Third Sunday after Pentecost—17 June AD 2007
“I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from Whom all fatherhood on earth and in heaven receives its name.”
[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
[ English Text ]
[ Latin Text ]
We heard these words just a few days ago in the Mass of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. God the father, of course, is the One from Whom all
things proceed. The Son, although not created, is said to have been
“begotten of the Father before all ages.” The Holy Ghost, likewise
“proceeded from the Father and the Son” in a way beyond our comprehension,
before the beginning of time. All matter and spirit, space and time, are
the creations of Almighty God. And, indeed “in His own image, God
created man; male and female He created them ... so that they might be
fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.”
God is truly the source of all fatherhood.
“Male and female He created them”—man and woman are a
complementary pair. Generally the man is a bit larger, stronger, and
naturally more aggressive. He is suited to be the protector, the hunter,
the primary gatherer, the provider of shelter, the one who deals with outsiders,
and the long tem planner. The woman complements the man with enduring
patience, the bringing forth and nurturing of new life, with her general
helpfulness and concern for the needs of the household, and reminds him that
needs must be met in the short term as well as in the future.
Even before the time of Christ, most societies looked to
the father as the ultimate head of each family. In Israel, it was the
father who represented the family at the synagogue and the Temple. In
Roman society the “paterfamilias” had literally the power of life and
death in his own household. Christianity did a great deal to improve the
status of women in the ancient world, but the Christian father is still expected
to be the benevolent head of his family—at least insofar as his health and
longevity allow. His is a religious vocation, blessed by God Himself.
Modern society has made fatherhood a bit more difficult
than it was in the ancient world. I will mention a few of those
difficulties, because as practicing Catholics it is our duty to support the
fathers of families in their efforts to raise their children in a functional
manner, consistent with God’s laws. In some ways, we may be able to
help—as voting citizens, supportive neighbors, or prayerful friends.
In many ways, from the perspective of survival, technology
has reduced the significance of the difference between man and woman. We
are rarely called on to shoot the wolves of the four legged variety, and the
police do a reasonable job of controlling the two legged ones. Many jobs
today require no great physical strength, as they depend on machines and
computers. While this is good from the perspective of the wife who has
lost her husband, it sometimes deprives fathers of the opportunity to provide
for their families; consequently depriving them of self respect, and perhaps
even the respect of their loved ones. Due to technology we have even
fallen to the level of sending wives and mothers into military combat.
The well adjusted, stereotypical family of Ozzie and
Harriet are gone from the media. They have been replaced with
dysfunctional families and people living in sin. Men in general, and
fathers in specific, are all portrayed as “boobs.” Father (no
longer) knows best. [And Marcus Welby no longer makes house calls.]
Sponsors ought to hear from us once in a while—or, at least we should exercise
the “off” button or the channel selector.
The welfare society—perhaps out of genuine concern—has
made it attractive to many fathers to do nothing productive, lest they lose the
family’s benefits by taking an entry level job. In some cases, society
has made it economically beneficial to the family for a man to desert them,
leaving his wife alone, and depriving his children of their father.
Children—boys and girls—need the influence of both parents if it is at all
The modern world no longer sees God as the source of the
rights and restrictions given to mankind. It sees man as the source of his
own rights, and society as the autonomous source of his laws.
“Dialogue” and “consensus” have replaced much of the natural law.
Not surprisingly, man centered law caters to the baser nature of mankind.
Neither does the civil law, nor even the social pressure of friends and family,
strive to keep families intact in times of strife. Modern men and women
have been made to feel free to chose a new marriage partner if the current one
doesn’t fully meet expectations. I might point out that the Modernist
Church has not been helpful in this regard.
In traditional Catholic teaching the contact of marriage
has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a Sacrament, for the primary purpose
of procreating and educating children.
Modern society and Modernist religion, on the other hand, view marriage as a
relationship of convenience. Instead of encouraging procreation and
education, children are thought of as an inconvenience or a liability—perhaps
even as a disease to be prevented with prescription pills, or corrected with
vacuum pump surgery.
Constant monetary inflation and urban living add to this
attitude. Real estate is scarce and homes are therefore relatively small,
with fewer rooms for children—children who are not the source of productive
labor they were on the farm—children who, in our welfare society are no longer
necessary to secure their parents in old age. Everything seems to be going
up except wages. And no one thinks it particularly odd when parents put
their children out of the house upon graduation—or that the children choose to
move two thousand miles away.
God bless the fathers and the mothers who have kept good
Christian homes in spite of all these difficulties. They are certainly
worthy of our admiration—and of our emulation insofar as we have
responsibilities in our families, extended families, and communities. They
are worthy of our help, as I mentioned before—as voting citizens, supportive
neighbors, and prayerful friends. It is our duty to understand these
issues, to act where we can, and to be attentive to the needs of families around
Today is Fathers’ Day, so I will congratulate all of you
who have been good fathers; all of you who deserve that name which comes
ultimately from the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, of course,
congratulations to you good mothers as well—for without you there would be far
fewer good fathers here on earth. Mary and Joseph will be proud of all of
you, and their Son Jesus will reward you.
Happy Fathers’ Day, and God bless us each and all!
Epistle of the Feast of the Sacred Heart: Ephesians iii: 8-12,
Cf. 1917 Code of Canon Law 1012 §1 and 1013 §1.