TEXT: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 16, 2023

July 16, 2023 Father De Celles Homily

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 16, 2023

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

Today, July 16, is normally the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel,

but since it falls on Sunday this year, the feast is suppressed,

yielding to the celebration of the Lord’s Day, Sunday.

Even so, I want to begin by reflecting on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

because it helps us to understand the lesson of today’s Gospel.

Today’s Feast memorializes the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

on July 16, 1251, to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite priest,

and her gift to him of the “Brown Scapular”.

Our Lady said to St. Simon,

“Take, beloved son, this scapular of your order

as a badge of my confraternity

and for you and all Carmelites a special sign of grace;

whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire.

It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers,

a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”

So the Carmelites,

an order of monks of which St. Simon Stock was prior general,

immediately began to wear this Brown Scapular

as part of their regular habit.

It was a long narrow piece of brown wool that went over the head and shoulders

down the front and back of the monk.

But pretty soon many non-Carmelites, lay people, also began to wear it,

but usually in a smaller form of two small pieces of cloth

bound by two strings, worn around the neck,

hanging down in front and back.

But to participate in in Our Lady’s promises it was understood that

the wearer of the Scapular

had to be officially associated with the Carmelite order,

so the Carmelites established the

“Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel,”

which any Catholic may be enrolled in

through a short ceremony conducted by a priest.

That remains the case today, and with this in mind,

we will be enrolling folks in the Confraternity

and investing them with the Brown Scapular

after all the Masses this weekend, including this one.

Even so, the Scapular is in no way “a good luck charm.”

As St. John Paul II once wrote, it is a sign, or a symbol, that evokes

“the awareness that devotion to [Mary]

cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor …,

but must become a ‘habit,’

that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct…..”

So, Our Lady’s promise that,

“Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire,”

doesn’t mean that the scapular itself saves us,

but that, as St. John Paul II said, it is “a special sign of grace.”

So wearing it is a sign of your promise to her

that you will love her and so love her son Jesus,

and follow her and so follow her son Jesus, in living the life he calls us to.

A sign of our commitment to her, and her commitment to us,

but a meaningless and useless sign if we do not keep that commitment.

Not magic, but a sign of a two-way commitment.

And so, a wonderful gift from Our Lady and Our Lord.


But it’s important to understand one thing:

All this comes from what we call a private revelation:

St. Simon Stock made this claim that Mary was revealed to him.

The Church, over the centuries, has affirmed repeatedly that it is believable,

that it is completely consistent and not contradictory at all with

Divine or Public Revelation.

Note the difference: public versus private revelation.

Public, or Divine Revelation, is God’s revealing of Himself

and knowledge of the truths of His creation,

which ended with the death of the Last Apostle, St. John.

So, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

“No new public revelation is to be expected

before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is synonymous with what we also call the Word of God.

This divine revelation has been passed down to us

from generation to generation

from the apostles through their successors, the bishops,

and the teachings of the Catholic Church, protected by the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, private revelation is an event in which

God reveals something to an individual

or maybe a small group of individuals,

perhaps by an inner voice,

or perhaps by appearing to them visually,

either Himself or through the mediation of a saint, an angel, or His

Blessed Mother.

But not all so-called private revelations are genuine

because sometimes people make mistakes and misunderstand,

or imagine, or lie.

So we never have to believe them if we choose not to.

But some of them are so credible, and have genuine salutary and holy effects,

so that over the years Catholics do come to believe in them,

and the Church officially encourages them as helpful devotions.

But the Church never requires belief in them or practicing them.

Examples of this are plentiful.

For instance, all the other apparitions of Mary that we celebrate together

… Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, etc..

And the apparitions of Jesus,

like the revelation of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

and His Divine Mercy to St. Faustina.

These, like the apparition of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel with the Brown Scapular,

have been accepted and followed

by millions of good and faithful Catholics for centuries,

and most, if not all, the popes.


Now, what does this have to do with today’s Gospel?

