Oct 16, 2017

Holy Day of Obligation, November 1st

Wednesday, November 1st is an Holy Day of Obligation: The Solemnity of All Saints'.

To fulfill the obligation (note: It is a mortal sin to skip Mass on an holy day of obligation):

Tuesday, October 31st - 5:30pm  (Sung Mass in English, no incense)
    *followed by All Saints' Party in the church basement

Wednesday, November 1st - 7am  (Spoken Mass in English)
Wednesday, November 1st - 5:30pm  (Solemn Mass with Latin and incense)

Sunday Sermon, October 15 -- The Miracle of the Sun, part 2

The apocalyptic aspects of the miracle of the sun (13 October 1917) point to the apocalyptic message of Fatima.

An eyewitness to the miracle, "Everyone within an area of 32 miles thought it was the end of the world."

Sr Lucia, in 1945, "The Most Holy Virgin did not tell me that we are in the last times of the world, but She made me understand this for three reasons. First, the devil is in the mood for engaging in the final battle. Second, because She said that the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary are the last two remedies [given to the world] which signifies that there will be no others. Third, because God offers His Most Holy Mother as the last means of salvation. If we despise and repulse this last means, we will not have any more forgiveness from Heaven."

Our Lady of Akita (13 October 1973), "The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their fellow priests. Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises. The devil will tempt many priests and consecrated religious to leave the service of the Lord."


Listen online [here]!



Oct 14, 2017

October 13, Fatima Procession Talk

A brief overview of the history of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

October 12 - Adult Ed Course on the Angels, Session 2: The Angels at their creation and fall

Session 2 of our adult ed series on the angels



Objectives for Session 2: Angels at their creation and fall
1) Review what follows from the fact that angels are immaterial, pure spiritual beings
2) Consider the ways in which an angel, though perfect in himself, could possibly fall

3) Consider the wonderful obedience of the good angels


Oct 10, 2017

Sunday Sermon, October 8 -- The Miracle of the Sun, Part 1

As we near the 100th Anniversary of the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal, we consider the miracle first as an historical event (this week) and then as an apocalyptic sign (next week).

What is a miracle? How do we determine if a miracle has occurred? Why should we learn about this miracle? What really happened on 13 October 1917?

The Miracle of the Sun is a unique event in human history: Predicted three months in advance as to the precise date, time, and place, this miracle was witnessed by over 70,000 people from as far as 30 miles away.

Those present on 13 October 1917 "included believers and non-believers, pious old ladies and scoffing young men. Hundreds, from these mixed categories, have given formal testimony. Reports do vary; impressions are in minor details confused, but non to our knowledge has directly denied the visible prodigy of the sun."   "The witnesses of the event were indeed innumerable, their testimonies agree and we are flooded with the documents they have left us."


Listen online [here]!







Oct 5, 2017

October 5 - Adult Ed Course on the Angels, Session 1: Who are the angels?

Session 1 of our adult ed series on the angels.

OBJECTIVES FOR SESSION 1: WHO ARE THE ANGELS?

1) To understand that angels are each their own species, and therefore have great diversity.
2) To recognize that angels know some but not all things, and not the hidden thoughts of men or the future.
3) To understand something of the way that angels are “within time” – aeviternity and discrete time

4) To appreciate the multitude of the angelic host


Oct 4, 2017

Sunday Sermon, October 1 -- On Vows and Promises, the Vow of Widowhood

When we hear of the two sons, one who made a vow and didn't fulfill it and the other who made no vow but nevertheless did what was good, we might ask whether it is beneficial to make a vow or promise to the Lord.

We ought not to make a vow or a promise to God carelessly, lest we commit a greater sin by not fulfilling our vow. However, we also recognize that many acts of devotion do not involve a strict vow but rather are a commitment to striving to improve.

It is good to make vows or promises to the Lord for at least three reasons: 1) That which we vow is now offered as an act of religion.  2) We give God not only the present good work, but also the future works which are vowed.  3) Our resolve is strengthened to persevere in the good work even when it is difficult.

Finally, we discuss the Vow of Widowhood as presented by St Francis de Sales.


Listen online [here]!










Sep 26, 2017

2017-07-24 The Workers Hired Last Are Made First (Sunday Sermon)

All of Scripture has two senses: The literal sense and the spiritual sense. The literal sense is the "historical sense" which is conveyed by the words themselves. The spiritual sense is the "mystical sense" which is conveyed by the realities of salvation history which point to other realities.

Example: The literal sense of the story of the Exodus is the historical event by which Moses and the Israelites went forth from the land of Egypt. A spiritual sense of the Exodus is that Jesus is the Passover Lamb and the passage through the Red Sea is Christian baptism.

The literal sense of the parable is that the covenant which was first offered to the Jews (hired early in the day) is now offered to the Gentiles (hired at the end of the day). It also indicates that those who have been faithful all life long (hired early in the day) and those who convert later in life (hired at the end of the day) will receive the same essential joy of heaven (the daily wage).

A spiritual sense of the parable is that we all have strengths (those hired early in the day) and weaknesses (those hired late in the day), and God wants to use both for his glory.


Listen online [here]!




Sep 17, 2017

Sunday Sermon, September 17 -- The Catholic Approach to St Paul (Sermons on Romans, Part 9)

We come to the conclusion of the Church's reading of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans which has continued for the past three months from the last Sunday of June to the second to the last Sunday of September. St Paul directs our focus entirely to Jesus Christ.

