to the priest shortage - but women have their own proper role, and it isn't to make up for a lack of priests!

July 9 -- Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 2 of 16, St Augustine's Theology and Overview of the City of God (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In this series, which will continue for about six months, we are discussing the City of God by St Augustine of Hippo - certainly, one of the most influential books in the history of the Church, a book that formed Western Civilization.

Session 2 -- The key concepts of St Augustine's theology, especially as they relate to the City of God. Also, notes and suggestions on how to read The City of God, and suggestions on which chapters to read carefully and which can be skipped over or skimmed.

[Handouts for the session are below]

Saturday, July 6, 2019

July 2 -- Adult Formation Series on the City of God, Session 1 of 16, Introduction to St Augustine

In this series which will continue over about 6 months, we are discussing what is likely the most influential theological work in the history of the Church (excepting only the Summa of St Thomas) -- The City of God, by St Augustine.

Session 1 - Who is St Augustine? When did he write the City of God? And Why?
[The handouts for this session are below.]

Sunday Sermon, June 30 --- Samaritans and Patience (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

To understand the Sunday Gospel in which the Samaritan villagers refuse to welcome Jesus, we must know something about the geography of ancient Israel and the history of the Samaritan people.

Having discussed these points, and learning a little something about the 10 lost tribes of Israel as well as the 2 (or 3) tribes that were not lost, we then consider the two brothers James and John. Perhaps we all can learn a lesson in patience from this event -- to patiently trust that God will bring about the conversion of our loved ones, and also that he will likewise heal those areas of our souls which are yet in need of further conversion.

Sunday Sermon, June 23 -- Reflections on my 10th Anniversary of Ordination and the Holy Mass (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

This year, my tenth anniversary of ordination falls on the transferred feast of Corpus Christi and I see it as a great gift of divine providence that I celebrate Mass as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish. My ordination will only fall on the Sunday transferred feast of Corpus Christi four times in my life - so, this is a special opportunity for me to reflect upon the meaning of the priesthood and my vision of my own life as a priest in relation to the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and especially the offering of the Holy Mass.

This sermon is very different from any other I have given, it is my personal reflections and personal sharing of my own understanding of the priesthood and my priestly life.  The Mass is everything for me, being united as a priest to our Eucharistic Jesus. By God's grace, I have said Mass every day since being ordained, offering the Mass about 4,500 times over the past ten years!