Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/19/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents.

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.

The Prodigal Son returns

The Prodigal Son returns

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/19/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Father, Fatherhood, grandfathers, Family, Holy Trinity, Marriage, family, Deacon Keith Fournier


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.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More U.S.

Suffering, Struggle and the Christian Revolution Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian tradition instructs us that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us - and then through us, as we change. This is a part of the teaching on the mystery ... continue reading


FORCED BESTIALITY: Evil teenage girls sexually assault autistic boy - and record it for posterity Watch

Image of Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bush along with her 15-year-old accomplice are accused by the St. Mary's County sheriff's department on numerous charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an episode shocking for its sheer cruelty, two teenage girls in Maryland are now in custody after they repeatedly abused a 16-year-old autistic boy - eventually making him perform sexual acts with a family pet - and recording it all on their cell phones. LOS ... continue reading


HOW LONG BEFORE THE SYSTEM BREAKS? Working Americans increasingly made to pay for those on welfare Watch

Image of Those who work in America are increasingly being made to pay for those who don't -- in the manner of an over-burdened ox.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're an American who awakes each day to begin a day of toil you have no interest in, take heed: There are only more reasons to hit your pillow in frustration each night as you drift off to sleep. You are an endangered species, and the media has not rallied ... continue reading


Ron Paul warns Feds may stage 'Waco styled' raid Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy has been fighting with the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years over his cattle and grazing rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Cliven Bundy, his family, their supporters, and myriad militiamen forced federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management to back off of the Bundy's Nevada ranch and release hundreds of captured cattle, one politician warns that the feds could be planning ... continue reading


What does this say about America? More people getting food stamps than women working full-time Watch

Image of There were only 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 1969.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a distressing figure that shines a most unflattering light on affairs here in the United States. According to recent statistics, those  participating in the food stamp program, or SNAP outnumbered the number of women who worked full-time, year-round ... continue reading


Palm/Passion Sunday: Will We Make This Week Holy By Encountering Jesus Christ? Watch

Image of Holy Week invites us to let go of self and embrace the Lord Jesus anew through saying Yes to the invitation to continuing conversion. How desperately we all need to hear the Good news that we can begin again!

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Palm/ Passion Sunday: Make This Holy Week a Deep Encounter With Jesus Christ!During this week called Holy, the Lord Jesus is extending His saving Hand to each one of us anew. The timeless one has broken into time and now transforms it from within. The question is ... continue reading


Living Among the Pharisees Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest

By Deal W. Hudson

I will not quote directly from the article - there is no need to infect readers with the Phariseeism pervading Ruse's psychological/spiritual analysis of Thomas Williams. The readers can judge for themselves. I've been the target of similar, and worse, ... continue reading


Time for a Movement Rooted in the Real Social Doctrine of the Church Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Christian social teaching challenges any notion of human freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. We are by nature and grace called to relationship. Only in communion can we become fully human and find ... continue reading


Nevada cattle rancher has won fight with feds -- for now Watch

Image of Clive Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the time being, Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has appeared to have won his week-long battle with the federal government. His case has spurred nationwide attention, and has garnered protestors rallying for his rights.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Is Pope Francis Opening the Possibility of Ordaining Mature, Proven Married Men to Priesthood Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The prophetic witness of voluntary, consecrated celibacy has endured beyond the ranks of celibate clergy. It is also preserved in the inspired vowed life of monastic orders and the sacrificial witness of religious men and women. In addition, in many of the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter