21 June 2020 |From The Catholic Family Handbook by Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik
Nature and Christian Tradition tell us that the father is the head of the home. That alone should suggest the dignity of fatherhood.
Your dignity as a father rests, first of all, upon the fact that Almighty God has bestowed upon you the privilege of cooperating in the greatest natural mystery: the creation of human life.
Sons and daughters are yours in a sense that nothing else you may ever possess can be called your own. That thought carries with it a unique honour.
Even modern society, which has striven to forget the sanctity of marriage, retains this basic recognition. Your children are your dependants. They bear your name. They imitate many of your mannerisms, gestures, and modes of thought.
Much more: if you are a worthy father, and they are worthy children, they carry with them through life the training in virtue that you alone can impress on their young minds.
Pope Leo XIII reminds each father that he is “the head of the family” and stresses that “the right of property which has been proved to belong to individual persons must also belong to the man as the head of the family.
This follows logically, because “it is a most sacred law of nature that a father must provide food and all necessities for those whom he has begotten, as well as what is necessary to keep them from want and misery in the uncertainties of this mortal life….
The father’s power is of such a nature that it cannot be destroyed or absorbed by the State, for it has the same origin as human life itself.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “The father according to the flesh has in a particular way a share in that principle which is in a manner universal found in God…. The father is the principle of generation, of education and discipline.”
Exert your fatherly authority early on
You should exert your authority as a father even when your children are babies. Your word should be something strong, good, and a little to be feared.
If your children learn to respect your authority even from their tender years, they will find that authority a tremendous power to guide those difficult, almost uncontrollable years of adolescence.
But if you let your wife do all the bossing, and are content to be another child yourself, you will be able to make only a feeble protest to youth’s tendency to disobedience and independence.
It is never too soon for you to take up your position of authority as a father if you wish to have it established as a guide for your youngsters later on.
Reflect the dignity of God’s Fatherhood
Your children should enjoy the strength of your kind paternal authority. It gives them security. What is more, they are given security by the knowledge that their mother and father are united in matters of discipline.
It is dangerous when a child can obtain from a softer parent something that he has failed to obtain from a stricter one, or when parents quarrel in front of children over points of conduct.
In the full program of domestic education, you must take great care that you use your authority properly. Pope Pius XI said that normally a vocation to the priesthood is the result of the example and teaching of a father “strong in faith and manly in virtues.”
Therefore, fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service, to be held not lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.
Since it is a life’s work in His service, God offers His aid at every important step along the difficult road.
On your part, though, He expects cooperation with grace, which in turn calls for persevering good will, a spirit of sacrifice, and conscientious observance of God’s law made known by the Church.