Monday, May 3, 2021

Sunday Sermon, May 2nd -- The Role of the Conscience, and Bad Catholics the Media Loves (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 St John tells us in the third chapter of his first letter, "If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God."  

Many bad Catholics often justify their dissent from Church teaching by claiming they are following their conscience. However, the conscience does not decide for or against absolute moral truths (the conscience cannot decide whether or not murder or lying or adultery etc is wrong), but only determines how those moral precepts apply in particular situations (i.e. the conscience determines that this or that particular act is or is not murder, etc). 

If a ship captain were to decide that a different star were the north star and navigated accordingly, he would lead the ship off course. Similarly, if a man invokes is "conscience" to reject objective moral truths, he will not attain salvation.

St John also reminds us, "let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth." Bad Catholics (that is, Catholics who actively reject Church teachings and obstinately persist in manifest grave sin) often insist "I am a good Catholic!" But we aren't good Catholics just because we say we are, or especially because the secular media says we are -- we must make sacrifices to live our faith and to conform our lives to God's law.  Even if he says he is a good Catholic and even if the Associated Press calls him a devout Catholic, President Joe Biden is a terribly bad Catholic.

High School Youth Group, May 2nd -- The Dogma of the Trinity, Session 17 - Dante and the Trinity, Last Class (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We conclude our year of High School Youth Group, discussing the final canto of the Divine Comedy in which Dante describes a vision of the Trinity.

Sunday Sermon, April 25th -- Good Shepherd Sunday, First Communion and Confirmation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 On Good Shepherd Sunday, we often think of the shepherds of the Church - the Pope, the bishops and the priests. On the occasion of confirmation and first communion for the children of our parish, we consider how Christ shepherds souls through these two sacraments.  In Holy Communion he feeds his sheep, in Confirmation he defends the flock from the wolves.

High School Youth Group, April 18th -- Dogma of the Trinity, Session 16 - The Trinity and the Mass, and the Incarnation (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss the how we pray to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit in the Mass. Further, the relation of the Humanity of our Savior to the Trinity, and the threefold relationship of Mary to the Trinity.

Sunday Sermon, April 18th -- Meditating on the Resurrection (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

During Lent we were focused on penance, mortification, and self denial. Throughout the Easter Season, we should strive to grow in mental prayer.  What is mental prayer? Rather than simply reciting memorized vocal prayers (as good and important as that is), in mental prayer we picture the scenes of our Lord's life or consider some other mystery of our faith. Mental prayer focuses on the love God has revealed in these mysteries, and our response of love in return.

We discuss the historical details of the five Resurrection appearances of Jesus on Easter Sunday, as found in the Gospels - and offer points for meditation.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday Sermon, April 11th -- St Thomas the Apostle, and Easter Graces (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 [long pre-sermon note on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Theology of the Divine Mercy Image, and the specifics of the promise of Jesus to St Faustina for special graces on this day as well as of the indulgence offered by the Church]


St Thomas the Apostle is a central figure of the Gospel for this Sunday. We consider who he was, and how this encounter with the Risen Lord transformed him.  We also discuss why he was called "The Twin" and how his likeness to Christ moved him to preach the Gospel to the Far East.

Easter Sunday Sermon, April 4th -- Proofs of the Resurrection, and What It Means for Us

 There are physical proofs of the Resurrection: The tomb was sealed, and the angel rolled back the stone to reveal that Christ had been raised and miraculously passed unnoticed through the sealed walls during the night just before dawn.

There are also moral proofs of the Resurrection: Consider how St Peter was totally transformed by his encounter with the risen Jesus. He who had been afraid of the questions of a servant girl on Good Friday, would be so bold as to proclaim Christ before courts and executioners!

Good Friday Sermon, April 2nd -- Our Lady at the Foot of the Cross (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 The greatest sorrow of our Lord was to see his mother weeping at the foot of the Cross. Her sorrow was greater than all other saints, for her heart was so intimately united with the heart of her Son.

