Skip to comments.Dads: Men for All Seasons
Posted on 06/20/2009 4:28:07 AM PDT by NYer
This Fathers Day sets up a special call to greatness for Catholic men, as it falls the day before the feasts of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher.
The first was a model family man, the other a passionate pastor. Both died for the Catholic faith, demonstrating the devotion all Christian fathers must give their families (See Ephesians 5:25).
Fathers of nuclear families and spiritual families can learn much from these two English martyrs.
St. Thomas More taught his children, by both word and action, that were all called to be Gods good servant first, says Father Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford, Mass., and host of Theology of the Body on Eternal Word Television Network. More was an affectionate and protective husband and father, yet he refused to take a false oath that would have kept him with his family.
He showed that he loved them best by loving God first.
Steve Bollman, founder and president of Paradisus Dei and the mens leadership program That Man Is You, sees in More precisely the four leadership criteria men need: moral leadership for doing right by God, military leadership for battling Satan (who wants to destroy harmony in the home), economic leadership for making the earth (and the womb) fruitful, and political leadership for ordering a just and peaceful society.
Bollman recounts Thomas Mores life story. For years the brilliant attorney and statesman refused to enter the kings service because he thought it would detract from his family life and religious devotions. When he finally agreed, and because of his wit was obliged to be one of the kings constant dinner guests, More slyly turned himself into a dinnertime bore. Dropped from the guest list, he happily returned to the family table.
He had his hierarchy correct: God first, family second, and then king and earth, says Bollman. He took action to live that hierarchy, even in subtle things.
Father Landry has always been touched by the fact that More loved his children so much that, after his beloved first wife died, he chose a second wife whose reputation for virtue assured him that she would be a good mother to his four children.
Bollman adds that, as one of the most powerful men in England, he could have married practically any woman of his choosing.
Despite the fact that he and (second wife) Alice would never be confused with Romeo and Juliet, says Father Landry, More loved her with a loyalty and kindness that transcended eros. He is a model of action for all spouses for whom romantic love has grown cold.
In accepting martyrdom, says Bollman, More pointed his family beyond temporal comfort and toward eternal salvation. Even in death, More was of service to his family, he adds. He gave witness that God was more important than the king or social standing.
Pop Quizzes for Pop
Same for St. John Fisher, a prince of priestly fatherhood.
Early on in the dispute with King Henry over his illicit marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Bishop Fisher announced that he was willing, like St. John the Baptist, to die in witness to the indissolubility of marriage. His apostolic courage stands in sharp contrast, says Father Landry, to the pusillanimous cowardice of the rest of the bishops of England who wilted in the heat of the kings anti-Catholic pressure.
Todays priests need that same kind of courage, adds the priest, pointing out that they should not expect the world to reward them for their bravery.
Even in some Church circles, he says, a majority might think its prudent not to rock the boat by tackling issues of faith and morality that go against the spirit of the world. Its no act of virtue, he suggests, to avoid confronting such common wrongs as abuses in teaching, liturgy and priestly morality.
The way we prepare to be faithful in the supreme test is by our fidelity in the pop quizzes of daily life, explains Father Landry. Each day is a series of tests by which we put God and others ahead of ourselves, from the time the alarm clock sounds in the morning to the time we set it at night. Each of these tests is a mini martyrdom, a crucifixion of our ego, one that allows us to become more like the Good Shepherd who laid down his life out of love for us and told us to love others as he loved us first.
It happens daily in little things. Ask Peter McFadden, pre-Cana teacher in the New York Archdiocese and, with wife, Anna, co-founder of the John Paul II-inspired Creative Marriages, Inc.
One practical way we can lay down our lives for our wives and our children is to slow down and listen patiently and sympathetically to their concerns, he says. A husband should ask his wife, every day, How was your day? and notice if she has a concern.
Patiently listening doesnt come naturally to many men, he points out.
So it is that marriage and family life offer many opportunities to grow in virtue.
With adopted 4-year-old daughter Albina, McFadden loves playing tag, leading trips to the zoo and bicycling. But when she wants him to do artwork, thats another story.
For me, patiently doing artwork is very hard, says McFadden. Thats one place where I lay down my life for her. Its a struggle, and Im not perfect at it. But if it was easy, it wouldnt be laying down your life.
Living an active prayer life as More and Fisher did must be the foundation to laying down your life, according to both Father Landry and Bollman. Next step?
Discover joy with your family, Gods gift of joy, and then it will be easy to do all the other things, says Bollman. He describes the amazement Mores guests had seeing how this man acted with his children.
He was giddy, fun, silly all those things people considered inappropriate for a leader of the state, says Bollman. Yet, at the same time he made his family fun, he was deadly serious about the moral life.
Thats a great combination for husbands and fathers, concludes Bollman. We need to have fun in our families, but always with our minds set on what is above.
