Christian fathers

Beloved in the Lord,
St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower”, is a favorite saint of many people. I pray to her every day. But how are saints made? The answer must be: ‘In as many ways as there are different saints,’ and this would be true. But it’s also safe to say, that in many cases, parent’s play a critical role in the formation of a saint.
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For St. Therese, her mother died when she was quite young, and her father became the most influential person in her life. She writes many things about the influence of her father. Here is one thing she says about her time growing up:
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‘One of my favorite amusements was making colored mixtures of seeds and the bark of trees. I would put them n a cup, promptly offer them to Papa, and entice him to taste them; then my dearest Father would leave his work, and with a smile, pretend to drink. I would never be able to stop, if I told you of the thousand and one incidents of this kind. How shall I make you understand the love that my Father lavished on [me].
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Friends in Christ, today is Father’s Day; we cannot underestimate the critical influence father’s have – or can have – on their children. Fathers are not just a ‘2nd adult’ in the home, but they bring unique gifts and influence that no one else can.
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Let us speak first of all, of the blessings of a father on the human formation of a child. For example, children whose fathers are involved in their life, do better in school. On average, when fathers are active in their child’s life, kids have better intellectual functioning, academic achievement, and better verbal skills. The U.S. Dept. of education found that children of highly involved fathers were 43% more likely to get A’s in school. Children whose fathers played with them as infants, have higher IQ’s and better cognitive capacities. As toddlers they start school ahead of other kids. and are found to handle the stress of school with more patience.
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But the influence of a father also helps a person’s emotional development. Children who have a loving father, are more emotionally secure: they are less likely to get in trouble or use drugs and less likely to tell lies or experience depression.
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Sons with involved fathers have fewer behavioral problems, while daughters have stronger self-esteem, and are less likely to become involved in unhealthy relationships with men. Generally speaking, while mothers stress nurturing, fathers tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world, both of which are important. As a result, children who have active fathers in their life tend to be more comfortable exploring the world around them and more confident in exploring their surrounds.
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By the way, fathers interact with their children in playful activity, children learn to regulate their feelings and aggressive impulses without losing control of their emotions. These are all direct effects of father on kids.
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But here is an important indirect effect: a man’s relationship with his wife. A father who has a good relationship with his wife will also tend to be more involved and spend time with his kids. A woman who feels affirmed by her children’s father is usually a better mother. Fathers who treat their wives with respect and handle disagreements in a mature way tend to have sons who understand how to treat women.  Girls who have respectful and loving fathers see how they should expect men to treat them. So these are some of the benefits of a good father on a child’s social and intellectual development.
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But there is something even more important than these, and that is the spiritual health of a child. It doesn’t do much good to be well-adjusted socially and do well in school, if the person does not get to heaven. There could be nothing more tragic for a parentt than to find that his or her child in the end, is lost to God. ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but in the end lose his soul? ‘ says the Lord.  So a life of faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing, and that is evidenced by the heart-broken parents whose children are not living their Faith.
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I think we here know this, and we wish children to follow Jesus, remain true to the Holy Faith, and reach Heaven – but here is an interesting thing: Fathers have a lot to do with it. There was an important study done, which shows that it is the religious practice of the father that mostly determines whether children will continue to practice their faith.
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If both mother and father go to Mass every week for example, 33% of their kids will be faithful to Mass in the future, 41% will go sometimes. If the father does not attend Mass but the mother is faithful, then only 2% of their kids will be faithful in the future, while 37% will go sometimes.
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When dad is not going to Mass, it really hurts the future faith of the children. What is really interesting, is that if ONLY dad goes to Mass, not the mother, the children are even MORE likely to practice their faith in their adult lives. What this means, is that it is the religious practice of the father that above all, determines the future practice of the children’s faith, and therefore, their salvation.
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The reason for this seems to be that while children take their cues about domestic life from mom, their conceptions of the world outside come from dad. If dad takes faith in God seriously, then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously.
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Catholic fathers are a huge blessing to their families when everyone knows that dad stands with Christ, that he is humble, and places himself under the rule of God.
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We see in the gospel today how the disciples are fearful of the wind and the storm: but when they call on Jesus for help, the storm is calmed and they are safe. So too the family, when the father calls on Christ, to be in their home, his children will not be afraid of the storms of life. The attitude of the Christian father is expressed in the psalms: ‘If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders build. If the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” The Catholic father knows that all his efforts will come to nothing, unless they are done with Christ. But when the children see that he humbles himself before Almighty God, and bends the knee on Sunday to his Maker, then they are infallibly taught to do the same.
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Let our Catholic fathers always say as did Joshua, ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’
Let us conclude by invoking the great patron of fathers, St. Joseph: Oh good St. Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, guide our Fathers and grant them the grace and Will, to emulate your faithfulness to God and so bring their own dear children safely to the glory of heaven.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Paul]

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