Monday, December 28, 2020

Sunday Sermon, December 27th - Feast of the Holy Family - St Joseph and the Mystery of the Incarnation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 On the feast of the Holy Family and in this Year Of St Joseph, we consider the place of St Joseph in the mystery of the Incarnation. St Joseph is part of the hypostatic order - which means that we really cannot understand who Jesus is without consideration of the role of St Joseph.

We meditate on St Joseph's role in various moments in the infancy narratives, and consider why we should have strong devotion to this great patron!

Christmas Sermon, December 25th -- God in the Cave (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Of all the many details of our Lord's birth, one which is often overlooked is the fact that he was born in a cave.  Even more, we rarely reflect upon the reality that being born in a cave means that the Lord Jesus was born not only on the earth, but under the earth.

Being born in the cave shows his great humility, and embracing of poverty. Also, being born underground shows us that his Church begins as an underground Church (even as the early Christians began persecuted in the Catacombs, our Lord began his life under persecution from King Herod).  Although we are in a time in which the Church may well have to go "underground" again, we have faith that the light of God's glory shown in that cave under the hills.

Monday, December 21, 2020

High School Youth Group, December 21st -- The Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 8 -- Evolution

 We discuss the Catholic teaching related to creation and the theory of evolution. While evolution would in no way undermine the Catholic faith or the belief in the existence of God, there are certain scientific and philosophical reasons to question the theory.

Sunday Sermon, December 20th -- The Annunciation and Dating Christ's Birth (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 St Luke's account of the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary contains numerous mysteries:

1) "Hail, full of grace" indicates that our Lady was conceived without original sin.

2) "How can this be, since I do not know man?" indicates that our Lady had made a vow of virginity.

3) "It is now the sixth month for her who was called barren" allows us to date the birth of our Lord to late December - Jesus really was born on December 25th.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

High School Youth Group, December 13th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 7 -- The Catholic Understanding of the Creation Accounts (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

While the most straight forward interpretation of Genesis 1 is that there were six twenty four hour days in which God created the heavens and the earth, St Augustine (through careful study of both Genesis 1 and 2) believed that we do not need to think that the world was literally created in six days. St Thomas Aquinas follows St Augustine in this theory - which, reflected against modern scientific investigation, would allow for an initial creation of matter with the gradual development of galaxies and planets, and even the gradual emergence of life and plant/animal species through billions of years.

There is nothing in Genesis or in the Catholic Understanding of Creation which is contradicted by modern scientific theories.

Sunday Sermon, December 13th - St Lucy, Advent Patron (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

St Lucy Lucy, a Virgin of Syracuse, illustrious by birth and by the Christian faith, which she had professed from her infancy, went to Catania, with her mother Eutychia, who was suffering from a flux of blood, there to venerate the body of the blessed Agatha. Having prayed fervently at the tomb, she obtained her mother’s cure by the intercession of Agatha. Lucy then asked her mother that she would permit her to bestow upon the poor of Christ the fortune which she intended to leave her. No sooner, therefore, had she returned to Syracuse, than she sold all that was given to her, and distributed the money amongst the poor. When he to whom her parents had, against her will, promised her in marriage, came to know what Lucy had done, he went before the Governor, Paschasius, and accused her of being a Christian. Paschasius entreated and threatened, but could not induce her to worship the idols; nay, the more he strove to shake her faith, the more inflamed were the praises which she uttered in professing its excellence. Whereupon Paschasius being exceeding angry, ordered Lucy to be dragged to a place where her treasure might be violated; but, by the power of God, so firmly was she fixed to the place where she stood, that it was impossible to move her. Wherefore the Prefect ordered her to be covered over with pitch, resin, and boiling oil, and a fire to be kindled round her. But seeing that the flame was not permitted to hurt her, they tormented her in many cruel ways, and at length ran a sword through her neck. Thus wounded, Lucy foretold the peace of the Church, which would come after the deaths of Dioclesian and Maximian, and then died. It was the Ides of December (Dec. 13). Her body was buried at Syracuse, but was translated thence first to Constantinople, and afterwards to Venice.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Holy Day Sermon, December 8th - Blessed Pius IX and the Immaculate Conception (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Explanation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception - that Mary was redeemed from the first moment by being preserved from original sin in her Immaculate Conception. Mary was saved by Christ and in no way is equal to God. But simply because of his great goodness and generosity, God gave us Mary as Immaculate Virgin Mother.

Since childhood, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti suffered from epileptic seizures which prevented him from serving in the military and nearly kept him from the priesthood. However, he promised Mary that he would do all he could to promote her Immaculate Conception, if only she would help him become a priest.

Giovanni was ordained, and eventually became Pope Pius IX - and then defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Sunday Sermon, December 6th -- St Nicholas, Advent Patron (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 The history of St Nicholas, bishop of Myra - certainly one of the most universally beloved saints.

From his infancy, St Nicholas practiced penance by fasting on Wednesday and Friday. He also had made a trip to the holy land as a young man. As a bishop, St Nicholas suffered for the faith in the persecution of Diocletian before Christianity was legalized by Constantine. Most importantly, St Nicholas defended the true faith in the council of Nicaea.  We also consider various miracles, including the continuous miraculous manna or oil which seeps from St Nicholas' bones even today.

High School Youth Group, December 6th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 6 -- Did the Universe have a Beginning? The Big Bang Theory (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

This week, we discuss why the proofs for God's existence do not require the universe to have had a beginning and also that the Big Bang Theory (or any other scientific theory about the origin of the universe) would not undermine St Thomas' proofs for God's existence.

We also point out some serious scientific problems with the Big Bang Theory.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Sunday Sermon, November 29th -- The Three Advents of Christ, Embrace the Grace of this Season (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

There are three "Advents" of Jesus - three "comings" of the Messiah.  He came first as a child born of Mary, and he will come as Judge in a final Advent at the end of time. Moreover, he comes by grace to our souls in a middle and hidden Advent each day.

Furthermore, in this Advent season, be awake to the signs of the times. In the midst of a pandemic, when many churches have been and will again soon be closed, take advantage of the graces of the sacraments while they are still available!  This Advent, make daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration a priority!

Friday, November 27, 2020

High School Youth Group, November 22nd -- The Catholic Response to Atheism -- Session 5, That Than Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss that Ontological Argument for God's existence as expressed by St Anselm. Further, we consider another metaphysical argument from St Thomas Aquinas which not only proves that there is a God, but also that there can be only one true God.

