On the civil calendar, this
third Sunday of June is celebrated as Father's Day. So congratulations
to all of you men who are fathers. Actually, I have to say many of the
same things I said on Mother's Day. Those of you who are to be
commended on this day are those who have been loving and responsible
fathers. Men who have not only provided for their families, but who
have also guided them in the ways of holiness and civic responsibility,
leaving behind them children who will one day grow up to be good and
holy husbands and wives.
The family is the building block
of Christian society, so holy and responsible parenthood is a form of
religious vocation. While Catholic fathers are not generally called to
celibacy, it is clear that our model is best found in Saint Joseph, the
foster father of Jesus Christ and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He was the protector, provider, and teacher of the Son of God. While a
lot is said today about the role of men in general, and particularly in
families, you will never go wrong if you put yourself in the place of
Joseph, and try to relate to your wife and family as he related to Mary
As I said on Mother's Day, today
we celebrate not only our natural fathers, but all of those who have
pitched in when our natural fathers were unwilling or unable to fulfill
their proper function. This includes older brothers, uncles,
grandparents, and neighbors, and probably more women than we would like
If Dad is still around, be sure
to visit or at least call him today. Living or dead, be sure to keep him
in your prayers every day. Those of you with good Latin will notice
that the third set of collects in this Mass are prayed for all of our
deceased Mothers and Fathers.
Again, congratulations and happy
Father's Day to all who fit my rather broad definition of fatherhood!
The liturgical calendar has us
acknowledging the Fatherhood of God and the great gift that He has
bestowed upon His children. God has given the true Fatherly gift of
Himself. By a special act of Divine Providence, the Second Person of
the Blessed Trinity took on human form, taught us the ways of holiness
by living a sinless life, and offered Himself in sacrifice on the Cross
for the redemption of mankind. As if that we not enough, He remains with
us in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. He abides in the
Tabernacle where we may visit Him to seek His Fatherly advice. He comes
to dwell, literally, within us in the most intimate manner in Holy
On the traditional Catholic
calendar this second Sunday after Pentecost is called the Sunday within
the Octave of Corpus Christi. An Octave, of course is the eight day
celebration associated with the greatest feasts. This is a joyful
celebration of the greatest gift of God our Father. The collects of the
Blessed Sacrament are added to the collects of all the Masses of the
Octave, and the Preface is the Preface of the Nativity, which is to say
the Preface of the Incarnation.
The feast of Corpus Christi,
celebrated this past Thursday goes back to the thirteenth century and
came into existence largely due to the labors of a Norbertine nun known
as Juliana de Cornillon, in Belgium. Saint Juliana was especially
devoted to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and longed for a feast in
Its honor outside of Lent. While Holy Thursday marks the institution of
the Blessed Sacrament, the day is overshadowed by the sadness of Good
Friday the following day. For twenty years Saint Juliana is said to
have visions of our Lord with a full moon, representing the Church, but
having a dark spot on it to represent the missing feast of the Blessed
Sacrament. Her confessor encouraged her to make the visions known to
Robert de Thorete, the bishop of Liège, who ordered the celebration of
the feast day in his diocese in 1246. Jacques Pantaléon, who became
Pope Urban IV in 1264, became attached to the feast when he served as
Archdeacon ofLiège. As Pope he offered the feast for celebration in any
diocese that wanted to do so, throughout the Latin rites of the Church.
It is said that Pope Urban was influenced by an Eucharistic miracle that
took place in Bolsena, Italy, near Orvieto, where the Pope was staying.
At about the time Urban IV
became Pope, the great Dominican theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas was
writing a magnificent collection of hymns about the Blessed Sacrament.
These hymns became the basis for the Mass and Office of Corpus Christi
and some were added to the rites of Holy Thursday. Saint Thomas’ hymns
are both musically beautiful and theologically profound—they can be
thought of as a sort of musical catechism of the Blessed Sacrament.
Urban IV extended the feast of Corpus Christi to the Universal Church
with the bull "Transiturus" (8 September, 1264).
So, today is Father’s Day—today
we honor the fathers who gave us life—today we honor the Father Who gave
us the Bread of Life. Happy Father’s Day!