Fathers are the foundation of families, they give them identity and meaning in both life and in death. On this weekend when we stop the frenetic pace of life to honor and remember fathers, we have an opportunity to reflect on what really matters most in our lives. They are a gift to be received and we should thank them, and the heavenly Father whom they reveal.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."(Ephesians 3:14 - 19)
These profound words were written by the Apostle Paul to the early Christians in Ephesus. The Greek word for Father and family are connected. Paul is using them in a sort of play on words to make a profoundly important theological and existential point. Fathers are the foundation of families, they give them identity and meaning in both life and in death. The Catholic Catechism says, "The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents." (CCC#2214)
The Biblical understanding of naming someone was a far more significant action than many contemporary approaches communicate. To name was understood to confer identity and introduce an ongoing relationship between the parties. Naming still confers identity and relationship. Understanding the implications of that fact takes a lifetime, and beyond.
On this weekend when we when we stop the frenetic pace of life to honor and remember fathers, we have an opportunity to reflect on what really matters most in our lives. The ones who have "named" us, our fathers, have helped to give us our identity. They are a gift to be received and we should thank them. They are also a sign of the very Fatherhood of God.
I lost my dear father in 2001. In that same year, my beloved wife also lost her father, my father in law, with whom I also had a wonderful relationship. We refer to that year still, with a heartbreaking sadness, as the year of our two fathers. When father's day rolls around, we still grieve, even as we laugh and remember them both.
My father's favorite song was the Louis Armstrong classic "What a Wonderful World". Each father's day since he died, in a melancholy mix of mourning and memories, I listen to that song. As the years go by, its words and insights open up in their simplicity and wisdom. My father understood that the words spoke to the things that really matter - once everything that pretends to matter is stripped away. As his life unfolded in those later years, when his congestive heart failure seemed to take its greatest toll, he loved the song and the sentiment it expressed even more.
As the years have passed, my sense of loss has not dissipated. It has only changed. As I so often tell grieving family members at funerals, the pain of loss on the memory of our deceased loved ones is just another manifestation of the eternal nature of all love. This father's day I will spend much appreciated time with some of our grown children and our grandchildren. As I experience the joy of family and fatherhood I know I will wish my Dad were with us to enjoy these precious moments. When we are with our own grown children and grandchildren, my wife and I always tell the stories of our fathers with fondness and ever deepening gratitude.
My father grew in tenderness and compassion as he faced death. It is funny how difficulties and struggle, suffering and strife, seem to be the most effective means of refining us all. He finally died of the heart ailment which had claimed so much of his vigor. However, like every struggle my father faced, he did not give up. He was a fighter and he did not want to go. In fact, I was at his "death bed" a couple of times, or so we thought it was his death bed. He decided he had more jokes to tell and love to give.
It was that fighting spirit which I have particularly grown to admire as the years have passed by. Oh, as a younger man, he perhaps fought the wrong battles. We all do. But, that does not really matter any longer. Life smoothes it all out and time presses us into love. I see now that it only gave him time to smooth off the rough edges of a hard life and to simplify. So it is doing with me, his son.
How my father loved to hear from us as he grew older. Sadly, in retrospect, I regret just how little we really called. How I would love to have just one of those conversations today. I miss him. I have a good friend who is younger. He and his wonderful wife are in the early years of raising their children. Two years ago she lost her dear father. Now, his father is in the throes of the latter stages of a struggle with cancer. I tell him every time I see him, cherish these days. I pray for him regularly, and I remember.
I think back on those final years with my own father and I still have regrets. Though we can't get those years back, time is meant become a tutor as its highway stretches out before us. The lessons abound. .. The memories of the time I did have with him take on new meaning as I walk along the path that he did, raising my family and trying to love in both word and deed.
Now, in my fifties, I remember him in his fifties. I cherish the last times we had and I share with my own grown children, and grandchildren, the stories, and his humor. In fact, in what is the most common experience of all, I actually tell his jokes, use his expressions, both facial and verbal and, in so many respects, I have become just like him. When I was in my twenties, it was one of my greatest fears. Now, it has become one of my greatest honors. How I love him more with each passing year.
Our earthly fathers and our relationships with them reflect the great meaning they symbolize in the eternal framework. Our Heavenly Father has given us His very name, His identity. In and through Jesus Christ, His only Son, we have now become "sons (and daughters) in the Son" - through our Baptism of new birth in water and the Spirit. We are a part of an eternal family, and as the apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, not even death. (Romans 8:38, 39)
I am always glad when Fathers Day falls on a Sunday; it gives me a special opportunity to pray at Mass for my father and my father in law. This year Father's Day falls on the same day as the Feast of the Holy Trinity. How profound. Through the Paschal Mystery, the saving Incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Lord, we have been brought into the communion of love which exists between the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit.
Fathering is a great gift and a great responsibility. I cannot live it in its fullness without grace, the Divine Life of God which is given to us through Jesus Christ and mediated through our life in His church, in Word and Sacrament. In the Holy Eucharist we receive the One who is the Source and means of all grace.
As a Catholic Christian, I know that I am still joined to my father and my father in law in the communion which stretches through time and into eternity. That Church is a participation in an eternal communion of love. At that moment in the Canon of the Mass, when we pray for those who have died, I will pray for them both on Father's day.
Then I will reflect for the rest of the day upon the great gift of the years that I had with my Dad. I will call my own children. The ones who are now back with us in the home will receive bountiful hugs, as will our grandchildren. The ones separated by geographical space will receive our phone calls and our prayers.
I miss my father. If you still have yours with you, love him and let him know how important he is to you. Together, let us celebrate the Gift of Fatherhood and kneel before the Father from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named, expressing our deep gratitude for the gift of fatherhood and family.
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Some samples negligently sent by the U.S. Military contained live anthrax. Four lab workers from the United States and about 22 overseas, who come in contact with the shipment, are placed into post-exposure treatment, according to a defense official. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading
By Keith A Fournier
There is something which many in the main stream U.S. media do not know, here it is - not many people are listening to them anymore. However, they will listen to this song. And, they will understand it. The sentiment it captures will encourage the heart of a ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May has proved to be the most dangerous and deadliest month Baltimore has witnessed in more than 50 years. There were more than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone; city police have never been busier. Community leaders hope the members will come ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
While it's "doable," few people in California are actually voicing any enthusiasm. Stricken by a crippling drought, water officials are going through some highly popular alternatives - and repurposing sewage water into drinking water is one of them. LOS ... continue reading
By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
As Gay rights movements continue to disrupt society and political life, poll reveals that gay and lesbians are not as common in the United States as previously perceived. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new Gallup poll conducted in early May has revealed that ... continue reading
By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
World's oldest woman, Jeralean Talley has added another year to her life - the world declared she turned 116 last weekend. Talley and her family, friends, the Inkster mayor and Congressman Conyers, delivered a message from President Barack Obama, celebrating her ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
How would you react if you unexpectedly and inexplicably found nine brains on the side of the road while on your early morning run? Like most people, you may find yourself shocked and completely clueless on the origins of the brains. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
I am always drawn to these words of Jesus on Memorial Day weekend, - No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) Military service which leads to laying one's life down is certainly an expression of this kind of heroic ... continue reading
By Fr. Randy Sly
The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there. These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to ... continue reading
By Jennifer Hartline
Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland. Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight. I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you ... continue reading