Fatherhood remains foundational

From CNA with my emphases and comments.

Despite divorce and other threats, fatherhood remains foundational

Denver, Colo., Jun 19, 2011 / 08:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an era of family breakdown and easy divorce, there is still hope for Catholic families to grow and develop under the leadership of fathers – both biological and spiritual. But men today must confront new challenges to their traditional roles.

“The greatest force pulling apart fathers and children is divorce,” said Brian Caulfied, editor of the website Fathers for Good. He told CNA that over time, children of divorce “generally have little or no contact with their biological fathers.”

“It’s tough to put a broken glass back together, and the pieces never again quite fit,” said Caulfield, the father of two children.

An analysis released in June 2011 by the Pew Research Center shows that in 1960, 11 percent of children in the U.S. did not live with their fathers. The number increased in 2010, with 27 percent living away from their paternal figure.

Father Gerald Murray, [A friend of many years and a fine priest!] a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, also pointed to divorce as “a big deal,” even if many Americans now accept it.

“The union of husband and wife, leading to children, is meant to be a stable unit to the benefit of all involved,” said Fr. Murray in a June 17 interview with CNA.

But there is good news, as well. The Pew Research Center’s recent study also found that fathers who do live with their children are spending more time with them, in interactions such as helping with school work, playing and having meals together.

In 1965, fathers who lived with their children spent about 2.6 hours per week with taking care of them – whereas, by 2000, they spent an average of 6.5 hours with them.

Caulfield believes many dads are reacting against four decades of family breakdown. “We are all tired and disillusioned with our divorce culture,” he said.

Reaching one’s full potential as a father, he said, requires a personal relationship with God the Father.

You can’t do it on your own, and that’s where faith comes in,” he observed. “Without my Catholic faith, I don’t know how I could live through the many trials of fatherhood with a sense of hope.”

Priests, who take their traditional title from the notion of spiritual fatherhood, have an even higher calling in this regard. Fr. Curtiss Dwyer, director of pastoral formation at Denver’s St. John Vianney Seminary, said that the priesthood is also all about being a “provider, protector and guide to people.

“To be able to stand in a position to help protect God’s children is a very fulfilling aspect of priesthood,” Fr. Dwyer said. “Celebrating Mass, you are providing and giving nourishment to God’s family.”

Another gratifying aspect of being a spiritual father, Fr. Murray observed, is being able to see children grow in their faith.

You realize that, through God’s providence, you were the instrument for the beginning of their Christian life,” by baptizing them.

All three men agree that fathers have to be an example of serious faith for their children. They have to “pray, go to Confession, and go to Mass,” Fr. Murray said[Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Caulfield says this good example, or lack thereof, can make or break a child’s faith. “Unless dad is seen to be involved in the faith and showing his kids that it’s important, the children will tend to fall away.”

The examples of both biological and spiritual fathers set the foundation for children to grow and develop – on earth, and hopefully, in heaven.

“Your child is really God’s child,” Caulfield said.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. sheilal says:

    I am praying for you today, Father, as well as our other priest fathers. May His burden be light to you today.

  2. priests wife says:

    A Blessed Father’s Day to all who bear the name!

    and Fr Z- I think it is your ordination anniversary (?)- We are praying for you and wish you many blessed years in health and happiness

  3. JKnott says:

    In thanksgiving and joy I pray for you Father dear
    In union with Mary and the others we meet here
    Your kindness and charity are an inspiration,
    Giving your all without hesitation.

    Father Z—You have my constant heartfelt prayers and I am also praying to St Therese for you. She is always there for priests.

  4. Random Friar says:

    I wish to also acknowledge all our foster and adoptive fathers. You’ve taken on a great responsibility, when society shirks commitment. God bless you and strengthen you, with the intercession of St. Joseph.

  5. Thanks for posting this Fr. Z. I am a father of an 8 month old, and I recently quit my job so my wife could return to work as a pediatrician. We felt it was extremely important to have a father figure in my son’s life at all times (I was previously an attorney, with not nearly enough family time). In these trying times, it is more important than ever as a father to be available to guide my son in the faith, and raise him with Catholic values and morals.

    Happy Father’s Day to you, Fr. Z., and to all of your readers.

  6. Brad says:

    A few months ago I heard on Catholic radio someone quoting a study that revealed that 80% of children raised in a household with a devout father became devout. If the father was benign (to say nothing of hostile to the faith) yet not devout, i.e. only the mother was devout, the percentage fell drastically to 20%. Clearly, having a saintly mother is not enough. Look at all the men in prison. They all have mothers, most of whom they boyishly cling to. But where are the fathers? Either gone or, if ever/still present, were poor role models. There is a father in my parish who takes all his children to confession on Saturdays. I think it is very wise for him to do it and not leave it to his wife. The children must see him doing it, as well as be brought to it by him. St. Joseph, pray for us and for him especially.

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