Apr 29, 2015

April 28th -- Who was St. John the Evangelist? The history of the life of the Beloved Disciple. Adult Formation on the Gospel of St John, session 2

Catholic Commentary on the Gospel of St. John

An overview of the life of the Beloved Disciple. Who was St. John? The son of Zebedee, the brother of James the Greater, the caretaker of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the theologian and priest and prophet, the Evangelist.

Handout is below the audio recording.


Good Shepherd Sunday, April 26 -- Christ alone feeds his flock with his own doctrine

Christ is the Good Shepherd who feeds and defends his sheep.
He feeds them with his own teaching, and he defends them by dying that they might live.

The Church is a big tent, all are welcome, there is room for everyone. But Jesus is the Shepherd and he alone feeds the sheep, and there is only one Gospel and one doctrine. Therefore, all are welcome, but not all ideas. There is room for everyone, but not room for every opinion.
In fact, no other doctrine is welcome in the Church, but that which is professed as the true Faith. And there isn't room for any opinions in the Church when it comes to matters of faith and morals.

And priests who preach their own opinion or who dissent from Church teaching are not your friends, they are the enemies of your salvation, they are wolves and not shepherds.

Priests today are called to lay down their lives for the sheep. That means sacrificing their reputation in order to teach the truth that comes from Christ, through his Church!


Listen online [here]!



Daily Homilies, April 21 - 25

Daily Homilies for the 3rd Week of Easter.
St Anselm, the Good Shepherd, St George, St Fidelis, St Mark.


Apr 22, 2015

April 21 -- Who wrote the 4th Gospel? Adult Formation Course on the Gospel of St. John, Session 1

Introduction to Catholic Commentary on the Gospel according to St. John.

Catholic commentaries on the Gospel of St. John. The preeminence of this Gospel.
Discussion of who wrote this Gospel -- Who was the beloved disciple?

See handout below the audio recording.


Apr 20, 2015

Sunday Sermon, April 19 -- Jesus was made known in the breaking of bread

This Sunday Gospel is the continuation of the apparition to Cleophas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus. As Jesus appears to convince the apostles and disciples that it is truly he himself, present in his very body, he is also attesting to the fact that he is present to his Church always in the "breaking of bread", i.e. in the Eucharist.

We also discuss who this Cleophas was -- the father of James the Less and Jude Thaddeus, the grandfather of James the Greater and John, and the brother of St. Joseph.

Listen online [here]!




Apr 16, 2015

Another handout on Friday Penance all year

Below, please find another article on Friday penance that may be helpful to distribute to family and friends. This article was written by a priest friend of Father Ryan's, and says essentially the same, only in a bit more accessible language!

At the end, please find an homily which explains the logic of fasting and abstinence.

Catholics Must Do Penance on Every Friday Throughout the Year

Below, please find the text of the "Father's Corner" from Corpus Christi Parish, given on Easter Sunday.

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FATHER’S CORNER – Penance on Fridays through the year

As we conclude the season of Lent and enter into the joyful Easter season, it is good to review the penance and fasting which the Church requires of all Catholics throughout the entire year. Indeed, we know that penance is the badge of our spiritual combat; and, as the Christian warfare against vice and temptation knows no rest, neither do we rest from the regular practice of penance.

Let’s review the Canon Law of the Church:
Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. […]
Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. […]
Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

It is clear that each and every Friday through the entire year is a day of penance. This is prescribed by the Law of the Church. In the Universal Church, Catholics are obligated to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. Because Americans are weak in their faith, the US Bishops have obtained permission for some other form of penance for Fridays outside of Lent. However, we must recall that all US Catholics are obligated to do penance of some sort on every Friday of the year (excepting if it be a solemnity; for examples this year, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on June 12, or Christmas on December 25). Penance on Fridays is binding on all Catholics from 14 years until death. There is no upper age limit to abstaining from meat or some other form of penance outside of Lent. However, the two days of fasting (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) bind only from 18 to 60 years – Catholics are strongly encouraged, but not bound, to fast also on Holy Saturday.