Looking back over the Letter, we revisit the question of faith and works, of grace and free will. Martin Luther's fundamental philosophical error of thinking that an action cannot be both fully of God and fully of man -- but, in truth, God is fully the primary cause of our good works and we are fully the secondary cause of our good works. When we cooperate with God's grace, we merit our salvation.

The protestant doctrine of "grace alone" leads quickly to the idea of "double predestination."  If a man is saved without any reference to his good works, but simply by God's choice; another is damned without any reference to his sins, but simply by God's choice. This is precisely what John Calvin taught, and this is where protestant theology ultimately leads.  However, as Catholics, we believe that human choice really makes a difference -- and we are saved by our good works, or damned by our sins.

Fundamentally, Martin Luther and the protestants approach Scripture in a way very different from how all Christians have always read the Bible. Luther starts with St Paul, and then forces all of the rest of the Bible to "fit" into his interpretation of Romans. However, Christians have always given priority to the Gospels, and then the rest of the Bible (including St Paul) is interpreted in light of Jesus' preaching and ministry.


Listen online [here]!




Sep 15, 2017

Truth and Tolerance: Catholicism in an age of relativism (Talk to GFCCHS Senior Class)

This is a talk given to the seniors at Great Falls Central Catholic High School, during their senior retreat this year (15 September 2017). It's a very casual setting and a very casual talk.

What is truth?
We can see truth either after the analogy of a river or a tree. The river: All the streams start in different places, but flow to the river which itself flows to the ocean. All belief systems and claims ultimately lead to the same truth.

The tree: The trunk starts as one, but the branches go off in every direction and end up in very different places. Man begins with the same search for truth, but the different belief systems and claims ultimately lead to very different places and do not converge into a single truth.

Christianity proposes that only the teachings of Jesus lead ultimately to the truth. Only through Christ is there salvation. Different religions and different beliefs really do lead to different places -- Christianity leads to heaven, every other belief system ultimately leads only to hell. However, non-Christians can be saved, not through their gods or their own merits but through the grace of Christ and the Catholic Church.

What is tolerance?
This claim seems arrogant to modern man -- even more, it seems intolerant to claim that Christ is right and everyone else is wrong. But what is tolerance?

Tolerance can only exist when we have different beliefs in contact (and conflict) with one another. If we all believe the same thing, that isn't tolerance it's agreement. If all beliefs ultimately lead to the same truth, there isn't room for true tolerance - because really we are all in agreement. Likewise, if we don't allow for real discussion and debate, we don't have tolerance we only have separation.

Christianity believes in true tolerance: Allowing different ideas and beliefs to be discussed and debated. And Christianity affirms that the truth is itself compelling to the human mind. We do not use power or external force to compel a man to accept the truth - we use discussion and debate, to allow the splendor of truth to shine forth.

The dictatorship of relativism
Joseph Ratzinger, just prior to be elected Pope Benedict XVI, stated that there is a growing "dictatorship of relativism" in which any claim to possessing absolute truth is cast aside or even persecuted. The relativistic age in which we live has no room for real discussion or debate, but rather forces all to accept the doctrine that truth is relative -- what is true for me, is only true for me and not for everyone else.

But we believe that there is absolute truth, and that this truth will appeal to all people, if only we present it in love. That's our job: To spread the truth, and trust that God will make the seed of truth grow.


Listen online [here]!





Sunday Sermon, September 10 -- On Excommunication

"If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector."

We consider the doctrine of excommunication. Jesus himself not only gives the Church the right to excommunicate, but even mandates excommunication in certain cases of obstinate grave sin. To treat a brother like "a Gentile," is nothing less than to excommunicate him.

What is excommunication? It's much more than simply not being allowed to receive communion. Many cannot receive communion, but they are not thereby excommunicated. Excommunication means cutting a person off from the whole Body of Christ - he is no longer in communion with the Church. When a man has been excommunicated, the Church no longer even prays for him - he is not even permitted to attend the Mass.

However, excommunication has never meant that a person is condemned to hell. Excommunication refers to the relation of a man to the Church on earth, it is not a claim about what might happen to a man's soul after death. Indeed, we do not judge the man's soul, and we trust that God is continually offering the grace necessary for his conversion and salvation.

Excommunication is a medicinal act - it's medicine. The Church (Pope Francis included) excommunicates people so as to call them to conversion. Ultimately, excommunication is all about salvation.


Listen online [here]!




Sep 3, 2017

Sunday Sermon, September 3 -- Christian Morality in Romans (Sermons on Romans, Part 8)

This Sunday, we begin reading from the second part of St Paul's Letter to the Romans which focuses on Christian Morality, living the life of grace.

This portion of the Letter is often quoted by Protestants in contradiction to Catholic practice. St Paul states that Christians need not keep specific days as holy or as days of penance, nor need we abstain from meat.  "For one believeth that he may eat all things." (Romans 14:2) or again "For one judgeth between day and day: and another judgeth every day." (Romans 14:5)

In fact, St Paul is speaking of the Jewish holy days and the Mosaic dietary laws -- Christians no longer must keep the ritual days of the Mosaic Law, neither do we follow the Old Testament rules about clean and unclean foods. St Paul is certainly not forbidding the Christian holy days or Christian fasting - he himself kept days holy and others as days of fasting, in honor of the Christian mysteries (Sunday for the Resurrection, Friday for the Passion).

Listen online [here]!



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Outline of St Paul's Letter to the Romans

This Letter discusses the grace of Christ in itself.

