Good fathers are needed more than ever Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Harmon Killebrew, the Hall of Fame former major league baseball player for the Minnesota Twins, admires his father. His dad spent hours playing baseball with Harmon on their big farmhouse lawn. As he taught Harmon how to play baseball, he also taught him how to be a good father. Harmon fondly remembers when his mother complained that this nonsense of playing baseball was ruining the lawn. What would the neighbors think?

His dad replied, "Dear, we are not raising grass. We are raising children." His words reflect Pope John Paul II's words, "Children are the hope of the future."

Harmon Killebrew's dad knew how to raise farm crops. Better yet, he knew how to raise children by sharing the gift of quality time.

Honoring fathers

Sonora Smart Dodd also admired her father. He heroically raised six children by himself after his young wife died while giving birth to the youngest child. In appreciation of her father and all dads, Sonora Dodd organized the first Father's Day in Spokane, Wash., on June 19, 1910.

One of best gifts that a mother can give to her children is to love their father. Mom occasionally criticized Dad. But when he came home from work, she communicated to us children that Dad was special. We agreed.

In no. 2214 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is stated that the divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood. The loving gentleness of my dad and my boyhood pastor helped me to see God as a loving father and friend.

Good fathers needed

Good fathers are needed today. Currently 34 percent of American children live in homes where the father does not reside. The Church believes that children grow and develop best when they have responsible moms and dads. The Church teaches that the family is the domestic church.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, when fathers are involved in their children's education, their children are more likely to get As, enjoy school, and participate in extra-curricular activities. The boys are more likely to be responsible dads.

A good father is important to young boys as a male role model. He can also give his son or daughter moral guidance and a feeling of self worth. A girl's relationship with her dad can determine how she relates to other men.

Like Harmon Killebrew's father, Dad showed his love for us children by doing things with us. Together, we hunted, fished, and played baseball. As a small boy I often watched him work, share colorful stories, and more. These were teachable moments which helped me to bond with Dad, develop motor skills, and learn ethical limits in regard to physical interaction.

Donna, my little sister, would wait patiently for Dad to come home from work. When she saw him, she would run out to meet him, shouting "Daddy, Daddy" and jump into his arms. This must have chased his tiredness and made him feel special.

Praying for our fathers

Pope John XXIII said, "It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father." A father heard his son pray, "Dear God, make me the kind of man Daddy is." Later that night the father prayed, "Dear God make me the kind of daddy my son wants me to be." Surely we can join this dad in his prayer because good fathers are important to their sons and daughters.

On Father's Day like Sonora Dodd, we have a graced opportunity to thank our father. If he is still alive, we can show him that we love him by a visit, dining with him, or calling him. Or we can imitate the children who gave their shut-in dad a calendar and wrote in days when they promised to share time with him.

If our father has died, we can pray for him. If he is in Heaven, we can ask him to pray to God for us.

One of the best ways we can thank our dad is to be the best son or daughter that we can be. Whether he is here or in eternity, may our dad enjoy a happy Father's Day.

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