Sunday Sermon, November 22nd -- The Day of Wrath is the Day of Our Salvation, Dies Irae (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 The final Sunday of the Liturgical Year, we consider the end of time and the day of judgment.  In addition to the particular judgment that we each will face at the moment of death, there is will be a general judgment at the end of time in which all will be revealed.  This general judgment is the  manifestation of each one's particular judgment and also the final triumph of divine providence over all history.

We consider also the great hymn/sequence, Dies Irae.

Adult Faith Formation, November 19th -- Flannery O'Connor, Session 10, Everything that Rises Must Converge

 We finish our series on the short stories of Flannery O'Connor with "Everything that Rises Must Converge."

Monday, November 16, 2020

High School Youth Group, November 15th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism -- Session 4, Proofs for God's Existence, From Order (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss the Fifth Way of proving God's existence, from St Thomas Aquinas. We see a certain order in the natural world, in which even irrational things seem to act for an end. God' must be the divine governor who orders all these things. 

We explain how St Thomas' argument is different from the modern intelligent design theory and, even though St Thomas' way is more difficult to fully grasp and takes more reflection to understand than modern intelligent design theory, why St Thomas' proof from order is significantly more convincing and much more difficult to disprove. Specifically, we show that modern recourse to Darwin, evolution, natural selection or big bang really does not in any way hurt St Thomas' argument (even though, some would argue, these scientific theories could undermine aspects of the modern intelligent design theory).

Sunday Sermon, November 15th -- Advice for a Happy Marriage (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi parish)

 The first reading from Proverbs speaks of the good wife  ---  and we take this opportunity to reflect upon what will make for a happy and holy marriage.

St Paul tells us, "Wife, obey your husband. Husband, love your wife." This is the key to a happy marriage: For the woman to obey her husband in everything, to respect him as head, and to inspire him through praise; for the man to love his wife selflessly, to lay down his life for her, and to show her appreciation especially through compliments.

We recommend an excellent book on marriage: The Catholic Marriage Manual, by Fr George Kelly.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Adult Faith Formation, November 12th, Flannery O'Connor, Session 9 - Parker's Back

 This week, we read "Parker's Back" which is a reflection on the heresy of iconoclasm, the rejection of holy images of God and the saints.

High School Youth Group, November 8th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism -- Session 3, Proofs of God's Existence, From Contingency

 Discussing the Catholic Response to Atheism, we look today at the proofs of God's existence. In particular, the proof from Contingency - which is the reality that things exist when they don't HAVE to exist. The fact that things exist proves that there must be some creator who exists necessarily.

Sunday Sermon, November 8th -- The Catholic Funeral Mass (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 In the month of November, we think of the Souls in Purgatory and the Last Things (Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgment).  In this sermon, we consider the best approach to the Catholic Funeral Mass.

The funeral is not meant to be a "celebration of life" or a "canonization" -- we are called first to worship God for the salvation he offers in Christ, then to pray for the soul of the deceased, and finally to bring peace to the friends and family.

A few quick points: Ask the priest to wear black vestments, use the traditional antiphons rather than modern hymns, and having full body burial rather than cremation.

Sunday Sermon, November 1st -- Checklist for Sanctity, You Can Be a Saint! (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 As we celebrate All Saints Day, we must believe that we really can become saints!  It isn't too late for you to become a great saint.  November 1st will one day be our feast day in heaven.

High School Youth Group, Sunday, November 1st, The Catholic Response to Atheism - Session 2, Why Do Atheists Reject God's Existence (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Session 2 of our High School Youth Group -- The Catholic Response to Atheism

The two main objections to God's Existence: "The Problem of Evil" and "The God of the gaps"

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Sunday Sermon, October 25th -- Catholic Teaching on Immigration (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 "You shall not molest or oppress an alien."  Exodus 22:20

The readings cause us to reflect upon immigration which, although not as essential an issue as abortion or religious liberty, is still something to consider in our times.

There are two principles Catholics must hold:  1. People have a right to migrate in order to support themselves and their family.   2. Governments have a right and duty to secure their borders and require immigrants to fulfill certain duties to the State.

Far too many Catholic leaders (and most Catholic Bishops) only speak of the right to migrate and the compassion that ought to be show to immigrants, but almost completely ignore the duty of nations to secure the boarders and regulate immigration.

Adult Faith Formation, Flannery O'Connor, October 22nd, Session 6 -- A View of the Woods, and The River

 Discussing the short stories of Flannery O'Connor, we read this week the stories A View of the Woods and The River. The series will continue into November.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Adult Faith Formation, October 15th, Flannery O'Connor, Session 5 - A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Essays (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In this series, we are reading various short stories of Flannery O'Connor. This week, we look at what is probably her most well known and praised story - "A Good Man is Hard to Find." We also consider her reflections on being a Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Sunday Sermon, October 11th -- God is Inviting You to Mental Prayer (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The parable of the king who held a great feast and invited many guests, ultimately bringing in the bad and the good alike, stands for the invitation that the Lord makes to each of us for a deeper spiritual life and even contemplative prayer.

 Let no one say, as the ungrateful townspeople of the parable who refused the invitation, that they are too busy for the Lord.  You are invited to a deeper life of prayer! God demands that you become a great saint!  It is by mental prayer, more than anything else, that we become good.

Outline of mental prayer: 1) Introduction, recognize the presence of God and decide on the mystery for mediation.  2) Considerations, consider the love God has shown for you in this mystery of Jesus' life and offer your love to him in return.   3) Conclusion, offer God your petitions and especially ask that you be saved.  Be sure to make a concrete resolution for how to grow in holiness this day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

High School Youth Group, October 4th - The Catholic Response to Atheism - Session 1, Introduction (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 In this opening session, we review the class calendar for the year and discuss the theme of this year's youth group: The Catholic Response to Atheism.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Adult Faith Formation, October 4th, Flannery O'Connor, Session 3 -- A Temple of the Hoy Ghost and The Enduring Chill (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 In this week's class, we discuss the two most Catholic stories of Flannery O'Connor: A Temple of the Holy Ghost, and The Enduring Chill.