Today Jesus tells his apostles,

“Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven

has been granted to you, but to [others] it has not been granted.

…blessed are your eyes, because they see,

and your ears, because they hear.”

Jesus is telling them that they, the apostles and first disciples, and no one else,

have been entrusted with the divine truths He came to reveal.

To them has been trusted “knowledge of the kingdom of heaven.”

And then later, He would command them,

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

So the apostles took that “knowledge of the mysteries”

that Christ revealed to them, and went and taught it to others.

And their successors continued that teaching,

and so handed down that knowledge to us.

That “handing down,” in Latin “traditio,” is what we call “Sacred Tradition,”

and, along with Sacred Scripture, these form what we call

Divine or Public Revelation and the Deposit of Faith.

These come from God and we must believe them as true, certain, and



Yet, today, many people in the Church seem to want that to change.

Some think that they know something new, something greater, better,

than what has been handed down to us from the apostles.

While it is true that our understanding of that tradition

deepens over the centuries,

it does so with continuity and organically with Tradition.

What was sacred and true yesterday is still sacred and true today.

Like a strong healthy tree with deep roots fed by the sun and rain,

it grows in the same direction, only taller and broader;

it looks the same, only more beautiful and awesome.

It does not grow shorter and uglier.

Truth does not become lies and lies do not become truth.

What is Holy does not become sin and what is sinful does not become holy.


There is a great battle ongoing in the Church today

between those who embrace Sacred Tradition

and those who embrace secular progression.

But as St. John warned us in Sacred Scripture,

which is part of Divine Revelation,

“Anyone who is so ‘progressive

as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ

does not have God;

….If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine,

do not receive him in your house or even greet him…”

We see this very clearly in the efforts of the bishops of Germany,

who think that their so-called Synodal-Way is the future of the Church,

even as it repeatedly rejects Divine Revelation.

As Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Pope Benedict’s former prefect of Doctrine, calls it,

“The un-Catholic machinations of the German Synodal Heresy

which are diametrically opposed to the Catholic doctrine of Revelation.”

Others rising in power in the Church seem to be on the same path.

Cardinals calling for “fundamental revision of the doctrine.”

Cardinals seeming to deny Christ’s command to go out, teach, and make


Cardinals who think that it may be okay to bless sinful behavior

—to take a sin, sprinkle holy water on it, and call it holy.

What troubles me most, and what you should be keenly aware of,

is that many seem bent on using the upcoming Synod on Synodality

as a vehicle to introduce radically different teachings

under the guise of “conversation in the Spirit.”

To me, that looks a lot like a kind of new revelation:

God the Holy Spirit saying something brand new and different

to the participants.

Which sounds a lot like…private revelation.

But as I said, we do not have to believe private revelations.

In fact, we cannot believe them if they contract public/divine revelations.

We must reject them.

As the catechism states:

“Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim

to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment…”

And as St. Paul writes:

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions

that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

And again,

“Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

instead of giving heed …to commands of men who reject the truth.”


The gift of the Brown Scapular is part of the rich treasury of the Church

that includes first and foremost Public/Divine Revelation,

but also all the customs, devotions, prayers, etc., that the Church,

from the popes down to the newest baptized baby,

embraces as helpful in understanding and following God’s Revelation.

It comes from a Private Revelation,

but it can only be understood and accepted in the light of

what has been handed down to us from the Apostles as divine revelation,

the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”

But in that context, the Scapular of Our Lady of Carmel

draws us ever closer to the truth of the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Today, let us give thanks to the Lord for all the gifts He gives His Church.

But most of all the gift of Himself,

coming into the world as the Word made flesh,

revealing the truth about God and man to us,

and the gift of His Church which has handed down these mysteries to us.

And let us pray for that Church, that She may

not suffer the corruption of those who embrace their own fantasies and lies

rather than the revelation of truth of Christ

handed down to us through 2000 years of Catholic Tradition.


“…Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven

has been granted to you, but to [others] it has not been granted..