Dear Members of the De La Salle Community:
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” (Rev. Billy Graham)
On this Father’s Day, it may be a good thing for us to reflect on the virtue of courage. We need courageous people today more than ever. If you think about it the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments are filled with analogies of the family. God is the archetypal Father as Creator. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, reveals him even more intimately as Abba or daddy. Mary is the Mother of Christ and is, therefore, the Mother of God and our Mother. Our Lord’s entire life was the definitive revelation of Our Father in Heaven. If we have known Jesus, we have known His Father. Saint Joseph, too, the putative father of our Lord, must have had an influence on Jesus whom he loved.
There is no period in history that I am aware of where fatherhood was so confused and misunderstood as in our own days. It is true that single-parent families have always been around, and in some cultures, a matriarchal system has dominated, but these have in no way been the norm. In fact, in single-parent families, the lone parent has to assume the roles of both father and mother. This is often an act of real heroism. In families where mothers were “in charge,” like my own, I must admit, the work of mothers as daily dispensers of discipline, advice, love, and compassion did not mean that fathers were on the sidelines somewhere. In fact, it was our mother who made sure we appreciated the hard work and dedication of our fathers, who made it possible for us to benefit from the joys and advantages of family life together.
Today we are so afraid of any role that has even the least bit of definition to it. This is really a loss for everyone. Fathers are the cornerstone of the edifice we call family. We are not as aware of the foundation as we should, but without it, the family cannot stand. Sadly, the effects of this dismantling of the roles in the modern family are only too evident in our society today. Like most fathers in the past, my own father did not complain about being an immigrant boy in a new country or that his mother died while he was in Europe during the height of the Second World War. They had the stuff and the faith to understand what life can bring. No excuses, no throwing up the hands in surrender – only a steady hand always on the rudder of the ship.
As Saint John Paul II often reminded us – as the family goes, so goes the world. I am very glad my brothers and I had a father who was most certainly hardworking but who knew his role and exercised it alongside my mother according to their respective talents and skills. My father didn’t need to tell us he was ultimately the head of the house. He did not lord it over us. His quiet actions each day said to us that he cared for us. In this real and tangible sense, we knew the power of his presence, and that presence made a huge difference in our lives.
Let us pray for fathers, living and deceased, our grandfathers of whom similar things could be said and those who have acted in some paternal way to our benefit. Let us pray that the Lord to help us foster a renewal of family life and, in particular, raise up young men who will not be afraid to be truly courageous. To be a good father and family man is one of the greatest things a man can be.
Brother Domenic, fsc