But how serious is this obligation? After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI issued a declaration regarding the necessity of penance in the Christian life. Regarding abstinence from meat (or some other penance as determined by the Bishops’ Conference) on every Friday throughout the year, the Pope states, in 1966, “Their substantial observance binds gravely.” (Paenitemini, Norm II.2) This was further clarified by the Vatican, stating that omitting a part of the prescript of penance “which is notable either quantitatively or qualitatively, without an excusing motive” is a grave sin. (Dubium of 31 March 1967).

What does this mean? It means that Catholics are bound under pain of mortal sin to practice penance on every Friday throughout the year, and not just during Lent. The universal way in which Catholics practice this penance is by abstaining from meat. However, in the USA other forms of penance may be substituted, but some sort of penance is mandatory. To omit penance on numerous Fridays (even outside of Lent) without a grave reason would be a mortal sin.


Let us take up our Cross and follow Christ! He is truly Risen from the dead! Those who share in his Cross will one day share also in the glory of his Resurrection!

Apr 12, 2015

Sermon for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12

Pope Francis has announced a year of mercy!
It is important to consider what is true hope in Divine Mercy and how the devil tempts us to presumption and then to despair.

If I sin against justice, I can run to mercy. But if I sin against mercy, where shall I turn? I will be lost.
To sin against mercy is to say, "A merciful God wouldn't really send anyone to hell." Or, "I can commit this sin, God is merciful and he will forgive me if I repent."

However, now is the time of mercy! Now is the time to repent and receive the infinite riches of Divine Mercy!
There is no sin that cannot be overcome, if we turn to God's mercy. I am convinced that we will all be saints, if only we accept Divine Mercy in our lives TODAY, not tomorrow or the next day, but right now.

Listen online [here]!

Apr 11, 2015

Daily Sermons in the Easter Octave

Daily Sermons, April 8-11.
The Ten Gospel Apparitions of Jesus, Who was Cleophas?, Conversion of Peter and the Jews, Ad Orientem.

Apr 8, 2015

Sunday Sermon, March 29 -- Palm Sunday -- A description of the Passion, part 2

A description of certain details of the last stations of the Cross, taken from St Alphonsus, St Mary of Agreda and other mystics.

The 7 Last Words of Jesus.


Apr 6, 2015

What's the "right way" to wash feet on Holy Thursday?



Is there a “right way” to wash feet on Holy Thursday?

During the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, it is permitted for the priest to perform a ritual foot washing in imitation of the Lord who washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper. This practice takes various forms in parishes throughout the world and even in our own city. The typical Catholic may wonder, What is the “right way” to wash feet on Holy Thursday? Is there a “right way”?

As with all things in the Sacred Liturgy, there is most certainly a “right way” – and the “right way” is very clearly indicated by the Vatican (both by the Pope himself and by the appropriate Vatican Congregations). Not only in the liturgical books themselves but also in numerous clarifications which have been given both to bishops and to the lay faithful, the Vatican has told us how to perform this rite.

First, what does the Roman Missal (the book that the priest uses to celebrate the Mass) actually say about the foot washing at the Holy Thursday evening Mass? “The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest … goes to each one, and … pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them.”

Notice that the Missal speaks of “men who have been chosen” and further indicates that it is the priest alone who washes feet. This tells us precisely what is the “right way” to do the foot washing.

Must only men have their feet washed? Yes, the word used in the official Latin edition of the Missal (viri) means men and not women. This was clarified by the Vatican in 1988 (Congregation for Divine Worship, Paschalis Solemnitas, 51). Further clarification was provided in 2008, the same Vatican Congregation stated, “the washing of feet is reserved to ‘chosen men’ (viri selecti), that is, male persons.” (Dubium of 20 May 2008) While it is true that bishops could request permission to deviate from this law and permit women’s feet to be washed in particular circumstances, Bishop Warfel has not received this permission. Hence, it is contrary to the law of the Church and a liturgical abuse for a priest to wash women’s feet at the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Must these individuals be chosen ahead of time? Yes, the Missal clearly states that the men “have been chosen”, i.e. they are to be selected before the celebration of the Mass.
Must the priest be the only one who washes feet at the Holy Thursday evening Mass? Yes, again it is clear that “the priest goes to each one….”
What does this tell us about the “right way” to do the foot washing? From this, we can see that it is contrary to the Church’s vision of the Holy Thursday Mass for “foot washing stations” to be set up around the church where anyone and everyone can simply come forward and both have their feet washed as well as wash the feet of others. Such a practice violates Church law both with regard to the fact that the men must be chosen beforehand and also because the priest alone is directed to wash feet.