Sunday Sermon, October 4th -- Voting as a Catholic (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Catholics do not vote as Catholics - we are divided along the same lines as any other group of Americans.  However, when we look to Catholics who self identify as "accepting all or most of Church Teachings" (that is, when we look to faithful and devout Catholics), these are far more likely to vote for Trump than for Biden, and have voted for the Republicans more than the Democrats in recent elections. Why is it that devout and faithful Catholics will vote for Trump?

Biden and the Democrats are this year far more pro-abortion than every before. And the Democrat party has alienated pro-life voters. The Democratic Party proves themselves to be focused on the one issue of "abortion rights".  Joe Biden has made it clear that, according to him, a vote for Biden is a vote for abortion.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Adult Faith Formation, September 24th, Flannery O'Connor, Session 2 - Revelation, and Why Do the Heathen Rage?

In this course, we are reading and discussing some of Fr Ryan's favorite stories from Flannery O'Connor.

This week, we consider "Revelation" and "Why do the Heathen Rage?" -- we prepare also for next week's stories, "Temple of the Holy Ghost" and "The Enduring Chill"

Monday, September 21, 2020

Sunday Sermon, September 20th -- Choosing Heaven, With God's Mercy (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

 We hear the parable of the vineyard workers - those that worked only one hour receive the same full day's wage as those who worked since dawn.  This parable, in the literal sense, speaks of the conversion of the gentiles who are incorporated into the covenant originally given to the Jewish people. The New Covenant given in Christ offers salvation even to all the nations.

This parable also gives us hope that it is never to late to become a saint. We realize that, by God's grace, every sin and vice can be overcome - we must prefer heaven to the vanities of the world!

Adult Faith Formation, September 17th, Flannery O'Connor, Session 1 -- Introduction and Biographical Notes (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 In this series, which will go through October and possibly into November, we will read and discuss some of Father Ryan's favorite Flannery O'Connor short stories.  

Course objectives: To appreciate Flannery O’Connor as a Catholic and as a grotesque writer of the American South. To recognize her unique contribution to Catholic thought in the United States. Finally, to learn to enjoy the writings of this exquisite and strange young woman.

Sunday Sermon, September 13th -- Forgive, That You May Receive Every Virtue and Grace (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 "Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight."  Sirach 27:30

Having preached in early July about the virtue of meekness by which we overcome anger, today we look at forgiveness and setting aside anger as a means of opening ourselves to every grace and virtue.

If you desire any particular virtue or grace, forgive those who have offended you and love your enemies, and God will show you great mercy and will forgive you your faults and grant you every grace needed to grow in holiness.

Sometimes, when there are deep wounds and hurts, forgiveness can be particularly difficult. Often, even when we want to forgive, we find that emotionally we are not yet able to let go of the pain we have suffered.  There is a meditation upon Christ Crucified which can help open our hearts to forgive.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Sunday Sermon, August 30th -- St Bartholomew, A True Israelite Without Guile (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

 "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."

Monday (August 24th) was the feast of St Bartholomew, who followed the Lord to the point of enduring the most horrific death of all the Apostles - being flayed alive.

We discuss the history of St Bartholomew, who is actually Nathaniel from St John's Gospel. The Lord praised him as "A true Israelite, in whom there is not guile." Guile means a certain two-facedness. The be without guile is for his yes to mean yes and his no to mean no. St Bartholomew, once strengthened by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and having preached the Gospel as far as India, would be yes for Christ to the end, even enduring a most violent death.

Sunday Sermon, August 23rd - The Story of St Leo's Defense of Christ, True God and True Man (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 From the years 449 to 451, there was great debate in the Church over who Christ really is - is he truly God and Man, or only Divine? Pope St Leo the Great defended the true doctrine that Jesus is God and Man, two natures in a single divine person. 

The Letter of Pope St Leo was received by the Church as the Catholic Bishops declared, "Peter has spoken through Leo!"

The miraculous history of the Council of Chalcedon and the famous Tome of Leo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sunday Sermon, August 16th -- The Woman of Revelation 12, Mary Assumed into Heaven (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

  "And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the are of his testament was seen in the temple ... And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars."

St John the Evangelist sees the Ark of the New Covenant in Heaven, who is the Woman - the Virgin Mary. This passage of Revelation speaks of numerous individual people: The Dragon is Satan, the Child is Jesus, Michael is St Michael the Archangel. And so we recognize that the Woman is also a real individual: The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Sunday Sermon, August 9th -- Saints of the Holocaust: Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe, Titus Brandsma (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 God over all, blessed forever. Amen."

These words from St Paul's Letter to the Romans show the love the Apostle to Gentiles had for his own people, the Jews. We think of another Jewish convert to Christianity, and her continued love for the Jewish people -- St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein.  Today is the feast of St Edith Stein, and we consider two other saints of the Holocaust, St Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Titus Brandsma.

Blessed Titus died by lethal injection for refusing to promote pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda. He gave his Rosary to the nurse who killed him, and won her conversion.

St Maximilian Kolbe is very famous and well known. As a boy, he told our Lady that he desired perfect purity and the gift of martyrdom. He gave his life in Auschwitz in the place of a man with a wife and children.

St Edith Stein was raised in a devout Jewish home, but became an atheist when she was thirteen. She was extremely intelligent and went on to become one of the greatest philosophers of her time. She was converted to Catholicism by reading the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, and later joined the Carmelite order, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She gave her life to be united with her people, dying in Auschwitz.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Adult Ed, July 30th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 9, The Final Battle, The Thousand Years, The New Heavens and New Earth, Chapters 18-22 (Part 9 of 9)

Outline of Session 9:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 18-22. The Final Battle and the victory of Christ. The Thousand Year Reign as occurring now during the life of the Church.  The First Resurrections as the conversion of the soul and forgiveness of sins through baptism. The Second Resurrection as the resurrection on the Last Day. The First Death as physical death, the Second as spiritual death. The New Heavens and the New Earth as the transformation and glorification of this world.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Sermon, July 26th -- The Glorious St Ann, Grandmother of God (Father Ryan Erlenbush - Corpus Christi Parish)

"Those he foreknew he also predestined"

If it is true that God prepares the way for his grace in each of our lives and in the history of salvation, how much more true is this of the circumstances immediately tied to his Incarnation.  Although St Ann and Joachim (the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary) are not part of the very mystery of the Incarnation itself, the way that St Joseph and Mary are, they are tied to that great fulfillment of the birth of the Messiah in a unique way from among all the saints.

