Monday, January 02, 2006

Questions and Quotes for Meditation on Catholic Christian Fatherhood

I have been praying about fatherhood and meditating on some good sources for establishing just what Fatherhood is.

Here follows some of those sources:

Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. Above all where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance.(72) As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of "machismo," or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God,(73) a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife,(74) by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church. Familiaris Consortio 25, Pope John Paul II*
When one becomes a Catholic Father, does one realize just Who it is that we must take for a role model? Do we realize how much the weight of responsibility is that is upon our shoulders to provide a stable home?

Fathers leave an indelible impression on their children because their role as a father is linked to another fatherhood. Although this other fatherhood is unseen, every human heart has a deep, incessant desire to be joined with it. God the Father has made each of us to have a family bond with himself. As a result, the human heart is constantly restless until it is united to the fatherhood of God. The Heart of Fatherhood, Steve Wood*
Those of us who grew up fatherless, do we realize what it is that we are yearning for within the depths of our heart and soul? For those of us who have grown up fatherless, have we made efforts to allow God the Father to introduce Himself to us? Have we allowed Him to begin the healing process so that we can allow His adoption of us through His Son to take hold? Are we willing to allow Him in?

[My father] and my mother managed to raise four children through the mire of the 1960s and 1970s, without quite understanding the social upheaval we were living through, as nobody at the time did. All four of us now attend Mass on Sunday, though for each of us I think the road back to devotion has involved a few detours into a wasteland here or a slum there. Without taking anything away from my mother—who was a softening and straightening influence upon him—I can confidently say that we are where we are now in large part because of my father. St. Augustine once addressed the fathers of his congregation as his fellow bishops—the overseers and shepherds of their own small domestic churches. My father had no conscious idea of it, but a shepherd he was; and if the Lord had seen fit to lay the cross of the priesthood on his back, he would have carried it like a man and inspired his flock to follow in his path. A Priesthood of Fathers, Anthony Esolen*
Are we gentle with our "flock"? Are we judicious with our "flock"? Do we protect our domestic church from the corporeal and spiritual wolves that pray upon us? Do we utilize the unique graces provided to us by God the Father in our Sacrament of Marriage to protect and guide our domestic church to heaven? Do we take the time to develop our understanding of just what it is that we need to learn, do, and be to guide our domestic church to heaven?

But we need fathers. Man is made to obey; and the Father in His mercy has provided for us fathers whom we can see and hear and touch. They are sinners, no doubt; but so are we, and the alternative to obeying a father—in one manifestation or another—is obeying the merciless hater of fatherhood below. There is no third choice. Patriarchy—much despised now as naturally abusive or obsolete—is the Scriptural rule for order and peace on earth as it is in heaven. It does not mean bullying. Far from it: Among us human beings it is a compact that benefits all. The man agrees to allay his natural unruliness and curb his taste for danger, his yearning for a wild freedom, and instead concentrate those energies upon what will benefit his wife and children; for them he will spend his substance and, if need be, his life; his will be the responsibility if they fail. Because he loves his family—his small platoon, his domestic church—he will lead them, will naturally assume his role as their head, if God gives him the grace to measure up to so high a calling. In return, his family grants to him
the authority of a father. A Priesthood of Fathers, Anthony Esolen

Do we make sure that we redirect all of our adventure and danger seeking energies into providing for our family and their spiritual welfare? Obedience. Are we obedient to God the Father? Do we expect an unjust form of obedience from our wife and children that we ourselves would not obey? Do we, "Do as I say, not as I do?" Are we willing to be humbled, to learn to act in humility with our wife and children?

The hour of the Cross is the hour of the Father; for it is the hour that he alone knows. The Son, who could know it, forgoes that knowledge. One of the reasons the Father has reserved this knowledge for himself surely lies in the fact that the Son's obedience is to undergo the most severe testing possible. That is why he forgoes any form of obedience in which he would always know in advance what is to come and could prepare himself for that. Also, precisely the chosen sort of obedience allows the whole of the Son's freedom to assert itself at every moment of his life. The Countenance of the Father, Pg. 71 Adrienne von Speyr

Do we spend time with our children? Do we allow our children to be who they are? Do we celebrate their uniqueness and allow them to discover the gifts that they have been blessed with? Do we facilitate those gifts by providing the resources needed for them to grow? Do we guide our children and give them the freedom and trust that they need to grow in confidence and discernment? Do we value the insight and life lessons that our children have to offer us?

The one person we can turn to for guidance in our discovering what it is to be a good Catholic Father is Saint Joseph. The witness to his fatherhood is given through the person of Jesus Christ.

Saint Joseph, teach us to be good fathers. Help us to discover and know what it means to be a father. Help us to discover the God given authority that we have in our fatherhood. Be with us and guide us as we learn what it means to bring our wife and children into a deep relationship with God the Father. Teach us to be humble, help us to learn to ask for forgiveness when we have hurt someone, help us to be a good example of love, discipline, and forgiveness when our children have done wrong.

Thank you Saint Joseph for saying yes to the call of God the Father. Thank you for giving us such a beautiful and powerful witness to fatherhood!

Pax vobis,


Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II
The Heart of Fatherhood, Steve Wood
A Priesthood of Fathers, Anthony Esolen

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