Editorial: Hear, o children, a father's instruction
The celebration of Father's Day each year reminds us of the invaluable blessing that our fathers have been in our lives. There is, of course, no way in which we could measure fully -- let alone put into words -- what they have contributed to our growth into that child of God each of us is called to be.
This began with the very moment of our conception, but has continued on unceasingly, not ending even with their passing from life on earth to the fullness of union with Our Lord. Our fathers, even departed, continue to bless us with their guidance, prayer and sustaining love, urging us on in the way of Christian perfection; remaining no less an indispensable light and partner on the path of life.
It is a painful irony that, though fatherhood always will remain a most needed foundation of our lives -- both as human beings and as sons and daughters of Our Lord -- ours is an age in which many have come to discount the importance and necessary role of the presence of fathers in our society.
In the pursuit of the redefinition of the notion of family, some have sought to deny the true necessity of paternal influence and the positive role model which only a father can be. Far from interchangeable or capable of substitution, the role of the father -- no less than that of the mother -- remains the bedrock upon which responsible, mature, moral personhood is built.
No matter how numerous those who seek to deny it, attempts at removing the integral role of the father from the family structure has only served to damage all of society. Indeed, much of the pain in our society today and the breakdown of responsible citizenship in society is the result of the diminution of the role of the father in the family structure and home.
We as a human society always have realized the key role of the father in the family. He is protector, provider, adviser, advocate, counsel, resource and so much more. Often his guidance and supervision has been resisted, even rejected. The "Generation Gap" is not something which suddenly appeared in the '60s. Whether so designated or not, this phenomenon has been going on for as long as people have been human. Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son is pertinent in every age, as it is lived out, year after year, the world over. There is nothing new under the sun.
Fatherhood, however, was never intended by Our Lord to be a popularity contest or a quest for approval or validation. Faithful fatherhood means being for the child what is truly needed for conscientious and responsible personal formation.
Sometimes this has meant that what we needed was not the same as what we wanted. In embracing the role entrusted him, the faithful father loved his child too much to take the path easier for himself. Instead, he chose the right path. Throughout it all -- buoyed and sustained by the Perfect Father, Our Lord Himself -- he remained that bulwark that was so needed, despite the tendency to resist his steadying and necessary influence.
Furthermore, it is through being fathered rightly by our own fathers that we learn much of what we shall need to know when it is our turn to be parents. Whether conscious of it or not, we were observing, studying and incorporating those parenting skills we were seeing from our own fathers. Far more than we could ever recognize, our fathers have made us much of what we are today. In gratitude, we must apply ourselves with no less dedication to the formation of their grandchildren, and all the generations beyond.
Our fathers were never perfect. They were incapable of perfection, and if we cannot forgive them for their limitations, we shall never be able to forgive ourselves when confronted with our own flaws and shortcomings. They showed us what it means to be human: imperfect; not having all the answers; not getting it right every single time; and always willing to be helped back up to our feet again -- pressing on; never giving up; ever working to do it better the next time.
Father's Day is for all of us a day on which to say, "Dad, thanks. I love you." If Dad is alive, this is not something that can be allowed to go without saying. We need to say it. He needs to hear it. He deserves to hear it. If Dad is with Our Lord in heaven, it is no less important that we say it to him, right there. He will hear us, just as he has always heard us. Let us not forget to let him answer us, as well. Life with Dad was never meant to be a monologue. Let the conversation never end.
Finally, no Father's Day can be complete without giving our love to Our Heavenly Father -- Our Lord Himself. Where better to do so than in His own house, gathered with His whole family, on Sunday?
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