Tag Archives: Fatherhood

Marriage Between One Man & One Woman, G.K. Chesterton & The Father’s Role @LovingTheChurch.com

G.K. Chesterton on the role of the father as head of the houseThis week @ LovingTheChurch.com, I reflect upon an article written by G.K. Chesterton, The Head of the House and how it is so applicable to what is unfolding in our modern culture.

Marriage Between One Man & One Woman, G.K. Chesterton & The Father’s Role

May God bless you and keep you!


Why Fathers Need Prayer @ LovingTheChurch.com

Blessed John Paul II with his fatherThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, I discuss why, as a father, I need to pray – Why Fathers Need Prayer.

Christ said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Life comes at me every day, prayer helps me to live life on life’s terms; to live in the present moment; to place my trust in God.

John Thavis, the Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service, once wrote the following about Blessed John Paul II and his father:

“The future Pope would sometimes wake in the middle of the night and find his father praying on his knees. At his death, friends say Karol knelt for twelve hours in prayer at his father’s bedside.”

At the end of the post I include a prayer – A Father’s Prayer for Guidance. It is an excellent prayer and worth passing on to any fathers in your life.

May God bless you and keep you.


Marriage, Fatherhood, and the Cross @ LovingTheChurch.com

The Life of Sacrifice In The FamilyNew article at LovingTheChurch.com – Marriage, Fatherhood, and the Cross.

I share how the family is the great “school” of the cross. Being in the family requires the laying down of my personal wants. It demands a life of sacrifice, of self-donation. It entails dying to self and suffering. And that is Good News!

May God bless you and keep you.


A Husband and Father Comes Home @ LovingTheChurch.com

Being The Best Husband and Father I Can BeHere’s my latest article at LovingTheChurch.com – A Husband and Father Comes Home.

I share some practical advice a good friend of mine gave me on making the transition from the workplace to the home.

May God bless you and keep you.


Spiritual Toolbox: Prayer

Prayer is a Powerful ToolI have tools today. In fact, I have a spiritual toolbox.

As a Catholic, I have been given many wonderful spiritual tools to deal with just about anything life might throw at me.

The whole business of tools can be tricky though. I have discovered that the “world” offers me tools as well.

So for me, how my day goes depends upon what tools I pick up.

It’s something I have to be conscious of every day. What tools do I have to use on a consistent, day-to-day basis? What tools do I need to make use of weekly, monthly, or just in certain situations?

Today, I’m just going to share about one tool, one really important tool.

PRAYER

I’m not going to go into the theology of prayer (CCC 2558-2865). I just want to talk about prayer from a practical perspective.

I have to pray.

In my life, when I’ve abandoned my prayer life I’ve wandered far from God. I get pounded by sin, selfishness, and worldliness. That is a fact.

I’m a stubborn soul. The pain has to get pretty bad. In retrospect, I’m extremely grateful for that. Pain has served a valuable purpose in my life. It got me right where I needed to be…on my knees.

Now I’m no master of prayer, I’m just an average guy trying to do God’s will. That’s my disclaimer. Some of you are certainly more qualified to talk about prayer than me. Yet, as the Psalmist proclaimed, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds” (Ps 9:1). So I feel compelled to share how prayer works for me.

MORNING

My day has to begin with prayer. I have certain prayers I say each morning. I try to combine the basic forms of prayer – Blessing, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving, and Praise. I also try to listen. Prayer is a conversation with God.

Then I use a couple tools that combine prayer and spiritual reading. First, I pray the Daily Meditation offered by Regnum Christi. This is by far the best daily meditation on the day’s Gospel reading that I have found. It doesn’t take much time, and it combines thoughts and questions for meditation with specific prayers. I highly recommend it. Another wonderful tool is the Liturgy of the Hours (this link takes you to a great site for becoming familiar with this prayer of the whole People of God).

DAY TIME

During the day, I have incorporated the practice of aspirational prayer. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner. Amen.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

The Divine Mercy Prayer, also the prayer John Paul II recommended for times of difficulty
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
Not my will, but Thy Will be done. Amen.