We consider the history of St Ann, who was childless for some 20 years before conceiving the Immaculate Conception and becoming the mother of the Mother of God. St Ann and St Joachim are special patrons for those married couples who are childless or who suffer difficult pregnancies or miscarriage, they are also great patrons for all parents and likewise for grandparents.

Special acts of devotion to St Ann are a mini-novena of Hail Mary's said nine times in honor of the nine months between Mary's conception and her birth, as well as dedicating Tuesdays to St Ann. St Ann is the best of all grandmothers, and Jesus was the best of all grandsons. Imagine the tender devotion, reverence and love which our Lord has for St Ann! Surely, she will be a most powerful intercessor in all our needs!

Adult Ed, July 24th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 8, The Seven Plagues and the Whore of Babylon, Chapters 15-18 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 8:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 15-18. The return to the sets of seven. Who is the whore of Babylon and what does she symbolize for the early Church, for today, and for the end of time? What is the city of Babylon on the Seven Hills? How do Catholics respond to Protestant accusations based on these chapters of Revelation.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday Sermon, July 19th -- Moving into the Second Age of the Spiritual Life, Infused Contemplation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."

St Paul refers to the transition from the first age of the spiritual life (the age of beginners) to the second age (the age of the proficients). We are all called to reach the age of the perfect, but in today's sermon we will consider only this transition from the first to the second age.

In the first age, we are very active in our prayer and when making our meditations. In this time, we might benefit from focusing on whether I am physically attentive to prayer with my body (sitting upright or kneeling or standing etc, in a place that is conducive to meditation, etc), whether I am mentally attentive to prayer (thinking about what I'm saying, focusing the mind on the mysteries, etc), and whether my heart is dedicated to the prayer through love (and this is the deeper goal of prayer - not to accomplish anything else or be productive, but simply to love God more).

Learning to humbly accept distractions in prayer, not seeking to uproot them but simply bearing with them patiently, is a great means of moving into the second age of the spiritual life.  In this age of the proficients, the Spirit comes to our aid and he prays within us. Prayer will no longer be so much our active work, but rather the soul is more passive as God pours his grace into our soul.

We follow the doctrine of St Teresa of Avila.

Adult Ed, July 16th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 7, The Sea and Land Beasts, 666, and the Antichrist, Chapters 13-14 (Part 7 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

Outline of Session 7:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 13-14. Who or what do the Sea Beast and Land Beast represent? The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times. Discussion of the Antichrist from Revelation and other books of Scripture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sunday Sermon, July 12th -- Why did Jesus speak in parables? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The Disciples asked Jesus, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"

Flannery O'Connor was famous for her reply when someone asked her, "Can you just tell me in one or two sentences what each of your short stories means?" "If I could have said it any more clearly, I would have!" 
So also with the parables of Jesus - We often are tempted to seek the simple "moral" of the story or the simple "meaning" of the metaphor, but the purpose of the parable is to bring us to meditate on the deep truths contained therein.
Further, parables often bring an opportunity for conversion even for those who are most hard of heart.

Lastly, we consider how Jesus established the hierarchical Church by speaking in parables to the crowds, but explaining the faith more fully to his Apostles who would then teach the people after our Lord's Ascension. Further, notice that Jesus didn't write any book of the Bible, which indicates that he did not intend to teach "sola scriptura" or the "Bible alone" - the Bible itself comes from the teaching authority of the Church (and the New Testament was written by the first Bishops, the Apostles).

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Adult Ed, July 9th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 6, The Woman and the Dragon, Chapter 12 (Part 6 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 6:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 12-14. These chapters are the heart of the book of Revelation. The Woman who stands for Israel, the Church, and Mary. The Dragon who is Satan as well as the Sea Beast and Land Beast. The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times. 
[In fact, we only covered chapter 12, the Woman and the Dragon]

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Sunday Sermon, July 5th -- How to Become Meek (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."

Of all the virtues which Jesus desires we should learn from him, meekness and humility stand out as being especially set before us.  We all desire all the virtues, but meekness and humility are the most necessary, especially for establishing the foundation of our spiritual life.

Humility is primarily in our relation to God, meekness to our neighbor. Meekness restrains anger, even as clemency makes us gentle in correcting faults. We recognize that no one will ever be too meek, and there is never a situation in which is was good for our soul to become angry. Never be angry, but always be meek.

We discuss the advice of St Francis de Sales in how to become meek - especially through learning to be gentle with ourselves so as to become gentle with others. If we conquer the passion of anger and become truly meek, we will quickly progress in the pursuit of holiness.

Adult Ed, July 2nd -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 5, The Seven Trumpets, The Two Witnesses, Chapters 8-11 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 5:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 8-11. The punishments upon the earth in the seven trumpets as bringing about the victory of the Lamb. The two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sunday Sermon, June 28th -- What Does Religious Liberty Really Mean? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

We are in the midst of the week of religious liberty, called for by the US Bishops from the vigil of the feast of Sts John Fisher and Thomas More to the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul (June 21-29).

Religious Liberty has been a hot topic over the past decade -- the Obama Administration (and Joe Biden, in particular) was notorious for threatening the freedom of the Church, but President Trump has been a real champion of religious liberty both in our nation and throughout the world.

But what does the Church really mean by "religious liberty"? And did the Catholic Church violate freedom of religion with the Crusades or the punishment of heretics in the Middle Ages. We answer both these objections (the Crusades were not religious wars for us, but were defensive wars trying to stop Islamic terrorism and extensive slavery; the punishment of heretics also was not limiting religious freedom but only insisting that those who claim to be Catholic Christians could not teach doctrines contrary to the Catholic Church).

Further, we discuss true and false notions of "freedom" in relation to following one's conscience, and why the Church insists that we can never use force to convert someone to our beliefs.  Finally, we look to how we can preserve religious liberty in our nation: By voting for political candidates who defend religious liberty, and by remaining united in prayer.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Adult Ed, June 25th - Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 4, The Four Living Creatures and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Revelation 4-7 (Part 4 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 4:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 4-7. The Heavenly Liturgy is opened before St John, the meaning of the Four Living Creatures and what the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbolize.  The Scroll with Seven Seals. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Sunday Sermon, June 21st -- Meditations on the Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

June is the month of the Sacred Heart. In addition to the 5 first Friday devotion (receiving holy Communion in the state of grace as an act of reparation on the first Friday of 5 consecutive months), we encourage that Home Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - placing an image of the Sacred Heart in a prominent public place in the home (like the living room or entry way).

