Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, should be celebrated every day, not just once a year.
While a greeting card is thoughtful, and the sentiment might be right or maybe very short on real thought and meaning, standout members of our Church have given fathers — including grandfathers and godfathers — much to consider and to follow along what fatherhood should be or not be.
Here are a few thoughts from them for Father’s Day every day.
“Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood…efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance.” St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)
“In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.” St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio
“The crisis of fatherhood that we are experiencing today is a basic aspect of the crisis that threatens mankind as a whole.” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in in 2001 in an address in Palermo, Italy
God himself "willed to manifest and describe himself as Father…Human fatherhood gives us an anticipation of what He is. But when this fatherhood does not exist, when it is experienced only as a biological phenomenon, without its human and spiritual dimension, all statements about God the Father are empty. The crisis of fatherhood we are living today is an element, perhaps the most important, threatening man in his humanity. The dissolution of fatherhood and motherhood is linked to the dissolution of our being sons and daughters.” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in in 2001 in an address in Palermo, Italy
“Christ tells his married followers that they are to reveal and relive on earth the very fatherhood of God. On these premises, a man is called to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of his family. He will perform this responsibility by exercising generous, even heroic charity, for the life conceived under the heart of the mother. He must be deeply concerned for the education of his children. He must share with his wife the duty of training these children in the knowledge of their faith and their love for God. With God’s grace, he must do everything possible to avoid division, and foster unity and stability in the family. With his wife, he is to be a channel of grace to his children, whom they have brought into this world in order to reach their heavenly destiny.” Servant of God Father John Hardon’s writings
“True fatherhood begins with a lifetime commitment of the husband to his wife…builds on the selfless love of the husband for his wife…depends on the generous love of the husband for the offspring of his wife…means that the husband cooperates with his wife in the spiritual upbringing of the children…is also and mainly collaborating with the mother in developing the human soul for everlasting life in eternity.” Servant of God Father John Hardon’s writings
In his 2015 series of general audiences on family, Pope Francis spent two weeks on fathers and fatherhood. In the first week he spoke about the negatives affecting fathers, in the second he concentrated on positives for fathers.
“[P]articulary in Western culture, the father figure would be symbolically absent, paled, removed. At first, this was perceived as a liberation: liberation from the father-master, from the father as the representative of the law that is imposed from without…” Pope Francis, General Audience, Jan. 28
“Fathers are sometimes so concentrated on themselves and on their work and at times on their career that they even forget about the family. And they leave the little ones and the young ones to themselves. As Bishop of Buenos Aires I sensed the feeling of orphanhood that children are experiencing today, and I often asked fathers if they played with their children, if they had the courage and love to spend time with their kids.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Jan. 28
“[T]he absent father figure in the life of little ones and young people causes gaps and wounds that may even be very serious. And, in effect, delinquency among children and adolescents can be largely attributed to this lack, to the shortage of examples and authoritative guidance in their everyday life, a shortage of closeness, a shortage of love from the father.
“They are orphaned in the family, because the father is often absent, also physically, from the home, but above all because, when they are present, they do not behave like fathers. They do not converse with their children. They do not fulfill their role as educators. They do not set their children a good example with their words, principles, values, those rules of life which they need like bread. The educative quality of the time the father spends raising the child is all the more necessary when he is forced to stay away from home because of work. Sometimes it seems that fathers don’t know what their role in the family is or how to raise their children. So, in doubt, they abstain, they retreat and neglect their responsibilities, perhaps taking refuge in the unlikely relationship as ‘equals’ with their children. It’s true that you have to be a ‘companion’ to your child, but without forgetting that you are the father! If you behave only as a peer to your child, it will do him/her no good.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Jan. 28
The following week Francis concentrated on the positives.
“Every family needs a father.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 4
“Nothing could better express the pride and emotion a father feels when he understands that he has handed down to his child what really matters in life, that is, a wise heart.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 4
“He says… ‘I will be happy every time I see you act with wisdom, and I will be moved every time that I hear you speak with rectitude. This is what I wanted to leave to you, that this one thing become yours: the attitude to feel and act, to speak and judge with wisdom and rectitude. And that you might be like this, I taught you the things you didn’t know, I corrected the errors you didn’t see. I made you feel a profound and at the same time discrete affection, which maybe you did not fully recognize when you were young and unsure.’
“A father knows all too well what it costs to hand down this heritage: how close, how gentle and how firm to be. But what consolation and what recompense he receives when the children honor this legacy! It is a joy that rewards all the toil, that overcomes every misunderstanding and heals every wound.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 4
“The first need, then, is precisely this: that a father be present in the family. That he be close to his wife, to share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And that he be close to his children as they grow: when they play and when they strive, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they are talkative and when they are silent, when they are daring and when they are afraid, when they take a wrong step and when they find their path again; a father who is always present. To say ‘present’ is not to say ‘controlling’! Fathers who are too controlling cancel out their children, they don't let them develop.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 4
Referring to the parable of the “prodigal son”, or better yet the “merciful father,” the Holy Father said:
“Fathers must be patient. Often there is nothing else to do but wait; pray and wait with patience, gentleness, magnanimity and mercy.
“A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself…
“Without the grace that comes from the Father who is in Heaven, fathers loose courage, and abandon camp. But children need to find a father waiting for them when they come home after failing.” Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 4
“[Fathers} 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. Servant of God Father John Hardon’s writings
“St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood” and “the prototype of what all human fathers should be. Servant of God Father John Hardon’s writings