Monday, May 2, 2016

The Church Can Allow Eating Strangled Animals, But She Can't Ever Allow "Pornea"

6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 15:1-2,22-29

That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication: from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. (Acts 15:29)

In the first reading this past Sunday, we heard a list of things forbidden to the Christian, among which are blood, the meat of strangled animals, and “pornea” (translated as “fornication”). Did the Church really forbid eating these things? If that law could change, could the laws against fornication change? Could the Church sanction public adultery (under the form of divorce and remarriage)?

Sunday Sermon, May 1 -- Mary, True Spouse of the Holy Spirit (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Sermon of Father Ryan Erlenbush, given at Corpus Christi Catholic Parish in Great Falls, MT.

The Bible shows Mary to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit, through whom he desires to come into the world and produce Jesus Christ. Acts of the Apostles shows a Christian Church which is gathered around Mary through whose intercession the Spirit descends in power.

There is much fruit to be gained from meditating upon the intimate union of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Daily Sermons -- August 20, 26-30 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Daily Sermons, August 20 and 26-30.

St Agnes, St Cletus, St Peter Canisius, St Louis de Montfort, St Peter Martyr, St Catherine of Siena.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How St. Louis de Montfort Changed the Rosary

April 28th, Feast of St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Have you ever noticed that there is no separate bead for the Glory be prayer in the Rosary? Containing 59 beads, the Rosary string has specific beads only for the 53 Hail Marys and the six Our Fathers. Although certain methods of praying the Rosary will assign the Glory be or Fatima prayers to one bead or another, there is clearly no universally solidified practice – in many places the Glory be will be prayed on the “chain” between the final Hail Mary bead of one decade and the Our Father bead of the following decade.

The cause for this slight “confusion” (if we can call it that) as to in which place the Glory be is to be prayed is found in the fact that the Rosary did not originally include the Glory be (or, of course, the Fatima prayer). This little prayer was added by the great Apostle of the Rosary, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, showing the essentially Trinitarian character of his Marian devotion.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Who was St Mark? And Why is he pictured as a lion?

April 25th, Feast of St Mark the Evangelist

In the Roman Martyrology for April 25th, we find: “At Alexandria, the [heavenly] birthday of Blessed Mark the Evangelist, he, for the faith of Christ, being stretched and bound with cords, was dragged over the rocks, and grievously tormented. Afterwards, being shut up in prison, he was first comforted by an angelic vision, and at last by the appearance of the Lord Himself, by whom he was called to the heavenly kingdom in the eighth year of Nero.”

In honor of this great saint and evangelist, we do well to consider certain details of his person. Who was he? Is he John Mark? Was he a priest? Had he ever met Jesus? Why is he presented under the figure of a lion?

Who was Saint Mark?

While there are some who maintain that St Mark the Evangelist was among the 72 disciples and had for a time lapsed from the true faith only to be re-converted and reconciled through St Peter some time after Pentecost, it is better to assert that St Mark had never known Christ during his earthly life but was converted to the faith by St Peter some time in the first years after Pentecost. This is the most natural read of Sacred Scripture, when St Peter testifies that St Mark is his spiritual son (“Mark, my son”, 1 Peter 5:13).

Some maintain that the young man who followed our Lord after his arrest in the Garden but who was then seized by the soldiers and abandoned his garment to flee away naked into the night (cf. Mark 14:51) is St Mark the Evangelist, but nothing in the text indicates this. Indeed, while it is clear that this young man must not have been one of the Apostles (who had already fled), there is no indication that he is the Author of the Gospel either. Rather, it is more probably that he was either some other disciple of the Lord who had only just come upon the scene, or with less probability, he may have been John Mark (who is supposed to have been the man who owned the house in which the Last Supper took place).

Indeed, another common confusion is to identify St Mark the Evangelist with John Mark who was a disciple of St Paul and traveled with St Paul and Barnabas in their missionary journeys through Greece. John Mark is referred to by St Paul in his Letter to Philemon as well as in Colossians 4 and 2 Timothy 4. However, that John Mark is not the same as Mark the Evangelist is clear from this point: St Mark the Evangelist was the close disciple of St Peter and was with St Peter in Rome at the same time that John Mark was with St Paul in Greece. Indeed, the ancient tradition connects St Mark the Evangelist with the cities of Aquileia in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt – John Mark, on the other hand, is not known to have preached the Gospel in these places.

