Scott Warden
June 12, 2024 // FEATURE

Fathers Called to Mirror Love of God the Father

Scott Warden

“Every family needs a father.”

In his plainspoken way, Pope Francis summed up the Church’s teaching on fatherhood in five simple words spoken during one of a series of catechetical talks he gave on the family in 2015.

He expounded on that one sentence, of course, reflecting on a verse from Proverbs that beautifully states the desire of all fathers: “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart also will rejoice; and my inmost being will exult, when your lips speak what is right” (23:15-16). Of this verse, Pope Francis said, “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.”

Fatherhood in all its forms – including biological fathers, adopted fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, spiritual fathers, and more – is a vocation meant to mirror the love of God the Father, who is always present in our lives. This should be the first priority of fathers today, Pope Francis said: to be present in the family. “That he be close to his wife, to share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship,” Pope Francis said. “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.”

As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, let us be reminded to serve our families – like God, but also like St. Joseph.

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet, and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support, and a guide in times of trouble,” Pope Francis wrote in Patris Corde, his 2020 apostolic letter marking the Year of St. Joseph. The pope noted that Joseph “found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him,” Pope Francis continued, “we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust. Our world today needs fathers.”

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