Just in time for Father’s Day! My review of Clayton C. Barbeau’s The Father of the Family in The Catholic World Report. Enjoy!
Just in time for Father’s Day! My review of Clayton C. Barbeau’s The Father of the Family in The Catholic World Report. Enjoy!
#1) My five-part EWTN mini-series, “Christ the Servant: The Vocation of Deacons” will be airing Monday through Friday, November 24-29,2013 in the United States and Canada. Check here for the times in your area. To the EWTN Family in SE ASIA and AUSTRALIA, CLICK HERE.
Also go HERE to see my previous blog for those discerning the diaconate!
#2) The series “Authentically Free at Last” (featuring me, Gloria Purvis and Damon Owens) will be airing Monday through Friday, November 25-December 9,2013 in the United States and Canada. Check here for the times in your area. For our friends in SE ASIA and AUSTRALIA, CLICK HERE.
See my previous post that describes this series in detail.
#3) Finally, my series “Behold The Man: Spirituality for Men” will be airing on Tuesdays and Fridays for the next few months in AFRICA and SOUTH ASIA. CLICK HERE for the schedule.
Every Father’s Day, a recurring theme seems to emerge within the social media world and blogosphere. It goes something like this: “Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and to the courageous moms who had to be both mom and dad.” It’s interesting that this perspective doesn’t seem to enjoy a Mother’s Day counterpart where dads are lauded for being both “father and mother.” This misplaced sentimentality of “mothers are fathers” expresses, in a nutshell, the contemporary crisis of fatherhood.
There is no question that we are in a fatherhood crisis in our world where many men have completely abdicated or simply ignored the responsibility of exercising moral and spiritual authority in the home. We fathers all ask the same question after the initial thrill and excitement of marriage wears off, and we are left with the cyclical routine of everyday life: Is this all there is? Instead of recognizing Christ within the rhythm of the life to which we have been called, instead of serving our wives and children with the tenderness, love and mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, instead of working hard at deepening and strengthening our faith life, we allow ourselves to be shaped and influenced by the culture; by a way of thinking and being that does not care about the truth of Jesus Christ, that could care less about the freedom of his Cross, and that finds no meaning in the life-giving love of the Holy Spirit. We replace the fullness of self-donating love with the emptiness of a culture that mocks us.
With no fathers to model faith-filled leadership and God-centered authority, our young men have grown-up embracing moral relativism and secular ideology, and these have become their god. There exists an entire generation of fathers who have physically, emotionally or spiritually abandoned their wives and children. Thus, in the absence of fathers to lead, support and nurture their families, women have compensated either by assuming masculine roles within the family, or by constructing innovative support networks for themselves and their children. This changing dynamic has brought us to a critical juncture: we are at the genesis of a systemic and fundamental shift in family life where in the near future, if we continue to live as men of the culture, fathers in the family may be considered optional and, in many cases, unnecessary.
The apostle Paul lays the foundation for getting fathers back on track: “As for you, Man of God … aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called …” (1 Timothy 6:11-12). These virtues are the wellspring that flow from the blood of the Cross from which we fathers must drink deeply in order to live the Faith with fervor and humility. We must willingly and lovingly lay down our lives in continuous acts of service and sacrifice for our wives and children that bear witness to the awesome power and testimony of the crucified Christ.
Meeting Christ on the Cross in the Eucharistic encounter is intensely personal, nurturing, and life-giving because it is rooted in covenant relationship, which is the foundation for family life. The family on earth, through its expression of the one flesh union between one man and one woman, is the image and likeness of the family in heaven.
Women, in their way of imaging God, analogously point to God’s heart and “withinness” where God, in the mystery of His inmost life, exists in an eternal interrelationship of loving and life-giving communion. Women, then, are the heart of God’s love and by nature have a special relationship with the Holy Spirit as life-givers. As Blessed John Paul the Great taught us, “In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root. The order of love belongs to the intimate life of God himself, the life of the Trinity. […] Through the Spirit, love becomes a gift for created persons” (Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 29). In Isaiah, God’s love for us is expressed in the love and compassion of a mother for her child: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
Women can be the best mothers they can be—strong, supportive, and tough when they need to be (this was my mom and God knows I had one of the best!)—but mothers cannot take the place of fathers. Mothers, who share equally in the parenting relationship, are the heart of love and the love they carry within them flows from the very heart of God Himself. They share that love in so many ways, especially in their tireless commitment to the family. That love must be focused and centered in the marriage covenant with their husband, who should be allowed to exercise leadership and authority in the home through his role as chief servant of his wife and children.