There are five specific characteristics of the image of the Sacred Heart that are a source for meditation on the meaning of this devotion and the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus.  1) The Heart, as a symbol of Love.  2) The Wound in the side.  3) The Crown of Thorns.  4) The Cross behind/above the Heart.   5) The Fire around the Heart.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Adult Ed, June 18th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 3, Letters to the Seven Churches, Chapters 1-3 (Part 3 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 3:  Commentary on the opening address of Revelation, Letters to the Seven Churches. Understanding the historical context of the letters, but also seeing the historical interpretation of the Seven Churches as representing salvation history or Church history. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Adult Ed, June 11th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 2: Structure and Overview (Part 2 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 2:  Recognizing the place of Revelation in Sacred Scripture, we consider and overview of the basic flow of the book. The structure of Revelation is not at all clear, but certain themes seem to present themselves in a recurring fashion.  Our hermeneutic (i.e. basic method of interpretation) will be very important for understanding the many themes brought forward in this book.

Sunday Sermon, June 14 -- The Eucharist, Not Protests and Riots - Feast of Corpus Christi (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The people of God have been deprived of Mass and the Eucharist (and in some places even of adoration and confession). Without Catholics offering proper public worship to God, there can be no peace in the world.

Meanwhile, secular forces attempt to cause upheaval in society and undermine core human values. Even some bishops are fooled by this and begin to believe that the wrongs of society (and especially the evil of racism) can be corrected through public secular protests and without recourse to God in prayer -- note that some bishops and many leftist politicians advocate the protests of thousands without any regard for social distancing, but continue to suppress Mass and even refuse to allow small numbers of people to gather in prayer.

On Corpus Christi, and remembering the solemn Eucharistic Processions we will be making on Sunday, we know that the only solution to racism can come from frequent confession, worthy communions, and many hours of Eucharistic Adoration! Our Eucharistic Lord will answer all our needs!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday Sermon, June 7 -- The Love of the Trinity for Us (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

The Apostle preached not only the doctrine of the Trinity, but also that the Most Holy Trinity loves each of us and desires our salvation.  "For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Consider the love of God the Father in creating you. He made you not because of any merits of your own, but simply because of his love for you. He does not love you because you are good, but his love makes you to be good.  And the Father's love is seen throughout the Old Testament.

Consider the love of God the Son in redeeming you. He desired to live among us and to be one of us so that we might know how much he loves each of us. While he was on earth, Jesus was nothing but merciful, gentle and loving with us.

Consider the love of God the Holy Spirit in sanctifying us. He lives within us and is active in us. We do not know how to prayer, so he prays in and through us. We do not know how to speak up for the faith, so he speaks in and through us. He guides the Church and keeps her true throughout all time.

Finally, the love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is shown in the three sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Adult Ed, June 4th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 1, Introduction: St John and the History of the Writing of Revelation (Part 1 of 9)

In this series, through June and July, we are discussing the Book of Revelation.

Outline of Session 1:  Introduction, St John and the history of the writing of Revelation, Revelation as New Testament “prophecy”, why called Revelation or Apocalypse, Revelation as part of the Bible, and debates in the early Church about the book of Revelation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Pentecost Sunday Sermon, May 31st -- Desiring God's Will with the Holy Spirit's Aid (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Pentecost is often seen as a healing of the Old Testament event of the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel, and this is certainly correct.

Another aspect to Pentecost is to recognize that, according to a Jewish Tradition (which seems to be from about the time of Jesus, or perhaps just after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 - but still was influential on the early Christians and Fathers of the Church), the Jewish feast of Pentecost was not merely an agricultural feast but also a commemoration of the giving of the Law (the 10 Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In this respect, we see a parallel insofar as the Holy Spirit rights the commandments of God upon our hearts. If we love God, we will fulfill his commandments - and the Law will not be something seen as restrictions placed on us from without, but as fulfilling our true desires.  The key to salvation, and the key to happiness in this life as well is to desire what God desires, to love what he loves - to say always, "Lord, thy will be done."   The Holy Spirit moves our hearts to be united with God's will.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 24th -- The Theological and Historical Foundations of the Rosary (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

After the Lord's Ascension, St Luke (who wrote Acts of the Apostles) tells us that the Apostles gathered around the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer as they awaited the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This image, the Church gathered around Mary, meditating upon the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, is the theological and historical foundation for the Holy Rosary.

The Rosary itself was revealed by Our Lady to St Dominic in the early 1200s, but it is based on much older traditions.  In the early Church, Christians would recite all 150 psalms every day - and this eventually developed into reciting 150 Our Fathers or Hail Mary's daily.  This is where the 15 decades (150 Hail Mary prayers) comes from, and why many of the saints recommend attempting to recite not just 5 decades of the Rosary, but even 15 decades daily.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 17th -- On Confirmation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

St Luke tells us in Acts 8 that Philip had baptized the converts of Samaria but that they had not received the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and prayed over them.  What can this mean?

This was Philip the Deacon (not the Apostle), and the converts did receive the Holy Spirit and his Seven Gifts in Baptism, but they did not receive the full outpouring or perfection of the Gifts until the sacrament of Confirmation was given them by Peter and John.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is to Baptism what growth and maturing are to birth - Confirmation completes Baptism and brings to perfection the graces of Baptism.  Confirmation is not absolutely necessary for salvation, but it is very difficult to make it to heaven without these graces.

Confirmation gives the Christian the sacramental strength to preach the Gospel and to endure persecution for the truth -- in this way, the Christian is united to the work of the Bishop, whose primary duties are to preach the Faith and to be willing to suffer martyrdom for the Gospel.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Sunday Sermon, May 10th -- The Priesthood of the Baptized and of the Ordained (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

"Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

By virtue of baptism, all the faithful are true priests in Jesus Christ. The baptized Christian offers the spiritual sacrifice of his life - most especially in the Mass, but also throughout his whole life in obedience to the commandments.

The ministerial priesthood of the ordained is different not merely in degree but in kind - it is not a matter of more or less, but the ordained ministry is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.  This is why there is no inequality or unfairness in that Jesus restricted ordination to the priesthood to men.

The three degrees of Holy Orders are bishop, priest and deacon - the deacon assists in the Mass, the priest celebrates the Mass, but the bishop has the power to ordain men as priests to give them the power to celebrate the Mass.

