By way of the family
Editor Patrick Novecosky says men need to live their vocation as fathers and husbands . . .
My third son is due in late September, and I can hardly wait to meet him face to face. Lately he’s been exercising his quads and trying to perfect his roundhouse kick … much to my wife’s chagrin.
Sadly, far too few fathers in America seem to be taking an interest in their children these days. According to the 2010 census, for the first time in our nation’s history more children are born into single-parent homes than ever before. Only 48% of kids live with their father and mother. Two generations ago, it was close to 80%.
Not only do kids suffer from absentee fathers, but all of humanity does as well. In his 1981 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Blessed John Paul II famously wrote, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” He understood that as goes the family, so goes the planet. He also taught that the family is the building block of society and a “domestic Church” — where parents are the first ones to pass on the faith.
The truth is that kids need a father. Boys and girls naturally crave the attention, affection and approval of a father. When Dad is missing from the home, children are deprived of an essential component necessary for healthy psychological and spiritual development. We all know children who were raised without a dad or a strong male role model. Most recognize after the fact that they grew up with something missing.
Pope Benedict XVI pointed to this in his 2011 address to U.S. bishops. “Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: Truly caring for them means recognizing our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfillment,” he said. “It is my hope that the Church in the United States … will persevere in its historic mission of educating the young and thus contribute to the consolidation of that sound family life which is the surest guarantee of intergenerational solidarity and the health of society as a whole.”
In order to attain that reality, men need to step up. Too many men have shirked their duty to live their vocation as husbands and fathers. True love is sacrificial. God the Father is the role model here. He sacrificed his Son that we might have eternal life, and Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. And that’s the sacrificial love men are called to have for their wives and children.
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus magazine’s editor.