Men, in their way of imaging God, analogously point to God’s “otherness” and transcendence, “to all the works by which God reveals Himself and communicates His life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #236). Just as Jesus called men to the priesthood to serve His Bride the Church, he also calls men through baptism to be priests of the domestic church, the church of the home. The priest of the home must accept the responsibility of living the Gospel by his words and actions. In a world filled with temptation and sin, living Gospel values can be challenging. It takes discipline and self-control to hone virtue and holiness within the family. Every decision a father makes cannot be his own: he must always place the best interest of his family first above everything else.
There is no greater example of this unity within the complimentarity of man and woman than that of Joseph and Mary. Mary participated in an intimate, life-giving relationship with God in an interior, bodily way that only a woman could. In becoming one with the child in her womb, she became one with God Himself. Joseph was outside of this relationship and had to learn his role as father—as the provider, protector and servant of the Holy Family—through the Blessed Virgin Mary’s motherhood. It is Mary’s fiat (“Yes”) to the gift of motherhood—to the gift of life in cooperation with the Holy Spirit—that makes possible the gift of fatherhood. Fatherhood is not purely biological; it comes through the heart of love. When we reject the heart of love through violence, pornography, contraception and abortion, we reject our own fatherhood.
The fact is that God allows earthly fathers to use his name, and with this great privilege comes an awesome responsibility: a responsibility, sadly, that many men have not taken seriously or have ignored completely leading to the “mothers are both mom and dad” mentality. A man becomes a man and a father by doing things that a father ought to do. In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure stability and harmony within the family. He does this by exercising generous and selfless responsibility for the life conceived in the womb of the mother; by taking a more active role in, and making a more serious commitment to his children’s education and prayer life, a task that he shares with his wife; by working in a job that is never the cause of division within the family but promotes and provides for its security and unity; and, most importantly, by being a living witness and example to his children of what it means to live and act as a man of God, showing his children first-hand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how that relationship is lived-out daily by loving the truth, goodness, and beauty of our Catholic faith.
Any man can be a daddy but it takes a real man to be a father, and the sooner we earthly fathers begin to appreciate the great gift we have been given and begin living the mission of service to our families—when we begin to make a gift of ourselves to our wives and children, and participate deeply and personally in the Fatherhood of God—the faster we will arrive at a civilization of love and a culture of life rooted in the transforming power of the Father’s endless mercy and love.
Check out the new look for the Vocation Boom! website, voted the number one vocation website by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops! If you or someone you know or love is thinking about the priesthood, this is the place to go!
Vocation Boom! was founded by my good friend Jerry Usher. Maintaining a deep love of the priesthood and a desire to promote vocations, Jerry created and launched Vocation Boom in 2009. I am truly honored to serve on the Vocation Boom! Board of Advisors.
Check out the new Vocation Boom! video produced by my good friend, Jerry Usher:
“We’re building a culture that’s open to the priesthood, clearing the path to discovery, and unlocking hearts and minds to God’s call” -Vocation Boom! Mission
Let’s all do our part to help Vocations Boom!
Just in time for Father’s Day!!
I’m pleased to announce the release of a great new book on fatherhood by Pauline Books and Media in which I am honored to have contributed a chapter. Read more about Man to Man, Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood below.
Click HERE or on the image below to read reviews by Dr. Scott Hahn, Matthew Kelly, Matt Frad and Fr. Larry Richards, to name a few!
