Ask Father Ryan

Father Ryan would be happy to answer your questions
[the picture is of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange]

At The New Theological Movement, we try to post two to three articles per week (sometimes more, sometimes less). Generally these posts are related to something from the Church’s liturgical calendar – e.g. a saint’s feast day or a particular feast of our Lord or our Lady – but occasionally we post on matters related more directly to the modern world.
Our primary goal is to spread the faith effectively and to promote a true “hermeneutic of continuity” in liturgy, theology, and spirituality. Thus, as Father Martin put it so well, “Our aim at the New Theological Movement is twofold: (1) To write faithful Catholic theology, in communion with the Church’s entire 2,000 year Tradition, through the medium of the internet. (2) To create a platform upon which a theological discussion can be carried out in charity and in truth.” (from the “about” page)
 In the hope of accomplishing this second aim – creating a place for theological discussion – we have decided to create an “Ask Reginaldus” page, which has now become an “Ask Father Ryan” page. If you have any topics you would like to see covered in an article, you can now ask Father Ryan Erlenbush to do so. Moreover, even if you have just a simple question, feel free to ask Father Erlenbush for a brief reply.
You may either put your question in the comment box of this post, or you can e-mail Father at his google mail account - reginaldus.ntm[at]gmail[dot]com. 

[Fr. Erlenbush will rarely respond to emails, hence it is far better to post any theological or pastoral questions in the comment box]


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Marko Ivančičević said...

Laudetur Iesus et Maria, Father!+

I have a few questions for you(they are not exactly linked one to another).

1.What good is my prayer when i am in the state of mortal sin?/Will God hear my prayer when i am in the state of mortal sin?

2.What is the minimum for priest to do or say for bread and wine to be consecrated?/Does it suffice for a priest to just say:"HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM", and:"HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI", apart from saying any other part of the Mass? Could a priest consecrate bread and wine saying the words of consecration in the middle of the day(with the proper intention of course)without saying and doing any other part of the Mass?

Matthew Roth said...

Fr Ryan, I have a question regarding your series of posts on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. According to the writings recording the visions Bl Anne Catherine Emmerich, the Blessed Mother was anointed in a similar fashion to the modern form of the Sacrament. Setting aside the question of validity of the books, would it stand to reason that the Apostles administered the Sacrament to her, even though she was without sin, because they did not know of her Immaculate Conception? Also, is it possible that the anointing was not the Sacrament, but rather the sacramental anointing which does not confer grace, which is practiced in the Eastern Churches?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Sorry for the delayed response. I hope that the first confession went well!

When we confess sins which may have already been forgiven through some other means ... we say that we are fulfilling and completing the contrition we had at the moment we had been forgiven.

Example: Say a man in mortal sin falls from a height and, while falling, makes a perfect act of contrition and so is forgiven of all his sins (even the mortal ones).
The man lives through the fall.
Shortly thereafter, he goes to confession and confesses those mortal sins.
He was already in the state of grace at the time of the confession, but that perfect act of contrition had in it an (at least implicit) desire to make a confession ... so the confession is the fulfillment and completion of the perfect act of sorrow.
He was already forgiven, and yet it would have been a mortal sin for him to not get to confession and confess those sins.

I hope that makes sense. I would like to write an article on this some time. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

If the priest says the necessary words "Hoc est enim..." and "Hic est enim..." (even without anything else) over the bread and wine, then yes it is valid. The Eucharist is consecrated.

However, there is some debate as to whether or not the wine is consecrated simply by "Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei" or if the priest must say the whole, "qui pro vobis ... peccatorum".
I am of the opinion that the longer form is necessary ... and this seems to be the opinion of St. Alphonsus ... but others say the short form is enough.

Peace. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Matt R,
Good question!
I believe that Mary did indeed receive the sacrament of Anointing, but that it was different in her than in us.
Indeed, she was also baptized -- but this had to be quite different for her, since she had no original sin and was already filled with the Holy Spirit.
Indeed, I suspect that she already had the sacramental character even from her conception.
... so, baptism in her was quite something else than it is in us ...

Likewise with Anointing. I don't believe that it was the same in her as in us ... but that it was received more as for our instruction.
It is a difficult question ... but this is my initial thought.

Thus, whatever may be said about our Lady, Anointing in the life of the Church is given only to those who have committed sins.
Just as, likewise, baptism is given only to those who have not yet received the sacramental character. +

Raphael said...

I sometimes attend Mass at a parish other than my own where one of the Priests who celebrate Sunday Mass changes the words of Consecration by saying "when you do this, remember Me" instead of "Do this in memory of Me". I've asked why and his answer was "We don't know what Jesus said and this is more gramatically correct". I believe there is something deeper than that. Is the Consecration valid? Should he be ordered to say the correct words? Should his Bishop be advised?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Yes the consecration is valid.

And, yes, the priest should be made to say the correct words.

And, yes, a letter should be written to the bishop ... also explaining what the priest said when asked about the practice.
But make the letter very simple and to the point. Not exaggerating anything, not making any conclusions.
Just a paragraph (or perhaps two at the most) stating very simply what is happening, and asking (simply and humbly) for the bishop to address the matter.

Peace to you! +

wanna be Thomist said...

Greetings dear Father,

You are truly an inspiration to me... I am an aspiring Thomist and may even be called to the Order of St. Dominic...

1. Is it wrong to study Theology on Sunday (not school work)

2. can a Priest, without hearing a Confession, absolve someone.....I saw something like that in a movie on St. Padre Pio.......i.e. some on says Father I need to make a confession, the Priest aware of the sorrow of the penitent, absolves him..

thanks for your time, and your wonderful service to Holy Mother Church

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@wanna be Thomist,
God bless you in your study of St. Thomas ... he will be your sure guide to the fullness of Truth found in Christ our Savior!

1) No, it is not wrong to study Theology on Sunday (especially if it is not for school).
Indeed, Sunday is the BEST day to set aside some time for consecrated study.
I will go further -- Every Christian should take special time every Sunday for the "study" of theology, each according to his state in life.
For some, this means detailed theological work. For others, this means reading a good spiritual book (like, Introduction to the Devout Life, etc). But everyone should take some time for "study" of theology on Sunday.
How sad it would be if we thought less about God on Sunday than on other days!

2) There are cases where a priest can grant absolution without a person confessing. Generally this would only be in cases of emergency.
So, if a person is unconscious; or if they are dying and cannot make a confession at the moment (either not enough time, or on account of some physical difficulty, perhaps even some moral difficulty [like there is no opportunity for privacy], etc).
Obviously, if the person lives, they are obligated to make a confession as soon as is reasonably possible.
I'm not sure of the specific case in the movie you mention ... sounds to me like it is way off.

Peace! +

wanna be Thomist said...

Greetings, thank you so much for your response...In regard to the movie: it was shown in rather extraordinary cases...

I have some more questions

1. are you aware of any Catholic Bibles 'out there' that are surrounded by commentary by St. Thomas?

2. I recently attended a Mass that during the sermon the Priest told the congregation to clap and sing (it was a Catholic school elementary Mass)...I thought it was best not to... However some of the other adults were going along with the action... did I cause scandal to them by not doing what the Priest said? I considered it more of a suggestion than a command..

thanks again, truly Our Lady has blessed you with true understanding

Philosopher said...

Hello Father, how do you think the dogma of the Trinity can be reconciled with the Thomistic theory of Divine Simplicity? Thomistic Divine Simplicity says that there are no metaphysical distinctions in God, God is metaphysically simple---but having a distinction between the Divine Nature and the Divine persons is a metaphysical distinction, after all--- no person of the trinity is numerically identical with the Divine nature.If the Divine essence were to be numerically identical with the persons/relations then a contradiction would ensue.I'm not sure whether St. Thomas Aquinas believed that the Divine persons were identical with the divine essence(I've heard different interpretations, in fact, a Dominican priest told me that he did).
Prima facie it sounds like he is saying that the Divine Persons are relations and that the relations are really numerically identical to the Divine Essence but that they can be differentiated by our mind so as to allow us to speak about one person and not the other. This seems to be contradictory to me, for if there is no real distinction in God between the persons and the essence then I fail to see how there can be three persons---the distinction in our minds is irrelevant.

Also, what version of Divine Simplicity is declared a doctrine of the Catholic Church? I sure hope it is not the Thomistic one.

Thank you Father and God bless!

Steven R said...

Hello Father,
I am sure that you're quite busy, and I see a long list of questions piling up here.

I just wanted to suggest a fantastic video (or so I thought) about the dignity of the human person from a metaphysical and Thomist perspective. I thought the lecture was a great talk that might sponsor a good posting about person-hood as ought be defined in society and a way to reflect on God's Person-hood.

Here is the link by Fr. Emery Gilles OP:
"The Dignity of Being a Substance"

It is almost an hour long.

May God bless you so much for all of your hard work and enlightening of us Catholics. I know that you are a very valuable person to my coming to know the Catholic faith better. I will try and keep you in my prayers.

Steven Reyes

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Wanna be Thomist,
1) I am not aware of any such editions of the Bible. Let me know if you ever come across one, please!

2) You did well by not clapping in church.

Peace and blessings to you! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I believe that each Divine Person is identical with the Divine Nature ... as St. Maximus the Confessor once put it: "The whole Father is God and in God and the whole Godhead is the Father and in the whole Father" and likewise with the Son and Spirit.

But how does this reconcile with the three Persons?
"The whole Father is wholly in the whole Son and the whole Son is wholly in the whole Father." And likewise, the Spirit.

Thus, we cannot point and say "here is the Father, separate from the Son" ... but we do say that the Father is distinct from the Son (for the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father).

But the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God. And God is the Father, God is the Son, and God is the Spirit.
Not that the Father is part of God, but he is the whole God.
Not that the Son is part of God, but he is the whole God.
Not that the Spirit is part of God, but he is the whole God.

Finally, there is no God beyond or outside of the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. And this is why there cannot be a real distinction (it seems to me) between the Persons and the Essence ... as Lateran IV says, there is no 4th reality "Godhead" beyond or behind or above the Persons.

And this is why there must be identity between the Persons and the essence ... each Person and all of Them together are the One God.

And, beyond this, it is hard to say much more. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Steven R,
I have had a few very pleasant conversations with the good Fr. Emery ... he is more than a great theologian, he is a very good priest and kind dinner-guest.

Thank you for directing me to this video ... I hope to have time to watch it soon! +

TomD said...

Father Erlenbush,

I have a few brief questions about the Incarnation/Christ, from your posts it seems like you might be able to help and any would be greatly appreciated.
Basically, I am having trouble understanding Christ's human nature and I know this is pretty complex but a simple answer would be fine: 1) Did Christ have 2 intellects as well as 2 wills? If so, what was the difference between these intellects? If not, why did he have 1 intellect but 2 wills? Why did he have 2 wills if he was one person?
2) When we say Christ knows all things, does this mean that was constantly thinking about all things, or was it more an "access" to all knowledge?
3) Since Christ knows all things, what is the way His prayer in the garden is to be understood?
4) Lastly, how can Christ's beatific vision be reconciled with His suffering.
I tried reading some St. Thomas for an explanation but it was over my head, so any help would be great! Thanks a lot!

Marko Ivančičević said...

Hi Father it's me again :)
Three unrelated questions.

1.What good is my prayer if i'm in the state of mortal sin, i.e. will God hear my prayers if i'm in that state?

2.When the priest consecrates bread and wine is the Divine Sacrifice automatically offered or there has to be a prayer like there is the one in the Roman Canon(Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum...)? If you know what i mean... If there were a bad liturgical reform that would wipe out all mention of a sacrifice out of the Missal and the offering of the same to the Father, would the Sacrifice be offered(although i know that no matter what Jesus is there in sacrificed state by the virtue of consecration and sacramental separation- ex vi verborum)?

