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.