Mary gave Jesus to the world as a beautiful baby boy. We gave him back to her, a bloody corpse.  What brought about this change? My sins.  Mary, pray for me - Lord Jesus, never let me offend you again!

Holy Thursday Sermon, April 1st -- The Logic of the Triduum, and Christ's Presence in the Church (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 During the Triduum, the Church commemorates the mysteries of salvation not only in the manner of a sacrament, but after the manner in which they historically occurred. Thus, on Holy Thursday we commemorate the foot washing, the Last Supper, and the Agony in the Garden.  On Good Friday, the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. At Easter Vigil, the anointing of his sacred body, and his Resurrection on the third day.

Further, we consider the presence of Christ in the Church until the end of time:  He is present in the charity of believers (the mandatum, or example of charity, the foot washing); he is present in the priests (whom he ordained at the Last Supper); and he is present in the Blessed Sacrament (which he first consecrated on this night).

Palm Sunday Sermon, March 28th -- Hosanna to Christ the King (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."

We consider the meaning of the word "hosanna" and how the children of the Hebrews and the crowds of Jerusalem declared that Christ is King.

Monday, March 22, 2021

High School Youth Group, March 21st -- The Dogma of the Trinity, Session 15 -- Poems about the Trinity

 We discuss various poems and creeds about the dogma of the Trinity.

Sunday Sermon, March 21st -- Adoration of the Cross and Carrying our Cross Daily (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."

By the sign of the Cross, all men will be judged. We worship the Cross, and the sign of the Cross is not only everywhere in our Liturgy but is even the sign by which the priest bestows blessing upon the world.

If we truly love and adore the Cross, then we must carry our own crosses daily.

High School Youth Group, March 14th -- The Dogma of the Trinity, Session 14 -- A "Proof" of the Trinity (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss the philosophical and theological reasonings about the greatest mystery of our Faith, The Holy Trinity.

Sunday Sermon, March 14th -- Perfect Joy and Immense Sorrow in Our Lord's Passion (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Throughout his Passion as in every moment of his life, our Lord enjoyed the beatific vision. He always remained perfectly united with his heavenly Father and his human soul experienced beatitude. However, likewise, he suffered intensely during the Passion, even to the point of experiencing feelings of abandonment. 

If we look honestly at the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross, we see a man in immense suffering but also perfectly at peace.  This is a model for us, to maintain peace and even joy in the midst of suffering.

Sunday Sermon, March 7th -- Encouragement for Making Confession (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Many people are fearful of confession because they are unsure about the mechanics of how to confess their sins. The faithful really do not need to worry about this, the priest should be able to help! What we need to work on when confessing our sins is being truly sorry for sin and firmly resolved to avoid sin in the future.

Don't worry about how long your confession is (the priest can help with that), and know that confession most certainly is a good time for some basic spiritual direction.

Sunday Sermon, February 28th -- The Transfiguration Strengthens Us To Conversion

Our Lord revealed his glory on Mount Tabor to strengthen his disciples (Peter, James, and John) before his Passion. The Church brings this mystery before us early on in Lent to strengthen us to complete our Lenten penances. Furthermore, the thought of heaven inspires us to conversion!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sunday Sermon, February 21st - Our Lenten Fast and Our Lord's Temptations in the Desert (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

[Pre-sermon Note regarding the Lenten Fast as well as Prayer and Almsgiving. Fasting opens the soul to true prayer. Fasting also brings Catholics into solidarity with the poor.]

The temptation of our Lord in the desert presents us with a violent entrance into the Lenten Season. Our Lord is crushed under his forty days fast in the wilderness, and so the devil comes to tempt him. However, perfect man and perfect God, he fully resists all temptation and completely overcomes evil. 

In Christ we have been tempted, and in Christ we have already won the victory!