About this Book:
The identity and purpose of fathers in contemporary society is more uncertain than ever before. Cultural shifts such as rising rates of divorce and single motherhood, conception through sperm donation and in-vitro fertilization, and the educational and professional advancements of women have confused traditional paternal roles and family unit structures. As a result, a perception has been created whereby fatherhood is undervalued…or altogether unnecessary. But this perception is misguided-especially for Catholic fathers who are vital to supporting the structure of the family unit: the “domestic church.”
In this collection of faith-filled reflections by fourteen Catholic men, the value of a Catholic father’s identity and purpose is affirmed in the context of modern society. Acknowledging our workaholic tendencies and the constant struggle to strike a balance between family life and work life, fathers are provided with a realistic approach to making their relationships with God, their wives, and children more involved and fulfilling.
Blending personal anecdotes from Catholic fathers, models of fatherhood in Jesus’ parables, Scriptural passages, references to other publications, and allusions to Church teachings and figures of authority, this guidebook helps Catholic dads find the path to living as faithful family men through three simple steps: pray, love, confess.
Table of Contents
Get your copy today! www.pauline.org/MantoMan
Back in September 2012, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) began airing the series “Authentically Free at Last” featuring Gloria Purvis (who created and developed the show), Damon Owens, and myself (see my previous post HERE).
We had so much fun filming the series and now that it’s been airing for a while, I thought I’d share some of the feedback we’ve received:
“My comments today are in reference to the show Authentically Free At Last. Praise be to God for linking the three of you together. I have viewed both [Deacon Harold] and Damon before and have always come away gaining from your wisdom but had never seen Gloria in anything but she really fills out the trio very well. When I first saw an episode (not the first running) I thought it was going to be a series of being able to reach the African-American community with important issues but was very, very pleased that the show comes across as addressing issues pertinent to all Catholics no matter if Black, White, Yellow, or Purple. I have been taping and watching as many as have been coming up and have been trying to get others to catch them on EWTN also. Now I have found out that the episodes are available on the Net and am reinvigorated to let all know so that they can see the wisdom that you have all shared with us. I thank all three of you for sharing yourselves with us and hope we can continue to see more of your works. Again Praise & Glory to God for what the three of you have given us in that series” – EWTN Viewer in Iowa.
And this from a blogger:
“The new EWTN series, Authentically Free at Last, is truly a breath of fresh air. The reality of objective truth is exalted as being ultimately a Person who calls each of us to respond. Real freedom is discussed and distinguished from the counterfeit freedom, license, society lifts up. The dignity of the human person rings loud and clear through these episodes. ‘Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good’ ( CCC 1744). Please watch this first episode and leave comments down below!”
Here are the comments:
“How exciting! What a refreshing presentation of the universal reality of Mother Church. Yes, we are in a time of great debate around the issues of relativism, objective truth and subjective reality. This very informed discussion, highlighting key distinctions, was very informative and engaging. Koodos for EWTN for the effort to bring to light the talent of our African-American brothers and sisters. Bravo!”
“It’s about time! I love the straight forward dialogue on the relevant topics that are at the core of today’s culture. I’m also proud to see TRUE Catholics that happen to be African-American. It’s very important to see various people of culture speaking the truth of the Church. Authentically Free at Last is an inspiring show that encourages me to speak up about my Faith.”
From EWTN Viewer Services:
“I just wanted to tell you how much I have loved viewing the series Authentically Free At Last. This show is so inspiring. Gloria, [Deacon] Harold and Damon explain our faith in the most beautiful way. I literally could listen to them for hours. This is the best show I have seen all year. I pray the three of them will have future projects in the works with EWTN, I truly have been evangelized by them and feel myself growing stronger in my Catholic faith.”
One more from Facebook:
“I was able to catch a few episodes of a discussion type of panel on EWTN where you all set the record straight about our [Catholic] views on abortion and same-sex marriage– I have to try to find it on YouTube and post it on here because I have to tell you, every single point that I learned and thought ‘God if only everyone was aware of these realities, they would be more open to our Lord through His Church and find peace inside themselves’–you guys hit the nail right on the head, so to speak. I remember thinking, YES!”
This is just a small sampling of the incredible feedback the series has received. Experience Authentically Free at Last for yourself HERE, then spread the word!