June 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 11


By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a father with his son on his shouldersSome time ago, a wonderful book came into existence. The author is Tim Russert and the book is entitled "Wisdom of Our Fathers." It is a book that is filled with many stories and anecdotes telling how fathers have influenced their sons and daughters throughout the course of their lifetimes.

Usually when we talk about fathers we always know they don't have the way of expressing their emotions the way their wives or mothers do. This book highlights many stories, but in particular one theme and the one theme is that for all of the children who wrote for this book, their father was always there for them. The story highlights individuals whose fathers were bricklayers and laborers, who practically worked around the clock to supply wonderful homes and wonderful educations to what we now call the baby boomers. Oftentimes in family life they were rarely seen, but their presence was always felt. In these stories a certain kind of bonding took place that has lasted for both father and children for their entire lives. One describes a father who was a laborer, whose hands were touch, knurled and hard from the hard work and yet when he would hold his daughter as an infant or comfort her when she was upset, or walk in the park holding hands with her, his hand always seemed tender and soft. As she looked back, she knew that kind of non-verbal communication was cementing the relationship between herself and her father.

I remember years ago when I was a small boy in Boston, being an altar boy, it was common practice for my father to walk to Church with me, stay in the first pew or bench while I was serving and then walk home after the Mass was over, sometime sit was the coldest days in winter, yet there was always a degree of serenity and comfort that he provided. I think a lot of these behind he scenes emotions are what fathers have done for us over the years. If you go back to the life of Christ, you will find that his foster father, St. Joseph, had the same characteristics. He was always there. Whenever there was chaos in the Holy Family, whenever a major decision had to be made, whenever they had to take flight into Egypt because they were going to be victims, hatred for themselves as Jews, it was always St. Joseph behind the scenes making the necessary arrangements and fulfilling all obligations to achieve the best ends for the family.

It is kind of a sad indictment for our society today that when you look at any situation comedy where there is a family situation, the father in most of these situations comedies is kind of an odd ball or a misfit, someone who provides very little direction and very little leadership.

Photo of a single mother walking on the beach with two childrenIt is no coincidence today that 68% of all your serious behavioral problems among teenagers come from single parent homes. Sadly, the fathers are not there. This is another reminder to every father that today with television criticizing the role of fatherhood and demeaning it, with the internet giving your children all sorts of pornographic temptations, when the public school system has broken down and even to a degree the Church has broken down, there is a tremendous need for your role as a father to all of those whom God has entrusted to your care. We all know the importance of motherhood, but over the years we have minimized the contribution fathers can make to the formation of your child's mentality. If you, as father's, do not hand on your values, your principals and convictions, someone else will. That is why there is such a need for you to always have a degree of involvement in the life of your family.

God gave us a commandment to honor thy father and mother. The ideal father is one who has a sense of dedication and commitment and tries to do the best for the wife he married and the children he has. He is one who realizes he cannot be a tyrant, but must be a leader, that he must correct with charity and discipline with love. He is the one who realizes that his family needs him, that in their minds there will never be another like him. How will you know you are the ideal or successful father as far as your family is concerned? When your children refer to you after your death as our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be his name. When they refer to you in this manner, you definitely are fathers who walk worthily in the vocation of fatherhood to which God has called you.

Thank God we have so many good fathers.