Not Only a Husband but Also a Father

Today is Father’s Day… A day where we honor the men who are biological, adoptive, and spiritual fathers. It is a beautiful time to reflect on those men who have stepped up to fill the demanding and beautiful role of raising children. I am blessed to be able to say that I have a wonderful father who is truly a hardworking patriarch and source of laughs for our family. He is a man of feeling and of strength.

In the midst of appreciating my own father , I began to think of all of my sisters in Christ who are discerning a man in their life. There are so many times when we talk to one another about good qualities that would carry on into marriage; things like kindness, honesty, gratitude, attentiveness, and affection. Something that we don’t always look at as immediately important is their ability to be good fathers.

If a woman is called to the vocation of marriage, she may want to consider both the husband-like and father-like qualities of the man.

When St. Joseph was chosen by God as the foster father of Jesus, both the care of our Blessed Mother and of Jesus were entrusted to him. He was appointed as both husband and father- a two fold calling. Set up by the Church as a role model for holy fathers, we can learn a lot from St Joseph about what to look for in our own boyfriends, fiancées and love interests.

In father Lawrence Lovasiks book “The Catholic Family handbook” he writes “Fatherhood is a vocation in Gods service, to be not held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men”. Fatherhood is not something that we should view as an easy, cross-less path. It is one that requires much strength and intense sacrifice.

The first thing to look for in a man whom one is discerning is this strength. By this, physical strength is by no means implied. This type of strength is a firmness of character and a resolve to do what is right. It is a drive to be honest, virtuous, and to stand firm against spiritual attacks. Saint Joseph was charged to protect the Christ child and his mother from various attackers and threats to their lives in the early years of Jesus’ life.

This strength is what will drive him to pray for his family and protect them from anything that may try to come between family members whether it be arguments, misunderstandings, or other outside influences. This strength acts as a glue which grounds the entire family unit spiritually and mentally.

It has been said that “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. While I would add that above all he need to love God and serve him, this order of loving the spouse and living the children through this love is very important. Why? You may ask. Some may think it is more important to directly love the children first and foremost.

By loving the mother first, a father shows his children that there is a correct order to the world. By seeing their mother loved correctly, children learn to love correctly and healthily. They know that before anything, their parents are united. They also know that their parents, because of their immense love for one another, have not only created them by the grace of God but also are now able to sustain them through the love that they share. It provides stability and joy in the home when parents are united in such a way.

Within this thought, something to look at is the WAY this person loves you. If you find yourself to be a priority in their life and you notice that the two of you are able to work to understand one another even in the midst of argument, this is a positive sign of healthy future parenting.

To be your significant other’s priority is something that seems like a great asset in dating but when it comes to marriage it is a necessity. A husband and wife pledge to be as one flesh together. To neglect one another is as to neglect ones own self.

St Joseph doesn’t say much in the Bible, in fact, he doesn’t say a single word in any of the Gospels. He was a hard working man who completely submitted his will to the will of God. While there are many things we do not know about St Joseph, scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was — “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:18).

It’s not about what a man says or plans for the future, or how he looks/smells. It’s about his heart. To have a righteous(Virtuous/excellent) heart is something so crucial to being a good father and working to raise good children.

Children learn so many things from their fathers. If their father is righteous, all of the other qualities mentioned above will follow and the children will in turn have a great role model.

No one in this world is perfect but there is plenty of goodness to go around. We are all capable of it and we are called to not only goodness but to greatness.

We cannot expect others to be flawless but it is not wrong to desire greatness. I have heard it said that If you want to find your St. Joseph, model yourself after the Blessed Mother. Holiness is attractive and it is also inspiring.

Ladies, let us strive to follow the humility, love, and purity of the blessed Mother. Let us draw the men in our lives to holiness through our beautiful example that we are oh so capable of.

And men- thank you for your strength, righteousness, and holy Chastity. Taking St Joseph as your patron, draw women to a higher awareness of their dignity and help us get to heaven.

For any single persons reading this, St Joseph is a powerful intercessor for families and couples. I would highly recommend praying his novena- even now- for your future spouse.

“O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St Joseph patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.”

May God bless you all and I will be praying as all of you seek to live out your vocation in the holiest way possible.

God loves you so much and so do I!

1 Corinthians 13