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.