June 19, 2016 – A View from the Rectory Window

It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father” Pope St. John XXIII

I have had many conversations over the years with Catholic men about the challenges of raising kids in today’s world.  The discussions usually center on the bad cultural influences affecting our children, hectic schedules and well-intentioned desire to be better fathers.  After reflecting on these conversations I offer a few thoughts on the vocation of fatherhood that I believe translates to us all:

Surrender. We have to surrender on an ongoing basis to Christ for his will to be done in our lives. We are not in charge … as much as we want to be! St. Ignatius of Loyola once said: “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to him and if they were to allow his grace to mold them accordingly.”

Be a person of Prayer. Our children will be much more likely to pray if we do. Work on developing a daily prayer routine.  Imagine the powerful influence we can have on our children if they see us on our knees in prayer.

Understand our true Vocation. For those blessed to be married and have children, recognize that helping our families get to heaven is our real vocation. Ask yourself: “Is my work serving my family? Or is my family serving my work?”

Invest Time. Children need our time.  For example, in the absence of a father’s time with his family, there are countless bad influences ready to take the place of a father and will guide his children in the wrong direction. I paraphrase author-theologian Scott Hahn, who wrote that in our modern age the father or mother who is willing to walk out of the office after forty hours in order to have more time with his/her family is the real hero.

Be Courageous. Christians are meant to stand out, not blend in. Blending in speaks to conforming so that our faith becomes part of the mainstream.  Sometimes we must stand out and against that part of our culture that is not true and life dignifying. These are difficult times, and we have a responsibility to love and defend Christ in order to be great role models for our families and our faith.

Love your Wives. Husbands must love and cherish their wives, plain and simple. Children will learn to love others by how they see Mom and Dad love each other. Fathers need to say, “I love you” to their wives and children as often as possible.  “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother,” so said Theodore Hesburgh.

Finally, look to the inspiring example of St. Joseph, patron saint of fathers, workers and the universal Church, for his obedience, humility, selflessness, courage and the love he showed to Mary and Jesus.  If we can emulate St. Joseph even a little each day, we will be that much closer to becoming the men and fathers we are called to be.