18 June 2011

Father's Day

A prayer of Fr. Benedict Groeschel:
O Lord in your goodness and mercy, look upon us all and help us to serve Christ as best we can, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I commend to all  Taylor Marshall's splendid post for Father's Day not to be missed on his blog Canterbury Tales.

For myself, when it comes to Father's Day my thoughts turn to St. Joseph, the man Our Lord Jesus knew as 'Abba'.  For all who are in Christ, St. Joseph remains the father par excellence chosen by God Himself to raise God the Son in the flesh.  Many will remember with great affection Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. who was a spiritual father to thousands.  I shall now quote at some length from an essay Fr. Hardon wrote entitled "The Role and Responsibility of Fatherhood - St. Joseph as Model" which stands as one of the best reflexions on St. Joseph I have read:

St. Joseph, Model of Fathers

In the litany of St. Joseph, we say, “St. Joseph, Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.” There is more hidden behind this invocation than meets the eye.
We know, of course, that Mary is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. We know that the Savior was not conceived of a human father. Yet the Church has never tired insisting on the fatherhood of St. Joseph in the Holy Family.
It is crucially important to understand that there are two levels to fatherhood. There is the physical level of providing for the conception of a human body. In this sense, Christ did not have a human father.
But a father is not only to cooperate with his wife in generating a child. He is also to cooperate with her in rearing the offspring which his spouse brings into the world.
From all eternity, Joseph was destined to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin. They were truly married. Joseph was Mary’s husband, and she was his wife.
Marriage is the most intimate of all unions between two human beings. It imparts a community of gifts between those joined together in matrimony. Consequently, in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as his spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life’s companion, but also the witness of her virginity, the protector of her honor. No, by reason of his conjugal tie to Mary, he participated in her sublime dignity.
We cannot exaggerate the importance of seeing St. Joseph as the true spouse of Mary. Under God, he was to share in her unique role as Mother of the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.
St. Luke tells us that, on returning to Nazareth after Mary and Joseph found the young Christ in the temple, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men (Luke 2:52)”.
What are we being told? We are being told that the Christ Child constantly manifested greater wisdom as he grew in age. In God’s mysterious providence, both Mary and Joseph contributed to this manifestation of greater wisdom in Jesus.
We return to our main theme:  St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood. We know only too well that a man can father a child in body without even being married to the mother of his offspring.
  • True fatherhood begins with a lifetime commitment of the husband to his wife.
  • True fatherhood builds on the selfless love of the husband for his wife.
  • True fatherhood depends on the generous love of the husband for the offspring of his wife.
  • True fatherhood means that the husband cooperates with his wife in the spiritual upbringing of the children.
  • True fatherhood therefore, is not only or even mainly generating a human body in this world. It is also and mainly collaborating with the mother in developing the human soul for everlasting life in eternity.
How, then, is St. Joseph the exemplar of fatherhood? He is the prototype of what all human fathers should be. They should reflect, in their families the seven virtues which the Church specially honors in St. Joseph’s relationship to Jesus and Mary.
Like Joseph, fathers should be:
  • most just, without partiality or human respect.
  • most chaste, according to their married state of life.
  • most prudent, in knowing God’s will through constant prayer.
  • most valiant in courageously accepting the cross every moment of the day.
  • most obedient in seeing every event as part of divine Providence and responding with, “Here I am Lord. I am ready to do Your will.”
  • most faithful in loving their wives with perfect fidelity, and their children with tireless generosity.
  • the strength of the home by their exercise of manly courage. They are to protect their wives and children from the plots of the modern Herods who are inspired by the evil spirit to destroy the Christian family in the modern world.
Fr. Hardon concluded  with the following prayer:
“St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of the Son of God, obtain from Jesus the grace we fathers need to raise our families according to the will of God. We need light to recognize our grave responsibility as husbands and fathers. Above all we need the courage to persevere in the fatherly care of our families through time into the endless reaches of eternity. Amen.”

Let me thank my dear friend Irma More', foundress of Our Lady of Walsingham Institutes of Catholic Culture Studies, for recommending the following prayers for Father's Day:

Let us pray.
Most gracious Heavenly Father, we thank you for our earthly fathers, those to whom you have entrusted the responsibility to provide loving protection of their families and guidance of their children. We thank you, also, for our priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood is so vital to the faith of your people. May our earthly fathers imitate the manly courage of Abraham, Jesse and Joseph, and all the holy fathers of the past in providing wise counsel to the children you have given to their care. And may our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Saints Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world. Assist all fathers of families, all spiritual fathers, and all Christian men, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them. As you, our Heavenly Father, so loved the world, sending your only Son to be our Saviour and Redeemer, we ask you to help all men to imitate His fatherly gentleness and mercy toward those who are weak; His humility, perfect obedience to your Will, and fearless witness to your Truth. May their lives be examples to all of heroic faithfulness to you. We ask your blessing on all those to whom you have entrusted fatherhood. May your Holy Spirit constantly inspire them with justice and mercy, wisdom and strength, fidelity and self-giving love. May they receive your Grace abundantly in this earthly life, and may they look forward to eternal joy in your presence in the life to come. We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the soul of a deceased father:
It was You, O God, Who commanded us to honour our father and mother. In Your kindness have mercy on the soul of my father, and forgive him his sins. Grant that I may see him again in the brightness of Your everlasting glory, through Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

May the Divine Assistance remain always with us and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Finally, I wish my father V.W. Uher, Jr. a most happy Father's Day and look forward  to showering him with love as we gather together this Sunday.
 +Laus Deo!