Msgr Robert Browne
The Feast of Corpus Christi & Father’s Day
Joyous Feast of Corpus Christi – Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. People often ask me, “what can I do to strengthen my spiritual life” or “how do I know what is the will of God for me?” I tell these people they need to spend quiet time in Eucharistic Adoration. They need to sit silently before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is fully present in the Blessed Sacrament. Or as some of the saints and holy people would say, “You need a ‘Son tan.’” In our hurry up noisy world we rarely put down our cell phone or I-pad. Or we are busy surfing the internet, on the computer, listening to the radio, watching TV, etc. We never take time to sit quietly and listen for God’s voice to speak to us. There is no better place to get away from all the noise then to sit quietly before the tabernacle and listen for the voice of Jesus to speak to us. In the Blessed Sacrament Jesus Christ is fully present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life and that is why you must spend time in Eucharistic Adoration if you want to deepen your faith life and to grow in holiness.
Happy Father’s Day to all our fathers in the parish. Not to slight mothers in any form or manner, (which I would never do because my mother has been such a pivotal part of my life), but I want to focus on the need and the importance of fathers in the faith life of their children. It is not true in all cases, but the clear majority of time the family follows the faith life of the father.
An important study from Switzerland showed that the one overwhelming critical factor in what causes a person’s faith to carry through from childhood to adult religious belief and practice is the religious practice of the father. Dads often determine the church habits of their children. “Shockingly, the study reported that, ‘If a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in fifty will become a regular worshiper.’ Yet, ‘If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular).’” (Steve Wood, “Why the New Evangelization Needs a Focus on Fathers,” at www.dads.org.) In addition to the Swiss study, Steve Wood also cited research by the Southern Baptists that showed, “If a child is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 3.7 percent probability that the rest of the family will become Christians. If mom is the first in the family to become Christian, there’s a 17 percent probability that the rest of the family will follow. If dad is the first in the family to become Christian, there’s a 93 percent probability that everyone else in the family will follow his lead.” As St. John Paul II said, “the future of the world and of the Church passes through the family.” Thus, it is imperative that we have fathers who are men of faith. I challenge all fathers today, that if you truly love your children, then be men who fully worship God and have a strong faith life, your children’s eternal destiny may depend upon it.
Often when I say the above people will respond, “well, isn’t important that both the mother and father have a strong faith life” – and I respond with a resounding “yes” – that if both parents are strong and regular worshipers this only strengthens the opportunities for the children to have long lasting faith lives. Yet, study after study shows that the majority of the time, (at least with faith practices), the way father goes is the way children will go.
Another comment I also receive is, “what about those who do not have a good father or have no father in their life.” Well, this is where the importance of having another father (male) figure in one’s life plays a powerful role. The father figure can be a grandfather, an uncle, a coach, a teacher, etc. Which reminds me of one of my favorite movies “Secondhand Lions,” this movie is also one of Steve Wood’s favorites, (see, Steve Wood, “Lessons for Dads from Secondhand Lions” at www.dads.org.) The movie is about Walter, a fairly shy and awkwardly boy being raised by an irresponsible single mom with multiple boyfriends. Walter is left for the summer when his mother drops him off at the rundown rural Texas home of his two bachelor great uncles, Garth and Hub McCann. The uncles are gruff-talking, shotgun-toting, anti-social, rough-around-the-edges, but they end up spending time with Walter – shooting, fishing, eating, working, riding in the truck – and that makes all the difference. Also, they teach Walter what it means to be a man. In a powerful scene Walter’s uncle Hub gives him his “what every boy needs to know about being a man” speech. (Really, the speech is for everyone not just men.) The speech is as follows: “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love, . . . true love, never dies. You remember that boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.” (Surrogate fathers can be a very powerful and influential presence in a person’s life.)
So, on this Father’s Day, I plead with fathers and father figures to be men of love, to not overly focus on money and power, but to primarily focus on loving your family and your faith.
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:6.
May God bless you and keep you in His loving embrace,
Peace, Msgr. Browne