Sunday Sermon, May 3rd -- Meditation in Prayer, and Hearing the Good Shepherd (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the official teachings of the Church and in the Revelation God has given through Scripture and Tradition.  Further, we recognize the voice of Christ through regular mental prayer and meditation.

Outline of an holy hour, or period of mental prayer:
1) Recognize the presence of God - looking down on you from heaven, present throughout the world but most especially in your soul. Choose the mystery upon which you will meditate - most especially focusing on the life of Christ.
2) Make your meditation, staying focused on the love that God has revealed through this mystery. Offer acts of love in return.
3) Make a simple resolution for how to grow in holiness today and tomorrow, and thank God for the graces given in this meditation.

Sunday Sermon, April 26 -- Jesus is with us even in our sorrows (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

Pre sermon note on the great grace it is to be living in Montana and in our Diocese where confessions and prayer in the churches continued throughout the time of the lock-down and where public Masses are resuming.  Let us keep the Bishop and all bishops in our prayers.

Jesus appears to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, comforting them in their sorrow. We realize that Jesus always remains with us - no matter how difficult circumstances may be, he always joins us on the way.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Sunday Sermon, April 19th -- St Thomas the Apostle (Sermons during Coronavirus Pandemic, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

[Pre-sermon note on the Divine Mercy Sunday promise and indulgence.]

Thomas is often thought of as the “doubter” – but there is so much more to him!  Indeed, as the Church Father’s remind us, we have gained more from the doubts of Thomas than from the faith of the other Apostles!

When Lazarus had died – Thomas was ready to go back with Jesus to Bethany, even tho it was close to Jerusalem and likely that the Jewish rulers would try to kill our Lord.  “Let us go to die with him also”

Thomas is called Didymus, which means “The Twin”. Didymus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Thomas”.  Perhaps he had a twin brother?  Maybe.  But perhaps a deeper meaning—He became like a “Twin” of Christ Jesus, mirroring so closely our Lord as to be a sort of “Twin” or “Second Christ” in is work as an apostle.  

But he is most known for his doubts regarding our Lord’s resurrection – the Gospel we hear on Divine Mercy Sunday.  He did doubt, but by his doubt we gained a greater proof of the resurrection.  His finger touched our Lord’s wounds – and proved to us the Jesus is Risen!

Thomas is also a great patron for Eucharistic Devotion. For we often say “My Lord and My God” at the elevation of the Eucharist.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 29 -- Veiling the Cross, Joining the Penitents (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In the last two weeks of Lent, we enter the season of Our Lord's Passion, Passiontide.  We focus all the more intensely on our Savior's suffering and death as we prepare for the Easter mysteries.

The primary visual characteristic of these last days of Lent is the covering of the Cross and other images in the church with the purple veil.  Why do we veil the Cross? The veil symbolizes how our Lord began to hide himself from the crowds in the last months of his public ministry. Further, it symbolizes the wounds which covered and veiled his whole body during his Passion.  Finally, it represents the order of Penitents from the early Church - those who were not permitted to participate in or view the Sacred Liturgy during Lent as they made public penance until the time of being reconciled to God and the Church.

We are called to embrace penance in our own days - we are called to join these Penitents, and be reconciled to God.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 22 -- Rejoicing in the Lord in this Time of Trial (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi -- Sermons during Pandemic)

[note, on this Sunday, public Masses are prohibited in the USA. Thus, this homily is recorded privately, and perhaps does not contain the same spirit as true liturgical preaching]

"Rejoice, o Jerusalem; and gather round, all you who love her; rejoice in gladness, after having been in sorrow; exult and be replenished with the consolation flowing from her motherly bosom. I rejoiced when it was said unto me: Let us go to the house of the Lord."

Do not these words from the Introit antiphon cause us some pain as, perhaps for the first time in our Nation's history, all public Masses have been banned throughout the USA this Sunday. For many, this will be the first Sunday in which they will not "go to the house of the Lord" to worship God in Holy Mass.

Yet, we are commended to rejoice in the Lord this day!  Recall also the words of Nehemiah 8:9-10, "Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to the Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for the joy of the Lord must be your strength!"

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit - and is understood in relation to two others, love and peace.  According to St Thomas, the fruit of love is the act of loving God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves. This act of love brings us into union with the God who is love. But this union with our Beloved God causes joy - since joy is overflowing when lover and beloved are united.  Finally, this joy establishes peace, for nothing can take this joy from us - excepting if we abandon it through voluntary sin.

Even the coronavirus pandemic, and the restriction of public Masses and devotions, cannot take away our joy.  So long as we do not sin, we still possess God, and we still must rejoice in him!

"The disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.'"
We recognize that coronavirus is an affliction permitted by God to call humanity to conversion. Indeed, perhaps this pandemic is given as a punishment for the nearly international abandonment of Natural Law - whether the widespread legalization of abortion and gay marriage, or the abuse of the poor. It is particularly striking that this virus has come from China, the great Communist Nation - as the errors of Communism spread throughout the world, so also this pandemic.

But God will bring good even out of this great evil!  What a great good he must have in store for us, if he should allow such a great evil!

Plenary Indulgences More Available Than Ever, During Time of Pandemic

The Vatican has issued a new decree which allows us to gain a daily plenary indulgence even in this time in which most are not able to receive Holy Communion or (in some places) make confession! The Vatican has been so generous, and there are new (and very easy) ways of gaining a daily plenary indulgence!

You gain a plenary indulgence by any of the following:

1) Making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or time in Adoration (no length is specified, generally understood to be 30 minutes)
2) Reading Scripture for 30 minutes (anywhere)
3) Praying 5 decades of the Rosary (anywhere)
4) The Way of the Cross (apparently even outside of a church, anywhere)
5) Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet (anywhere)

Offering this prayer for an end to the epidemic, relief for those afflicted, and eternal rest for those who have died.
With the intention of making confession and receiving communion when it is possible.
And praying for the intentions of the Holy Father (Our Father, Hail Mary).
Being in the state of grace (remember, a perfect act of contrition will suffice, even if you are in a place where confessions have been suspended), and having no attachment to sin.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 15th -- On Hiding Sins from Confession (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

"Come and see a man who told me everything I have done."

