Pope Francis praises fatherhood Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes

On February 4, 2015, at Vatican City, Pope Francis stated, “Every family needs a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm guidance and love. Being a father is not easy. It takes lots of patience and grace.’’

Importance of fathers

Fr. Anthony Kadavil wrote, “Children who are raised with fathers present in the family have much lower rates of delinquency, drug and alcohol use, and teen pregnancy than those with absent fathers.

“The father’s presence is also a significant positive factor in the children’s getting a college education, finding a satisfying job, and making a lasting marriage. A girl’s choice of partner and satisfaction in marriage is often directly related to the relationship she has had with her father.”

Fathers (and mothers) teach us to pray, model values, and help to put the hope of heaven in our heart.

My Dad never missed Sunday Mass and joined in praying the family Rosary. He respected priests and Sisters. His kindness helped me to see God as my gentle, loving Father.

Playing with children

At his general audience January 28, 2015, Pope Francis recalled how when he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often asked fathers if they played with their kids, if they had the courage of love to ‘waste’ their time with their children. The majority said, ‘Well, I can’t, too much work.’”

In his book Real Family Values, Robert Lewis tells the heart warming discovery workers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., made in 1993. While renovating the museum, they found a photo hidden in a crevice underneath a display case. The man in the picture had a baseball wooden bat resting on his shoulder. He wore a uniform with the word Sinclair printed across his chest. His expression was friendly and inviting.

Stapled to the picture was a note scribbled by an adoring fan. The note read, “You were never too tired to play baseball. On your days off, you helped build the Little League field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame dad. I wish I could share this moment with you. Your Son, Peter.”

Dr. Charlie Shedd once held a pop quiz contest called, “One Neat Dad.” He asked contestants to recommend their dad for this great honor. The number one value that young people listed when they recommended their dad for this contest was that “he takes time for me.”

Other qualities were, “He listens to me, plays with me, and invites me to go places with him. He lets me help him, treats my mother well (a biggie), and lets me say what I think. He is nice to my friends, only punishes me when I deserve it, and is not afraid to admit that he is wrong!”

Patron saint of fathers

St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers. In the Jewish home, it was the father who had the primary responsibility for his son’s religious instruction.

We believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He was the God-man. Still, in his human nature when the teenage Jesus went home and was subject to the influence of Joseph and Mary, he grew in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.

Joseph was certainly an influential role model for Jesus in his human nature. Why else would Jesus have chosen the imagery of father to portray God and spend hours in prayer to his loving Father and seeking to do his will.

On Father’s Day, 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. 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 yet alive or in eternity, may our dad enjoy a happy Father’s Day.

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