3.I heard about a nun saint(Saint Colette) who raised up number of children from the dead so that they could be baptized, which supports the doctrine of limbo of the children. Now where were the souls of those children while they were dead? If they were in limbo and if God's judgement is irrevocable how could they return to life on Earth?(The same goes for the Gospel accounts of resuscitation of a youngman and Lazarus) In what manner is God's judgement irrevocable?

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan, if at all possible, I need an answer ASAP before Sunday. I have just finished last week a 54 day Rosary Novena for a long-term problem I have been having regarding the Church and where to attend Mass. I never got a "yes" or "no", so I assumed that Our Lady was leaving it up to me, and that there really wasn't a right or wrong answer.

Well, since I made my decision, I awake in the morning with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Last night, I hardly could sleep, and kept reviewing my decision over endlessly in my weary brain.

Can you help me?

Your friend,

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Let nothing steal the peace from your soul ... in all things trust in God's providence.

Generally, we do not make big decisions in the midst of turmoil.
Perhaps consider waiting a bit, and review the matter in another week or two.
You may consider asking for guidance and peace in your heart at the Feast of the Annunciation (this year, March 26th) -- perhaps our Lord and his Mother will have something for you on that day.

In any case, if there is no objective sin involved in switching from one parish to another, then you should (ordinarily) be free to follow your best reasoning.
[you can always email more specifics if necessary, though I am slow in responding to email - my email is at the top of the page]

I will offer a Memorare.

Peace to you in Christ Jesus our Savior. +

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan, I will do as you say - postpone my decision until the Feast of the Annunciation.

What is causing the turmoil is the decision that I made...somehow, I don't think it was the right one.

Please keep me in your prayers, and please be so kind as ask Our Lady yourself to help me.

God bless you, Father. You are in my own prayers daily.


Anonymous said...

I am self-administering the 30 day Ignatius Spiritual Exs. that I am on schedule to complete in 60 days.

I have a question, what is the follow on to all of this?

In other words, I am tempted to take the book 'Ignatius Spiritual Exs' and do 1 or 2 of those meditations again daily.

But shouldnt there be a recommended natural follow on book such as by St John of the Cross,Theresa of Avilla, John of Avilla etc. to follow to continue my growth?


Malleus Haereticorum said...

How would you address the situation of Our Lady of Međugorje?

Can a priest encourage parishioners to visit this pilgrimage site and have devotion to her and follow her messages?

Marko Ivančičević said...

Please Father could you answer my question?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Marko I,
1) The prayer of a man in mortal sin is only valuable insofar as he desires to return to friendship with God. It has not merit of itself.

2) The Divine Sacrifice is offered by virtue of the consecration of the separate Eucharistic species -- as His Body and Blood were separated on the Cross, so too are his Sacramental Body and Blood sacramentally separated on the Altar.
No additional prayer is required.

3) The question of the soul of Lazarus (and others) who are raised from the dead is a tricky one.
I do not think that they could be in heaven or in hell (or limbo), since those are eternal.
Neither do I think that they underwent a particular judgment.
Rather, it seems most plausible to me that God simply waited for their resuscitation which he foresaw and willed.

God's judgment is absolutely irrevocable.

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I do not know of any book that necessarily follows the Exercises.
I will say that it is best to avoid most of the contemporary books of spirituality (even those by good authors like Fr. Benedict Groeschel or Fr. Thomas Dubay) ... better to stick with the classics, in my opinion.

You may consider reading the Ascent of Mount Carmel or the Interior Castle.
If you are looking for good books of meditations, consider the works of St. Alphonsus (especially, "The Way of Salvation and Perfection", which has meditations for most every day of the year).

Those are just a few ideas... +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Malleus H,
I think it is best for priests to make no public statements at all regarding the recent events at Medjugorje.

As I understand it, priests are not to encourage official pilgrimages to the site.

Oh ... there are so many great spiritual classics to read (like Intro to the Devout Life and Interior Castle) ... how can anyone have time for the messages from Medjugorje?
[perhaps some do have time, I certainly do not]

Peace and blessings! +

TomD said...

I posted a comment on the 13th I just wanted to make sure you didn't miss it by mistake

Thanks very much

WT said...


I had a quick question. I know that you said that the Most Blessed Sacrament contains the true substance of God however not physically. My question is this: is this something distinct for this miracle of the Sacrament. i.e. is it normal for the substance of a thing to only be there because the physical thing is there.

thanks so much

Marko Ivančičević said...

Thank you for your kind answers.

But the thing about the soul of Lazarus bothers me still. Where did his soul go? I found something on Catholic Answers Forum:
"His soul was ushered into the presence of God, from whence it was promptly ushered back.

He was in some kind of suspended animation pending his resurrection by Jesus."

If this is true, what kind of presence of God is this? If not, where was his soul?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Thanks for pointing me back to your questions? I had missed them!

1) Yes, Christ had 2 intellects and wills. One divine (which is that of the Father and Holy Spirit) and one human.
Regarding the fact that he is 1 Person with 2 Natures ... the Person is WHO he is (God the Son), the Natures describes WHAT he is (God and Man).
So, 2 natures means 2 intellects and wills.

2) By the beatific vision, Christ always say all things (in his human intellect), as united in the Word.
But, I do not say that he was thinking about all things all the time as individuals ... rather, all were seen united as one in God.

3) His prayer in the garden shows that he had true natural inclinations ... such as shrinking from death ... but that his reason ruled over his passions, since he accepted death according to the divine plan.

4) Christ suffered in his body and even in his soul ... but he also had perfect joy.
He rejoiced at the vision of God, but was sorrowful at the recognition of man's sins ... and there is no reason a man can't be happy about one thing and sad about another.
I know that that doesn't fully answer your question ... but it is the best I can do right now, due to time constraints!

Peace and blessings. +

TomD said...

Thank you Father for your response, it was very helpful. I have two more questions about 3 and 4:
With 3- When Christ asked for the cup to be removed, surely he knew that the passion would take place so was he asking for something other than to not have to go through the passion?

And as an addition to 4- did Christ suffer and have the usual emotions of humans throughout his life along with the beatific vision and did his beatific vision diminish his suffering? What about fear, could Christ experience fear (because he knew the future, so it seems like fear would not be a problem for him)?

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Erlenbush,

I know that you generally answer dogmatic theology questions, but would you mind helping me with a matter of moral theology? I am not clear as to what precisely constitutes indirect blasphemy.

For example, assuming that one does not have blasphemous intent, is it sinful to read phrases derogatory of God to oneself (e.g. out of a book), silently or aloud? Or is the only concern the scandal caused to others, so that the mere reading of the words does not matter?
Would it be blasphemous to refer to someone as "divine", as a metaphor, or something similar? Or to, for example, refer to the Roman god Jupiter as "the best and the greatest", meaning it as a conventional cultural reference, nothing more?

Thank you very much,


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

3) Christ asked for the cup to be removed only as according to his natural instinct, not according to his true will.
Thus, in truth, Jesus did not ask for the cup to be taken away, but said immediately "Thy will be done".

4) Regarding the emotions of Christ ... specifically fear and sorrow, please see the recent article:
[the short answer is, yes, he experienced many emotions ... though these did not disturb his reason]

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I consider the fact that the Church Fathers quote the blasphemies of heretics as sufficient proof that we can do the same ... however, not so as to convince others of the heresy, but to show that the heresy is false.

Thus, for a good reason, we may read and even quote such statements.

Regarding the other question, about things like "divine" or "god" etc ... I don't think that there is any sin involved there, so long as we don't start believing in the pagan myths.
Thus, for example, I see no sin in speaking of "Sunday"; so long as we don't start worshiping the sun on the Lord's day.
[though, I do wish that English was more like Latin in this regard -- "Dominica"]

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I have switched to embedded comments, since some said that this will make it easier to "subscribe by email."

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Marko I,
Lazarus' soul was not in a "place" since it was separated from his body.

Here is my best attempt at an answer:
Neither did he undergo the particular judgment, nor did he enter heaven.
Rather, his soul was suspended.
Further, separated from the body, it is not clear to me that his soul would experience time in the same way as time was passing on earth.

What I can say with pretty great certainty is this:
1) Lazarus was dead, so his soul was separated from his body.
2) Lazarus did not undergo the particular judgment, and thus could not have been in either heaven or purgatory (nor hell, of course).
3) Lazarus' soul was truly re-united to his body (he was brought back to life), neither being glorified.

Hope that helps some! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

In order to keep the page manageable, I have removed the old comments (from February and earlier).
Hopefully, this will make it easier to follow future comments and questions.

Anonymous said...

I heard a priest say recently that according to the Church's definition it is hard to commit a mortal sin. This was said during an RCIA meeting. This made me wonder about the relationship between ignorance and mortal sin such as wether or not a candidate should confess grave sins they were unaware were grave. I am a bit confused about exactly what "full knowledge" and to some degree "full consent of the will" mean and how ignorance does or does not excuse someone from guilt and punishment. If you have reference to any good books on this subject please let me know. Thank you.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Please claim your comment with a pseudonym at least, as I request.
You may even simply sign it at the end ... like so ...

- Fr. Ryan

Anonymous said...

Sorry for not posting a name with the last post.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I believe that, either you misunderstood the priest (hopefully) or he is very wrong.
It seems quite likely that most people in the world have committed mortal sins (virtually everyone, excepting a couple of the saints) ... and, probably, many people are in the state of mortal sin most of the time ... which is why Jesus says that the way to heaven is narrow and few find it.

Let me refer you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
A mortal sin is a grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life in the souls of the sinner, contituting a turn away from God.
For a sin to be mortal three conditions must be present: grave matter (it is a serious sin), full knowledge, and full consent.

So, for example: Things like skipping Mass on Sunday without a serious reason, needlessly revealing the serious fault of another (even if it be true), intentionally getting drunk, external sins against purity, theft of a significant amount, and so forth ... these are grave sins which (if done with freedom and knowledge) are mortal.

See paragraphs 1854 - 1864 of the Catechism for more info.

Also, one does not need to know the word "mortal sin" or "grave matter" in order to have "full knowledge".
All that is required is that the person realize it is wrong, realize what they are about to do, and then do it anyways.

Take skipping Mass ... how can it be anything other than a radical turning away from God to refuse to give him a single hour one day a week?

... Also, it is a mortal sin to receive communion after committing a mortal sin before going to confession ... so that is something to think about for the future as well.

In the end, it is all about love. We have to be honest with God ... we have to let him teach us how to love him ... let him open our hearts to receive his Love -- especially through a good confession and worthy communion.

Hope that helps some! It is a big question! +

Anonymous said...


I have some confusion about the following. We know Jesus was true God and true man. As a man he had a body and a soul (as we do). I don't quite understand the soul of Jesus in this sense. When we die (before general resurrection)if in heaven our souls will be in the presence of God. However as Jesus is God, I don't understand how His soul can be in the presence of God. That is, is the man-soul of Jesus somehow separate from (but in the presence) of God as our souls will be (as I understand it)? That probably is not very clear but I hope you understand what I'm getting at.
Bob F.

WT said...

Father did you my question about substance above?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

thank you for pointing me to your question!

Well, I would say that the Eucharistic species contain the substance of Christ's Body (the one) and of Christ's Blood (the other) ... and then, the whole Christ (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity)is present by what we call "real concomitance" -- meaning that, if the Blood is sacramentally and substantially present, then so too is the body and the soul and divinity. They kind of "come together" as a group.

