Honoring fathers for their special love, qualities Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 17, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes by Fr. Donald Lange

Mrs. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd is generally credited with organizing the first modern Father's Day. It was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Wash. The idea of Father's Day originated in Sonora's mind as she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909.

Sonora's mother died while giving birth when Sonora was 16. William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, raised the newborn and five other children with caring love. Sonora, the eldest child, admired the endless sacrifices her dad made so his children could live better. Consequently she wanted a Father's Day to honor her father and other fathers. We celebrate Father's Day this year on June 20.

Gifts fathers share

Like Sonora, on Father's Day we honor our father for the gifts he shared. Responsible fathers nurture, protect us, and share their values. A good father is important to boys as a male role model. The way that he relates to his son's mother can affect how his son or sons relate to women. How a father relates to his daughter or daughters helps to determine how she relates to other men. Caring fathers leave eternal marks of love on us.

Like Sonora Dodd, my three sisters loved their dad. I fondly remember how Donna, my little sister, waited for Dad to walk home from work. When she saw him, she ran out to meet him and leaped into his arms. "Daddy, I love you!" she cried. Unlike commercials this was not staged. She proudly showed Dad her love and gave him "home.''

Quality time

My two brothers and I treasure the quality time that our father shared with us. Dad taught us to respect God's creation. Together we hunted, fished, watched ball games, prayed, worshipped, and enjoyed each other's presence.

Dad's gentleness helped us to see God as a gentle loving father. He never missed Sunday Mass and joined in praying the family Rosary. He respected priests and nuns. He joyfully bought our school's nuns a freezer. He did not limit his love to our family, but shared it with others.

Loving children's mom

The best gift that a father can give to his children is to love their mother as Joseph loved Mary. When Dad retired, he got a job "running parts." It was delightful to see him stop for morning coffee at home (Ma's Cafe) because he wanted to enjoy her presence. He loved Mom.

Dad had many interests. He played cribbage and euchre. He and Will, his brother, were arguably the two most loyal local baseball fans in Kieler. He was a good storyteller and he liked people, especially children.

I watched him skillfully straighten dents out of car fenders at my uncle's garage. I enjoyed his humor and windy stories. Dad helped to keep my old klunker cars on the road. He became my favorite and cheapest mechanic.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers. He was not Jesus' biological father, but his foster-father. He showed his love for Jesus by loving Mary. He demonstrated that fatherhood involves more than biology. He was the model, guide, and teacher of Jesus. He supported the Holy Family by the work of his hands.

Good father qualities

In the "Norfolk Parenting Examiner," Tanya Tringali lists the top 10 qualities of a good father.

  • They stick around. (Loyalty.)
  • They respect the women in their lives.
  • They listen.
  • They like to have fun.
  • They show compassion. (Children need to see the softer side of fathers.)
  • They can be tough, yet fair.
  • They have a good work ethic.
  • They aren't afraid to own up to their mistakes.
  • They have integrity. (They model values.)
  • They make their children feel protected.

A dad was about to tuck his five-year-old son into bed. The son prayed his usual prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep . . ." Then he looked up at his dad and prayed, "Dear God, make me a great big good man like my dad! Amen."

He fell quickly asleep. Then his father knelt and prayed, "Father, make me a great big good man like my son thinks I am. Amen." Inspired by St. Joseph, fathers can pray for the grace of being a good father.

The day after we buried Dad, I sat in the living room grieving silently. The door opened and I expected Dad to walk in as usual. Instead Mom walked in and whispered, "Your dad was proud of you." Her words left an indelible mark of joy on my heart.

On Father's Day and each day, let us thank God for the gift of our father whose caring presence often mirrors or mirrored the love of our heavenly Father. Thank you Dad for helping to give me life and nurturing it. I am proud of you, too. "Happy Father's Day!''

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.