These are just a few I make use of during the day. I also spontaneously pray to God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit individually and as the Most Holy Trinity. I ask Mary and the saints, especially St. Joseph, for their intercession and thank them for watching over our family and for prayers answered.

NIGHT

Before going to bed I do a brief Examination of Conscience, make an Act of Contrition, and say a few prayers of Thanksgiving for the day and all that God has given me.

AS A FAMILY

My wife and I foster an environment of prayer in our home. The kids have morning prayers they say. We also say “grace” before meals, night prayers with the children, and the family rosary.

That’s a day in the prayer life of this average “Catholic” Joe.

When I “plan” my day around prayer, I have a better day. I’m able to understand situations that used to baffle me; I am better able to hold my tongue (not perfectly by any stretch); I tend to be more focused on where I’m heading and not what I want in this world; I try harder to be more like Christ.

Again, I’m still a work in progress. For me, it’s all about progress not perfection. I know that God is not finished with me yet.

I hope that this sharing will encourage each of you to continue in your own daily prayer life.

I’ll close with this reflection from St. Isidore, from his Book of Maxims:

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading.

If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

Next up, I hope to share about spiritual reading.

May God bless you and keep you.


Children & Sharing @ LovingTheChurch.com

Visit LovingTheChurch.comI wanted to share with everyone a wonderful opportunity I’ve been given to collaborate with LovingTheChurch.com.

LovingTheChurch.com focuses on how faith engages culture.

Loving the Church in Brief…

Commentary on Life, Culture & Faith. Thoughts on Family, Being a Good Father & Mother. Dialogue with the Great Minds of Our Heritage. A Resource for Prayer, Spiritual Life & Holiness…

I hope each of you will take the time to visit LovingTheChurch.com. It is a great site and a wonderful resource for growing in our love and knowledge of the Catholic Faith.

Here is a link to my first post – Children & Sharing: Thoughts from a Father


The Practice of Patience

Kids Teach Us PatiencePatience.

That mysterious, elusive word.

Just when I think I’ve got a little, real life comes crashing through.

It normally goes something like this…

  1. My son decides that it would be a good idea to chase his sister.
  2. My daughter decides that the best way to deal with the brotherly pursuit is to scream at the top of her lungs.
  3. Right before all this…daddy decided it was a good time to make an important business call.
  4. Patience has officially left the building!

I wish I could tell you that this is a rare occurrence but it isn’t. In fact, with both my wife and I working from home it actually happens more frequently than I’d like to admit.

HOWEVER – We are working on it…consciously.

know that I must set a good example for my children. I know I need to practice patience. I know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a ‘perfection that the Holy Spirit forms in [me] as a first fruit of eternal glory’ (CCC 1832). I know that patience is an attribute of charity (1 Cor 13:4).

Yet all this knowledge seems to avail me little in the heat of the moment. Why is that? Aristotle is quoted as having said:

Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.

Maybe that’s explains why it can be so hard. Bitterness. It’s a hard pill to swallow.

I want things to go the way I think they should go.

I want others to behave the way I think they should behave.

I think “out of control” situations and “perceived” misbehavior demands a response.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen insists that it does, but under certain conditions.

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.

I guess it comes back to what Mom repeatedly told me as a kid – Two wrongs don’t make a right.

It’s okay for me to take a minute before responding to any situation or person. I have to check my motives, my disposition.

Is it the right time to respond?

Is the motivation for my response based on the right principle(s)?

By responding now, am I acting in the right way?

This criteria works…whether I’m stuck behind a truck going 20 miles an hour or my kids are going berserk.

The rightness of my timing, my reasons, and my action really does matter. St. Paul admonishing the Romans said:

For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life… – Rom 2:6-7

It is for this reason that I must be in business of trying. Everything is at stake.

Dear God, please help me to faithfully practice patience.

May God bless you and keep you.


All Things St. Joseph

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin MaryOn the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary I thought it appropriate to pay tribute to my patron saint and the patron of this Average “Catholic” Joe blog.

Joseph passes through the Gospel without our hearing him utter as much as a single word. He is not on record as having written a single line. None of the things he did seem to have exceeded the limits of the most common actions. He appears to have been – to use an overworked modern expression – a man without a message….