I. The Doctrine of Grace
A. (Chapters 1-4) The Necessity of Grace. One is not saved by Greek philosophy or by the Jewish Law, but only by the grace of Christ.
B. (Chapters 5-8) The Effects of Grace. By grace, we are freed from the law of sin, the law of death, the law of the flesh, and the law of Moses.
C. (Chapters 9-11) The Origins of Grace. "Salvation is from the Jews." St Paul discusses the relation of the Jews and Gentiles in the one Church of Christ.

II. The Life of Grace
A. (Chapters 12 & 13) Christian Perfection in itself.
B. (Chapters 14 - 15:13) How those who are advanced in the faith should support those whose faith is weak.
C. (Chapters 15:14-16) Specific issues for the Roman church. And the conclusion of the Letter.








Aug 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon, August 27 -- What We Do And Don't Believe About the Pope

In his own life on earth, Jesus himself established the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, with the Pope as Supreme Shepherd and Head of the Church on earth. The Pope is the visible source and sign of unity in the Church.

What do we really believe about the Pope and Papal Infallibility? We don't believe that Pope will teach clearly, or even teach everything that he should teach; we don't believe that he won't make a mess of things -- what we do believe, is that when he invokes his supreme authority and teaches infallibly, he will not state what is false (he may not speak the truth clearly, but he won't actually teach what is false).

We also don't believe that the Pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit, or that he is "the best man for the job". But, whoever the Cardinals choose, even if he isn't the best man for the job, even if he is very weak or sinful -- the Holy Spirit will preserve him from leading the Church into error. 

This is the gift of the Papacy: The gates of hell will never prevail even against the bad Popes. And that proves that God is the one who truly guides the Catholic Church.


Listen online [here]!





Aug 23, 2017

13 October 1917: An Apocalyptic Miracle, An Apocalyptic Message (Laurel, MT - Fatima Conference)

Talk from Fatima Conference in Laurel, MT - August 9, 2017

This week we have heard the account of the history of the apparitions of our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal. From 13 May to 13 October 1917, our Lady appeared six times to the children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. 13 October was the occasion of the great Miracle of the Sun, which I propose is a miracle of absolute unprecedented proportion. A truly UNIQUE event in all of human history.

This great miracle, which confirmed the previous apparitions as well as the message which Mary had given, this miracle was promised by our Lady during the July apparition. Recall that the numbers of the crowd who had been coming to witness the apparitions had been steadily growing. However, with the children promising a miracle from our Lady in October (predicting this three full months in advance), the crowd ballooned to somewhere between 70 and 100,000 people.

This is what is so unique about 13 October 1917 – a great miracle, with tens of thousands of witnesses, which was predicted three months in advance as to the precise day, time and place.


I. Background: What is a miracle? How do we verify if a miracle has occurred? Why should we learn about miracles?

II. The History of the Miracle of the Sun: Eye witness testimonies.

III. Answering objections to the Miracle of the Sun: Not hysteria, not power of suggestion, not a natural phenomenon.

IV. Proposing an "explanation" for the Miracle: Similar to the Star of Bethlehem, or the Pillar of Fire.

V. The apocalyptic overtones of the Miracle: The Flood and the destruction of Sodom.

VI. Fatima: A message for the Last Times.


Listen online [here]!




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You can find all the talks given that week by clicking below!


SUNDAY- FR. JOSEPH PREVITALI - "Heaven's peace proposal: The History of the Apparitons of Our Lady of Fatima"-   https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/fr-joseph-previtalimp3
MONDAY-BISHOP MICHAEL WARFEL-"Mary, Ark of the New Covenant: The Tabernacle of the Lord"- https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/mary-the-new-ark-of-the-covenant
TUESDAY- FR. ERIC ANDERSEN- "Fatima: 1917 and beyond". https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/fatima-1917-and-beyond
WEDNESDAY- FR. RYAN ERLENBUSH- "13 October 1917: An Apocalyptic Miracle, An Apocalyptic Message." https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/an-apocalyptic-miracle-an-apocalyptic-message
THURSDAY-FR. SIMON CARIAN- "The Three Secrets of Fatima"-https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/the-three-secrets-of-fatima 
FRIDAY-FR. FREDRICK GRUBER- "Fatima, Penance, and Reparation for Sin"- https://soundcloud.com/bartalks/fatima-penance-and-reparation-for-sin

Sunday Sermon, August 20 -- The Conversion of the Jews (Sermons on Romans, Part 7)

St Paul tells us that, even as the Jews as a whole rejected Jesus opening the way for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles, so also the Jews as a whole will ultimately receive the Gospel prior to the end of the world and the day of Judgment. Although nobody is saved simply for being Jewish, the Jews do remain the "chosen people" of God, and they have a crucial role to play in salvation history.

This dynamic of proclamation from Jews to Gentiles and finally back to the Jews is symbolized in the ritual of the traditional Roman Liturgy, as interpreted in the beautiful liturgical commentary of St. Albert the Great, the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Mass begins with the Missal on the "Epistle side" of the altar. The singing of the Epistle by the subdeacon, facing the altar, "towards the east," facing Jerusalem to the east of Rome, symbolizes the preaching of the prophets, and especially St. John the Baptist, who proclaimed Christ to the Jews.

Then the Missal is moved to the "Gospel side" of the altar and the deacon sings the Gospel facing the side wall of the church, "towards the north," facing the pagan Gentiles to the north of Rome. This action symbolizes the proclamation of the Gospel by the Church to the Gentiles. The Missal stays on the "Gentile side" for almost the whole Mass, but at the end it returns to the side of the Jews, to symbolize what St. Paul prophesies in our second reading: their final acceptance of Christ at the end of the world!


Listen online [here]!



Sunday Sermon, August 6 -- The Transfiguration: Who was St James the Greater?

