In Pierre Part group of men get together and pray the rosary. A topic that has come up a few times is the importance of spiritual fatherhood and how it lacks in our culture. Many of the men of this group, called The Kings Men, are grandfathers and are concerned about their grandchildren not following the faith. All of us agree that we need more men who are spiritual fathers to their children. According to some studies, about 30 to 40% of children will continue to practice their faith regularly if the father does as well. While if the father doesn’t practice the faith, those percentages drop below 10%, no matter if the mother practices or not.
Today is the feast of St. Joseph. One of two Solemnities that we celebrate during the season of Lent. St. Joseph is an example to us of our faith and especially to fathers. St. Joseph, as a father, was an example of being a provider and protector of his family. When King Herod was threatening Jesus, he led his family to Egypt to protect them. He died before Jesus’ public ministry, but I believe he had a significant influence on our Lord. He wasn’t his biological father but took the role of the father while Jesus was on earth.
How can we, as men and us, who are fathers, follow his example? First, St. Joseph was a man of prayer, and he likely showed his son Jesus how to pray. How do we, as fathers, teach our children to pray? Do they see us praying? I know of the powerful witness men praying the rosary together can be. We are social distancing right now, but if you still have children at home, could you consider praying with them. Even as a priest, I’m challenged to pray and be an example of prayer to others. I will never have any biological children of my own, but I do have spiritual children. I hope I can be an example of a prayer to them.
St. Joseph provided for and cared for his family. The way a father gives of himself to provide for his family not only materially but especially spiritually is a critical mission. How do we see our jobs and how we provide for our children? How do we see this time of working from home during this crisis? We are doing God’s work when we provide for our families. The primary vocation for a father is to help their children and his wife to heaven. Realize that even providing for material needs is a part of that mission.
Finally, I encourage all of us to pray for those whose father is not active in their lives. There are many single-parent families in this country, and it is sad to see. May God bring about the healing they need and reunite families that have been broken.