To be clear, at the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, only men can have their feet washed, and only the priest can wash the feet of these men – and these men must be chosen before the Mass begins. Anything else is an abuse, and contrary to the mind of the Church.




Question and Answer – Washing Feet on Holy Thursday

Didn’t Pope Francis wash women’s feet?! Yes, his Holiness Pope Francis did wash the feet of women in a manner which is contrary to the law of the Church. However, the Pope is not bound by the liturgical laws in the same way as others – he is Supreme Legislator and therefore is permitted to make deviations from the universal law. Since the Pope promulgates the law, he can dispense from the law and he can even dispense himself from the law. The Pope did nothing wrong when he washed women’s feet.

Doesn’t that mean that it’s ok for other priests to wash women’s feet? No, it does not. Pope Francis is allowed to dispense himself from this liturgical law, but this does not automatically dispense all other priests. The Pope certainly could change this law, but he has not – nor has he ever given any indication that he wants other priests to wash women’s feet. The law of the Church still states only men.

But can’t the bishop allow it? Yes, the bishop of a local diocese could allow for women’s feet to be washed on Holy Thursday. However, he would have to petition the Holy See for a dispensation from the law. Bishop Warfel has never received this dispensation. Therefore, in the Diocese of Great Falls – Billings, priests are not permitted to wash women’s feet. Neither are “foot washing stations” in which the people wash each others’ feet permitted.

What’s the big deal? That is a good question. It is hard to understand why some people make such a fuss insisting that the priest should or must wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday. It shouldn’t be a big deal at all – the priests should simply do what the Church tells them to do, and the people should be grateful to be shepherded by priests who are obedient to Holy Mother Church.

Can a priest or bishop wash the feet of women in another ceremony outside of the Mass? Absolutely. In fact, there are many reasons why this might be a good practice. We know that, in the glories of the 12th century, the Pope would wash the feet of 12 deacons at the conclusion of his Holy Thursday Mass, and then wash the feet of 13 poor people after his evening meal. Bishop Warfel performed such a foot washing this year at the St. Vincent de Paul in Great Falls. This practice is very meaningful, but it has a different meaning from the foot washing at the Holy Thursday evening Mass.


Why does the Church insist that, at the Holy Thursday evening Mass, only the priest is allowed to wash feet, and only previously chosen men are allowed to have their feet washed? What does it all mean? The washing of feet at the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper calls to mind the institution of the Holy Priesthood. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the Church these two gifts: The Eucharist and the Priesthood. When the Lord washed the feet of his Twelve Apostles, this called to mind the ritual washing with which Aaron and his sons were cleansed before being ordained priests (Leviticus 8). For this reason, in more ancient times, only the bishop washed feet and only priests (twelve of them) had their feet washed – and the foot washing was not practiced in parish churches at all. The ritual foot washing at the Holy Thursday evening Mass is meant to remind us of how Jesus ordained twelve men as his priests, and through this priesthood he gives us the Eucharist. Because only men can be priests, the Church currently requires that only men have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.


Below, you will find a sermon on the theological meaning of the Triduum and why the Church currently requires that only the priest wash feet and that he wash the feet of men only.

Easter Sermons

Easter Sermons.
Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Morning.

Easter Vigil -- Christ our Passover
Listen online [here]!



Easter Sunday Morning -- Proofs of the Resurrection
Listen online [here]!


Sermons for the Sacred Triduum

Sermons for the Sacred Triduum.

Holy Thursday - Sermon on why the priest washes the feet of 12 men at  the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

Good Friday - Our Lady of Sorrows

Easter Vigil - Christ our Passover

Apr 3, 2015

Daily Sermons, Holy Tuesday.

Daily Sermons of Holy Week -- Tuesday.

Timeline for Holy Week, Total Consecration.