Well, yes, the Eucharist is a unique case insofar as the substance of body and blood normally cannot exist without being physically realized in the accidental properties of taste, touch, smell, etc.
The point is that the substance of bread is changed to the substance of Body, precisely because the Eucharist is a sacrament.
The substantial change is a sacramental reality -- and it is only insofar as the Eucharist is a sacrament that the Real Presence remains.

Does anything like this happen outside of the sacraments? No.

Hope that helps somewhat! +

Tangent said...

Dear Father Ryan,

Could you please help me understanding 1260 days prophesy of Daniel & also the significance of 1260 days in Revelation 12.

We believe that the woman in the revelation is Mother Mary. So how to explain the 1260 days fact in relation to Mother Mary?

It is an untimely question, but I need to explain this to non- catholic bro's , so please correct my understanding if I have erred. I am not well versed with Bible. :( I just pray using the Bible.

Thank you.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Sharon (Tangent),
It is a complicated question ... the 1260 refers to "a time, and times, and half a time" (i.e. a year, two years, and a half a year -- 360 x 3 plus 180 = 1260).

It is a mid-week of years: 3 and 1/2 out of 7 years. So, the idea is that the suffering is cut short.

Too much for me to put in here ... if you are interested, check out a related article I wrote a while back:

Hope that helps somewhat! +

Tangent said...

Thank you so much Father. Yes, it certainly did help. : )

Father, when you get time please write an article on Revelation. There are so many interpretations out there in bits and pieces and I'm personally very nervous about my own understanding or to rely on others'understanding unless it comes from authority source.

Wish you a Blessed Holy Week.

Please pray for me!

- Regards


CM7 said...

Fr. Ryan,

Can there be a deeper, more spiritual connection between the falling of Satan and the betrayal of Judas. It seems like there is much in common between the positions each originally held and their fall. Jesus said of Judas, that it would have been better for him to never be born. I can only think of one other person (angel) that Christ may have said this about. Can you maybe expand on this for me or let me know if I am drawing connections that should not be?

God bless,

TM said...

I have a question regarding the Brown Scapular...
How does one obtain the promises associated with it and what must one do to get enrolled/make use of the ordinary scapular? I have a small one from my first communion and it just came in some sort of first communion gift set so I'm not sure if its blessed or if I should just start wearing it or if I should go talk to a priest and get it blessed?
Any help is greatly appreciated

Anonymous said...

Why did they have communion today Good Friday? and the crucifix was not covered in purple (as it has always been during Holy Week), and the color was red for the choir, the church,etc., and they had a big choir - it didn't look like Good Friday, it almost looked festive with so much red throughout the church. Please explain to me?

Michelangelo said...

Dear Father,

Happy Easter! I did a bit of searching but didn't find anything conclusive, so permit me to ask: Is there some central source of the documented miracles of all the recent saints?

I am thinking of a layman's extract, a summary, in book form for the inspiration of the faithful. Since the Church has canonized hundreds of saints under the "modern" requirements for one miracle for beatification and one for canonization, I think such an ongoing series of books published for the edification of the faithful would be just what the doctor ordered. Please tell me this series exists, and how to order it! God bless you, Father.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

If Christ died for all our sins on calvary, I do not understand why then, if one confesses all mortal sin and dies in a state of grace, when one dies they have to face the punishment of their sins in purgatory?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Michael P,
Well, Satan's sin is the worse ... also, as an angel, Satan is capable of a much more radical rejection of God (because of his knowledge).

It would have been better for Judas to not have been born insofar as Judas (if he did go to hell after death) wishes that he was never born ... but, it is still better to exist in hell than to not exist at all (but the souls in hell don't see it that way).

Hope that helps a bit ... the topic is too big for me to cover in comments ... but at least this little bit may assist your own reflection! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Regarding the brown scapular ... it does not need to be blessed, but you should be enrolled.
This can be done by a carmelite priest or by any priest. However, non carmelites cannot accept you into the confraternity (as far as I know).
The ritual is in the book of blessings, which any priest should have.

As far as what you have to do ... there are no longer any mandatory prayers, but traditionally you should pray at least 5 decades of the Rosary daily.
The only absolute requirement today is that you strive to live a life of perfect chastity, in union with the most pure Mother of God.

The brown scapular is a very good devotion ... I highly recommend it! Blessings to you! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous, if you really want those questions answered (and are not just complaining about your parish), please leave a pseudonym at the end of your comment.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I do not know of any such collection ... the causes for canonization for each saint document those miracles ... but these are huge collections and not easily available ... and often not translated.
Sorry! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Great question!
Confession forgives sin according to the guilt of sin, but not according to either the "remnants" of sin (i.e. the weakness of the will through repeated sin) or the "temporal punishment" due for sin.

So, when mortal sin is absolved in confession ... the eternal punishment due is forgiven.
But the will may still be weak and attached to the world, and further there will still be some temporal punishment due in reparation.
This is why we have purgatory -- to make restitution for the offense to God's glory, and also to be purified and cleansed of all defects in our will and intellect.

Hope that is clear! +

Anonymous said...

Father Erlenbush,
I was reading your article on "stealing from the poor" and I was wondering if you could clarify a point-- are we allowed to have certain luxuries? There are always people in extreme need in our world so at what point would we have to give up what we have? For example, a TV is not a necessity so would it be sinful to own one? According to Fr. Heribert Jone's Moral Theology, it is required only that we give 2% of our extra income, is this the case? Thanks!

Anonymous Catholic

Michelangelo said...

Dear Father,

He is Risen!!! Thank you for the info! Well, I'll have to write and see if they could use a volunteer on the Saint Summaries... Having been something of a technical writer, there were those "seasons" when we made extracts of our findings and published them. They were very helpful to our colleagues. But that takes extra workers. In a tight economy, luxuries such as technical summary periodicals are one of the common casualties. A good idea though. God bless you, Father.

Vince K said...


You recently encouraged parents blessing their children and said the prayer could be found in the Book of Blessings. I can't seem to find it, can you post it? Also, I bless my three year old daughter with the sign of the cross on her forehead and saying "God bless you in the name of the . . ." She likes to do this to me, as well. Do you think I should put an end to that?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous Catholic,
I think it is good to recognize that those poor in our midst have a greater claim over us than those in far away lands.
So ... that should be taken into account.

If a man is starving to death right at the moment as I am walking into a store to buy a TV ... and I just walk by and don't get him food, then I am quite certain I am committing a mortal sin.

... as far as a particular % ... I don't think that there is any way to make a clear determination on such a matter.

Peace! +

Unknown said...

Fr, I have created a devotion to the spiritual giant Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, based on the profound works that he has written which touch the very depths of my soul. I was wondering whether or not this devotion should be stopped since he is not officially beatified nor canonized and would like to know whether or not there is a cause in Rome for this theologian's beatification.

In Christ Our Lord


Anonymous said...

Father, in St. Thomas's Summa, Ia, q. 52, a.3, he states that there can only be one particular angelic being in any particular place in any given instant (where "to be in a place" is to be acting upon that place).

Would an application of this principle be that if our guardian angel is acting upon us during a given instant of time, then no demon can be acting upon us? If so, how is it that we are tempted? When is our angel not guarding us?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I see no problem in promoting reverence and piety for Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange.
Obviously, we should occasionally offer up a prayer for him - in case he is still in purgatory ... and we cannot pray to him in a public liturgy (though, I suppose we can in private devotion).

I do not know whether his cause is up in Rome or not ... I pray that it will be soon! :-)

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Joe (sedemsapientiam),
When an angel is "in a place" it means that he is the principal and total actor on the matter in that place ... hence, if an angel is a total actor on our body/soul, then this would mean that a demon could not possess us or even tempt us.

However, most of the time, the angels and demons are not total actors on our souls -- and thus there is a spiritual combat!

Hope that helps a bit! +

Alan R said...

Dear Father Ryan,
I have a friend who is not Catholic. We often have very charitable discussions and encourage each others desire to grow in faith. I have read Father Lagrange's writings on grace. My friend said that God loves everyone equally. I suggested that he does not love everyone equally but that he loves everyone perfectly. His response to me was that God's love is given totally but some choose to reject grace so do not participate in that love equally. He speculate that God love's the most wicked as much as he loves the most holy. I was wondering if you had any recommendations on how to express the concept of sufficient grace and efficacious grace. He is open minded but I feel that he feels that it would be unfair for God to love one person more than another. As always, I am grateful for your teaching.
Peace be with you,
Alan R

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan,

I was reading Jn 10:11-18 about the Good Shepherd. What does GOOD really mean in Scripture (as when Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd,and why is Friday called GOOD Friday in the Sacred Triduum? I've tried to google but I didn't get any satisfying answer.

Thank you, Fr. Ryan.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Alan R,
You are right to point out that God does not have an equal love for all ... we see this most clearly in the particular love for the Blessed Mother, and also in his love for John the Beloved ... check out this article for more:

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

You ask a very interesting question ... but it is too broad for me to fully answer here in the comments.
However, I will give at least the beginning of an explanation!

The earliest Church Fathers and theologians were very much interested in the notion of goodness ... affirming that God's most essential attribute was that he is THE GOOD (I suppose, of equal or even greater importance is that he is THE TRUE).

God alone is truly and wholly good, all else that is good participates in God.
Hence, Jesus (in his humanity) is called the GOOD Shepherd, insofar as he leads and guides us along a sure and certain path to God. Also, GOOD Friday is good because it was on that day that humanity was reconciled to the Divinity through the perfect sacrifice of our Savior.
And so forth...

Well, I know that there is much more to be said ... but this will have to suffice for now! :-)

alan r said...

Dear Father Ryan,
Thank you clarifying my understanding of the concept that God does love some more than others as well as the link to your prrvious article.

Would this be a possible analogy that communicates this concept? Our souls are created by got with an intelect and will which is the essence of the soul. In a like manner an artist May create many cups that by there essence are able to contain something. But the soul may have the accidental quality of when and under what circumstances it was united with the body. This may be like a cup that is meant for a special purpose or that can contain more.
Thus, God lovingly creates each cup/soul with a perfict love as he wills. God does pour out his love without measure on each, but one cup may be filled with more even if all are filled full and overflowing. Thus, God loves each perfectly buy creating them according to His will and pours out his love without measure, but not all cups can hold the same amount before being perfectly full. Of coarse, sin may be like a crack in the cup that if unrepented means that no matter if God pours infinetly, it is hindered from being filled due to the crack...some cracks being bigger than others and some cups refusing the repair offered in reconciliation.
Can you please correct flaws in this. I understand that analogies fall short of the reality but they sometimes help me.
Peace be with you,
Alan R

Anonymous said...

father ryan

how would you explain purgatory in your own words

ross deluca

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Ryan,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I understand a little bit better now, more than what I had ordinarily perceived it to mean that Christ was merely referring to himself as just being morally good (as opposed to bad). I had always wondered why that Friday was called Good when terrible things were done to Christ. I got your message.

I really want you you to know, too, that I am learning a lot from your articles, even if some of them prove to be "posers" at times, I find them highly informative (including readers' reactions), and I am excited about being able to look at things on a deeper level. Thank you for all that you do and I pray that you continue on with this ministry.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Take a look at an article I wrote a while back ... "Facts about Purgatory" ... search for "purgatory" in the search engine on the top left of the homepage.

That is the best I can do for now. Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.
Let us pray for one another. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Unfortunately, things are too busy for me to comment further ... but I am sure that, if you keep praying about these things, the Holy Spirit will guide you well! :-)


does sacrament of holy orders confer two indelible marks on priest since they receive both deaconate and priestly ordination

Alan R said...

