12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 21, 2015

June 23, 2015 Father De Celles Homily

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 21, 2015

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


Today’s gospel tells the story of Jesus calming the storm at sea.

This is a fascinating story.

You have this huge storm, throwing the boat all around,

and Jesus is asleep in the back.

But the apostles, grown men, many of whom are experienced boatmen,

are in a panic, and so they wake Jesus up, saying:

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

And of course, he does wake up, and with just 3 little words, “quiet, be still,”

all is well.


I have to say, on this Father’s Day (weekend),

this reminds me of the many occasions when I was a little boy

and used to run to my father’s bed to wake him up from a sound sleep

in the middle of the night

because I’d been frightened by lightning, or thunder,

or a monster under my bed,

or just a bad dream.

Because I knew my Dad, was no ordinary man—he was, my Father!


Fathers are a great gift from God.

As are mothers, of course–but since this is “father’s day,”

moms, ladies, let’s focus on dads.


Fathers protect us, and provide for us;

they discipline us and teach us;

they show us how to play games, and how to live life;

they teach us to be strong and to be compassionate;

they show us how to fight and how to love.


A good father teaches his children, especially his sons,

how to be good and holy men,

how to be responsible, hardworking and creative,

and both strong and caring, just and merciful, brave and prudent.


Partnered with his good wife, their mother, he teaches them

how to love, serve and lead others,

how to be good citizens, good workers, good friends, and good neighbors,

and of course good brothers and sisters.

By the way he treats his wife a good father teaches his sons

how to treat all women with respect and love,

and how to be a good and faithful husband and father;

And he teaches his daughters what to look for in a good husband.


What a blessing it is to have a good father.

But without good fathers, especially married to mothers,

things get very hard for the family, for children, and for society.

Over the last 50 years many have tried to diminish the importance of fatherhood,

and the result is nothing but more and more

domestic violence and heartache, and social upheaval and decline.

A recent study shows that only around 15% of the teens in Baltimore

come from intact families.

Is it any wonder we’ve seen so much violence and despair

in that city in the last few months?


Fathers give us so much.

But the two most fundamental things they do for their children

are to provide for them and to protect them.


I know my father worked hard to provide for us.

In fact, for 20 plus years he worked hard at job he hated

because it was the best way he knew how to provide for us.

First, of course, to provide for the basic necessities of our bodies:

a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs.

But as fundamentally important as those things were,

and as hard as he worked to provide them,

my Dad also knew that there were other basic necessities

he had to provide as well:

not just for the basic wellbeing of our bodies,

but also for the basic wellbeing of our minds and our souls.

And so he worked hard to provide us a solid education,

and strong formation in the Catholic faith.


To my father, that meant sending us to Catholic schools.

Of course, today Catholic schools are incredibly more expensive

than they were when I was kid.

But even with the higher tuition,

nowadays public schools still have a lot more money than Catholic schools

to spend on cutting edge resources and teachers’ salaries.

Plus, public schools are free! At least to parents, if not to taxpayers.


So I understand how many parents have opted, over the last few decades,

to send their kids to public schools instead of Catholic schools.


But the problem is that today’s public schools are doing more

than just teaching objective academic subjects.

They have become schools of ideology, teaching values,

many of which are directly opposed to the values of parents

and of Christ and His Church.


The most recent public example of this is the Fairfax County Public Schools’

decision to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policy.

This affected all students, preschool -12th grade, and all school employees.

So that, among other things,

little Suzy may soon be forced to change in a locker room

next to little Johnny wearing a dress,

or little Billy may be taught by Mr. Smith

who wears a skirt and high heels to class.

And yet the School Board made no effort to consult parents beforehand,

and mocked them when they rallied to object,

and voted almost unanimously to ignore their demands.


And they also plan to incorporate the Gender Identity Agenda

into the classroom curriculum for 7th grade,

and to move many gender and sexuality topics

from the Family Life Education, which you can opt out of,

into the mainstream of the curriculum where parents cannot opt out of them.

Make no mistake: this will not be an objective discussion,

allowing for different opinions,

but as the report to the board states:

“Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed

with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”


This is what happens when you deny common sense,

much less basic biology.

And this is the ideology, the value system, permeating in our public schools.


Fathers—and mothers—I know it’s hard to be a parent,

and I don’t want to attack you or second guess you.

But as your spiritual father, I do have a responsibility here.

And so I ask you to ask yourselves:

are you truly providing for your children’s education

if you send them to schools that embrace this approach to education?

