Happy Father's Day

06-20-2021Letter from the PastorDeacon Peter Auriemma

Happy Father’s Day

As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, the Church gives us the Gospel account of the Storm on the Sea of Galilee. While Jesus and His Apostles were crossing the Sea, He was so exhausted from teaching, that He fell into a deep sleep in the stern of their boat. A bad storm suddenly arose and the Apostles, some of whom were seasoned fisherman, feared that they were all going to drown. They awakened Jesus, and He immediately calmed the winds and the waves, and then He reprimanded the Apostles for their fear and lack of trust in Him. Even though He was asleep in their boat, He was still with them, and they should have had no cause to be afraid.

I’m sure that we have all had moments when we felt that God was not listening to our prayers or that Jesus was asleep in our boats, especially after the last 18 months. However, as the coronavirus is finally burning itself out, we are faced with some persistent problems which were present before the pandemic. One of these is the attack on the family and specifically on the role that fathers have within the family. Beginning with Pope Leo XIII in 1893, every pope has spoken out about the importance of the family and the dangers to the family from modern culture. Pope Leo was concerned that the philosophies and the cultural trends of the modern world would undermine and eventually destroy the family. He wanted to stress the importance of the family unit, not only for the Church, but also for society as a whole. He said that the family is the main thread which makes up the tapestry of life. If the thread of the family unit breaks, the tapestry of life will most certainly unravel. Recently there have been attempts to re-define what the family is and what the roles of father and mother should be. Now there are even organizations which actively want to abolish, dismantle, or end the nuclear family all together. The preservation of the family is also one of the chief concerns of Pope Francis. He is worried about the large numbers of young people who are raised in the Faith, but who abandon it as they grow up and go off on their own. That is why he has called for a special year of devotion to St. Joseph, the head of the Holy Family and the adoptive father of Jesus. St. Paul says: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Following his advice, and as a Catholic father myself, here is my plan for true Catholic Fatherhood. First, the best thing a father can do for his children is to love his wife, and the easiest way to do that is to make the primary goal of marriage to get your spouse to heaven. Love is wanting the good of the other. It’s not enough to just say I love you. Actions speak louder than words, and the truest test of love is sacrifice. Researchers says that almost all the marriages that fail today are because the spouses refuse to make sacrifices for each other and for their families. Authentic sacrificial love is essential, and children see the authentic in life. Their instincts are keen and sharp, and they can spot phoniness a mile away. If parents go through life loving each other, their children will grow up secure, confident, and loving also.

Second, researchers also say that the practice of the Faith by the father of the family is the most important factor for their children remaining faithful to the Faith as well. Where the Faith is a priority for the father of the family and he actively practices his Faith, greater than 90% of those children will also remain faithful to the Faith when they grow up, leave home and have families of their own.

Finally, men have a great model of fatherhood in St. Joseph. The Gospel says that St. Joseph was a righteous man, a man who sought the will of God and obeyed it. He was courageous, prudent, and resourceful, and he carefully protected his wife and son, while thoroughly providing for them as well. It was St. Joseph’s responsibility to not only teach Jesus how to be a carpenter like himself, but also how to be a religious Jew, how to pray and how to observe the Law of the Lord, and he truly left his mark on the Son of God. Most importantly, however, like all fathers, St. Joseph modeled God for Jesus and was the primary example of God as Father for his young adopted Son. Jesus must have seen in St. Joseph a glimpse of the compassion, tenderness, and love of His own Heavenly Father, which is why he taught us to call God “Abba” or Daddy, as he first called St. Joseph.

My advice to fathers everywhere is that we need to remember that Jesus is always in our boat, and we have nothing to fear. And we can turn to St. Joseph for his help and guidance at any time, also. He is the man most loved by Jesus and the first one He called Abba. Happy Father’s Day to all the Abbas!