On Patris Corde-with a Father’s Love
The Collect of the Feast of the Holy Family in this season of Christmas states that God gave us “the shining example of the Holy family” that “we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life.” This supplication speaks of the efficacy of example in the building of family. To raise a Christian family or any family for that matter, the role of exemplary parenting is vital. In any family structure, be it its traditional manifestation as mom, dad and children or its ecclesiastical form, the role of a father is particularly pivotal for examples in virtuous living.
Our children observe how we behave, they take note of our actions at home and outside the home. This was confirmed for me once again by 8th-grade children in our CCD confirmation class during my visit to them on Sunday, December 13th. They were required by their instructors, the amazing Mary Miller and Kelsie Davis to mention the role of mom and dad in the family. Many of the young boys and girls made fascinating remarks about the examples of their fathers from their traditional roles as the provider and protector to being the one who show them how to play sports. Fathers hold a very important position in the formation of the Christian family.
We see this clearly in the role St. Joseph played in the Holy Family. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus is not always praised enough for his role in the life of Jesus and Mary. It is in this light, I think, that the Holy Father declared a year of St. Joseph on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2020, until December 8, 2021. In his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, Pope Francis reflects on the sort of father St. Joseph is. Pope Francis writes on how “with a Father’s love, St. Joseph serves as a witness of struggle between our will and God’s plan for us. Joseph’s love, honesty and humility prepared him to carry out the mission entrusted to him by God’s providence. We are all called on a mission to love our family through acts of love that sometimes require surrendering our freedom of will to fulfill God’s will.
What exact mission has God entrusted to our fathers? What virtues are our ecclesiastical and familial fathers called to live by? I enjoin you to read Patris Corde to find out more about these virtues. Let us seek the intercession of St. Joseph and imitate his examples of virtue and zeal as we pray for our families.
We fly to St. Joseph’s fatherly love as we pray with Pope Francis:
Hail guardian of the Redeemer and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, guide us in the path of life and obtain for us grace, mercy, courage and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Find reason to rejoice. Merry Christmas!
Fr. Bernard, OP