Where they undermine and undercut the values you teach them at home,

both your Catholic values of right and wrong and truth and falsehood,

and the simple values of common sense?



I know all this presents great challenges to parents.

And I can’t tell you what to do—and I respect your choices.

But it seems to me we’ve reached a tipping point,

and things are only going to get worse.

Especially if the Supreme Court rules in the next few days

that there is a constitutional right to same sex marriage.

This is just not the same public school system

some of you may have attended when you were young,

or that your older children went to just a few years ago.


I may be wrong, and I may be overreacting, and if so, I apologize.

But I still have to warn you.




Fathers have a basic obligation to provide for the needs of their children.

But perhaps even more basic and fundamental is a father’s obligation

to protect his children.

But are you protecting them if you immerse your children in this ideology?

Do little ones really need have their innocence challenged so constantly?

Isn’t there a point where this kind of manipulation

becomes not just foolish, but abusive?

Isn’t there a point when a father has to say,

“you will not teach that crud to my child.”

Or as God says in today’s first reading:

“Thus far shall you come but no farther.”

Or as Jesus says: “Quiet! Be still.”



And the thing is, it’s more than our schools.

In my column in today’s bulletin, which I encourage you to read,

I suggest that parents rethink their option

about perhaps sending their kids to Catholic schools,

or to do homeschooling.

Again, it’s your choice, public or Catholic or home schooling.


At least it is for now.


What frightens me is that one day very soon

you may be denied the right to choose.

I look at the recent actions of federal, state and local governments,

and read the wording of laws and court decisions,

and I see, just in the last few years,

a huge shift to impose a value system that is strange to most Americans, and certainly to Christianity, and Catholicism in particular.


We see the President threatening the Little Sisters of the Poor

with huge fines that would literally shut them down,

if they don’t bend to his will on contraception.

We see state courts fine and force Christian bakeries and florists

to provide services to so called same-sex weddings.

A few weeks ago the Solicitor General of the United States, the President’s attorney,

told the Supreme Court that churches could lose tax-exemption

if they don’t go along with the government’s position on same-sex marriage.

And last year we even saw the Supreme Court itself say that

those who oppose same sex marriage intend to

“disparage,” “injure” and “demean,” and impose “inequality,” on homosexuals.


How far are we from laws or courts telling parents

that they no longer have the right to enroll their children in Catholic schools

or to homeschool them

because they will teach them values contrary the values of the government?



In 1775 Patrick Henry famously proclaimed: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Most people forget that Henry said those words in a Christian church,

St. John’s down in Richmond.

And they forget that was a very devout Christian.

And most don’t know that he was the father of 17 children, who would later say:

“This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family.

The religion of Christ….which will make them rich indeed.”

So perhaps we understand the meaning of Henry’s famous saying better,

when we remember what Christ said before him:

“no greater love has a man than this,

to lay down his life for his friends.”

….”give me liberty, or give me death.”


Fathers, I don’t want any of you to die, but I know that all of you

would make any sacrifice necessary to protect or provide for

the true wellbeing your children, or grandchildren.

Because you love them, more than anything.

And sacrificial love is at the heart of what it means to be a real father,

a real Christian father.


So, fathers, what will you do in the coming months and years

to provide for and protect your children?

Will you make the sacrifices necessary to assure

they are educated not only in math and science,

but also in truth and reason and faith?

Will you protect them from those who would abuse their minds

and assault their innocence?

Will you protect their freedom to believe what their conscience and faith demands,

no matter what the culture or government dictates?

Will you defend your own right to be

the primary provider of their the education,

and to bring them up to practice and live by the faith you embrace?



I look at the world today and see a stormy sea ahead of us.

But I know that I am in the boat sometimes called the “Boat” or “Barque” “of Peter,”

the Catholic Church.

And though sometimes he seems to be asleep in the back of the boat,

Jesus is in this boat.

And all he has to do is:

“rebuk[e] the wind, and sa[y]to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”

And all will be well.


Fathers, do you have the faith, love and courage

to stand in that boat and face the storm with Christ

and boldly provide for and protect your children?

So that in the dark night that is coming,

when the lightning strikes and thunder roars,

and monsters linger in the dark,

your children may run to you, confident that you will not sleep through it all,

but by the grace of Christ, stand and fight and win?


I believe you do.

Because I believe that by the natural love you bear for your children,

transformed, elevated and magnified by the grace that flows from Christ

who laid down his life on the Cross for love of us, his children,

you need not be ordinary men,

but the great fathers He created you to be and calls you to be.

Not ordinary men, not even ordinary fathers, but true fathers in Christ.