Happy Fathers Day, Catholic men for all seasons.
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen
is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
Louis Martin, Thérèse's Father
Louis Martin, St. Thérèse's father, was regarded as a saint in his lifetime. The last seven years of his life were marked by a severe trial, for him and for his daughters who loved him dearly. In 1887 he suffered several strokes which led to mental paralysis. Confined at first to a mental hospital, he was then cared by his daughter Céline until his death on 29 July 1894.
On 26 March 1994 Pope John Paul II declared Louis Martin and Thérèse's mother, Zélie Martin, "Venerable", the first step toward canonization.
When I consider this good father, venerable Patriarch we are pleased to call him, bent under the weight of his trial, dragging his cross painfully, and when I remember him as so kind, so happy among his children, taking his dear little queen by the arm, I say to myself: "There must be a beautiful heaven where all this will be rewarded. This good father has given three of his children to God, and there remains nothing in return..."
I was very lucky in having the father I did. He was an Irish Catholic gentleman of the first order. He loved my mother and us children with every fiber in his body and showed us that love by teaching us right from wrong, to be ladies and a gentleman, to care about our community and the people in it of all stations in life. He set an example by daily attendance at Mass, taught us the rosary...and a healthy skepticism when it came to hierarchs. He respected and honored the Orthodoxy of my mother and her family and supported all of us in our years in “Greek School”. The older he got, the more he loved mother’s icons and through them, I think, came to understand that The Church really does extend, as he used to say, from Kerry in the West to Constantinople in the East.
He and Mother had a long, long love affair, one which lasted in part he claimed because of a couple of lines of advice to husbands about wives from Homily XX on Ephesians by +John Chysostomos which he recited for me before I got married:
“...never call her simply by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, with much love. Honor her, and she will not need honor from others; she will not want the glory that comes from others, if she enjoys that which comes from thee. Prefer her before all, on every account, both for her beauty and her discernment, and praise her. Thou wilt thus persuade her to give heed to none that are without, but to scorn all the world except thyself.”
This will be the 10th Father’s Day without him.
What a blessing to have had such a father! Thank you for sharing those beautiful memories and honoring him with them on this Father’s Day.
Silly me - I thought the instructions for husbands were “Do the opposite of whatever she asks you to, no matter how small the request.”
“Silly me - I thought the instructions for husbands were Do the opposite of whatever she asks you to, no matter how small the request.”
Oh! Well that would explain the...ummmmmmm, never mind! :)
On October 19, 2009 the formerly Venerable Louis and Zelie Martin were beatified at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux. For more about their lives, beatification, and significance, please visit
For a Father’s Day meditation on the life of Blessed Louis Martin, please visit
Thanks, NYer. This is very timely, not only because it’s Father’s Day on Sunday, but because I was watching “A Man for All Seasons” last night.
I can’t wait to read this thread!
The image so magnificently captures her that I purchased it and had it beautifully framed with triple matting. It now hangs prominently in my home.
The icon was written by Leonard Porter (1963).
A bump for all three saints.
Study Shows Christianity Makes Men Better Husbands and Fathers (Open)
Honoring Thy Fathers
Priests of the Domestic Church: A Father's Day Homily
The Blueprint for Heroic Family Life [Fathers' Day] [Ecumenical]
Honoring Thy Fathers
A Father's Tough Love
Children Who Have An Active Father Figure Have Fewer Psychological And Behavioral Problems
Where Have All the Christian Men Gone? My Conversation with John Eldredge
The Transforming Power of Prayer [Part 1] (Catholic Man)
The Transforming Power of Prayer, Part 2 (Catholic Man)
The 10 Paradoxes of Fatherhood, There is a certain immediacy about motherhood that cannot
The Story of Champions [Father's Day]
What Makes a Man a Hero? [Father's Day]
The New Catholic Manliness
Applying St. Benedict's Rule to Fatherhood and Family Life - Using 6th-Century Wisdom Today
Happy Father’s Day to everyone. Here’s remembering all the good times with my Dad, who has now passed on to glory. He took care of my Mom when she struggled with an illness that eventually took her life. I honor him for that above all.
This was the 4th Father’s Day without my Dad. He was Irish Catholic. Grew up in a family of 15 in County Mayo. He left Ireland in the late 1940’s seeking a better life after a dispute with his father, which I didn’t find out about until recent years. He attended Mass daily and had a deep love and respect for the Jesuits. I am the oldest of 7 and grew up saying the rosary every night as a family. On my Mom’s 80th birthday party, thrown by my Dad, our priest called my Mom the Best non-Catholic Catholic he has known.
I miss my Dad every day. He taught us respect for others and humility, but hard work was extremely important every day.
“I miss my Dad every day.”
It doesn’t get any easier.
***It doesnt get any easier.***
It sure doesn’t. My father is still and will ever be great in my eyes. I was luckier than most.
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