Dear Father Ryan,
Regarding my request to comment about my analogy of the cups to the soul and God loving some more than others. I have asked for council and received it and for that I am deeply greatful. I will pray about this as you direct me to. You will be in my prayers tonight.
Peace be with you,
Alan R

Michelangelo said...

Dear Father,

I googled my question but nothing came up. You think you've seen everything and THEN!... I was at my home parish for Sunday Mass with Mom this past Sunday. The parish doesn't have a Priest pastor, but rather a lay administrator, and the assigned Priest is called the helping Priest (but the people call him the pastor).

Anyway, at the entrance, the lay administrator, got up in an alb, processes in with the Priest and Deacon as per usual, but then it happened. When the Priest and deacon go to kiss the altar, the LA kisses the altar right along with the Priest and Deacon! I don't think he ever did that before. Now I read the GIRM and of course it states that the Priest and Deacon reverence the altar by kissing it. But, by simple logic and universal practice in my humble experience, I would conclude that for a LA to do this is uh, wrong. As always, Father, I'm evil enough to make somethin like this up, but I'm not clever enough... so that's my story and I'm stickin to it...

And while the LA doesn't give the homily or read the Gospel, he gives an extended summary of the readings and the feast of the say right after the reverencing of the Altar and before the Sign of the Cross, and then he gives an extended reflection before the final blessing. It's just, just... Oh, and yes, I assume the Bishop knows and approves. But I'm offering it up and praying for all concerned. Your thoughts? God bless you, Father.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Erlenbush,

Is the danger involved in a near occasion of sin the danger of consent to the sin, only, or the danger of committing the objective (material) act? For example, if a person has contracted a habit of blasphemy, of which he now sincerely repents, does he expose himself to a near occasion of this sin if he puts himself in a situation in which he will very likely be provoked to blaspheme, but in which he is unlikely to consent to the utterances? Assume, for the sake of argument, that these blasphemies are entirely material sins. Does the person sin in putting himself in such a situation?

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

Hello Father Ryan-

I attend a Southern Baptist church, and I have no plans to leave my own tradition, but for a long time I have been drawn to a more liturgical, ceremonial worship that is not found in my tradition. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how I can incorporate and practice more liturgy and tradition in my walk with God without leaving my own church. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

These are hard times we are living in ... let us remain united in prayer, confident that the Lord will raise up true shepherds after his own heart. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

If I understand your question correctly, what you are really asking about is what the moral theologians call the "per se" occasions vs. the "per accidens" occasions.

A "per accidens" occasion of sin is one that is not in itself an occasion for all people, but is an occasion for the particular individual.
For example: A bar is a "per accidens" occasion for an alcoholic.

A "per se" occasion of sin is one that is always an occasion of sin -- in itself, even if the person will not actually fall into sin.
For example: Cohabitation.

Now, we cannot put ourselves in "per se" occasions of sin (at least not without a grave reason) ... so that should answer your question, I hope! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous Baptist,
I would recommend the daily Rosary.
Now, at first, you might think "No, way! I don't worship Mary!" ... but, if you think about it more, you will see that this is an excellent devotion by which we draw closer to the Sacred Scriptures.

The "Hail Mary" prayer is 1/2 quotations from Scripture (first Gabriel, then Elizabeth), and the second half is all very agreeable.
And there can be nothing wrong with asking people to pray for us -- so why not ask Jesus' own mother to pray for us?

Further, the meditations of the Rosary are nothing other than meditations on Sacred Scripture (especially on the Gospels).

Finally, and this is one of the best things about the Rosary, there are 15 "mysteries" in which we pray 10 "Hail Mary's" each ... to equal a total of 150 Hail Mary prayers.
The reason that it is 150 is because the Jews (and first Christians) would pray all 150 psalms every day ... thus, we see that the Rosary is a way of honoring the Psalms, the greatest compilation of prayers!

Hope that helps. +

Marko Ivančičević said...

I have a question about the sacramental intention. For sacrament to be valid, the one who wants to render the sacrament we must intend to do what the Church does. But what does that mean?

Let's say that some heretic is about to baptize a child and he has no knowledge about the effect of this sacrament but he knows the matter and the form and he thinks like this:"i just wanna do what tha Church does". Is this intention something like this , i would say blind, conforming to the Church's will or we have to know that the Church does in order to intend to do what the Church does.

Or maybe a heretical priest that doesn't believe in Transupstantiation(TS) or Consecration. He by not believing in TS doesn't want to confect a TS, and also doesn't believe that Church inteds TS, but thinks in his head: "I just wanna do what Church wants to do", thinking and believing that Church(and he himself) doesn't want to confect the TS.

So how can someone intend to do what the Church does if he doesn't intend what the Church trully does? How is this intention valid? Is it just blind consent of will, a leap of faith? Is the true meaning of intention kept even with this kind of reasoning: "i intend to do what the Church does but i don't have any idea what Church's true intention is."?

James said...

Hi Fr Ryan,

In my diocese and beyond, I have found that the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in most Churches/Communities do not use any traditional rituals (like the prayers before benediction, Divine Praises) nor chants (like the singing of "O Salutaris", "Tantum Ergo" and the "Adoramus"). Also most Exposition are 'simple' with one song "O Sacrament most holy" repeated at exposition and reposition without incense.

Are these optional since Vatican II? Is there a good 'argument' for the use of these traditional forms?


Michelangelo said...

Dear Father,

AMEN, thank you for your powerful prayers, Father. And Happy St. Athanasius!

Anonymous said...

Reverend Father,

I have two questions:

1) Is the soul "female" or "feminine" such that all believers, including men, are brides of Christ and must take a correspondingly "female" or "feminine" posture towards God?

2) Has the Church begun moving away from the doctrine of the husband as chief of the family and head of his wife?

Joe S.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Marko I,
I believe that a heretical priest can consecrate the Eucharist -- even without believing in Transubstantiation ... however, I do not think he could explicitly deny the dogma.

Consider that an atheist can baptize, but a Mormon cannot ... because the Mormon explicitly maintains a pagan view of the Trinity, while the atheist simply does not believe.

So, yes, it seems to me that "blind conformity to the will of the Church" suffices for the priest's intention. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

The revised ritual book for the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, when speaking of exposition and benediction, does not mention any specific songs.
It only states that "a song may be sung" at the beginning and that one is to be sung at the end -- but it does not name any particular songs.

If the monstrance is used, there are to be either 4 or 6 candles and also incense.
If adoration occurs simply by opening the tabernacle or by placing a closed ciborium on the altar, incense is optional and only 2 candles are required.

Personally, I recommend the traditional hymns ... but it really is a bit more "fluid" these days...

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Joe S.,
1) Yes, the soul does have many characteristics such that it is personified as "feminine" in relation to Christ.
This is especially apparent in the spiritual writings of St. John of the Cross.
However, this does not mean that men relate to God as women ... but that even men must have something of a "feminine posture" in responding to God (as you said very well).

2) No, the Church has not moved away from the headship of the husband ... even though many people want to claim this.
The writings of Bl John Paul II very clearly emphasize the traditional teaching ... while also pointing out that St Paul calls for "mutual submission".

Great questions! +

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Steve Reyes (regarding a prayer request),
Yes, I will certainly keep that intention in my prayers! Blessings to you! +

CM7 said...

Father Ryan,

Can you direct me to an article you wrote that discusses the relationship between a baptized person in the state of mortal sin and the Holy Spirit? If you have not addressed this issue in an article, can you please direct me to the Church's teaching on this?

God bless.

Steven R said...

Thank you father, God bless you well.

Anonymous said...

Dear priest, what do you think about the return of Elijah the prophet? What is the church position on the subject?

Thank you and God bless you!

P.S.: I found this site any comment will be appreciated:


Mike said...

Father, an old theology classmate and I were having a discussion and found ourselves disagreeing. He interprets our closed canon to mean that there may be no new Public Revelation, but that there may be Scriptures inspired before the death of the last apostle which have simply never been received by the Church. I interpret that the closed canon means that the list of Scriptures is closed, and therefore that there must not have been any other inspired Scriptures. However, all I have found are positive statements about the books that are in the canon, but never a statement saying that only those books exclusively are in the canon. Could you shed a light on this?

JARay said...

Dear Fr. Ryan,
I was in a discussion with a very good friend of mine yesterday in our local pub.
He told me that he had questioned a local cleric (I will not name him) about Plenary Indulgences.
His question was this:-
What right does the Church have to declare that this or that set of prayers and/or practices may procure a Plenary Indulgence?
You may get the background to this question that both of us are fully aware that Jesus gave the power of forgiving sin to the Apostles and their successors. We also know that Jesus gave forgivness to the Repentant Thief and he also gave him a Plenary Indulgence in that he said to him "This day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise"
Also we both know, that no one who is imperfect can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because there we will be united to the Perfection which is GOD and imperfection cannot be united with perfection. Hence the need of Purgatory. How long anyone remains in Purgatory depends upon the judgement of Jesus as to when that person will be in a state of perfection.
By what authority does the Church issue a decree, that following XYZ, a person will then be in the state of perfection to enter into heaven without having to undergo a period of purification in Purgatory? How does the Church, as it were, usurp the judgement which is the right of Jesus, to administer?

ColdStanding said...

Darren asks:
I am praying one decade of the Rosary each night with the children, as you have suggested, and then saying the whole Rosary each night myself (sometimes my wife joins). Now I notice that you post about the novena leading up to Pentecost. Are the praying of the Rosary and the Novena considered to be separate exercises in the sense that either one or the other is to done but not both during the same time of prayer?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

First: Congratulations on the Rosary prayers! Our Lady will most certainly bless the family that prays together ... especially the family which is devoted to her through the Holy Rosary!

Second: Regarding the Novena to the Holy Spirit ... I think that these prayers could certainly be done at the same time as the Rosary (either before or after) ... or they could be done at another time.
Whatever seems to fit best!

Peace and blessings! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

There is some theological debate about the question of the Canon.

I am of the opinion that the Canon is closed ... so that, even if we found another Letter of St. Paul, we would not add it to the Bible.
I think that this is fairly well established by Trent (though, perhaps, not yet de fide).

Fr. Karl Rahner (of all people!) did write a good little article about this once ... but I don't recall the title.
He said that, because of the close union of the Bible and Oral Tradition, the Canon could only be formed during the earliest days of the Church ... thus, it is now closed.

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Well, your question touches on a number of very large topics ...

1st - The Church has the authority to forgive the temporal punishment of sin, because she has the authority to forgive the guilt of sin -- if she can forgive eternal punishment, surely she can forgive temporal punishment ... if she can save a soul from hell (before death), surely she can also save a soul from purgatory (especially through an indulgence gained before or at the moment of death).

2nd - I am not certain whether the total remission of temporal punishment would necessarily mean that a soul would go straight to heaven ... it does seem to me that the "purification" aspect of purgatory could still remain.
So, perhaps, even if a soul has no temporal punishment, she may yet receive a type of purification by fire ... but how this would relate to time, I do not know (for God can purify the soul greatly in very little time).

So, perhaps your intuition is correct without necessarily challenging the Church's ability to grant indulgences.

These are just some thoughts ... I am not yet certain on the matter.

Peace! +

Jake said...

Dear Father Ryan Erlenbush

In a couple of days from now in one parish in my diocese there will be a mass concelebrated
by two bishops and a few priests.One of the bishops concelebrating the mass is retired now
and was a infamous dissenter from Church teaching regarding artificial contraception and woman's Ordination.My question is if it would be a sin or against Church Law to attend the mass he is concelebrating.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

So long as the retired bishop is in "good standing" (i.e. not schismatic, nor excommunicated) there is no problem in attending his Mass.
So, it seems most likely to me that you can attend that concelebrated Mass with the retired bishop.