A sermon in honor of St James the Greater. Why he was chosen to be a witness to the Transfiguration, and why Jesus called him a "Son of Thunder". The history of the life of the great apostle, and his marvelous intercessory power for the Church after his death.

St James was the first of the apostles to be martyred, but before AD 44 he had already preached in Spain - he is the great missionary apostle! The Spanish people claim him as a special patron, as well as Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar (she appeared to St James in AD 40, when she was still alive).

St James is a patron of Spain but also of the New World, which was discovered by Columbus on the feast of our Lady of the Pillar, October 12, 1492.


Listen online [here]!



Aug 19, 2017

Introduction to Sacred Music (Chant 101, Corpus Christi Parish)

On Sacred Music:

1. We don't create the Liturgy, we receive it -- this is why we use antiphons rather than hymns.
2. We don't sing at Mass, we sing THE Mass -- this is why we prefer gregorian chant as well.
3. The human voice is God's instrument by which he desires to be praised -- this is why we favor the organ and flute over other instruments.
4. Notes on the Liturgy of the Word.


Below are a number of reference quotations.


Listen online [here]!





Holy Day Sermon, August 15 -- The Assumption of Mary

The Dogma of the Assumption: That Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. It is the common teaching of the Church that Mary died, was raised, and then was assumed.

This feast reminds us all of our call to heaven -- God wants us all to be saved. This is our vocation!


Listen online [here]!



Sunday Sermon, August 13 -- Salvation and the Jews (Sermons on Romans, Part 6)

"They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen."

We discuss the division of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans.
I. The Doctrine of Grace
   A. The Necessity of Grace (Chapters 1-4)
   B. The Effects of Grace (Chapters 5-8)
   C. The Origins of Grace (Chapters 9-11)
II. The Life of Grace (Chapters 12-16

The consideration of the relation of the Jews and the Gentiles in the one Church of Christ. None are save by being Jewish, but only through the grace of Christ. Like all people, the Jews do not inherit salvation, but must be evangelized and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Modern Judaism is not the same religion as ancient Judaism, because the holy men and women of the Old Testament believed in the Messiah who was to come, but modern Judaism explicitly rejects this Messiah who has come, Jesus Christ. We Catholics are of the same religion as Abraham and Moses, of David and of St Joseph.


Listen online [here]!




Aug 3, 2017

Holy Day of Obligation, August 15th -- and Schedule Change

Tuesday, August 15 is an Holy Day of Obligation - The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

To fulfill the obligation (note: It is a mortal sin to intentionally skip an holy day of obligation without a grave reason):

Monday, August 14 - Mass 5:30pm
Tuesday, August 15 - Mass 7am
Tuesday, August 15 - Solemn Mass with incense 5:30pm
*no 4:30pm confessions on Tuesday, August 15

Also, note the schedule change for the remainder of the week:

Wednesday, August 16
7am Mass
No 4:30pm Confessions

Thursday, August 17
No 7am Mass
No 4:30pm Confessions

Friday, August 18
7am Mass
4:30pm Confessions

Saturday, August 19
9am Mass
4:30pm Confessions
5:30pm Vigil Mass

Schedule Change, August 8-12, 2017

Due to the Fatima Conference in Laurel, MT -- Schedule change for Corpus Christi Parish.

No daily Mass, weekday confessions, or adoration - Tuesday, August 8 to Saturday morning, August 11.

There will be confessions at 4:30pm on Saturday, August 11.


Aug 2, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 30th -- Predestination and Calvin's Heresy (Sermons on Romans, Part 5)

"For those he foreknew he also predestined. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."  (Romans 8:29-30)

The Catholic Doctrine of predestination teaches that those who are to be saved are foreknown by God who gives them grace to do good works in the present and rewards them with glory in heaven. God's foreknowledge is a cause of all things, but, although certain, does not impose necessity upon all things. God knows all that we will do, and he knows he will do it freely. God's grace does not destroy free will.

The protestant heresy (especially as by Luther and Calvin) maintains that man is saved without works but only by God's grace. However, if man is saved without any consideration of his works and without his free cooperation, so too will man be damned without any consideration of his sins and without his freedom. Thus Calvin will affirm that God creates some men for hell, and not because of their sins but because of God's sovereign choice. God predestines some men for hell, even as others are predestined to heaven - and all without any choice or merits on the part of man.  This is what the "reformation" revolution was really all about, to give us a God who is a devil. This is why Calvin and Luther had to be condemned.

As we move forward, recall that the prime example of predestination is Jesus Christ in his humanity. Predestined from eternity, Christ was still entirely free and his choices made a real difference in the world.


Listen online [here]!





Jul 25, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 23 -- Speaking in tongues and Prayer in the Spirit

"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."

St Paul is not referring to "speaking in tongues" (that miracle in the early Church whereby the Apostles and others would suddenly know new languages and speak the native tongue of their listeners fluently).

Rather, the Apostle teaches us that the Holy Spirit moves the soul through the Gifts (especially the Gift of Counsel) to pray for those things which are truly according to God's will.


Listen online [here]!



Jul 19, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 16 -- Justified by works, not by faith alone (Sermons on Romans, Part 3)

Quotes from Scripture related to Faith:

Romans 3:27-28, "Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the Law."

Romans 11:5-6, "There is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace, it is not by works: otherwise grace is no more grace."

Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works, that no man may glory."


Quotes from Scripture related to works:

Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his works."

1 Corinthians 13:2, "And if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing."

Philippians 2:12, "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling."

James 2:24, "A person is justified by works and not by faith alone."


