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Patience is a Virtue (that I wish I had)

Below is a post I began writing a couple months ago but until now didn’t get a chance to finish. Reading over the beginning I found that it is as true now (if now more so) as it was then, so I decided to finish it because I need to hear it and it needs to be said.

Attending a beautiful wedding this past Saturday, I was afforded a welcome retreat from the constant movement of taking three kids to Mass. I was actually able to listen to the readings, the psalm and the homily! Of course, it is in those times when we have a chance to listen that God comes in and speaks to our hearts and so it was this time.

The psalm chosen by the wedding couple was one I had heard a thousand times growing up: Psalm 103 “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness, the Lord is kind and merciful.” While I know this particular version of the psalm is not drawn directly from Psalm 103 as it is meant to be, it struck me how directly this related to my life and the life of the soon to be married couple on their wedding day!

It is something I’ve been reflecting on a great deal, really and hearing it in Church made it all the more prominent. We are the children of God and as children are wont to do, we make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are huge, sometimes they are minor. Sometimes we don’t live up to our potential and yet, how does our God repay us for those failures? With love! With compassion! With Mercy! With overflowing, total self-giving, sacrificial LOVE! 

And here I am, the father of three children, the husband of one amazing wife, and how does my response to my childrens’ mistakes and bad choices compare to God’s? I’ll tell you right now, that it’s not a pretty comparison. Of course, you might say, we can’t expect to be like God, he is perfect, and that is true, but I remember a line in scripture that says, “be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.” A lofty goal to be certain, but one toward which we should all be striving. And so it is with fathers in a particular way because…well, we’re fathers. So, the image of God the father that my kids will first see is supposed to be me. If they don’t see me being slow to anger, rich in kindness, full of compassion, how can they be expected to understand that God, who is all knowing and all powerful, is also all merciful, all just and all loving.

I think I just realized my new year’s resolution.

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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Children, fatherhood, scripture, Virtue

 

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A Priestly Calling from a Father’s Perspective

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a national convention for Diocesan Vocation Directors. This convention has several functions for the priests who attend: social networking and just plain camaraderie with fellow Vocation Directors, education and “professional development,” and spiritual and physical refreshment. Each of these pieces year in and year out are equally valued by the members of the NCDVD and I, being a lay, married, father of 3 children and an associate vocation director, get a chance to experience all this from a decidedly different perspective.

Throughout the week I listened as priests and lay people taught priests how to work in the field of Vocation Promotion, how to increase the effectiveness of the message they hope to spread and how to reach more efficiently the right young men who are being called to the priesthood. I listened as priests taught their brother priests in the homilies during Mass. I watched as young priests met fellow young priests from across the nation and shared what is working for them and what they need help with and all the while I was able to sit back and think, what does this all mean for me as a husband and father.

The answer I received on the last day of the convention was one that surprised me a little. The realization is that almost everything that was being taught in those workshops and applied to the priesthood in those homilies was also very personally applicable to my life! Sure, the “professional development” applied very directly to my work, but the homilies about the role of a vocation director, the hard work of the vocation director, the importance of the priesthood in the life of the church all applied to me personally, because, I am a FATHER!

In paragraphs 1655-1657 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read that the family has the special distinction of being called the Domestic Church, the place in which our Faith is first introduced, fostered, and shared and it is in leading ones children to discover their vocations that a father and a mother participate fully in the priesthood of the baptized.

At the conclusion of this fantastic week of learning and reflecting, I finally understood that my role as father of my family is not so different than the role of the priest of my parish. We are entrusted with the souls of our families. It is our duty to make sure that while attempting to work with God’s grace to get ourselves to heaven, we live out a life of total self-sacrifice that enables those around us to get to heaven as well. We are expected to be holy examples of virtuous living and when we fail to do so, it matters all the more because of the responsibility in being entrusted with God’s children (no matter the number).

So, there I was, at the convention’s closing Mass, in front of the icon of the NCDVD patron, St. John Vianney, asking for prayers that I might be a good and holy priest for my family because, in that moment, I realized, that is my vocation; that is my responsibility; that is my gift.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in All In, fatherhood, Virtue

 

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Catcher in the Rye and the Role of Fathers

I will just go ahead and admit it, I’ve never read Catcher in the Rye. It is not for lack of wanting to have read it, it is for lack of ambition to actually sit down and read it. My wife and I even purchased the book a couple years ago (or found it in storage somewhere from her high school days – it wasn’t required reading in my school – I can’t remember which) and I still haven’t picked it up and gotten into it.  After reading this excellent article by Fr. Damien Ference, perhaps it is time I dive into it and stop being the uncultured swine that I am.

When I first read Catcher in my junior year of college, my absolute favorite part of the book was when Holden explained to Phoebe that all he wanted to do all day was stand on the edge of a big cliff, making sure that the kids playing some game in the field of rye didn’t fall over the edge. I bracketed that entire section with a blue pen. A couple of years later, when I read Catcher for the second time, that business about keeping the kids from falling over the cliff remained my favorite part, but this time I underlined the entire section with a red pen and then wrote “Priesthood 173” on the first page of my book, which is where I always make a personal index. Every time I’ve read Catcher since, I’ve stopped on page 173 and thought to myself, “this is what the priesthood is all about.” I always thought of Holden standing on the edge of that cliff as an image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and I loved that all he wanted to do all day was to save people. That all changed about two years ago.