Sunday Sermon, February 14th -- The Message of Our Lady of Lourdes (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

 Last Thursday, February 11th, was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. As Jesus heals the leper in today's Gospel, we consider the message of Our Lady of Lourdes which has been the source of so many thousands of miraculous healings.

The essential message of Lourdes is penance and prayer (especially the Rosary) for the conversion of sinners.  The 18 apparitions from February 11th to July 16th, 1858 center around the Rosary and penance.  St Bernadette is a saint most dear and inspiring.

High School Youth Group, February 14th -- Dogma of the Trinity, Session 13 -- Introduction and History (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

 We begin the second portion of High School Youth Group for 2020-2021, the Dogma of the Trinity. We review the early development of the dogma and the heresies which forced the early Church to clarify our belief in God.

High School Youth Group, February 7th, Catholic Response to Atheism -- Session 12, Review

 We conclude the first portion of High School Youth Group for 2020-2021. Review of the Catholic Response to Atheism.

Sunday Sermon, February 6th -- Physical Health, Mental Health, Spiritual Health, and COVID (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 When we place physical health first, not only do we lose mental and spiritual health, we even lose physical health.  In the past year, the American people have experienced roughly a 25% decline in mental health, with one in four teens contemplating suicide. However, devout people who attend Mass at least once a week have not only not declined but have even improved in mental health generally. Furthermore, devout traditional Catholic parishes have flourished in the midst of the crisis.

Adult Faith Formation, February 16th -- Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, Session 6 -- Chapters 7, 8, and 9 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Note, Session 5 was cancelled due to extreme cold temperatures. Session 6 covers the material from session 5 as well as the final chapter and review.

GK Chesterton shows that any true reform or revolution requires a fixed ideal and objective truth. Furthermore, Christian Orthodoxy provides this ideal and truth which can reform the world. Chesterton's apologetic or proof or Christianity is that it alone makes man truly joyful!

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Adult Formation, February 2nd -- Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, Session 4 - Chapters 5 and 6 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss Chesterton's classic Orthodoxy.  Chapters 5 and 6: The Flag of the World and The Paradoxes of Christianity.

Chesterton points out that we all owe a loyalty to the world which is best characterized as a sort of patriotism. We must hate the world enough to want to reform it, but love it enough to believe it is worth reforming.

In chapter 6, Chesterton presents the paradoxes of Christianity -- this one religion is criticized on every side and from every angle. At one too pompous and too humble, too obsessed with sex and too repressive of sex, too rich and too poor, too womanly and too much a woman's religion, too pacifist and too violent, etc.  And suddenly, it occurred to Chesterton that the Church is either miraculously wrong or miraculously right, either straight from heaven or straight from hell.  Either way, Christianity is nothing like any other religion.   And, as it turns out, the extremes of Christianity happen to fit perfectly the extremes of real life - like a lock to a key, Christianity is the religion of the Creator.

Adult Faith Formation, January 27th - Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, Session 3 - Chapters 3 and 4 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss chapters 3 and 4 of Chesterton's classic Orthodoxy: The Suicide of Thought and The Ethics of Elfland.  

In these chapters, Chesterton speaks first of the crisis of thought which is prevalent also in our day - not so much to reject what has come before, but to pretend like the genius of previous ages never existed. If a man does not love the Medieval Theologians, he should at least hate them - but modern man commits the suicide of thought by pretending there were no theologians in the middle ages, and that no one until our modern day has anything to contribute to philosophy, theology, or reason.

In The Ethics of Elfland, Chesterton puts forward his own apologetic for morality. This is a most compelling chapter -- Why should we be good? Because the world is beautiful, and being good is a way of expressing our gratitude to the Creator.

Sunday Sermon, January 31st -- St Thomas Aquinas, Model of Purity and Eucharistic Devotion (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Sunday Sermon)

 St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is without question the greatest theologian in the history of the Church as well as the brightest intellect in human history (excepting only Our Lord, his Mother, and St Joseph). He is called the Angelic Doctor both for his superior intellectual insight and for his perfect purity. And the crowning jewel of his theological teaching is his doctrine on the Holy Eucharist.

