Good fathers plant eternal memories in our hearts Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 07, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, by Fr. Don Lange

I remember how Dad liked to plant a garden. First, he plowed and harrowed God’s good earth. This made the soil more receptive to receive and nourish seeds.

Next, he skillfully tied a string between two stakes to help make the rows even. We children watched with awe as he reverently planted seeds in the garden’s rich soil. This was sacred time.

We waited patiently for plants to push through the soil. Finally, one memorable day we discovered a shoot that had risen from the earth. We joyfully raced to be first to share the good news. Now whenever I see a garden, I think of Dad.

Inspired by sacrificial love

On Father’s Day, we remember and we honor fathers for their influence on their children and society. This year we celebrate Father’s Day on June 17.

Mother’s Day inspired and complements Father’s Day. In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon that praised the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She wondered why there was not a day to honor fathers.

In her family it was her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who cared for and made heroic sacrifices for his children. After his wife died, he raised Sonora and five sons alone. His sacrificial love motivated her to begin efforts that led to Father’s Day.

In need of good fathers

Good fathers are needed today. Pope John XXIII said, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” Responsible fathers nurture us, protect us, and share values.

A father who enjoys a good relationship with his children’s mother is more likely to be involved and to spend time with them and her. Their children are psychologically and emotionally healthier.

Indelible memories of Dad

When Dad neared home from work, my little sister often waited and ran out to meet and hug him. Unlike commercials, her affection was real and made his day. Our entire family including Skipper, our dog, loved Dad.

Dad taught me that people are more important than things. He was a good storyteller who liked people, especially children. As second graders, we boys argued who had the best Dad. I enjoyed his humor and colorful stories.

I saw Dad in the hospital for the last time on my birthday. As I left, he said that he was not long for this world. I laughed and kidded him that he would probably outlive me. The next day unexpectedly he died.

His death left an empty space in my heart that I partially fill with memories of the way we were. Though he lives in my heart, I believe that he is with God in heaven, enjoying the fullness of eternity with Mary, the saints, and others.

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 his mother. We can do the same. He demonstrated that fatherhood involves more than biology. He was Jesus’ model, guide, and teacher.

If your father is still alive, show love for him by a visit, dining with him, or calling him. If your father has died, pray for him. If he is in heaven, we can ask him to pray for us.

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