Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Witness of Faithful Fatherhood

"What do you mean Daddy's not coming?" began my son as I turned the ignition key.

"Just you and your sister and I are going" was my casual reply.

My children and I were headed to my parents' house for an overnight visit, alone. My husband was staying behind to catch up on some work. I didn't think this was a big deal, until I began to field my son's rapid-fire questions.

"How will you know how to get there?"
"Who will drive the car?"
"Will Daddy be there when we fall asleep?" 
"Will he be there when we wake up?" 

And then the zinger:

"Who will protect us?"

Who will protect us? I have spent many hours reflecting on my son's questions. My children's instincts tell them that Daddy provides safety and security. They wait anxiously for Daddy's return from work with toys that need to be fixed. It is to him that they run if they have been picked on by a neighborhood kid and they cling to him in the doctor's office when it is time to get a shot. Since the children have been infants we have gathered as a family at bedtime for my husband to lead our nightly prayers. Not having him with us for an overnight trip rattled their sense of security. None of my reassurances could convince them otherwise.

Our culture screams loud messages that Dads are dispensable. Prime-time television suggests that they are buffoons. Women are persuaded to believe that they do not need a husband to raise a child. Children are taught that a father's authority is meant to be ignored, ridiculed or subverted. However, our faith and the simplicity of our children’s questions tell us otherwise.

The scriptures relate that Jesus himself grew in age and wisdom in his childhood in Nazareth, in a home that was led by both the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph.  In matters related to the Holy Family's safety and protection, the heavenly host provided direction and instruction to St. Joseph through his dreams. (Mt. 1:19-25 and Mt 2:13). It is clear that his role was that of the head and protector of the Holy Family.

St. Joseph leads the Holy Family to safety in Egypt.
"How does St. Joseph exercise his role as protector? This was the question Pope Francis asked in his inaugural homily on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The Pope's answer:  "Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity..." He goes on to ask: "How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. " These qualities of St. Joseph stand as a counter-cultural witness to all that the world tells us about fatherhood.

I am so grateful for a husband who has embraced his role as the head of our domestic church and as our protector, both physically and spiritually. Like St. Joseph, many of the sacrifices my husband makes on a day to day basis to be our family's provider and protector are not recorded. They are not note-worthy or news-worthy, at least by the world's standards. But they do not go unnoticed. Especially by his children.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

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  1. Excellent!!! Great insight! and awareness!

  2. Thanks, you understand what we are up against!

    1. It is not an easy role being a Father in today's world - I pray for my husband and all Fathers that they may live up to this lofty vocation!

  3. I think this is one o the first posts of yours I'd seen. This is what made me begin to love your insight. So happy to be getting to know you better now!

  4. Stopping over from the FB group - the link to this didn't work yesterday. Love this post!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Laura! God bless!

  5. This is a beautiful post, Debbie. Great dads are such a blessing.