Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Earlier this month, Pope Francis announced the Year of St. Joseph, honoring the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church. This made me happy as my middle name is Joseph and I pray to him often.
Pope Francis said the pandemic heightened his desire to reflect on St. Joseph, as so many people have made hidden sacrifices for others, just as St. Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus. He also said he wanted to highlight St. Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility, adding, “Our world today needs fathers.”
There have been many attempts to strengthen fathers. I read an article that included sobering and shocking statistics about the children of faltering, absent fathers. When a father is absent, his children are more likely to live in poverty and suffer emotional problems, more likely to commit crimes or go to prison, more likely to face teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and neglect, more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, more likely to suffer obesity and drop out of high school.
But these are the temporal implications of failed fatherhood. There are additional statistics about the impact of fathers on their children’s faith. There was a study about faith and fathers (The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups) that has some really interesting revelations about fathers and faith. They are summarized succinctly by writer Michael Craven.
He wrote, “If a father does not go to church - no matter how faithful his wife… only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while 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.”
Whenever I have shared the results of such studies, some, particularly moms, are hurt by them--as if their contribution doesn’t matter. Quite to the contrary as parenting isn’t a competition. It is a union for the purpose of raising Godly children. Mothers who have been abandoned by the fathers of their children deserve our love and support as they heroically raise their children. And their children also deserve our support as well. But I also believe that in more recent years, the contributions of fathers has been marginalized with disastrous results. We need mothers and their contributions that they make, and we need the same of fathers to produce healthy and holy children.
We need the powerful intercession of St. Joseph for our families and for fathers.
Oh St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen!BACK TO LIST