Monday, June 18, 2012

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Father's Day

Fathers give many beautiful and important things to their children. The first gift they can give is their love for the child’s mother. Cherishing her and caring for her, even as the child is in the womb makes a huge difference in the child’s life. The mother knows she is loved and the child knows that they will enter into a family of love. The first moment the child is born, fathers give them a new gift, holding them gently and saying “I love you.” These simple words will resonate in a child’s ears for the rest of their life. Fathers can give their children a foundation of love.

 Fathers give their children the important gift of support. Children don’t often realize the sweat and struggle their fathers go through to provide necessities for them. Roofs, walls, beds, toys, clothes, school, and food all cost fathers. Perhaps you’ve seen a father who worked at a job he hated for a family he loved?

 Fathers call their children by name and they give them special names. My brother was Champion John and I was A is for Alert Andy. Fathers care about their childrens’ day: “Was the water wet today?” my dad would ask when we got back from the lake. When I was studying to be a priest, my dad was very careful to make sure that I was becoming a priest for God and myself but not for him. In fact, when I decided to study to be a priest it was the words of my father, spoken many years ago, that encouraged me. He would say: "Andy, I don't care what you do with your life. Whether you're a truck driver, a doctor, a lawyer or a garbage man, do three things. Love God, love your mom and myself, and drive within a tank of gas driving distance so we can visit." Oddly, he didn't remember ever saying it. I remembered.

 Fathers, love your sons. They want to know they are beloved sons. How many times do we see in movies the dynamic of a son who waits for his father’s approval? Fathers, love your daughters. They want to know they are special and beautiful in your eyes. They need to know they have a secure base in your love which depends, not on what they do but upon who you are. How different would the lives of some daughters be if the first man they knew loved them was their father with a pure fatherly love? 

But what is the most important gift a father can give? Let me tell you a story. A young man near the end of high school is out driving with his family. An accident happens and one of his younger sister is killed. The young man isn’t to blame, because it truly was an accident. But death marks us. Death marked the young man and it marked his whole family. Three months go by and the young man’s father is so distraught he can barely pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be but he keeps repeating them daily, hourly. He asks his son, the driver, how he is doing. The young man, his son, is distraught as well. The father asks his son if he is praying. The young man, his son, says, you never taught me.
Virtue of Fortitude. Courage in the Fight

 The most important gift a father can give is spiritual life. Your children’s souls will live on LONG past their bodies. Your children’s souls will live on in heaven, as testaments to the mercy of God or in hell, as testaments to the sadness of sin. God wants you fathers to be spiritual leaders in your families. God will bless you for doing this. What father would be comfortable entrusting their children's welfare to another, yet how often do fathers feel fine entrusting the spiritual welfare of their children to someone else. How do fathers lead their families?

Mainly, by example. Be a man of prayer. If you don’t know how, learn how. You can not be a good leader if you are not a good follower. Do you have committed time of prayer daily? Do you have committed time of prayer for your family? If a mother takes her children to Mass every Sunday, they are 60% likely to go to Mass every Sunday when adults. If a father takes his children to Mass every Sunday, they are 90% likely to go to Mass every Sunday as adults. But we must pray for our fathers.

As St. Paul says, we must be courageous while we are away from the Lord. It seems that men feel this division and this separation from God in a profound way, especially when we are called to lead. But we must not fear, there will be divine assistance from your heavenly Father. I spoke to a young couple at a wedding reception on Saturday night. They told me they were expecting their first, four months along. They expressed the nerves of a earnest Catholic family, one that was eager to please God in their family. I reminded them that if they believed God wanted them to have those kids, then our Lord will also give them the grace needed to raise that child. Father, lead us by your trust in the Father.

Posted at Pius XII Newman Center as well.

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