Let us pray for our poor bishops! And also for our priests!
"There are no bad priests, only priests for whom there has not been enough prayer!" - St. John Vianney

Tom said...

Father, recently I asked a question on your post on the First Saturdays and I think you might have missed it so I will post it here:

I have 2 questions that are somewhat related to the post. First, when Our Lady requested that we "say the Rosary everyday" when she visited Fatima, did she mean 5 decades or 15. It seems as though for this devotion only 5 are necessary but what exactly was she requesting throughout the apparitions? Secondly, you say that "Our Lady does not promise that all who make the Five First Saturdays Devotion will go to heaven" but we have the graces necessary...could you help me understand what this means exactly. And in the First Fridays Devotion which is similar, Jesus says that He promises final penitence, does that mean that those who practice the FF devotion are garunteed salvation provided that they receive worthily? Does that make the promise of the First Fridays greater than this one?
Any help is greatly appreciated!!!
Tom "

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Q) What was the state of the Apostles at the Ascension?

I've read that St. Thomas Aquinas ascribes to them:
-- amazement (at the grandeur of the excellent Ascension),
-- grief (because the Great Comforter was going away from them),
--fear (because of the persecutions to come), and
--confidence in the Lord's promises of His real presence among them.

However in St. Luke's Gospel it recounts that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

--Hoaka Noaka

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan, I hope that your retreat was a fruitful one. I remembered to pray for you and the priests of your diocese during it.

Yesterday at Mass, we had a visiting priest. He seemed quite unfamiliar with the Mass (this is no joke). He didn't know what to do at the beginning, and left out both the Gloria and the Creed. Although he did say the words of consecration properly, I did not go up to receive Holy Communion because I was uncertain and uneasy.

Did I do the wrong thing?

Your friend,

Alan R. said...

Dear Father Ryan,
I have 2 questions. First, is prayer natural to man because we are created in the likness and image of God or is it a gift?
Second, can the will desire evil? I was wondering because it seems that the will would always desire what is good but the intellect could be in error about what is good and the will then desires it.
Third. Is it redundant to say free will?
Thank you for being a priest.
Peace be with you,
Alan R.

H. Hobbit said...

In Catholic theology, is a distinction drawn between immortality and eternity?

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Ryan,
I saw a post about the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on this blog and thought of asking you a question I had about True Devotion. I've read the book before. I remember St Louis talks about becoming a "slave" to Jesus and Mary, I understood that to mean that we belong fully to God (as he makes a distinction between slave and servant). I don't have any problem with that, but I remember how in the Gospels, Jesus tells the Apostles that He doesn't call them servants, but friends. I read the original word was "slave". I am not saying there is any contradiction, but I'm having difficulty understanding how the two ideas relate. Can we be His friends but also His "slave of love through Mary"? What did Jesus mean and what does St Louis mean? At one point I wondered if I had to choose one or the other, and feared going against Jesus' words by following True Devotion. What point am I missing? Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Father, I had another question.. I came across a part in the Summa Theologica where St Thomas Acquinas talks about women not teaching publically only privately: I was wondering how would this relate to women teaching children in schools? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

How do I know the Holy Spirit is leading me to conversion processo? I'm catholic, but a non-practicing one, since I don't go to Mass on Sundays.
Recently, I became interested in theology. I started reading von Balthasar's book on redemption and Ratzinger's book on Conscience and Introduction to Christianity. I became interested in moral theology, not only the aspects stressing the virtues (which I truly believe is a wonderful contribution of our faith), but also regarding human sexuality. The funny thing is that I started reading to disagree but now I'm closer than ever to the traditional and orthodox position, altough still struggling with contraception doctrine.
More important than that, I'm finally understanding that Mass and Eucharist is central to our faith, in such a way that by missing the mass on Sundays maybe I cannot call myself a catholic. So, is it the Holy Spirit guiding me? Please, help me! I'm so confused!

Ana said...

Father, I asked you if the Holy Spirit is guiding me. I'm sorry for not posting a name. I didn't know it was required. My name is Ana.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I am currently traveling and have only very limited internet access.
However, I want to assure you of my prayers ... clearly the Holy Spirit is inspiring you to grow in the faith and to come to true happiness! Praise God for that!

The first thing I would recommend is for you to return to the sacrament of Confession. Take the time to make a good examination of conscience and confess everything -- don't hold anything back, but give it all over to the Good Lord Jesus through the ministry of the priest.

I know it can be scary, but it is really all about love. It is all about being reconciled with the God who so long has waited for you to return to his Heart! How can we be afraid? It is Christ who died, indeed who is now risen; he has given everything so that you will not be afraid to come to him!

Here is a good website to help prepare for confession:

If it has been a long time, you may want to call the priest for an appointment.
Hopefully there is a good priest in your area whom you can contact -- I will be praying that you find a good confessor! +

You pray too! Ask God to lead you to a good priest! Ask your guardian angel, your patron saints, and Blessed Mary to intercede on your behalf.
God bless you always. +

[feel free to comment or email ( if you have any further thoughts or questions]

Anonymous said...

I ran into a minor philosophical dilema today and couldn't come up with an answer to a friends question. I'm sure there's a very simple answer and it'll seem fairly obvious afterwards, but i was asked "You say God's all powerful, then can God make a weight that he can't lift?. If No, then he's not all powerful, likewise if Yes"
I think the analogies a fairly naff one but it certainly did blag my head at the time, which i have no reason how. It may be i was to quick to jump in with a confused answer - explaining how they're are things God doesn't do because he sits on his hands for our free will then changing to the question was thinking in earthly 'scientific law' terms to explain a divine being and his actions. I still don't think these vague answers were even relevent to the question however - and although a simple one with probably a simple explanation i probably look passed - i couldn't think of a better way of rephrasing the question or breaking it down to answer it at the time. I did confuse myself and i still can't understand it, could you help me on this ?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Ana, regarding women teaching in schools ...
I believe that the Common Doctor only means to emphasize that women cannot have the office of teaching in the Church and therefore would never receive the charism associated with that office ... at least, I think that is all that we have to hold today.
Hope that helps! (certainly, I could be wrong ... I am no expert when it comes to that particular portion of St Thomas' writings)

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Ana, regarding "slave" and "friend" ...
The tension you notice is found between St. Paul's Letters and the Gospel and Letters of St. John.
The Beloved Disciple emphasizes that we are no longer slaves but friends (quoting Christ himself), but St. Paul regularly calls himself a "slave of Christ Jesus".

The slavery of love, it seems to me, is the most intimate bond of friendship. It is in no way contrary to freedom, but rather is the perfection of freedom.
Hence, there need be no contradiction between St Louis Marie and the Gospel -- for their is a true "bond" of friendship and of love which binds more tightly and more securely than any physical chain!

Those are just my first thoughts ... I hope it helps somewhat! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Sorry for the delay ... peace to you! +

I think you probably did well ... sometimes, because of many factors, we can find ourselves deeply perturbed and not in a goods state to receive Communion.
Occassionally this can be brought on by the actions of the priest or others at the Liturgy.

While we wouldn't want to go on like this week after week ... it sounds like your case is rather rare (i.e. you don't get put in that situation often), so I think you probably did very well.

I am very sorry that you had to suffer that. I have been and will continue to pray for you.
Please pray for me, for that priest, and for all priests! We are so sorely in need of prayer! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Hoaka Noaka,
Please allow a brief reply ...
The Apostles underwent the Dark Night of the Soul, which St John of the Cross says is like a purgatory on earth.
Now, the souls in purgatory are happier than any excepting those in heaven, but they also suffer more than any excepting those in hell.
So great joy (for they now that they will get to heaven) is mixed with great sorrow (for they suffer intensely as they yearn for the vision of God).
I suppose that something of the same occurred for the Apostles at the Ascension.

Peace! Great question! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I am very sorry for the delay ... thank you for your patience!

When Our Lady of Fatima said to pray the Rosary daily, I do believe that she was asking for the 15 decades ... but she does make it clear that 5 alone suffice for the first Saturday devotion.

As far as the gift of salvation ... the idea (for both first Saturdays and first Fridays) is that we will be saved if we persevere and remain faithful to the spirit of the devotion unto death.
There is no free ticket as it were ... it is not an absolute ... but, our Lord and our Lady promise to assist us with special graces to ensure our salvation.

I hope that this helps a bit ... please ask, if you want more clarifications ... I will try to respond more quickly next time! :-)

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@H. Hobbit,
Eternity is applied properly only to God himself ... and it means that all time is as one present moment ... such that God does not change or go through time at all ... he is, as they say, "outside of time" (thought that can be a bit tricky); perhaps it is better to say that he holds all time as one moment.

Immortality, on the other hand, means that the soul does not die. It goes on existing forever ... and it is not really outside of time (since there is still the succession of events and so forth, there is "before" and "after").

Hope that helps!

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Alan R.,
1) Prayer is a gift and requires actual grace ... we cannot pray without God's grace. [though, perhaps, there may be some sense in which there can be a 'natural' prayer to a 'higher being', but most certainly this is not Christian prayer ... nor does it help us to be saved]

2) The will cannot desire evil per se, but it can desire some good thing that is part of an evil plan or action. Also, we can desire to do something evil in order to get something that we think is good.
But always, the will goes toward what it perceives as a good thing (even if, in truth, it is bad).

3) "Free will" is a helpful concept, because the will can be forced through some coersion ... for example through intense addictions ... and then it is not clear whether the will is wholly free.

Great questions! Peace! +

Unknown said...

I don't know if this is the kind of question you usually answer, but as an engaged person, this question has been weighing on my mind recently: In what way, exactly, is the vocation of consecrated virginity said to be higher than the vocation of marriage?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

We say that God can do all things ... but by "all things" we mean all that is logically possible and all that is good and perfect.

Thus, God cannot make a rock so big he can't lift it ... because such a rock is a logical impossibility.
Likewise, God cannot sin.

However these are no "limitations" on God ... rather, he is MORE powerful for not being able to sin. And the fact that he cannot contradict his own nature (by making a rock so big he can't life it) shows his perfection even more!

Well ... that is at least the first point to be made in answering the question ... I hope it helps a bit! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Celibacy is greater than marriage considered in an absolute sense ... however, it is not better for each individual.

Celibacy is higher calling (considered in the abstract), because it more closely resembles heaven (where there is no marriage, as Jesus himself has taught us), and because it more closely imitates Christ (who was a virgin).

St. Paul teaches that the celibate is able to be wholly concerned with pleasing God, but the married man/woman is concerned with pleasing his/her spouse.

However, a married man can most certainly reach the same height of sanctity as a celibate ... if he lives his married life with perfect charity.
And a celibate may well be a much greater sinner than a married person ... especially considering that the vocation he is corrupting is such a high calling.

Hope that helps a little!
I would recommend the writings of St Josemaria Escriva if you desire to find how to become a saint while living in the world ... especially "The Way", and also a collection of his sermons called "Friends of God".

Peace! +

Anonymous said...

Hello Father Ryan, I really enjoyed your article on The Interior Life: That of the Apostles and our own. In fact, I shared it with a very good Presbyterian friend of mine who had a different take on it, and I am wondering how I might respond to it. Please read below and Thank You.

This piece you sent helps me understand the Catholic view on sanctification, and I am assuming the "Unitive Way" would be a requirement for "sainthood".

However, the Protestant view, and I think Biblical and Apostolic view, does not promote that final step until heaven, known doctrinally as "glorification" (see the 1 John 3:2 passage below).

The Christian will struggle with fighting between the flesh and spirit until death (see Romans 7 passage below). Paul writes the Romans passage in AD 60 about himself. The apostle continues to sin even after 27 years of walking with Christ.