His figure could, in a certain sense then, appear to the eyes or in the estimation of some as that of the man-in-the-street, so ordinary that little could usefully be said of him tho those who would come after. Those who think in this way are perhaps to be found among the regrettably too many who nowadays employ in their judgment inadequate criteria having only short term values. They make their assessments by following some conventional guidelines which are based more on appearance than on reality, more on popular opinion than on absolute and true values. In other words, more importance is placed on worldly rankings than on supernatural criteria. People are in consequence judged not for what they are, not even for what good they have done but only by certain ‘achievements’ which, it has been previously decided, are to be classified as meritorious or worth recognizing with acclaim.

It is not surprising then, that using such fashionable criteria with little or no supernatural dimension to them and in general lacking in any depth, the figure of Joseph is a little hazy and indistinct, and apparently deficient in personality. Men of our time do not see the figure of Joseph as sufficiently interesting to consider it worth a more detailed examination. With such criteria an unexciting man, a village craftsman who never seems to have made an utterance of any importance, who never made anything worth preserving, could be quite respectable and a good man. But life is too short for us to reflect on all the good men there have been in the world. There are more urgent, more useful, more necessary and more important things to get on with.

By the world’s standards, that God chose this man to take custody of the two greatest treasures – Jesus and Mary – who have ever been on earth, does not count for much. This can certainly be one of the reasons which allows one confidently to assert that such criteria are of this world and consequently superficial. For this very reason such criteria will always fall short of practical usefulness for a christian who really is what his name indicates – a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Christ can never accept anything at its face value….

For a christian who believes in Jesus Christ, who believes that Jesus is true God and true Man, that God choose Joseph as Our Lady’s spouse and the legal father of Jesus, is sufficient reason for him to feel that perhaps Joseph was not, after all, such an ordinary man as he seems.

- Joseph of Nazareth, pgs 13-16

Thus Fr. Federico Suarez begins his masterful work on the life of our beloved patron, St. Joseph.

My mother, from an early age, instilled in me a great love for and devotion to St. Joseph. Being the son of a craftsman, and a craftsman myself, I quickly grew to love St. Joseph the Worker, an attribute of St. Joseph of such importance that it merits a feast day of its own on May 1.

Unlike my patron, I am not the model of “few words” nor have I been, even remotely, as ready to do what the Father asks of me. Yet, at least now, I try to imitate him, to learn from him.

Here are 7 things St. Joseph is teaching me:

  1. The extraordinary is found in the ordinary – I have to make the best of what abilities God has given me. It is not necessary for me to “shine” before men, but to be able to give an account to God for the talents He has given me.
  2. Silence is golden – St. Joseph shows me that there is a silence which is beneficial. It is a silence that is not preoccupied with self or “other” things, but rather a silence fully occupied with God and His will, a silence that is focused on the interior life, a silence that listens.
  3. Authenticity is found in acceptance – I’m just another “bozo” on the bus. I don’t have to strive to be more important than I am. I shouldn’t wish to be, or appear to be, other than who I am. I must strive to avoid being fake and accept who I am.
  4. Pursue “true” justice – St. Joseph is called in Scripture a just man, i.e. he acted with justice. I have to give to each person what is his due, this includes God. Therefore, I strive to acknowledge that all I have, all I am, I have received from God. Strive becomes the active word here, I fall short daily, but I strive.
  5. Before I act I should reflect – Right solutions are not arrived at “on impulse, on a hunch, or on an instinctive or precipitate reaction…He reflects who really wants to find a solution or longs to do what he ought” (pgs 60-61).
  6. Chastity is necessary, especially in marriage – The Catechism of Catholic Church states:

    2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

    The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.

    In marriage, the sexual instinct is not given free rein. Too many in this modern age are of the opinion that “all is fair game” in the bedroom of the married couple. St. Joseph, and the Church, teaches me that respect for my wife, makes necessary the proper use of our sexuality. It cannot become a means of purely selfish gratification.