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It is amazing that Luther and Calvin (and the Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Fundamentalist Protestants today who follow them) could claim that man is saved through FAITH ALONE. This phrase "faith alone" is only used one time in the Bible, specifically to reject the very heresy that the Protestants promote -- "A person is justified by works and NOT by FAITH ALONE." (James 2:24).

How could the Protestant heresy have gotten it so wrong? There are two main errors which led Luther into his heresy 500 years ago. 1) A Scriptural error: Luther read all of the Bible in light of St Paul and especially placed Romans as the most important book of Scripture; but the true approach to Scripture places the Gospels first and reads St Paul in light of Christ presented in the Gospels.

2) A philosophical error: Luther thought that if I do 50% of the work of salvation, then that would mean that God could only do 50%, or if God does 100% then I must do 0%. However, the work of salvation is fully divine and fully human (even as Jesus is fully God and fully man) -- salvation is both 100% the work of God and 100% my work.

We affirm: Of course man can merit salvation! After all, Jesus was a man, and he merited salvation for the whole world. In Christ, we too merit our own salvation, as we cooperate with the grace of the Lord.



Listen online [here]!






Jul 16, 2017

July 16 - The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Informational Bulletin)


The History of the Brown Scapular
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

On 16 July 1251, St Simon Stock, who was then the superior of the Order of the Carmelites, received an apparition from Our Lady. She handed him a brown scapular saying, “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I obtained for thee for they children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

However, the history of the brown scapular begins long before the 13th century, originating with the mantle of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament! To bring the people back from their worship of the false god Baal the prophet Elijah prayed for a drought, which lasted for three and a half years. After this, Elijah climbed Mt. Carmel to petition for the rain to return. A cloud in the shape of a foot came and provided much-needed rain. (See 1 Kings 18:41-46)

Pious tradition holds the cloud represented Our Lady’s heel crushing the devil, as prophesied in Genesis. We also recognize Mary as the Mediatrix of graces, for out of a single cloud flowed an immense quantity of rain, or grace, which quenched the parched desert.

Following the event, Elijah formed a community of hermits on Mt. Carmel. These Jewish “carmelites” awaited the return of Elijah to announce the coming of the Messiah. After Pentecost, it is believed that these hermits were converted to Christianity. It was out of this community the Carmelite Order was born in the late 11th century.

The Devotion of the Brown Scapular
The scapular in the well-known smaller form came about by at least 1276, adopted by laymen who had worked with the community as a pious tradition. Over the years a great many holy men and women developed devotions to the Brown Scapular, including St. Teresa of Avila, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. John Vianney, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Maximilian Kolbe and Pope St. Pius X. Pope St. John Paul II was also known for his devotion to the sacramental, famously instructing surgeons to leave his scapular on him during the operation after the 1981 assassination attempt. Of this
sacramental, the Pope said: “The sign of the Scapular points to an effective synthesis of Marian spirituality, which nourishes the devotion of believers and makes them sensitive to the Virgin Mother's loving presence in their lives.”

The scapular is not really in the same category as blessed medals or other objects, rather it should be thought of as a piece of clothing. Indeed, we are “invested” (i.e. “dressed”) in the scapular, after the manner that a Carmelite monk or nun is given a religious habit to wear. This is why a cloth scapular is preferred to wood or metal.

Our scapular is a reminder of the constant protection and love of Mary for each of her children. We are “clothed” with the virtues of Mary, and even of Christ.





What are the requirements of the Brown Scapular?

Wearing the scapular is traditionally associated with the praying of the breviary or of the Little Office of Mary (a collection of psalms said at various points through the day). However, it is now permissible to pray five decades of the rosary daily to fulfill the obligations of the scapular - even here, it is good to recall that we are all simply trying to grow in holiness and devotion, we should start wherever we are and simply try to do better each day. If we forget or fail to pray the rosary on a given day, there is no additional sin committed by wearing the scapular - we simply ask our Lady's help to strive to grow more and more each day. I should also note that there is a strong tradition of abstaining from meat on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year as a practice associated with wearing the scapular - it isn't mandatory, but perhaps something worth considering (even just restricting ourselves to meat at only one meal on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with meatless Fridays).

What are the promises associated with the Brown Scapular?


Our Lady promised to St. Simon Stalk that those who wear the scapular with devotion will be saved. This is not to be interpreted in a superstitious manner, as though the scapular were some sort of “charm” or “loop-hole” into heaven. However, certainly our Lady will give special graces to the one who wears the scapular devoutly - if we trust in Mary and place ourselves under her care and protection, we will find the grace necessary to be saved. The scapular is a most powerful and easy means of gaining salvation! Wearing the scapular doesn’t mean we can go on sinning as we please, rather this devotion will break the bonds of sin so that we can live a life of freedom in the law of the Gospel.

Many also speak of the sabattine privilege whereby Mary is said to have promised Pope John XXII that anyone who dies wearing the scapular will be freed from purgatory on the following Saturday. Although some of the stories associated with this promise are not based in history, there can be no doubt that Mary’s love and care for her children does not end with death but continues even into Purgatory. Who could doubt but that our Lady’s special patronage is felt by the Holy Souls on Saturdays, the day which is specially dedicated to her honor? I would invite you to pray in a special way on Saturdays for the souls in purgatory who died wearing a scapular, and trust that others will pray for you if you find yourself in Purgatory on a Saturday!

Sunday Sermon, July 9 -- Christ liberates us from sin, the flesh, death, and the Law (Sermons on Romans, part 2)

Romans 8:1-13, from which our second reading is taken in today's Mass, put forward four major themes which are essential to St Paul's understanding of the human condition prior to redemption in Christ.