Jesus knew everything about the Samaritan woman at the well (St Photina, feast on March 20th and buried in the Basilica of St Paul outside the walls of Rome).  When she referred to her irregular marital situation, our Lord shows that he knows all of her sins - and desires to forgive her, giving her the living waters of repentance unto eternal life.

We discuss the importance of naming and numbering our serious/mortal sins when we go to confession. To intentionally hide a mortal sin (or to intentionally hide the number of times we have committed a mortal sin) would cause the confession to be invalid, and only add yet another mortal sin upon our soul - a sacrilegious confession.

Jesus already knows everything we have done! He knows everything we ever will do! And he still loves us! We do not need to fear! There is no need to be ashamed! The Lord Jesus will give us the living water of true repentance - because he loves us, he will bring us to eternal life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 8th -- The Transfiguration in Historical Context (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

When we recognize the place of the Transfiguration in the historical context of Jesus' public ministry, we will appreciate even more the deeper meaning of this miracle (which St Thomas Aquinas describes as the greatest of all Christ's miracles).

The Transfiguration occurs late in our Lord's life, perhaps only a half a year or less before his death - and it is a real turning point, in which Jesus moves towards his passion and death.  The Transfiguration occurs on the Octave Day of the establishment of the primacy of St Peter ("On this rock, I will build my Church") and of the first prediction of the Passion.  Further, immediately after the Transfiguration, our Lord tells all the Apostles that certain demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Thus, the Transfiguration inspires us to persevere in our Lenten Fast.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Sunday Sermon, March 1 -- On Avoiding the Occasions of Sin (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent.

Jesus allowed himself to be tempted, even though he could never sin (both because of the grace of the union of humanity and divinity, and because he is a divine Person) - in doing this, he teaches us that temptation will always accompany the believer.

The second temptation in St Matthew's Gospel, in which our Lord is taken by Satan and placed on the pinnacle of the Temple, stands for us as a warning to avoid not only mortal sin but also the occasions of sin.  We consider, in particular, the dangers of the internet (especially pornography), alcoholism, and gossip.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ash Wednesday Sermon, February 26 -- More Fasting This Lent (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

100 years ago, our fathers in the faith would fast every day of Lent except Sundays. Further, abstinence meant not only abstaining from meat but from eggs and dairy as well.  We should all consider adding at least one or three days of fasting during Lent. Further, we might also abstain from meat from all of Lent, or at least abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday Sermon, February 23rd -- The Corinthians and All Early Christians Were Roman Catholics (Fr Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We consider that St Paul sent his letters under the care of bishops and to be interpreted and applied by bishops. The Church and the Mass are older than the Bible, and the Bible comes from the Church and from the Mass. No early Christian could even imagine the Protestant heresy of "Bible Alone" without the Magisterium of the Bishops of the Church.

Further, we consider the Letter of St Clement, Pope of Rome to the Corinthians. Written in about AD 75 (only 5-10 years after St Paul died and during the lifetime of St John the Evangelist but before he had written the 4th Gospel), this Letter emphasizes that Jesus and the Apostles established the hierarchy of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. The lay faithful do not get to vote for their priests, but these are appointed by the bishops.  Further, this Letter shows the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope - that he has supreme, universal and immediate authority over all Christian faithful.

The Corinthians and all early Christians were not only Christians, they were Roman Catholics -- and, the study of Church History is the death of Protestantism.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 16 -- Women Veiling and Other Liturgical Matters in 1 Corinthians (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

We continue our three part series on the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, turning to the various liturgical matters discussed in the Epistle.

St Paul states that women must wear a veil or some sort of head covering when worshiping in Church, and this is primarily for modesty. However, St Paul has a theological meaning behind the practice - which is based on the diversity and complementary of man and woman. St Paul makes many other arguments, and we note also that the 2,000 year tradition of the Church likewise maintained the custom of women wearing a veil or hat at Mass.  However, let each woman do as she sees fit - whatever will be most helpful to her prayer is fine, since the Church no longer requires the veil. But, if any woman tells me that she is thinking of wearing a veil at Mass, I say, "By all means, do!"

From this Letter, we get something of a picture of liturgical worship in Corinth at the time - and it might look quite different from what we do today! There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that we now have a New Testament (which was not yet written then), and the Gospel has spread to the ends of the Earth! St Paul wrote this Epistle to be delivered by two bishops (Timothy and Titus), and interpreted in the the life of the community - not to be read alone and interpreted by individuals. This reminds us that we need to look to the Church to interpret difficult passages of Scripture.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 9th -- The First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, History and Introduction

Between Christmas season and Lent, we are reading from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. In a three part series, we are preaching on this Letter: History and Introduction, Difficult or Confusing Passages, and the Effect of the Letter on the Corinthians.

St Paul established the Church in Corinth in AD 51 at what was one of the lowest points in his Apostolic ministry (but Jesus had appeared to him and encouraged him). Six years later, many divisions had grown among the Corinthians, and St Paul writes this Letter to remind them of the Charity that unites us as one Mystical Body of Christ.

Further, St Paul discusses the Eucharist, which is really and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. He warns that receive Communion unworthily can cause not only physical death, but loss of faith. Finally, he teaches that the Sacraments are true causes of Grace, and that the Eucharist makes us to be the Body of Christ.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Sunday Sermon, February 2nd -- Mary's Virginity and the Law of Purification (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord - Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The feast of the Presentation of the Lord is also the feast of Mary's Purification. However, Mary had no need of purification because the Child was born in a miraculous manner and without any labor pains - but he came into the world like light passing through glass.

We consider the Law of Moses regarding the purification of the mother after childbirth and the ritual sacrifices offered for the child. Mary and Jesus were exempted from all of these, but in submitting to the Law, the Law was fulfilled in them and so passed away.

Further, the perpetual virginity of Mary (specifically, that she had no other children) is highlighted when we consider that Simeon was perfectly fulfilled when he saw the Lord, and so also Mary's virginity shows us that Jesus satisfies all our desires and nothing else and no one else is needed.

January 30th -- Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 4, Celibacy and the Nature of the Priesthood (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

In this final session in our series on priestly celibacy, we consider the essential link between Holy Orders and celibacy.  Reflecting on the person of Jesus as a celibate priest, we see that celibacy is tied to the very nature of the priesthood.

Sunday Sermon, January 26th -- Scripture in the Mass and Why Homilies Should Be Long (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time will now be known as "Sunday of the Word of God" in which Pope Francis is asking that we reflect on the place of Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church and in the life of each Christian.

