All true fatherhood emanates from the true and original source of Fatherhood, God the Father. The most well-known prayer in all of Christianity is the Lord’s Prayer, also known as THE OUR FATHER, taught by Jesus the Son of the Eternal Father.(Mt. 6:9-14/Lk. 11:1-4)
Many of the crises in the world stem from the absence of the Father-figure, the neglect of the Father to live up to his noble vocation, or the crisis in understanding of what it really means to be a father. Of the many identity crises prevalent in the modern world, the crisis of true fatherhood might be at the top of the list.
This being the case then, how can we discover, cultivate as well as promote true Fatherhood in a society where there are so many “Drop-out Dads”? Let us enter in and study together this supremely important topic. The family, the society, the country and the world at large depends on the person of the Father and fatherhood that flows from being a true father.
1. GOD THE FATHER AS MODEL. As said earlier, all true fatherhood flows from God the Father. So that an earthly father can truly exercise his fatherhood properly, he must have an image, model, example after which he can pattern his own life. If the earthly father has truly experienced the presence, power, tenderness and firmness and especially the love of the Heavenly Father, then he we will be capable of living out in his own life’s vocation the love of the father to the family that he has been entrusted to lead safely home to God the Father.
2. BIBLICAL ROLE MODEL: (Lk. 15:11-32: the Parable of the Prodigal Son). An excellent role-model for the earthly father is the presentation, given by Jesus Himself, of the Father in the most famous of all parables, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Another name that we can give to the Parable of the Prodigal Son is the MERCIFUL FATHER. The virtues or qualities of the Father of the Prodigal son are virtues that every earthly father should strive with all of his heart, mind and will to emulate and imitate. What then are the virtues of the Father of the Prodigal Son? Love for both of his sons is paramount. Also, freedom given at a dear price. Mercy to the highest degree—a father always ready to forgive the repentant son. Patience plays a key role. The Father gives the wandering son patience to rethink his ways and to return home willingly and lovingly. Reconciler—he desires to reconcile both of the sons despite their differences. A Father knows how to elicit the good in the different members of the family; he is also capable of mending and repairing broken relationships. Joy—a true and authentic Father is a source of joy for the entire family. Not only does the father correct with gentleness, but his is capable of celebrating with joy the happy moments of the family. Provide and nourish—the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal son also provides a rich banquet for the wandering son who has finally returned. A true and authentic father will provide for the physical needs, but also the spiritual and moral needs of his entire family. Like the Good Shepherd, he leads the sheep to nourish in green and abundant pastures.
3. FATHER’S LOVE FOR HIS VOCATION AND SPOUSE. Once a man has chosen the vocation of holy matrimony, then his hierarchy of values must be crystal clear: God first, wife or spouse second, and then the children that come third. If this order is subverted then there will surface family problems which could lead to eventual separations. On the wedding day the husband and well as wife make the solemn promise to be faithful to each other: in good times as well as bad, in health as well as in sickness, in riches as well as in poverty, until death do they part. Actually the father that does not manifest this preferential love towards his wife will actually be damaging his children. The lack of love and concern not given to the wife and mother is a depriving of the children of true love. Children easily pick up the vibes when there is tension, lack of communication, lack of love and warmth between their parents. It is sensed easy and the silence—due to lack of communication—can so to speak be cut with a knife! Therefore, a true and authentic father must be constantly examining his relationship with his wife and constantly strive to overcome obstacles and be constant in striving to live out the last and greatest of the Commandments of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you!”
4. FATHER MUST LOVE HIS CHILDREN. Then what necessarily flows, in the heart of a father, after he has experienced the love of God the Father, has loved his wife with a true and authentic and pure love, will be an outpouring of love for the children that God has given to him. This love will manifest itself in a series of concrete actions and attitudes, such as:
a) OPENNESS TO LIFE. A true father cannot fall into and swallow the all-too prevalent contraceptive mentality. The contraceptive mentality says no to life and at the same time says no to God who is the author of all life. God is life and the author and promoter of life, both natural and supernatural!
b) OPENNESS TO SUPERNATURAL LIFE. Once the father has a child born to him he should desire to have the child baptized as soon as possible so that this child can be a son/daughter of God. Through Baptism all have the right to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
c) PRAYER. A true father should be a man of prayer, in three different dimensions with respect to his children. The Father should pray for his children, teach them to pray and pray with them—these three dimensions are essential!
d) PRIEST OF THE FAMILY. A true father should be the “Priest of the family”. What does this mean in concrete? Simply this: he should bring his children and family to Church for the reception of the Sacraments. He should be very vigilant and attentive that his family receive the Sacraments as often as possible and as fervently as possible. At the end of the day, the father should bless his little flock before they retire every night. Even the use of holy water is highly recommended! Indeed a father can and should bless his family. This grace flows from the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
e) DEFEND HIS CHILDREN. Indeed a true father should be likened to a Good Shepherd who is constantly on guard to watch over the sheep of his flock. (Jn. 10:1-18) Dangerous and ravenous wolves pervade the whole world. A good father should know where these hungry and blood-thirsty wolves are hidden so as to prevent them from attacking the flock. Today more than ever a good father should be aware of the constant danger of the wolves that can enter the homes and hearts of their children though the electronics media, most especially through the wolf of pornography!
5. FATHER’S LOVE FOR THE HEAVENLY MOTHER. Not only must a father experience the presence, warmth, firmness and tenderness of the Heavenly Father, but he should also experience in a very profound manner the tenderness of the Heavenly Mother, Mary most holy. Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of the family, but also our tender and loving Mother. For this reason St Therese of Lisieux stated: “Our Lady indeed is Queen but she is more Mother than she is Queen.” In his typical brilliant and effusive as well as anointed expression Saint Alphonsus asserted with respect to Mary as Mother the following: “If we were to put all of the love of all of the mothers of all times and all places together, past, present and future, the love that Our Lady has towards each and everyone one of us individually as Mother is much greater.” How unfathomable the abyss of love and tenderness that Our Lady has for you and me as well as all fathers. A father that truly experiences this love of Mother Mary for him then this outpouring of love will be experienced on his family members like a torrential downfall of graces! May Our Lady, the full of grace, bless all of the fathers of the world!
In conclusion, let us strive with all of the energy in our minds, hearts and souls to foster true FATHERHOOD. The future of the family, the society, the culture, the country as well as the world at large depends upon the formation of holy, happy, wholesome and heroic fathers. May Good St. Joseph pray for men, workers and fathers so that they will lead their families to the eternal embrace of the heavenly Father. Amen