The week before last I attended the monthly Catholic Men’s Club luncheon and listened to Reverend Wehner speak. Reverend Wehner is the new rector/president of the Pontifical College Josephinum. I was quite impressed, he has many plans for the Josephinum and his approach I feel will be good for the formation of our clergy and for the community in general. He spoke to us about fatherhood and what it means to us as catholic men. I won’t reiterate everything he said as I wouldn’t do it justice, but his message does mesh with some thoughts that have been going through my mind of late. Rev. Wehner explained that while the common notion of fatherhood is being a parent, he said that all of us as catholic men have a role of father regardless of whether we are married, single or clergy. Ponder the roles assumed by a father. Protector, provider, teacher, role model. It is obvious these roles are vital ingredients to the upbringing of children. But it is becoming more apparent to me that it does not stop there. My children are getting older. Two are out of the house, two are getting close. As a father, the most important thing to me is the soul of my child. As I mentioned in last month’s message, our soul, our immortal being is truly the only part of us that will live forever. Happiness, sadness, pain, accomplishments here in this life are temporary. It is how we react to these events, what character we apply to our actions and what code we live by that etches on our soul the measure of our life for which we will be judged. For my children, my role as protector, provider, teacher and role model starts with their temporal needs here on earth, but it culminates with their spiritual needs. No, I can not “make” them holy people, that is not my place. I can however, do my best to instill in them a foundation from which they have the capacity to make good decisions through their God given free will. A foundation they can have forever.
Now, as my children are getting older and moving away the dynamics of my role is changing. Not going away, but changing. I also find myself thinking, if the most important part of my children to me is their soul, wouldn’t the same be said from our Creator’s perspective. Given that all people are God’s children, I am beginning to understand more concretely that the soul of each person is equally important to God as I see in my own children. Following this through it becomes evident then that the position of “father” is not reserved only for parenting. It results in our call to be provider, protector, teacher and role model for God’s Church, reaching out to all of humanity. This seems pretty overwhelming to a simple man such as myself, so I’ve decided to examine my relationship with two people aside from my children. The first is my wife. I ask myself, what have I done lately to support her soul? Do I live my life in a way that helps bring us closer to God or further away? Wow, lots to think about just with those two questions!
The second person is my son-in-law. To make a long story short, our relationship is strained, and would be described as early stages, under construction, slow progress. I must ask the same questions. My actions at this point are limited to trying to live as the example Christ wants us to be, and pray for him. This is not easy for me, but it is the right thing to do. I am looking at two very different relationships, two very different people but both with a soul given to them by God and valued by God.
I hope we can each ask ourselves once this month, am I fulfilling my role as “father” to those around us?
Just a note about the Catholic Men’s Club luncheon mentioned earlier. It takes place the first Friday of each month at St. Patrick’s Church downtown. There is Mass at 11:45 followed by the luncheon ($10 donation) and a presentation. Let me know if you want any further information.