For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom all fatherhood (“every family”) in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self. Ephesians 3:14-16
Happy Father’s Day! Here we offer a few thoughts from St Paul, St Thomas Aquinas, and St John Paul II on the gift of fatherhood.
Thomas Aquinas offers a commentary on Eph 3:14-16 including the reflection on physical and spiritual fatherhood:
“Thus, not only he who transmits the potency to life is the father of him to whom he gives it, but also he who communicates an act of life can be called a father. Therefore, whoever stimulates another to some vital act, whether it be to good activity, to understanding, to willing or loving, can be given the name of father.”
Instruction and formation of one’s children also constitutes an essential element of true fatherhood — even when the children are being difficult! John Paul II wrote in his 1994 Letter to Families, #16:
“What is involved in raising children? In answering this question two fundamental truths should be kept in mind: first, that man is called to live in truth and love; and second, that everyone finds fulfilment through the sincere gift of self. This is true both for the educator and for the one being educated. Education is thus a unique process for which the mutual communion of persons has immense importance.”
The father’s joy in supporting and loving his child through education and encouragement often grows with the years. John Paul II also relates the role of parents as educators with God the Father’s work of redemption through His Word (1994 Letter to Families, #16):
“We have been completely instructed in God’s own way of teaching by the eternal Word of the Father who, by becoming man, revealed to man the authentic and integral greatness of his humanity, that is, being a child of God. In this way he also revealed the true meaning of human education. Through Christ all education, within the family and outside of it, becomes part of God’s own saving pedagogy, which is addressed to individuals and families and culminates in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection.”
In particular, we pray for our fathers — those living and those deceased — through the intercession of Saint Joseph whose strength, patience and gentleness was always at the service of Jesus and Mary.
“From the beginning, Joseph accepted with the “obedience of faith” his human fatherhood over Jesus. And thus, following the light of the Holy Spirit who gives himself to human beings through faith, he certainly came to discover ever more fully the indescribable gift that was his human fatherhood.” John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos (1989), #21.
Saint Joseph, Foster Father of the Son of God, pray for all fathers! Especially for all our dads! Thanks, Dad!