The Protestant progression (based on Scripture) is as follows: Regeneration (spiritual rebirth) - Justification (forgiveness in Christ) - Adoption (into Christ's family) - Sanctification (growing in wisdom and holiness) - Glorification (perfection in heaven).

We speak philosophically of 4 stages of harmotology (study of sin) concerning man: 1. Possible to sin (Eden) 2. NOT possible NOT to sin (sin nature) 3. Possible NOT to sin (good works in Christ, only possible after being regenerated, not realized 100% of the time - some debate this) 4. NOT possible to sin (perfection only in Heaven).

Peter's verse on holiness begins with maintaining the mindset that one is in Christ (like Paul, delighting in the Law in the inner being), and implies right thoughts lead to right actions. Perfect obedience is obviously the goal, but remember, by God's grace forgiveness is the requirement for salvation, not perfection. We should strive for perfection, but be ever mindful we are capable of sinning at any moment.

1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Romans 7:14-24
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual,(Y) sold(Z) as a slave to sin.(AA) 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.(AB) 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.(AC) 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.(AD) 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c](AE) For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.(AF) 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.(AG)
21 So I find this law at work:(AH) Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being(AI) I delight in God’s law;(AJ) 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war(AK) against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin(AL) at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?(AM) 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober,(AO) set your hope(AP) on the grace to be brought to you(AQ) when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.(AR) 14 As obedient(AS) children, do not conform(AT) to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.(AU) 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;(AV) 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan, thank you for answering my questions, your answer about True Devotion was very helpful! :) I just had another question, is it true that if a person did not fulfill their Easter Duty for Communion, that is a mortal sin but there is no excommunication for this, so they would need to go to Confession but nothing else? I read somewhere that "in the old days" (not sure when..) a person would be excommunicated for not fulfilling their Easter Duty, but is this no longer the case in the current Canon Law? Furthermore is it true that current Canon Law explicitly says that it replaces all the old canons? (someone said it must say this explicitly for the old canons to no longer be valid, but I don't know much at all about this topic). Thank you so much! Ana

Stephen said...

Father, I understand that a fruitful reception of Holy Communion remits us of our venial sins, but I also know that we ought to regularly confess our sins and receive sacramental absolution, even if we haven't committed any mortal sins. How do we explain the need for regular confession of venial sins if venial sins are remitted by proper reception of the Eucharist?

Jerry said...

Hello Father

Thank you for the site

Would you (or any of your readers) happen to know of any websites where I can find Italian or Latin translations for the St Louis’ Method of the Little Crown?

I know the standard prayers – Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostles’ Creed, Glory Be, etc, but I cannot find translations for the opening & ending prayers, descriptions of the crowns, and prayers after the Hail Marys

Thanks for any help


Ana said...


I'm confused. Catholicism is so rich and offers so many option of devotion that I don't know what is really required of me. I like liturgy of hours and I try (sometimes I fail) to pray the lauds and complines om a daily basis. Then, I am aware of Divine Mercy devotion and try to pray at 3 o'clock whenever is possible. I'm aware that via crucis is a very important prayer and we should pray it on fridays. So it is the Angelus and we are invited to pray it at noom and at 6 pm.
Then, I've heard of Fatima message and Our Lady asking us all to pray the rosary (the ENTIRE four misteries, as proposed by Pope John Paul II) om a daily basis.
I also took a look of Lectio Divine and the discernment and contemplation ot involves and we all know that it takes around 1 hour to complete the exercise. Finally, I came across christian meditation and all the masters recomend at least two times of 15 to 30 minutes eqch of pray

Ana said...

So, I'd like to ask you: how can someone pray the breviary, the angelus, divine mercy chaplet, the entire rosary, meditate two times a day and also do lectio divine? It seems to much for a modern world view! I would have to dedicate at least 3 hours a day for my prayers if I'd like to fulfill all those obligations and devotions!
What advice would you give for someone lost in catholic richness?

Anonymous said...

It seems there are several Ana's posting ;)

Father Ryan, I've read the other questions and answers on this page and I wasn't aware that for the scapular, there are two different 'ceremonies': the enrollment, and the reception into the confraternity. You said that any priest can do the enrollment but that possibly only Carmelite priests can receive into the confraternity. I was enrolled into the scapular by a non-Carmelite priest and was told about the spiritual benefits of being enrolled into the scapular. I was wondering, how is the confraternity different and what are the spiritual benefits of being part of it?

My second question is, - I've read how the woman in Revelation 12 is our Blessed Mother, and I know there are some people who believe instead that the chapter refers to the Church. Can both interpretations be true in a way, or only one?

Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Father, is it true or false that a thought could be a mortal sin, if it didn't lead to an action? For example, if a person dwells on it (assuming it's grave matter and the person dwells on it with full consent and knowledge)? Thank you! AnaC

Jimmy333 said...

I have a friend who has her doubts about if God exists and if Jesus was God. I have told her the answers about her basic questions about Christianity and about God and certain miracles and apparitions, etc. I then told her that I thought it was really important that she spent a few minutes a day in prayer, just talking to God, the Angels, or Saints (esp. Mary). I don't know if there is anything else you would suggest in terms of helping there any basic concept that I should introduce to her or is there any explanation about faith in general that I should help her with. Any help is greatly appreciated, I am just wondering if there is something i'm missing that I should add to our conversation. Thanks, Jimmy

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Ryan,

First my gratitude for this website and the information available in it.

My question may be strange but I shall ask it. Where is the burial site of Father Garrigou Lagrange? Thank you and God bless.


Anonymous said...

Dear Father Ryan,

I believe I have read all of the writings of the great Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange.I am not just a fan but an admirer and folower of his thought, he has helped me in this life of Faith, and generally, more than I can say.Thus I asked for the location of his burial site. It would be a great honor to pray near his grave. Thank you.

Marian (M)

DanielB said...

Father---I have read many quotes from some saints, especially St. Alphonsus and St. Theresa of Avila on the importance of mental prayer. And I was wondering what exactly is mental prayer? Is it meditation or is it talking to God using our own words...I am having trouble understanding. Do you have any advice about how to go about doing mental prayer or is there anything I should know. Is the Rosary mental prayer?
Thanks very much

Ana (#the first Ana, not Anac said...


Dear Daniel, I'm not Father Ryan, but I found some very good links: (format is horrible, but text is useful)

Ana (#the first Ana, not Anac said...


Some links more;

Geordy said...

Father, I am a recent convert to the Catholic Church, I grew up in the Pentecostal church. I love the Catholic church, but I am having a hard time with my family accepting it, and also my previous church members. I also have some issues with what I grew up being taught like on Sanctification, and Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the Holiness way of living. What do you think would be my best course of action about my circumstances?

Anonymous said...

Father, I'm a little confused as to whether the Church teaches that the Church is the sum of individual parishes/dioceses, or whether it teaches (like the Eastern Orthodox believe) that each diocese is like an image of the whole Church (for Catholics, if it's in union with Rome of course). Has Vatican I or another Council ever talked about this? Thank you! AnaC

Unknown said...

Greetings Fr. Ryan. Neil Atzinger here. I'm directing RCIA at my parish and am trying to get some good explanations down for some of the essential questions that inquirers will have. Here's one I'm struggling with and which came up yesterday=

I can give an explanation for why the loss of original justice opens the human body to death and decay, but I cannot explain how original sin opened up the possibility of natural evils such as natural disasters. How do we explain the loss of original justice being communicated to all of creation and not just human nature?

Also, it seems that natural disaster happened before the fall of man. Can we hold the theories of tectonic plates, evolution, astroids, ect. if hold that natural evil entered creation with original sin?

Anonymous said...

Wow! So many posts and questions! I check this site everyday to see if my question has already been responded.

Anxious girl

Matthew Roth said...

Father Erlenbush,
I am very moved by the life story and indeed, the story of death, of a man who died almost 4 years ago. He lived by all accounts a life of love and of witness to Christ, and died giving his life for his son. What does the Congregation for Causes of Saints mean by intercessory power? As you might be able to see, I feel moved to work towards his cause for canonization.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Apologies for taking so long to respond to comments and questions here ... It has been a very busy month!

I will begin catching up, ASAP.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous (May 31),
We do not say that people will reach total perfection in this life ... the Unitive Way is not complete freedom from all sin absolutely, but it is a perfect union in the sense that the will has no attachment for sin ... we can never be wholly free (in this life) from all sin, but we can be free from all attachement to sin.

You mention the protestant idea of the interior life ... if one were to follow Luther's theology, there would be no sense of the interior life at all, since he sees grace as an exterior covering (like snow on a pile of crap).

This is the major problem with protestant theologies of grace -- the whole revolt against the Church is based on the idea that grace DOES NOT and CANNOT truly penetrate to the deepest recesses of the soul, so as to make man himself truly pleasing to God (and not just covered over by an external justification).

At least, that is my take on the issue.

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Ana (June 2),
In fact, missing one's Easter duty does not bring "excommunication" nor has it ever. It is a serious sin, but not a true excommunication ... we should confess it (in fact, we must confess it), but there is no canonical excommunication.

To the second point, yes, you are correct, the current code of canon law replaces the older canons ... see Canon 5.1 -- "Universal or particular customs which have been in effect up to now but are contrary to the provisions of these canons and are reprobated in the canons of this Code, are completely suppressed, and they may not be allowed to revive in the future. Other contrary customs are also to be considered suppressed, unless the Code expressly provides otherwise, or unless they are centennial or immemorial: these latter may be tolerated if the Ordinary judges that, in the circumstances of place and person, they cannot be removed."

Hope that helps! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Yes, a worthy communion forgives venial sins (and, in very special circumstances, even mortal sins ... but let's not get into that).

Still, there is need for the sacrament of confession because, if a person were purposely refusing confession, then he would not really be entering into the sacramental life of the Church and, thus, would not be in a good state for communion (I mean, if he refused confession out of a disdain for the sacrament).

Further, confession is the proper sacrament for the remission of the guilt of sin (even venial sin) ... even though sin can be forgiven in other ways, it is most proper and fitting that it be through confession.

Finally, I would tell people that the saints have come to understand that frequent confession helps us to make a more worthy communion on a frequent basis.

Hope that helps! Great question! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Jerry (June 5),
Unfortunately, I do not know of any place where there is a Latin translation of the de Montfort's Little Crown meditations ... I believe he wrote them originally in french (but I could be mistaken).

As far as an Italian version ... I don't know off the top of my head ... but it would be called the "Coroncina della Vergine" ... perhaps you can find something through google?

Peace, and blessings in your devotion to our Lady! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Ana (twice on June 7),
Yes, there are far too many devotions for any of us to practice them all! :-)

I would say that certain devotions have a special place in the life of the Church and should be practiced by almost everyone, if not every day at least regularly.
These would be: Reading the Scriptures, Eucharistic Adoration, the daily Rosary (5 decades, or at least 1 decade).

Now, then there is also mental prayer ... which is essential. At least 15 minutes a day ... preferably 20 to 30.
But this need not be wholly separate from the daily Scripture reading or even the Rosary ... in fact, both the Scriptures and the Rosary are a good means of entering into mental prayer.

Then, in addition, we each feel a particular calling to other devotions ... and we can be very free in following as we feel inspired ... without, however, getting overwhelmed! :-)

If I could make a recommendation ... Get a copy of St. Francis de Sales spiritual classic: Introduction to the Devout Life. This book will help you immensely!

Also, it may not hurt to ask a priest for a little bit of spiritual direction ... even if only for a couple of meetings over two or three months ... just to get you going in the right direction.
But do make sure it is a very holy and devout priest, who is faithful to the Church and traditional. Also, he must be very learned and wise.
For most people, most of the time, it is better to have no spiritual director than to have a bad one.

