Good fathers leave eternal marks of love Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 09, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

One summer evening dad and I sat on our front lawn and gazed at the field across the road.

Like a huge orange-red host, the sun sank slowly into the chalice of the earth. Its beauty inspired us.

Thoughtfully, dad said, “You know, we really don’t own anything.”

I quickly remembered the list of names on the deed to our land. Owner after owner paraded across the field of my memory. Then I realized that we were just stewards of the land. The real owner was God

This made an ordinary evening special. I felt close to dad.

Origin of Father’s Day

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.

When Sonora was 16, her mother died while giving birth. William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, raised their newborn and five other children with fatherly love.

Sonora, the eldest child, admired the endless sacrifices her dad made so his children could live better. Consequently she worked for a Father’s Day to honor her father and other fathers.

Pope John XXIII said, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” Responsible fathers nurture, protect us, and share their values. They leave eternal marks of love on both sons and daughters. The way that a father relates to his children’s mother can affect how his son or sons relate to other women.

Gentle role model

My little sister was born when I was five. I wanted my parents to name her Donald Arthur — Donald after me and Arthur after dad. They compromised by naming her Donna.

Donna loved dad. As a little girl she ran out to meet him when he walked home from work. This was not a rehearsed commercial, but real love.

A good father is important as a male role model. I remember sitting on the splintered swing seats of Immaculate Conception School in Kieler with second grade classmates. We tried to outbrag each other as to who had the best dad. “My dad can fix anything,” one of us boasted. Another countered, “My dad is tougher than Joe Louis, the heavyweight boxing champion.”

Dad taught my two brothers and me much by sharing quality time. Together we hunted, fished, watched ball games, prayed, worshipped, and enjoyed each other’s presence. Passing on a hobby, a tradition, or skill to children is a priceless gift.

As father of our family, dad corrected me what I did wrong but in a gentle caring way. I listened and sometimes I repented and changed. Some educators call these teachable moments. His gentleness helped me relate to God as Heavenly Father.

Father and son communion

This year we celebrate Father’s Day on June 19. On the same day we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. In no. 2205 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation.

In no. 2214 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God’s (fourth) commandment.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the family the domestic church and the original cell of family life.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers. He was the model, guide, and teacher of Jesus, and he supported the Holy Family through the work of his hands. He shows us that the best gift that a father can give to his children is to love their mother as he loved Mary. Mary’s love of Joseph surely influenced the profound respect Jesus had for women.

Being just like dad

When Cal Ripken, Jr. was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Hall of Fame, he told this story. His three–year old son was engaged in a heated argument with his six- year old daughter Rachel. Rachel taunted Ryan, “You are just trying to be like your daddy.”

Ryan thought for a moment and then countered, “What’s wrong with trying to be like dad?”

After sharing this story, Cal Ripken, Jr., looked at his dad and exclaimed, “That is what I have always tried to do, to be a good person and a good father like my dad.”

Like Sonora Dodd, we have a graced opportunity to appreciate our dad on Father’s Day and every day.

If he is alive, we can visit him, share lunch, or call him. Perhaps the best way to honor him is to be the best son or daughter that we can be.

Whether he is in time or eternity, may our father enjoy a happy Father’s Day.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.