In this sermon, we consider this great Dominican Priest as a model of what St Paul praises in the second reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, "An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord." St Thomas loved God with an undivided heart, and was favored with the highest graces.  He is a spiritual father to us all, and especially to Corpus Christi Parish - because he wrote the Liturgical Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Sunday Sermon, January 24th -- Jonah, Foreshadowing Prophet of Jesus Christ (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 An overview of the book of Jonah in the historical context of the history of salvation.  Also, the many ways in which Jonah foreshadows our Lord both in his resurrection and also in the preaching of the Gospel of Salvation to the Gentiles.

High School Youth Group, January 24th -- Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 11, Why Be Catholic? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We consider the philosophical arguments which show Christianity to be the most reasonable religion, and Catholicism to be the most reasonable and original version of Christianity.

Adult Faith Formation, January 19th -- Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, Session 2, Chapters 1 and 2

 We discuss the first two chapters of GK Chesterton's apologetical classic "Orthodoxy."   In Defense of Everything Else, and The Maniac -- in which Chesterton lays out the scope of his work, and begins his survey of what is wrong with modern thought.

High School Youth Group, January 17th, Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 10, Can Atheists Go To Heaven? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We discuss whether non Catholics, non Christians, and even atheists can go to heaven.  Salvation only comes through our Lord Jesus Christ, but he alone knows the heart of each person -- perhaps there is some hope of salvation even for those who have not come outwardly to full communion with the Catholic Church

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sunday Sermon, January 17th -- Gaining the Virtue of Purity (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 St John Vianney gives three works for gaining purity, with a preparation and a follow up.

Preparation: Penance and mortification

Three works: Practice the presence of God, daily mental prayer, and frequenting the sacraments.

Follow up: Spiritual reading.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Adult Faith Formation, January 12th -- Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, Session 1: Introduction

 Introduction to GK Chesterton and the book Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Sunday Sermon, January 10th -- What is Required for a Valid Baptism? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 The feast of the Baptism of the Lord gives us the opportunity to consider the sacrament of baptism and what is required for a valid baptism: the minister, the recipient, the water, the words, and the manner of baptizing.

High School Youth Group, January 10th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 9 -- The Problem of Evil or the Problem of Good (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

One of the common objections to the existence of God is that, if there were a good God then he would not allow so much evil in the world.  The Catholic response is that God only allows evil to bring good out of it. Indeed, the real question is not "why is there evil in the world?" but "why is there so much good?" - and the answer is, God.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Sunday Sermon, January 3rd -- Epiphany, How To Manifest Christ to the World (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 Bishop Warfel visited the parish for the Saturday evening Mass and preached on Epiphany as our manifestation of Christ to the world.  My own sermon followed his theme.

The three Magi offered gifts: Gold, to symbolize our life of virtue. Frankincense, to symbolize our practice of divine worship (and here we note that it is quite unthinkable in our own day that any serious Catholic would not attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days as well as at least some daily Masses, if his health permits and in those areas where daily and Sunday Masses are easily attended). Myrrh, to symbolize self denial.

Further, we manifest Christ to the world through the Catholic Family. Our Diocese will be having a synod on the family later this year.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Holy Day Sermon, January 1st -- The Octave of Christmas, The Motherhood of Mary, the Circumcision of Jesus (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

 This feast commemorates three realities.  The Octave day of Christmas is a second celebration of the mystery of our Lord's Nativity. We come to this mystery in a new perspective, still considering the newborn King but now more in relation to his Virgin Mother. 

Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus. She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave birth without any pain or labor, and remains a virgin forever.

Finally, this eighth day is the day of our Lord's circumcision. This is the first shedding of his precious blood for our salvation. Also, on this day, the Child is given the Holy Name of Jesus.