    If respect is lost, both for oneself and for one’s spouse, love will begin to die at the hands of an egoism which seeks only personal gratification. A man, even when married, has always to be master of his instincts and not ever at their mercy. – Joseph of Nazereth, pg. 74

  7. Fatherhood demands the complete gift of self – This is never easy for me, but necessary. St. Joseph is the model. He shows me that fatherhood doesn’t mean just making sure the bills are paid, the kids have college funds, nor that the family is best-dressed, best-fed, best-housed. He shows me that fatherhood, first and foremost, entails spiritual headship. I have to strive to be a virtuous man. I have to be the living, breathing model of faith, hope, and charity for my family. I have to show them that true happiness is found in self-denial rather than self-assertion. Again, this isn’t easy for me. It can become “all about me” rather quickly. What is important, in those moments, is that I am able to admit that I was wrong and make amends. I must be in the business of trying.

In closing, I’d like to share a prayer to St. Joseph that is important to me.

Act of Consecration to St. Joseph
O dearest St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to your honor and give myself to you, that you may always be my father, my protector and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a greater purity of heart and fervent love of the interior life. After your example may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. O Blessed St. Joseph; pray for me, that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.

May St. Joseph be with you and your family and lead you ever closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


Father-Daughter Time!

Father-Daughter Time My 3-year old daughter loves me!

I know that because she loves to tell me that throughout the day…everyday.

And I absolutely love that!

I take my role as “father” very seriously.

I know that my daughter needs me. She needs my affirmation, empathy, confidence, courage, friendship, guidance, and, most importantly, my love. She needs me to be a model of faith and fidelity. I must show her God’s love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this:

2222 Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law.

It’s hard to constantly keep all of this in mind. I get busy with work, obligations, things around the house, and just everyday life.

It is for this reason that my wife and I, early on, agreed on the importance of “dedicated” time with our children, both together and individually. My daughter and I look forward to Father-Daughter Time.

We do all kinds of fun things – play at the park, watch movies, play doll house, go for walks, have father-daughter dinners, or whatever else her little heart desires (within limits of course).

I firmly believe that these times together will help to shape the woman she one day becomes. She needs me in her life.

Meg Meeker, in her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters beautifully explains this:

When she is a baby, her eyes will search for your face. Her ears will listen for your voice and everything inside her will need to answer only one question, “Daddy, are you here?” If you are there, her body will grow better. Her IQ will start to rise, her development will track where it is supposed to, but more important, she will realize that life is good because you love her. You are her introduction to love; you are love itself…If she knows that you are there, dependable and full of love for her, you will have taught her this great lesson: Life is good. Good men help make it so. (pg.232-233)

The family, as the domestic church, must be the school of love. I have an obligation, as a father, to teach my children the lesson of love through the practice of self-denial and the complete gift of self. I have to lay down my life for them.

Sometimes, as is the case with Father-Daughter time, that gift of self is utterly enjoyable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She is my precious little girl, and I always want to be there for her.

God is truly good to me, as His son. I, in turn, want to share that goodness with my children.

God please give me the grace to be the father you desire me to be. Amen.

Just a closing note: In addition to Father-Daughter time, I have Father-Son time, whole family time, and my wife and I still go out on dates just by ourselves. Time spent with the family, individually or as a whole, is always time well spent.


Restless, Irritable, and Discontent

Frustration, Impatience, and SelfishnessChristmas time, for our family, in addition to being the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth, is that special occasion when everyone gets together to share the holiday cheer.

I am the oldest of six children, three of us are married with children of our own. All twelve of the grandchildren are under the age of 11, so our family gatherings can be quite “active”…okay, flat-out chaotic! A house full of dynamic personalities all going a hundred miles an hour. It can go from being a blast to a disaster in a matter of minutes.

As the evening wore on, I grew more and more restless, irritable, and discontent. I was craving ease and comfort but couldn’t find either. I became short with my wife, impatient with the kids, and eager to retreat to the security of sleep. By the time we reached home, I had completely lost the Christmas spirit. As I went to sleep I asked God to show me what on earth was wrong with me. When I awoke the next day it dawned on me…

I still think that I’m the director and that everything revolves around me.

I recalled the words of a friend of mine – “If I’m not the problem, there is no solution!”

I quietly said the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971):

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

With that the fog lifted. I understood that I can only change me. Out of the chaos came clarity:

I’m still a mess, and I still need a Savior.

Thank God for Christmas!


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