Yesterday I sent out my Father’s Day card to my dad, complete with the requisite apologies for all the torture I put him through in my younger years. My father has been a blessing in my life, even during the times when I didn’t recognize him as such (or more accurately, especially during the times when I didn’t recognize it!). I started to understand that more in my 20s, the time when our parents suddenly start to get smarter. I saw the types of relationships that my friends had with their parents and realized that, for all of the struggle and pain that had certainly been a part of my family’s experiences, I was fortunate beyond measure that we had been able to work through those times and come out closer and stronger. We continue to do so today, and my father has always been a catalyst for his children to grow and to face all of the challenges in life secure in the knowledge that we are loved.
When I went into ministry I was struck by the impact students’ relationships with their fathers had on their relationship with God. Students who had distant, abusive or neglectful fathers faced major hurdles in coming to understand God, especially when masculine imagery was used. Of course, there are other ways of describing God, and with grace and the support of the community many students were able to find ways of connecting with God that helped them move through their pain. But it was, and still is, a constant reminder for me of the impact of one of the most fundamental relationships in our lives.
I hope that all fathers are blessed this weekend and always, and come to know the power of their love and actions in the lives of their children. For more thoughts on fathers, check out www.americancatholic.org/features/default.aspx?id=11.