Before man receives the grace of Christ, he is under the law of sin, the law of the flesh, the law of death, and the Law of Moses. The law of sin: Man is conceived in sin, in a state of rebellion against God. The law of the flesh: The lower part of man's soul, his passions and emotions ("the flesh"), rebels against the higher part of man's soul, his reason and will. The law of death: Man is conceived destined for death, not just bodily death but also eternal death. The Law of Moses: Although the Law pointed out the way to do good, it did not give man the grace to actually follow the path to heaven.

But Christ liberates us from sin, the flesh, death, and the Law of Moses! Christ makes us free! This is the joy and good news of the Gospel! However, because our hope is in heaven and not in the vanities of earth, we live a life of penance and mortification - putting to death the deeds of the body. As G.K. Chesterton once said, "It is better to fast for joy, than feast for misery."

Listen online [here]!




Jul 12, 2017

Schedule Change for VBS Week, July 17-21

Mass and confession schedule for the week of July 17-21 (Monday through Friday).

Daily Mass will be at noon. No 7 AM Mass.

Rosary will be at 5:30 PM with the Dominican Sisters, followed by dinner. No 4:30 PM Confessions.

Jul 6, 2017

Sunday Sermon, July 2 -- Introduction to the Letter to the Romans (Sermons on Romans, Part 1)

We read from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans from the 9th to the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time this year (Year A). For an additional 8 Sundays or Holy Days, we read from Romans as well. Practically, we will be reading from Romans for three months straight - from the last Sunday of June to all but the last Sunday of September (with the exception of the Transfiguration on August 6).

Catholics are often intimidated by St Paul's Letter to the Romans, thus we will be preaching on Romans many of the weekends over the next three months. It is my hope that we will all feel familiar with Romans by the end of September.

A basic outline of the Letter can be found below. We also point out the historical context: This letter was written by St Paul in the year 58, the 6th and longest of 14 letters included in Scripture, the final letter written prior to his arrest. Rome, at the time, had about one million inhabitants, with 50,000 Jews and 13 synagogues. The Christian community in Rome was made up of a good number of Jewish converts, but certainly there were even more gentile converts to the faith. St Peter was the bishop of Rome at the time.

St Paul is writing about the grace of Christ, and shows that neither the Law of Moses nor the wisdom of the pagan philosophers will bring salvation. Thus, all (Jew and gentile) are united as one by the grace of Christ and by the Catholic religion.


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An Outline of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans
From Father Ryan Erlenbush (based on the commentary of St Thomas Aquinas)

St Paul’s Letter to the Romans discusses the grace of Christ considered in itself
Part I (Chapters 1-11): The Doctrine of the Grace of Christ
Part II (Chapters 12-16): The Moral Life of Grace in Christ

Part I is divided into three parts:
A.     (Chapters 1-4): The necessity of grace.  St Paul teaches us that all men are conceived in sin and need the grace of Christ in order to be saved. We are not saved by the works of the Law of Moser, nor by the wisdom of the world, but only by the Christian Religion which Christ established.
B.     (Chapters 5-8): The effects of grace, that grace is sufficient for salvation. St Paul discusses what grace does for the soul. Specifically, the Apostle teaches that, by the grace of Christ, we are freed from sin, from death, and from the ordinances of the Law of Moses.
C.     (Chapters 9-11): The origins of grace. Here, St Paul explains that from the Jews has come the adoption, the glory of the covenant, the giving of the Law, the service of God, the promises, and even the Christ. The Apostle discusses the relation of the Jews and the Gentiles in the Church.

Part II is divided into two parts:
A.     (Chapter 12-15): The living in grace, morality. St Paul explains how the Christian should cooperate with grace so as to become perfect in Christ, and how those advanced in perfection should relate to those who are not so advanced. 15:14-33, St Paul addresses issues specific to the Roman Christians.
B.     (Chapter 16): Conclusion of the Letter.

Jun 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon, June 25 -- The Dogma of Original Sin (Sermons on Romans, Prelude)

"Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned."  (Romans 5:12)

Original sin can be understood as the sin of Adam originally committed in the garden, or as the privation of grace which is inherited by all men. As the sin in the garden, it was specifically Adam's sin (not Eve's) that caused the Fall of the human race - since all men (including Eve) come from Adam. As the privation of grace, original sin is transmitted to all by generation not merely imitation.

Adam spoke for us all when he sinned and, although each of us did not personally choose to sin, original sin is considered "voluntary" insofar as is the effect of the voluntary choice of Adam. However, even as in Adam all sinned, so also in Christ we have been victorious over sin and death! Just as Adam spoke for all when he disobeyed, Christ Jesus has spoken for all who are baptized into him and in Christ we have been obedient!


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Jun 21, 2017

Sunday Sermon, June 18 -- Reverent is not enough, we must be traditional

Lex orandi, lex credendi. The law of prayer is the law of belief. This means that how we pray will inform what we believe -- if we want to believe as all Catholics have believed through all the ages, we must also pray as Catholics have always prayed. This holds especially true in the Sacred Liturgy: It is impossible to have a radical change in the form of liturgical worship without risking the integrity of the faith.

It is astonishing to realize that the Mass was basically the same from the end of the early persecutions when we were first permitted to have public worship until the time of the Second Vatican Council (roughly, for 1,600 years from 360 to 1960). However, the common way that Mass is celebrated since Vatican II bears little resemblance to the form of worship which was common to all the saints and indeed all Catholics for all time.