Let us pray for one another! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

AnaC (June 8),
Yes, there was a change sometime since 1960 that allows for people to be enrolled in the Scapular without being part of the Confraternity.

One does not need to be a member of the Confraternity to receive the blessings of wearing the Scapular.

The following page has some good information about the current status of the Confraternity and of the Scapular (much has changed in recent years, and many well meaning persons give the wrong information not realizing that the strictness has been relaxed quite a bit) ...

Peace and blessings, I will pray for you on the upcoming feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! (please pray for me as well) +

I myself am enrolled in the Scapular, but am not a member of the Conftraternity.

And, yes, there are some special benefits to being part of the Confraternity --

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

AnaC (second comment on June 8),
Yes, a thought can be a mortal sin ... in certain circumstances.

For example, wholly giving into impure thoughts, choosing to delight in them, and willfully to enjoy the pleasure which comes from them ... this would be a mortal sin.

Or, another example, having a real hatred of another, and delighting in that hatred with malice, dwelling on that hatred and defiantly rejoicing in it ... this would be a mortal sin as well.

But, if a thought is passing and only a temptation (not something which we dwell on or wholly give in to) - as I suspect you mean - then, no, these would not be mortal sins.

St. Francis de Sales discusses this well in Part IV of the Introduction to the Devout Life ... (both here, and in the following couple chapters)

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@M, Marian (June 14, 15),
Fr Garrigou-Lagrange is supposed to be buried at the Campo Verano in Rome ... but, after a few of my friends searched there, they couldn't find his tomb.
So, I am at a loss!

He is a great light for the Church even today! And I recommend his writings to all. Further, he was a holy priest, and had a great love for the poor -- he was a faithful son of Dominic, and a servant of our Lord and his Mother.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@DanielB (and also Ana),
Yes, the Rosary is certainly a great means of entering into mental prayer! However, we would be willing to set the beads down and take our time to speak from the heart to the Lord if he so inspires us.

In Part II of Intro to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales gives lot of good advice (especially chapters 1-9) ... see the first part here:

Also, it is good to have a spiritual guide ... but better to have no one than a bad one ... so do be careful to choose only a very traditional and faithful (as well as wise and learned) priest for a spiritual director!

Peace to you! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

This sounds like a very difficult situation. Persevere! Don't become discouraged!
You are being held up in prayer by so many saints and angels, as well as by the Church on earth!

I will certainly be praying for you too!

As far as the practical response: It may not be wise to fight with family too much right now ... better to focus on learning the faith well.

I would recommend a couple books:
1) St Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life" ... read a couple chapters a week ... this book teaches you how to become a saint ... it is the type of book that one can read and re-read for years and years and years!

2) The Catechism of the Catholic Church -- I wouldn't read it straight through, but it is a good reference book to look up particular questions.
The hard-cover book (green) is best ... as it has a good glossary and index.

3) "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton ... this is a great book for learning a Catholic vision of life ... he wrote it before he himself converted to the Catholic Church.

Beyond that ... please feel free to comment and ask questions here at NTM! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@AnaC (June 18),
This quote from the Catechism should help a bit!

CCC 832: "The phrase 'particular Church,' which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession.(313) These particular Churches 'are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists.'(314)"

The two footnotes are:
(313) Cf. CD 11; CIC, cann. 368-369; CCEO, cann. 171,1; 178; 311,1; 312.
(314) LG 23.

I would add that the local bishop is not really just the "Vicar of the Pope", but is truly the "Vicar of Christ" in his diocese ... in other words, he is not merely the connection of the local Church to the Pope (he is that), but he is also truly Christ for his diocese.
However, he still must be in union with the Pope, since Christ founded only one Church.

I hope that makes some sense! It is a very difficult question indeed -- and I do believe (as you mentioned) that the Catholic Church has a slightly different take on the issue than do the Orthodox.

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Neil (June 22),
Peace to you, brother! Good to hear from you!

As I understand it, we do not need to hold that all natural evils came into existence only after the fist sin.
Indeed, I am personally quite certain that animals died before the Fall of Adam -- spiders have been eating flies for a long long time! (at least, that is my personal opinion)

Man, however, would not have died if he had not sinned ... in the hypothetical state of pure nature, he would have died ... but, since he was created in the state of grace, he was given immortality as well -- and would never have died.
This, I believe, is what St Paul refers to when he says that death came to the world through sin -- not that there were no natural evils nor any death at all before sin, but that there was no human death until after sin.

Consider further, that God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from the other plants ... and if they ate them, then that would mean the death of plant life ... which is a "natural evil" ... hence, I am certain that there was/would have been natural evil even if Adam had never sinned.

However, not even natural evils would have harmed man ... though they would have, of course, harmed plants and animals, etc. (i.e. the sun would dry up water and dehydrate plants, etc.)

Hope that helps! Feel free to email me (at my gmail account) to catch up -- reginaldus[dot]ntm

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anxious girl,
Well always do feel free to ask any questions! I will do my best to respond. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Matt R,
In order to begin the process for canonization, you will want to have help from the bishop's office.

So, if you really think you have a case, talk to the parish priest and then go to the bishop (probably to his secretary first, then to the vicar general).
The bishop will then consider the case ... and he will probably take it from there.

If you are really convinced about this ... then don't give up easily! :-)

By "intercessory power" ... the Church really means: "Have any clear, scientifically verifiable miracles been worked through praying specifically to this individual after death?" and also, "Were there any miracles worked through his prayers during his life?"

Hope that helps! +

Matthew Roth said...

This man jumped into a septic tank to save his son (who has Down's Syndrome) from drowning, and the Bishop preached at his funeral saying he died a 'saintly death,' and I am convinced that he lived a life of virtue,
Yes I think Holy Mother Church has a case! I shall proceed Deo volente! Thank you Fr!

Anonymous said...

Hello Father, thank you for the helpful replies! :) I recently found out that many large companies openly support homosexuality, and that there are people who try not to purchase products from them. Would you say that purchasing or using already purchased products from these companies is a sin? For example, I got an iPod without knowing that Apple supports gay 'marriage'. I just found out today. Would it be somehow sinful to continue using the iPod? I think it's a good idea to avoid these companies (now that I know them) but some are difficult to avoid, for example both Apple and Microsoft are on the list, and they make the majority of computers. Do you have any thoughts on the matter from a moral theological perspective? Thank you so much! :) AnaC

Catholic 88 said...

Dear Fr.Erlenbush
can you explain the Church's teaching on revealing other people's sins.

Thank you

Catholic 88

Dan said...

Father, what does the Church teach concerning those Catholics who do not accept one or more of the dogmas of the Church? Should they continue to receive Communion? What about during times of doubt?

Ana said...

Dear Father,

I'd like to know: not going to the mass on sunday is a mortal sin?
I'm what we call a non-practicing catholic, but I'm reading more and more catolic books and theology and I understand the importance of Eucharist as the centrality of our christian life and consequently the necessity of attending the mass. I've read and taken for granted that not going to the mass on sundays is a mortal sin and although I know the importance of the mass, I never really accepted that missing a mass is a mortal sin. Only recently I remember confessing that I was not going to the mass on Sundays. And then I looked up the CCC and couldn't find any statement declaring this is a mortal sin. I then read the Canon Law Code and saw there was an obligation to go to the mass, but there's not a canon declaring that missing mass on sundays is a sin.
I'm worried because of the Church truly states that missing mass on sundays is a mortal sin, I'll have to confess first before taking communion. And I also know that the Church isn't making list of mortals sins anymore, as used to do in the past. I really think missing the mass is a sin, but I think it is a venial sin, one I could ask forgive during the appropriate moment in the mass.

Joshua H. said...

Hello Father,

I have 2 questions which are related to each other, for me at least.

I went to Confession recently with someone other than my normal Confessor filling in, and the Priest said, 'I forgive you' rather than 'I absolve you'. I took it for granted that it wasn't valid (in order to be safe; I guess Father Z, at some point, very tentatively said that he thinks such a practice is probably sacramentally valid, but he emphasized his tentativeness in his post) and went to my regular Confessor the next day. My Confessor, after hearing what had happened, pronounced the Rite of Absolution correctly immediately - before I confessed my sins to him! I asked him if that was valid anyways and he said that it was because I had already confessed to a competent authority, said authority acting in an illicit manner notwithstanding. I'd had enough uncertainty over the last 24 hours for my taste, so I asked him to hear my confession and absolve me afterwards according to the normal practice regardless, but my questions are predictable...

1) Is 'forgive' a sacramentally valid substitution for 'absolve', even though it is illicit?

2) In the case where one has already confessed one's sins to a Priest qualified to hear the Confession, is it valid (if illicit[?] and abnormal) when a totally different Priest who didn't hear said Confession pronounces an absolution? (Apparently in the eastern Churches they have one's confessor and the Priest who absolves separate persons as a matter of course; my knowledge is wholly insufficient to have an opinion on this.)

Thank you for all that you do Father!

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,
Is it only the Church Magisterium the one entitled to interpret Natural Law? If natural law is reachable through reason, it seems to me anyone can interpret the natural law. That said, the arguments in defense of Humanae Viatae as an interpretation of natural law by the Church, and that leading to a mandatory character to all catholics is not precise, because the Church don't have the monopoly of interpreting the natural law.
In this sense, Humanae Vitae is a piece representing the Church position, but it's not infallible for two reasons: the first one: there's no clear declararion about Its infallibility and also natural law can be interpret by all faithful as well, otherwise it won't be a natural law, but a kind of relevation like the one transmitted by the Holy Spirit to our Popes.
I'm not saying that Humanae Vitae is wrong. I'm just saying Humanae Vitae is not the definitive word about human sexuality, although it truly represents the current position defendend by the Church. I think this is something similar to the position on usury and slavery and also on capital punishment.


Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he shall be called, wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'

Christ is the eternal Son made flesh. If this passage refers to him (as it has been classically thought)howthen can he be called 'everlasting Father...' according to Isaiah 9:6

God bless.


savio cardoza said...

I need scriptural reference which describes the ascension of Mary into heaven. :-)

Picard said...

Rev. Fr. Erlenbush:

If you are inclined - as I am - to consider all the words "Hic est calix....peccatorum" as constituting the form of the sacrament,

then are you aware of it that this casts some doubt on the validity of vernacular Masses, where the wrong translation "for all" was/is used, at least if it is understood in contrast to what the Cat. Romanus teaches about the words "for many" in the Sacrifice of the Mass?

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

Does the Church teach that Mary is the Mediatrix of *all* graces, or only of some? How can we understand this?

Thanks so much!

prolifeDirector said...

I remember reading about a martyr saint who upon his execution, grabbed the sword and thrust it into himself with the intent of saving the executioner from committing the act of murdering an innocent person. I cannot find that reference, now. Do you recall such a saint? If my memory of this story is correct, how is this act reconciled with the fact that we can commit no evil (suicide) in order to do a good (preempting someone from committing mortal sin)?

Anonymous said...

Father, I was wondering if America could be considered the land of the New Testament like Israel is considered to be the land of the Old Testament? Thanks in advance for the help in answering this question. God bless you.

Unknown said...

Dear Father: Regarding loaves and fish and the Last Supper, did Jesus use barley loaves like the previous miracle and, if so, why not barley for today's Eucharist? Also, would this have been leavened or unleavened bread? Thanks so much.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I believe that it is not morally illicit to purchase from a bad company so long as: a) the product we buy is not immoral and b) we do not choose that company as a sign of support for their other bad practices.