The pre-eminent place of Scripture in the Mass is not so much the readings, as the antiphons (the entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons, as well as the gradual verse).  However, most parishes throw out the Word of God in the Scriptural antiphons of the Mass and substitute man-made hymns. The use of hymns or songs instead of the antiphons is one of the gravest deficiencies of the Vatican II liturgy, and something which must be corrected.  To use an opening hymn in the place of the Biblical antiphon is comparable to reading from the writings of Martin Luther King Jr (in honor of MLK day) in place of the prophet Isaiah!

Secondly, we consider the role of the sermon or homily in the Mass. There is no difference between a sermon and a homily -- and anyone who claims that a sermon is one thing and a homily another simply has not read the Vatican II documents carefully (since the Church uses both words to mean the same thing).

Often, people will emphasize that the most important characteristic of a good homily is that it be short.  However, there is no justification for this claim - indeed, we argue that it is precisely the emphasis on short sermons which has caused Catholic preaching to be so poor.  Whenever anyone says what a homily is supposed to be, we should ask them if they can quote what Vatican II said a homily is or what Trent said a homily is -- The proclamation of the wondrous works of God in the history of salvation, and teaching the essential truths of the faith necessary for salvation.

The Church teaches that preaching is the most important duty of pastors of souls, without a renewal in Catholic preaching, there will be no true renewal in the Church.

Friday, January 24, 2020

January 23rd, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 3, The Theology of Clerical Celibacy (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

In this course on priestly celibacy, we discuss the history and theology of clerical celibacy and show that celibacy is a great gift to the Church which must be preserved.

Session 3-- Theology of Priestly Celibacy
Many people either defend or attack priestly celibacy based solely on practical values (either married priests are too expensive and won't be able to work as much, or married priests would gain many more vocations and help the priests to understand the people better-- etc). However, any substantial discussion of priestly celibacy must be rooted in the theology behind this discipline -- we will show that there are important doctrines related to the discipline of celibacy.

Sunday Sermon, January 19th -- Christ Baptizes Through His Ministers (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

John the Baptist said, "I did no know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."

This Sunday, we follow up on our sermon from last week on baptism, discussing now the minister of baptism.  John the Baptist certainly knew who Jesus was, he leaped for joy in the womb and recognized Jesus and Messiah and God even from before either was born!

However, following St Augustine, we maintain that was John learned at our Lord's baptism is the He would always retain the ministry of baptism to himself - and likewise for all the sacraments. Whoever baptizes, it is Jesus who baptizes -- and this gives unity to the Church, as well as certainty to the sacraments.  The power of the sacraments does not depend on the holiness of a particular priest, but on the holiness of Jesus who instituted baptism.

This is consoling to us in an age in which many priests and many bishops have failed us, have caused grave scandal, have failed to teach the true faith.  We remain Catholic, because through baptism we are incorporated into Christ.

Friday, January 17, 2020

January 16th, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy -- Session 2, The History of Clerical Celibacy

In this course on priestly celibacy, we will present the history and theology of the discipline of celibacy. Further, we will put forward the great value of celibacy for the whole Church.

Session 2 - History of Clerical Celibacy
While it is true that celibacy was not required in the first years of the Church, there is every indication that continence was demanded of the Apostles and the priests of the early Church. Which is to say, in places where the faith flourished the most and where the disciplines of the Church were most carefully kept, even when a married man was ordained he would cease from that time from relations with is wife and would even separate from married life.
From the very beginning, Holy Orders has been moving more and more towards clerical celibacy.

January 9th, Adult Ed Series on Priestly Celibacy, Session 1 - Introduction to Priestly Celibacy

In this series, we will discuss the history and theology of the discipline of priestly celibacy. We will defend the tradition of celibacy, and present it as a great gift for the whole Church.

Session 1 - Introduction to Priestly Celibacy and Definitions of Terms
Overview of the current crisis in the Church related to priestly celibacy, and definition of key terms (continence, celibacy, virginity, the Eastern and Western Churches, etc).

Sunday Sermon, January 12th -- To Be Christian Is To Be Baptized (Baptism of the Lord, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[pre Sermon note about the Month of January dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. How we can reverence the Holy Name by reciting the Litany of the Holy Name and especially the Divine Praises. Also, we should be very cautious of any movies or TV or music which contains blasphemy. Further, we ourselves should work hard to avoid taking the Lord's Name in vain - to say "Jeez" is a direct blasphemy against the Holy Name of JESus. In fact, this is what the Greek IHS stands for JESus.]

On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that our Lord did not need to be baptized but we needed him to be baptized so as to sanctify the waters of baptism for our own salvation.

Many Protestants have lost the importance of baptism, and some do not even practice baptism any longer. However, unless someone has been baptized, they really are not a Christian (even if they read the Bible and claim to "believe" in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior). Further, if someone has been baptized, then they are a Christian -- although, one will not be saved unless he lives out his baptismal graces and dies in the state of grace which was given through baptism.

The original Protestant heresy was a rejection of the power of the sacraments to give grace -- even rejecting the belief that the work of baptizing sanctifies the soul of the child/adult who is baptized. But the true and authentic Biblical teaching is the baptism does give salvation -- this is why our Lord told the Apostles to baptize, and also why Peter answered those who asked him "What must we do to be saved?" saying, "Repent, and BE BAPTIZED!"

Sunday Sermon, January 5th -- The Gifts of the Magi (Epiphany Sermon, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

For the transferred feast of the Epiphany, we consider the Magi and the opening of salvation for the Gentiles. Further, the significance of the three gifts: Gold for a King, Frankincense for God, Myrrh for his burial.

We offer our spiritual gifts to the Christ Child: Gold of a virtuous life, Frankincense of true worship and prayer, and Myrrh of penance.

New Year's Sermon -- Octave of Christmas, Circumcision, Mother of God

January 1st is the Octave Day of Christmas (the 8th Day is the renewal of the original feast). We return to the same mystery of Christ's Birth.  For the Jewish people, the octave is a great feast - and the eighth day after the birth of a son was the day of his circumcision and receiving his name. This is the day in which the Christ Child received his Holy Name of Jesus.

Finally, this is the Feast of our Lady's Motherhood - we rejoice that God has taken a Mother to himself, and has come to us through Mary.