The Second Vatican Council did not intend this extreme change in the form of worship. Indeed, Popes St John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all been guiding the Church to realize that there should be continuity between how the Mass was celebrated before and after Vatican II. When we attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (aka Traditional Latin Mass) and then attend the Novus Ordo Mass of Vatican II, we should be struck not by how different but rather by how similar they are.  We should be able to pray in basically the same way in the New Mass as we do whenever we attend the Traditional Mass.

If we want to have the same faith of the saints of all the ages, we need to pray in the same way as the saints of all ages have prayed - and this holds most especially for the Holy Mass. Which is to say: It's not good enough to be reverent and conservative, we must be traditional when participating in the Mass of Vatican II.


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Jun 7, 2017

Pentecost Sunday Sermon, June 4 -- No Salvation without the Holy Spirit, No Salvation outside the Catholic Church

The Holy Spirit is the true soul of the Catholic Church. Even as the soul gives life to the human body and makes it to be one body made up of many parts, so also Holy Spirit vivifies and unites the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Holy Catholic Church.

Even as it would be greatly disordered for the human soul to work outside of the body or be separated from the body, so also the Holy Spirit chooses to work in the world inside the Mystical Body and only in union with the Church.  This is called "co-extensivity" -- where the Church, there the Holy Spirit; where the Spirit, there the Catholic Church.

St Joan of Arc said it well: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing: and we shouldn't complicate the matter." Whoever receives the Pope and the Bishops as messengers of Christ, receives Jesus. Whoever rejects the Pope and the Bishops, that is, whoever rejects the Catholic Church, rejects Jesus and not only Jesus but also the Heavenly Father.

However, this does not mean that only Catholics are saved - but that if any non-Catholic is saved, they are saved by virtue of the presence of the Catholic Church in the world.

More than anything, this should inspire us to be missionaries! To preach the Gospel and to preach the message of salvation given through the Church and her sacraments! We have a duty to bring all people into full communion with the Catholic Church, so that they might be happy in this life and find salvation in life everlasting.


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Jun 3, 2017

Sunday Sermon, May 28 -- The Miracle of the Sun and the Message of Fatima

We conclude our three part series on the message of Our Lady Queen of the Rosary of Fatima.

Appearing first on 13 May 1917, our Lady promised she would return each month until 13 October. on 13 July, Our Lady promised a great miracle in October which would confirm the truth of the apparitions and of the message.

13 October 1917, in the presence of over 70,000 people, some of whom were more than 20 miles away, the sun "danced" in the sky and then crashed toward the earth in a manner that made all believe the world was about to end. The children of Fatima continued to pray, and the sun returned to his place in the heavens.

During this great miracle, the children saw St Joseph, holding the Child Jesus, bless the world three times for peace (together with the Child). They also saw our Lady and our Lord appearing in various manners.

This miracle is to convince us of the message. What is the message of Fatima?
The first message is the children: Lucia, Jacinta, Francisco -- which is to say, a life of prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world.
Then also, the daily Rosary, the scapular, the First Saturday devotion. And also, devotion to St Joseph.

We say with St Francisco -- Mary, we will give you all the Rosaries you want! Just give us salvation and peace!


Listen online [here]!





May 27, 2017

Sunday Sermon, May 21 -- The Three Secrets of Our Lady of Fatima

When our Lady for the third time appeared to the three children of Fatima, 13 July 1917, she gave them three secrets, which also contain the essential message of Fatima.

The first was the vision of hell, the second the horrors of World War II, and the third was a mysterious apocalyptic image which detailed persecutions of the Pope.

The third secret was at least partially fulfilled in the assassination attempt on Pope St John Paul II, which occurred on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May 1981. Our Lady miraculously saved the Pope on that day.


Below, find the text of the three secrets.

Listen online [here]!





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First Secret of Fatima
Sr Lucia: “As Our Lady spoke these last words, She opened Her hands once more, as She had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight that caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.) The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.
“That vision lasted only a moment, thanks to our Good Mother of Heaven, Who, at the first apparition, had promised to bring us to Heaven. Without that, I think we would have died of terror and fear.
“Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and sadly: You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.

Second Secret of Fatima
Mary: “If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father.
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”””



Third Secret of Fatima -- JP II makes public in June 2000.
‘At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword; it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice:
“Penance, Penance, Penance!” ‘
‘And we saw in an immense light that is God… a Bishop dressed in white. We had the impression it was the Holy Father. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins, and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks.’
‘Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels, each with a crystal aspersorium in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.’

Conclusion
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

Sunday Sermon, May 14 -- The Three Children of Fatima

13 May 2017 was the 100th Anniversary of our Lady's first apparition to the three children of Fatima in Portugal. Appearing from May to October, generally on the 13th of the month, our Lady asked that the Rosary be prayed daily and that people be devoted to her Immaculate Heart.

Pope Francis canonized two of the three children on 13 May 2017 -- Sts Francisco and Jacinta Marto! Lucia (the eldest of the three) did not die until 2005, and thus her canonization process is far behind her two cousins who died in 1918 and 1919.

We discuss the history of the apparitions (beginning with the vision of the Angel of Peace) and the lives of our new saints, Francisco and Jacinta.

NOTE: This is the first of three sermons on the apparitions of our Lady, Queen of the Rosary of Fatima.

Listen online [here]!



Sunday Sermon, May 7 -- Discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life

In the new Mass, the Fourth Sunday of Easter is also Good Shepherd Sunday. The Church throughout the world also celebrates this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

We consider how to discern a call to the priesthood or religious life -- not only for those young people who are still in the time and age of discernment, but also for parents, relatives and friends who may be able to assist in discernment of a vocation.