Read the rest for yourself but at the heart of the article Fr. Ference’s impression of Holden Caulfield was put to the test and was found wanting. As the article puts it:

O’Connor’s issue with Holden Caulfield, Gooch argues, is “the naiveté of his savior complex.” In other words, rather than humbly recognizing his brokenness and his own need for a savior, Holden believes that he is the savior. Holden is at the center of his own world, and everything revolves around him. He’s actually not very mature for his age, although smoking cigarettes, going with prostitutes, and cussing may make him appear so. Under the edgy surface of his coolness, Holden is a selfish boy who can’t see himself as he really is.

Again, I haven’t read the book and these impressions may be off from your perception of the character but that is unimportant. What is important is the lesson here for all fathers (both spiritual and physical). We are called to lead our families to heaven; to keep those in our care close to Christ and His way of Truth so that when the time comes, they can enter into eternal glory with Christ. However, we can’t forget that we are just as much in need of that same salvation. When we fail to love our children and our wives as we should, we need to make amends and beg forgiveness. Let’s not be so proud as to believe that we can do this all on our own.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Books, Children, fatherhood, Virtue

 

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The Role of Fathers in Raising Daughters

Yesterday “the Mom” over at Shoved to Them had a great story to tell regarding her first-born daughter growing up and entering into a relationship with a very respectful young man:

Last night, my husband got an email from a boy.  Not just any boy, but the nice son of my friend K.  The one who patiently took my 3 year old a dozen times through the penguin house at Sea World.  The kind of boy we all dream that our daughters will be lucky enough to meet someday.

…This boy wrote to introduce himself to my husband.  He listed all his credentials…Catholic, homeschooled, 9 years as an altar server, etc. and then told her father “that he promises” that their conversations will not “pose any problems whatsoever.”  He then asked my husband if it was okay that he continue emailing her and occasionally calling her.  (They live 8 hours away, there will be little if no “face to face” time.)

My husband stared at the computer screen completely flabbergasted.  “He’s asking my permission to write to my daughter?  Who does that any more?” he asked me.

“Boys who respect your daughter,” I told him. Go read the rest here–>

She spends much the rest of the article focusing on how great this young man is and how he has now set the bar for any future suitors for her daughter and she is nearly completely right.

As I was reading this, I was reminded of something my wife tells me all the time (at least since the birth of our first girl), “A daughter will expect to be treated the way her father treats her and the way she sees her father treat her mother. In the eyes of your daughter, you are the perfect man for her.” So, gentlemen, we now have our marching orders, thanks to my lovely wife!

 If we want our daughters to look for a man who will love, honor and respect her and all that God has made her to be, then we must first remind her, through our words and actions, how much she deserves to be loved, honored and respected. We need to remind her of her identity as a child of God and not as an incomplete half to a whole. We need to treat her mother with complete self-giving love and total respect. If we do all this well, then we will already be setting the bar high and all future suitors will have their work cut out for them in trying to match up to the first love of her life.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Children, fatherhood

 

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The meaning of the word “Father”

It is amazing how much fantastic material is out there on the blogosphere just waiting to be found shared. I’ve already got a small queue of posts to share with you and I’ve only been at this for a week!

Today, I have to get you in the action early over at Conversion Diary, where Jen F. is reflecting on each word of the Lord’s Prayer. This refelction on the word Father by Aggie Catholic blogger, Marcel L. really hit home.

When my kids think back to how slow I am to forgive them, will they think that their heavenly Father will be slow to forgive as well?

When my kids think of the times I am grumpy, will they think God can be moody and unresponsive to their needs?

What about the times I sin against them? Will my children believe that God will fail to love and accept them also?

I pray this isn’t the case. Yet, the truth is God’s love is so much more than we realize.

Read the rest here–>

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Discipline, fatherhood, Virtue

 

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Learning to be Joseph

The first post on a blog is probably the most difficult. I suppose it is a lot like writing the first page of a book. Often times you have a good sense of what you want to do with the book and you know the story that you want to tell, but how to begin? (That’s how I imagine it to be anyway.)

That’s the feeling I’ve got today, and yet here I am and here you are, reading the ramblings of a man who probably needs more help than you in learning and living like the first Catholic Dad on the history of the planet, St. Joseph.

Perhaps that’s not an accurate portrayal. We all know that St. Joseph died before the Catholic Church was officially established, but I have to think that St. Joseph understood who his son was and why he was there. I think he bought into the message of the Savior long before it would be realized in the death and resurrection of his adopted son. This account of his happy death points to this reality, too.

So, who is St. Joseph? In my eyes St. Joseph imbues the qualities that every earthly father should have: humility, wisdom, strength, discipline, perseverance, faith, hope and, above all, love. He lived his life with great temperance and obedience to the will of God. He was a man of great prayer and knowledge of the scriptures (how else would he be able to understand the importance of this “child born of a virgin”) and it was these things which fueled and guided him everyday. He was a great teacher and strove diligently to pass on his faith and his trade to his only son. He cared for and provided for his family and endured great hardships without complaint.

In a word, he is our model and our guide, helping us on our path to sainthood and into the way of life God asks of each of us. So, stick around and join the conversation as we all try our hand at learning to be Joseph!

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Discipline, Prayer, Virtue

 

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