Wednesday, August 28, 2019

August 27th, Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 5 of 16, Introduction to Books XI-XXII, Creation (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 - one of the most influential books in human history, a book that formed Western Civilization.

In session 5, we begin the study of the second half of the work (Books XI-XXII), and discuss St Augustine's theory of creation and why he does not believe that the "six days" refer to 24 hour periods or any passage of time at all, but to the angelic knowledge of creation.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Sermon, August 25 -- The Heresy of Modernism

Pope St Pius X (who established our Diocese of Great Falls - Billings, MT) condemned modernism as the "synthesis of all heresies". But what is modernism, and how does it relate to the Church today?

Modernism claims that all truth and even the revealed dogmas of the Church are to be adapted, changed, and subordinated to the spirit of the modern age. Modernism teaches not simply the development of dogma (where what was believed from the very beginning is made more explicit and taught more clearly as the ages progress), but the evolution of dogma according to which the truth essentially changes for the modern era. Modernism, then, places man at the center of all things and defines truth and reality as subject to man's experience.

Though modernism was condemned over 100 years ago, we see it is still causing confusion in the Church today -- it is modernism which is at the root of Fr Sosa SJ (the superior of the Jesuits throughout the world) heretically stating that the devil doesn't exist as a real person, and it is modernism that leads people to reject our Lord's words in the Gospel that very few are saved.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Sermon, August 18th -- The Prophet Jeremiah, Recognizing the Catastrophe and the Call to Repentance (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The prophet Jeremiah is himself a prefigurement of our Lord in his passion. Having written the book of Jeremiah as well as Lamentations, and influencing Baruch as well, Jeremiah is the "weeping prophet" who calls Judah to repentance but is rejected by the people as they face destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

We consider the history of the times of Jeremiah and the ways in which this prophet foreshadows our Lord.  Further, we recognize that the false prophets of Jeremiah's day said that all was well and that the nation was strong, and Jeremiah was seen as an enemy of the people for preaching the need to change course and repent. So also today, there are many who claim the Church is flourishing and parishes are vibrant and all is well, but we recognize a massive loss of the faith (only about 1/4 of Catholics under 40 believe in the Real Presence, and so few attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, etc). Today also, those who speak prophetically of the need for conversion and a change of course from what we have been doing in the past 40 years since Vatican II are seen almost as enemies of the Church -- but we must heed the voice of Jeremiah, and embrace the opportunity to return to the solid traditions of the Catholic Faith before all is lost.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

August 15th Sermon for the Assumption: The Memorare Prayer (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The Dogma of the Assumption states that Mary was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven. She was preserved from corruption after her death while her body lay in the tomb for some days, then she was raised to life and taken up to heaven.

However, Mary does not abandon us, but remains ever our good mother. Her care and protection remain always with us.  We think of this especially in the beautiful prayer, the Memorare. "Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee oh Virgin of virgins, my Mother! To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, answer me. Amen."

This prayer which, even if perhaps not composed by St Bernard of Clairvaux certainly captures the spirit of his devotion to the Mother of God, has been influential in the life of St Francis de Sales and so many other saints. I too know the value of this prayer in my own life.  Say it often, every day, and many times each day!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sunday Sermon, August 11th -- Abraham's Faith, Sarah and Hagar (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

In Hebrews 11, St Paul presets Abraham as a model of faith. Abraham received God's threefold promise of a land, many descendants, and that through his descendant a blessing would be given to all the nations (this is the promise of a Messiah). Abraham heard and believed.

However, there is a rather troubling moment in Abraham's life in which he takes his wife's servant as his "wife" and begets a child with her. How is this not an act of adultery against Sarah? How is Abraham's begetting of Ishmael through Hagar not a lack of faith in God's promise?

We must maintain that Abraham is no adulterer, neither did he lack faith. Indeed, if we follow this passage of Genesis closely, keeping in mind the culture in which Abraham lived and the progressive degrees whereby God restored marriage to its original dignity, we will see that Abraham and Sarah did nothing wrong in this incident - neither did Abraham in any way doubt God's plan.

God had promised Abraham would have many children, but he had not yet specified through Sarah, therefore, it was entirely reasonable that Abraham would have thought it would be through his wife's servant. Further, Abraham is a model husband who is so good to his wife, and it was not considered adultery for him to take Hagar as a second wife (furthermore, he did not do this out of lust, but following the customs of the time by which a man might increase his family). Certainly, this is not God's plan for marriage and it immediately caused all sorts of problems for Abraham and Sarah, but it would be unjust to accuse Abraham of sin.

Sunday Sermon, August 4th -- The Book of Ecclesiastes (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The book of Ecclesiastes is one of the most difficult to interpret in the Scriptures. Although it contains some of the most popular phrases of the Old Testament "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" and "There is a time for everything... a time to be born and a time to die...", it also contains passages that seem to deny the existence of the soul after death. At certain moments, the author seems almost at the point of despair, saying that the wise man is no better than the wicked fool (or even the beast of the field), since both must die and return to the earth.

Traditionally this book is ascribed to Solomon, who though wisest of all the kings of the earth, fell to great sin and idolatry.  Many believe that this book is an expression of his repentance and return to God at the end of his life. Thus, all human wisdom is seen as nothing without God's grace!

July 30th -- Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 4 of 16, Divine Providence and Human Freedom (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 4 -- Review of key concepts of Books I-X. St Augustine's treatment of the foreknowledge of God and how to reconcile the certainty of divine providence with the reality of human free will.