So, I think it is ok to by an iPod ... though, I would recommend considering boycott of certain particularly bad companies. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Catholic 88,
Normally we do not reveal the sins of others without a grave reason ... in order to know more what you are looking for, please give an example or explain further.
Thanks! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

We must distinguish between simple confusion, true doubt, and outright denial.

If a person denies a dogma of the faith, then they ought not take Communion.

If, however, it is a confusion and they are trying to understand, there is no sin (necessarily).

On the other hand, true doubt is a sin -- but this is more than simply confusion, it is when we say "No, I don't think I can believe this, even though the Church teaches it."

Hope that helps! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Sorry for the delay in responding!

Yes, to miss Mass on Sunday without a serious reason (something like being in the hospital, not simply being on vacation) is a mortal sin -- when done with knowledge and freedom.

So, if you skip Mass on Sunday (or Saturday night), you must go to confession before going to Communion -- as there is no quicker way to lose our faith than to receive Communion in the state of mortal sin.

I know that this can be a bit shocking and somewhat "hard" to accept -- please do email me if you want to consider this matter further.

I will be praying for you! God is obviously leading you into a new place in the life of grace! Good things are in store for you -- let each us of be open to receiving the blessing of Christ our Savior! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Joshua H.,
Let us pray for our poor priests! So many problems, and so many people hurt!

1) Yes, I am theologically certain that the word "forgive" will suffice for sacramental absolution -- but it is a grave abuse.

2) No, under ordinary circumstances, a priest cannot grant absolution without the penitent confessing all mortal sins (or at least one venial sin).
So, I think that there was a mistake there -- however, be patient with your confessor, because it sounds like it was a very strange and unusual set of circumstances.
Personally, I suspect that both of those confessions were valid.

Hope that helps! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

You are correct in thinking that more than just the magisterium can discover natural law.

However, in the case of humanae vitae, there is no attempt at an infallible declaration -- because it is not a matter of revelation, but of natural law.
This means that while we do not say it has been declaired "infallibly", we do know that the Church's teaching is certain and correct.
Because it is not a matter of "interpreting" natural law -- it is a very clear point derived from the principles of human sexuality.

In this respect the teaching against contraception is quite different from those on usury or capital punishment -- because these later two are extremely nuanced and also open to all sorts of interpretations ... but contraception is quite clear.

However, there are certain debated cases -- where it is questionable whether a given act is truly "contraception" or not.
A simple example would be a hysterectomy to stop bleeding -- this prevents future conception, but is surely not a "contraceptive act".

Hope that helps a little bit! Thank you for the good questions!

and, by the way, you don't have to agree with me ... I'm only trying to explain the best I know how! :-) +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Yes, you are correct.

In fact, Jesus (the Son of God) is our Father in the order of grace. Hence, the Church occassionally calls him "Father" -- not that he is "God the Father", nor that he is "Father of the Son", but he is "Our Father" in the sense that he created us and redeemed us and begets the life of grace in us.

Likewise the Holy Spirit is sometimes called the "Father of the Poor".

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Check Revelation 12:1.

There are not many clear scriptural accounts of the Assumption ... simply because (it seems to me at least) a good portion of the Scriptures may have already been written before our Lady was taken up! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Actually, that argument is quite wrong.

The "words of institution" are not any one particular set formula which cannot ever change ... after all, Jesus did not say "Mysterium Fidei" at the Last Supper!

Rather, the "words" are valid or not depending on whether they convey the meaning.
Hence, even though the most ancient forms of consecration are slightly different from those we used at Trent and also from those used after Vatican II -- still, our more recent Mass (whether the TLM or the Novus Ordo) is valid.

The Traditionalist destroy their own cause when they make arguments like this! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Mary is mediatrix of "all" graces ... see the excellent little article by Dr Taylor Marshall on this:

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...


I don't recall the particular saint ... but a similar story comes from St. Apollonia.
This article discusses some of the relevant issues! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I cannot recall of the top of my head any specifics about whether or not it was barley loaves ... I am pretty sure no.

Yes, the bread was certainly unleavened -- because this was the practice from the Law, and our Lord was observing the Feast of Passover.

Peace! +

David said...

Dear father,

I recently became aware that some of those saints commemorated in Eastern Catholic calendars have been canonized during schism from Rome. Notably Gregory Palamas, Symeon the New Theologian and so on. I was wondering if you could expound on this point and how it agrees with Catholic doctrine and if there are any problems with this? Maybe something about the history of the adoption?

In Christ,

TD242 said...

I have a friend who needs help with praying. She says she believes but she has trouble feeling God's presence when she prays. She has just started praying, basically for the first time in her life. Is there any advice I could give her to help her?

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Ryan, thank you very much for the replies! I just read your article about fragments of the Eucharist. I'm having a bit of trouble understanding something in it... I always thought that every tiny particle - every atom - of the Host, is Jesus. Am I correct? I think at one part you said "of course it is", and later you talked about microscopic particles not being the Eucharist anymore. Are you referring to whether the microscopic particle is part of the larger fragment, or whether it's on its own? Am I understanding correctly that every atom that is part of the Host, is indeed Jesus, but if the atom happens to fall away from the Host - it no longer has the properties of bread? So as long as we can call it bread, it's the Eucharist? I don't know how small that has to be, but I understand about not being too scrupulous with these things. :) I know people talk about the danger in Communion in the hand because some of the particles might fall on the ground: are we talking about tiny particles but not individual molecules/atoms? I think this is confusing to think about, for me, but I wanted to ask if my understanding is correct, because sometimes I hear people talking about this. Thanks! :)
Ana C

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention in my previous post - I came across this link about the Eucharist, quoting Fr John Hardon: He talks about the physical properties of bread/wine needing to be there. Is this distinguished somehow from chemical properties? Does the doctrine refer to physical but not chemical, or both? I don't know if this is kind of getting too far into it. I think I'm just confused about the atoms. Thank you! :)
Ana C

Steven R said...

Fr. Erlenbush,
I read earlier a question regarding the Eastern Catholic saints who were in some remark anti-Western and anti-Catholic. My understanding is that they are considered saints not because of their schism but rather because of their virtues and striving for holiness. A very convincing Eastern Catholic showed me that certain saints like St. Mark of Ephesus though he was eventually against the union of the Orthodox and Catholics was well respected even by the Pope who remarked that if they could not have St. Mark's approval that the cause would be lost, simply on account of St. Mark's reputation and striving for authentic faith.

I hope this can help a bit. May God bless you well in your ministry Father.


Anonymous said...

Hello Father,

My question is regarding non-Catholic baptisms and how they are accepted by the Church. It appears that three criteria need to be met in order for baptism to be sacramentally valid. The baptism requires proper matter, proper form and proper intention. Proper matter and form are easy – the person must be baptized in water and under the Trinitarian Formula. My question is regarding proper intention. The definitions I find for proper intention is that the minister of baptism must intend what the Church intends when baptizing. That seems a bit vague. Could you explain?

I was baptized as an Evangelical and later converted to Roman Catholicism. When I converted, my Protestant baptism was accepted as valid and I only needed to receive Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation.

Evangelical Protestants baptize in water and baptize in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. As for intentions, they certainly intend to follow the Lord’s command to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Does that satisfy the third criteria of intending what the Church intends? Does simply intending to follow the Lord’s command in baptism satisfy the third criteria?

The Catholic Church intends that in baptism, the baptized receives the grace of the remission of sins. Baptism is a sacrament – as with all sacraments – their purpose is to confer a grace to the recipient. Evangelicals do not believe that baptism confers the grace of remission of sins. As I sure you know, they believe that salvation is obtained through faith in Christ alone. And that baptism, to them, is an “outward sign of an inward reality”. They typically will not even use the term “sacrament” in referring to baptism because of that term’s implied meaning of an action which confers a grace. Rather, they call baptism on of their two “ordinances”.

If Evangelicals do not “intend” to wash away sins through baptism – but only to proclaim that the person has had their sins washed through faith in Jesus, can their baptism be considered valid? Should I have been conditionally baptized?

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, two doubts: one about how Inshould pray and another about how I should honor my grandma's soul.
I prayed asking for the health of my grandmother. I asked for the intercession of Saint Ann and Our Lady, and prayed for the Sacred Heart (just like Father Pio of Pietrelcina) and Merciful Jesus. Despite all my prayers, my grandma didn't resist and died. I was told that I should have prayed for our Father's will be done. Well, I prayed for my grandma's recovery and by doing that I was asking what I thought it would be best for her. If Our Father had another plans, He would simply disregard my prayer and do the best for her. Am I wrong?
A second question: what kind of prayer can I do for honoring my gradma's soul? May I ask the Church to celebrate mass in her intention? May I ask her to intercede in my favor, if I think she's in heaven? May I "light" virtual candles in her honor?

James said...

Dear Father,
Recently a friend said that the understanding of the Sacraments were not clearly understood in the Early Church and the theology developed over time. This I quite happily agreed to.
However he went on to say that St Augustine or others had talked about 100s of sacraments and sacramentals. So the idea of just 7 sacraments were not clearly defined until the Council of Trent.
My question is: If this is true then how can we confidently say that Jesus instituted 7 and only 7 sacraments? It would in fact mean that the Church made up the sacraments from what we believe Jesus said. Can you please clarify this dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your work. Please can you answer this? For almost 2000 years scripturally the words of consecration in latin were "hoc est enim... Hic est..."; "This is My Body..." etc. This is scriptural and logical. If in persona Christe the Priest says this piece of bread is My Body, we recieve a miracle and then, a proclamation can be made past tense about the sacred
Blood. HOW THEN HAS THE CHURCH ADDED WHAT EVEN SHE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO ADD. "Pro hoc est enim...corpus meum. "For this (already is) my body. A proclamation past tense not in scripture. This is not a consecration but a false proclamation, and not the only but certainly the main aberration of the "new" mass.
According to canon law does this not invalidate the new so called "consecrarion"? Please pray for me.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous (3:50pm),
That is an absurd comment.
The Latin is as it has always been -- Hoc est enim and Hic est enim.
There is no "pro" ... perhaps you are so confused that you think the english word "For" in "For this is my body" is translating some latin preposition "pro", rather than the adverd "enim".
There is no past tense is the words of consecration ... not in Latin, not in English, and not in the Novus Ordo or Traditional Mass.

You need to learn a little more Latin ... and a lot more humility ... stop all this silly nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Father, what about the other questions?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the above answers. I have a couple.
1. A priest once gave me absolution saying, "I absolve your sins ...." instead of saying "I absolve you from your sins ..." Would that be valid? I corrected him however.

2. How careful do we have to be in cleaning up the crumbs on the corperol during mass. Some priests just leave them, some are too scrupulous. The church has a saying "virtue stands in the middle". Where would that be in this case?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Father. I too am wondering if you will address the other questions. Been checking back since early August when I posted my question.

Anonymous said...

How do you answer a new Christian movement that says no one go to Hell forever (spiritual death) because of the scripture that says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." They say that that means that even spiritual death will be no more and everyone will live.

Also they use the scripture that says that Jesus is the savior of the world to support their claim, as in he actually saved everyone and no one will die forever.


Petrus Augustinus said...


What is it with the blog? Are you going to continue it? I hope everything is alright with you.

Matthew Roth said...

Dear Father,
There is a video store here in my city that rents all sorts of weird, cult, classic, or otherwise hard-to-find movies, and it's the only place of its kind in the area. The problem is that many of the independent films include themes of sexuality, sometimes to the point of being pornographic, and in fact a section of their store is openly dedicated to pornography.
Is it morally acceptable for one to rent movies from the store? Or, should we tolerate it, considering that these movies are hard to find (many being movies like Diary of a Country Priest, all expensive and not usually found locally for purchase but very valuable intellectually, emotionally, and morally)?

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