The keys to discernment are a life of prayer and a pure motive to love God in and above all things. Essentially, once our motives are purified, God will reveal our vocation to us through giving us joy at the thought of living that vocation. And the priesthood and religious life are the happiest vocations on earth.


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May 4, 2017

Sunday Sermon, April 30 -- Receiving the Eucharist Well, and Not Distributing the Chalice

The apparition on the road to Emmaus teaches us about the Holy Eucharist -- the bread which our Lord "took, blessed, broke, and gave" is none other than his gift of self in Holy Communion.

We take an opportunity to consider receiving communion well, with greater love and devotion. It is also good to note that Jesus only distributes communion under the one species of the Host -- whereas, on Holy Thursday, he gave communion under both kinds (the Host and the Chalice) as he was distributing to his apostles whom he had just ordained as priests; here, when distributing communion to the lay faithful (Cleopas and the other), our Lord only gives communion under the species of his Body. The whole Jesus is present in the Host and in the Chalice: Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and the fullness of grace is received under Host alone. Indeed, the Church teaches that there is nothing "less" in receiving only the Host, nor is there any "more grace" in receiving the Chalice.

Although not all of the following norms are specified in the sermon, it is good to make note of certain guidelines under which the Chalice is permitted to be distributed. First and foremost, we recognize that the general norms of the Church do not permit the distribution of the Chalice except in the most unusual circumstances (e.g. when people make First Communion, Religious Profession, to the couple who gets married). In the United States, wider permission was given (by a special indult from the Vatican and only with the dispensation of the local bishop and the wise discernment of the pastor) for communion to be distributed under both kinds -- but the following norms must be observed.


From "Redemptionis Sacramentum", Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship from 2004 (paragraphs 100-107):

"[Distribution of the Chalice] is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned."

"The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where there is such a large number of communicants that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration."

"[The Chalice is not to be distributed] where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated."

"In accordance with what is laid down by the canons, 'one who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state'. To be regarded as pertaining to this case is any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species. Anyone, therefore, who acts contrary to these norms, for example casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground, incurs the penalties laid down."

Additionally, the USCCB states that where there would regularly be more lay people serving as extraordinary ministers of holy communion than three are priests and deacons serving as ordinary ministers, it may be fitting to not distribute the Chalice so as to avoid the appearance that it is ordinary or normal for lay minsters to distribute communion.  (cf. Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Communion under Both Kinds)


What does this mean? That if there is any danger that the Chalice might be spilt, communion should be given only under the Host. If there is a large number of people at the Mass so that it is difficult to estimate very exactly how much wine to use, communion should be given only under the Host. If say 20% of the people don't want to receive from the Chalice, communion should be given only under the Host. If there are not a number of priests and deacons so that they would generally outnumber the lay extraordinary ministers, communion should probably be given only under the Host.

Finally, the care of the Precious Blood is such a serious matter, that those who have poured the remaining Blood down the drain or into the ground are subject to an excommunication which even the Bishop cannot lift -- and this abuse is something which many of us know from experience to have been shockingly common in certain places and times over the past 50 years.



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May 1, 2017

Sunday Sermon April 23 -- Divine Mercy Sunday, The Indulgence and the Promise

There are two things to be aware of: 1) The Church offers a plenary indulgence on this day. 2) Jesus promised special graces on this day. The indulgence and the promise are similar, but not identical.
1) The plenary indulgence: This requires confession (up to 20 days before or after), communion (a couple days before or after), prayers for the Pope (Our Father, Hail Mary), no attachment to any sin, and the specific "work" is the mercy devotions. The devotions are those held in common in the church, or before the tabernacle to pray an Our Father and the Creed and "Jesus, I trust in you". Those who are unable to travel to church can say the Our Father, Creed, and invocation of mercy even at home before an image of the Divine Mercy (but they still must confess and receive communion).
2) The promise of Jesus: That any who confess (up to two weeks before) and receive communion on Divine Mercy Sunday itself (Our Lord does not say that the Saturday evening Mass counts) trusting in his mercy, will have not only their sins but even all the punishment of purgatory will be completely washed away. This is the perfect renewal of the graces of baptism -- and it does not require complete detachment from all sin, but only that we trust in his mercy!

A comparison between Jesus' appearance to Thomas the Apostle and his gift of Divine Mercy Sunday.


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Apr 24, 2017

Easter Sunday Sermon, April 16 -- The Paschal Candle and Easter Meditation

The meaning of the Paschal Candle: The candle represents Jesus, first in his passion (the Cross is marked on the candle), and in his burial (the five grains of incense recall the perfumed oil used to anoint his five wounds). The unlit candle represents Christ Crucified, who by his death is Lord of all time (hence the numbers of the year, and the "alpha" and "omega"). When the candle is lit, this represents Jesus' resurrection! His light illumines our hearts by the ministry of his priests, and we all then give light to the whole world.


Easter is longer than Lent, and is a season of many graces! We can be open to these by practicing daily mental prayer, meditation on the mysteries of salvation -- hopefully, for at least 10 minutes a day.



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Holy Thursday and Good Friday Sermons -- April 13 and 14

Holy Thursday, April 13 -- Jesus Presence in the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and Charity
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Good Friday, April 14 -- Consoling the Jesus on the Cross
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Palm Sunday Sermon, April 9 -- An Act of Contrition

Making a perfect act of contrition, in consideration of the love of Jesus for me made manifest on the Cross.


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