Importance of fathers Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 16, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

In his general audience on January 28, 2015, Pope Francis stated, "In modern societies, we are experiencing a crisis of fatherhood.

"In the past, it was common to perceive fathers as authoritarian and sometimes repressive; but, today we sense father's uncertainty and confusion about his role. Without father figures, young people often feel 'orphaned', left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development."

Influence of fathers

Someone wrote that a good father is his daughter's first love and his son's first hero.

Father's Day was started by Sonora Dodd, whose father was both her first love and hero.

"Fathers bring to the table many things that mothers can't. The biggest mistake dads make is not understanding their influence on sons and daughters," writes Dr. Meg Meeker, author of the bestselling book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

Valarie King, a Penn State associate professor of family studies, said a father's involvement with his child's upbringing can have a significant impact on his or her academic achievements and behavior.

Without realizing it, a boy learns what a man is and does from his father. He learns about masculinity, and what men like and don't like. He learns to respect women and cherishes their gifts.

Loving their wives

In Ephesians 5: 25 it says, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her." Studies show that the greatest gift fathers can give to their children is to love their mother. The love dad shows a mom helps sons know how to relate to women and helps daughters know how a man should respect them.

As a child, Dr. Norman Lobsenz arose at midnight to get a drink. As he passed his parent's bedroom, he saw his father sitting at the bedside of his mother who was ill. Norman cried, "Daddy! Is Mommy getting worse?"

"No Norman!" his father whispered. "I'm just watching in case she wakes up and needs something!"

Norman remembered this example of his dad's sacrificial love in "sickness and health." He tried to imitate his dad's love in his marriage.

Qualities of my dad

My brother and I compiled some qualities that dad shared. He was: a) a faithful father and husband who taught us to love nature; b) skilled in many practical trades; c) quiet, kind, and gentle, generously helped others, and his humor kept him and our family going and growing; d) a local baseball fan who shared quality time with his children and grandchildren; e) a loyal Catholic who respected teachers, Sisters, and priests.

When he finally saved enough money to buy the Sisters a freezer, he seemed happier that the Sisters!

In reaction to the sometimes excessive drinking of his dad and uncle, dad didn't drink alcoholic beverages unless he had a rare cold. I am grateful for his example because I have seen how alcoholism can hurt family and other relationships.

Dad's gentleness and love helped us see God as our Heavenly Father. He taught his sons to respect and appreciate women. So did Father Goetzman, our boyhood pastor and spiritual father.

St. Joseph, patron saint of fathers, wasn't Jesus' biological father, but his foster-father. He showed his love for Jesus by loving Mary, Jesus' mother. He was Jesus' model, guide, and teacher.

Thanking our fathers

On Father's Day, if our father is still alive, we can show we appreciate him by visiting him, sharing dinner, or calling him. If he has died, we can pray for him and ask him to pray for us.

We can thank our dad (and mom) by being a loving son or daughter.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers and to all my brother priests!

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