Thus, following Father Cornelius a Lapide, it is perhaps best to assert that St Mark the Evangelist was an Hebrew and likely a priest of the tribe of Levi (as St Bede the Venerable teaches). He was converted to Christianity and baptized by St Peter some time after Pentecost, and accompanies the Prince of the Apostles even to Rome. Later, he was sent by St Peter to preach the Gospel in Egypt and was Bishop of the Church in Alexandria. Here he gave witness to Christ through martyrdom.

Why is St Mark pictured as a lion?

And as for the likeness of their faces: there was the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four. (Ezekiel 1:10)

The Church interprets the four living creatures as symbolic of the four Evangelists. Borrowing from Ezekiel and from the Book of Revelation, we see St Matthew pictured as a man, St Mark as a lion, St Luke as an ox, and St John as an eagle. Why is St Mark represented by the figure of a lion?

The images of the four Evangelists are taken in large part from the manner in which they begin their Gospels. As St Matthew begins with the human geneology of Jesus, he is pictured as a man. St John soars to the heights of the eagle with In the beginning was the Word,  and St Luke calls to mind the sacrificial offering of the ox beginning with the sacrifice which Zachariah offered in the Temple. Thus also St Mark, who opens with the mighty roar of St John the Baptist’s call to repentance, is pictured under the powerful image of the lion.

An additional meaning which could be signified by the lion relates to a tradition which considers St Mark as the founder of monastic life and of the desert fathers. Since St Mark is the father of the Church of Alexandria and since this Church produced the great movement of consecrated religious life as hermit, anchorite, monk, or nun, St Mark is rightly considered by St Jerome and John Cassian to be the founder of monasteries and hermitages. Now, lions are often connected with the desert fathers and other ancient monks -- whether we think of St Paul the Hermit and St Anthony of Egypt (whose graves were dug by lions), or of St Jerome (pictured with the lion he cured), or even St Blase (who as a hermit was surrounded by lions and other wild beasts). Therefore, the image of the lion calls to mind St Mark's connection with Alexandria and his role as the spiritual father of religious life in the Church.  

Additional notes to support our thesis above:

St Jerome (Catalogue of Ecclesiatical Writers: “Mark was a disciple and interpreter of St Peter. At the request of the brethren at Rome, he wrote a short Gospel, based upon what he had heard St Peter relate. This, when Peter had heard, he approved of, and sanctioned its being read in the Church […] Mark took his Gospel, which he had compiled, and went to Egypt. He first preached Christ at Alexandria, and founded a Church there, which possessed such great purity of doctrine and life that it influenced all followers of Christ by its example.”

Again, St Jermone (Introduction to the Commentary on Matthew): “Mark, the interpreter of the Apostle Peter, who indeed had not himself seen the Lord, the Saviour, but had heard his master’s preaching, related according to the truth of the things which were done, rather than the order in which they were done.”

Clement of Alexandria (tom. 6, in Biblioth. Patr. in Edit. Parisiensi.): “Mark, the follower of Peter, when Peter was preaching the Gospel publicly at Rome, in the presence of certain knights of Caesar’s household, and was advancing many testimonies about Christ, being requested by them, wrote from the things which were spoken by Peter a Gospel, which is called that according to Mark.”

Sunday Sermon, April 24 - Eucharistic Love

Sermon Given at Corpus Christi Parish by Father Ryan Erlenbush. April 24, 5th Sunday of Easter.

"As I have loved you, so you should love one another."

The new commandment of love is given in the context of the Last Supper, indicating that this a Eucharistic Love. Holy Communion inspires within us a love of our fellow Catholic and christian, a love of the poor, and a love of all people.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sunday Sermon, April 17 -- Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd, and the Call to Celibacy

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Easter - April 17, 2016 -- Given by Father Ryan Erlenbush at Corpus Christi Parish, Great Falls, Montana.

"My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me."

A note prior to the sermon discusses the recent Exhortation written by Pope Francis (what the Pope himself actually says is important to focus on, rather than what the media focuses on).

Sermon: Hearing the voice of Jesus in my heart requires hearing his voice in the magisterium of the Church, following his voice by living a moral life, and listening for his voice in daily prayer. We then consider the call to the priesthood and the religious life, specifically the vocation to celibacy which is the happiest life this side of heaven.