Tag Archives: Fatherhood

A father’s heart next to Christ’s

In a priest’s talk on fatherhood a few years ago, he’d said, “What a father is, his children will become. He will live in their memory, and his legacy will endure in their lives.” Indeed.

For the first time, I connected a father’s love for his children with that of Christ for His flock.

I think often of my father, who at 85 went to eternal life six summers ago. The longer he’s gone, the more we realize how he fortified us for the struggles of life. We still implore him.

Dad was the first to prepare a place for us, our home. It was a daily refuge like no other. “… I go and prepare a place for you … and will take you to myself” (John 14:3).

Respect for Mom was mandatory, or we’d answer imminently to Dad. “… it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother” (Sir 3:11).

He disciplined us consistently, regardless of others’ opinions. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline … for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3: 11-12).

He personified a tireless work ethic and generosity. An engineer managing heavy construction projects, he drove to the site at 4 a.m., leaving us a fresh coffee, a quick omelet, and our school lunches packed. “The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains” (Gen 49:26).

As his only daughter, there was no escaping Dad’s old-world modesty standard. It wasn’t always well-received, like the afternoon I didn’t see him at a traffic light, as I cycled by in my favorite short-shorts. A raucous horn-blast almost sent me over the handlebars, followed by his command to get home and change. “A daughter keeps her father secretly wakeful, and worry over her robs him of sleep” (Sir 42:9).

He inspired us with everyday closeness to God. Dad would leave the job site at 6 a.m. for daily Mass, then return to work for a long day. He kept his Roman Missal and Pocket Summa in the car, and rosary in his pocket. “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut 30:6).

The sweetest recollections were of bringing him our failures and humiliations. That’s when we took great solace in Dad as our port in the world’s storms. He consoled, forgave and reaffirmed us. “… while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

Caring for him in old age was a small return for his gifts of a lifetime. “… help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives” (Sir 3:12).

His sacrifices were many, like encouraging my discordant piano practicing, and my brother’s jarring drum solos. He didn’t leave home or lose himself in hobbies. Dad’s favorite pastime was us.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Hearts wounded by love: The Sacred Heart, fathers, and abortion

In June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ extends to us His flaming heart that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. We, as the body of Christ, are called to do the same.

Fr. Frank Pavone

One way this love is embodied is in pro-life work. It is a work of self-giving love for children in the womb who don’t even know we are loving them. It is a lifesaving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ’s heart keeps on beating inside His body. Similarly, we persevere within the Body of Christ.

And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of His body, the body of God. Devotion to the Sacred Heart brings to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, prolife work is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which He shows us in His Body.

Jesus said He is meek and humble of heart, and this brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of prochoice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God’s will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly.

Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; His heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as caring about the baby but not about the mother. This claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to the baby’s mom, dad, and entire family. Under our umbrella, the world’s largest ministries for healing after abortion operate. Rachel’s Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them an opportunity to share their testimony of pain and healing, and thereby to inspire in others the hope that they too can be forgiven.

Close to the annual celebration of the Sacred Heart, of course, comes Father’s Day, and we are seeing more and more men come to our healing programs to grieve the children they have lost to abortion. Many repent of having consented to the abortion. But likewise, so many men didn’t even know about it. I have never seen a man more angry than a friend of mine who told me many years ago that his girlfriend had their baby killed without his knowledge. Men are hardwired to be protectors and providers. To be unable to save one’s own child, and to even be shut out of the possibility of doing so, is an insult to one’s manhood. This is why the men of our Silent No More campaign hold signs saying, “I Regret Lost Fatherhood.”

Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to renew our awareness of the pain of these fathers, and our efforts to reach them with the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart which, like theirs, is wounded precisely because of Its love. For more information, visit www.FatherhoodForever.org.

FR. FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Jesus’ mission to reveal the Father

If you polled Christians, asking the reason for Jesus’ incarnation, most would say he came to redeem humanity — to open heaven so we could one day be with him forever in heaven as adopted sons and daughters.

novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

True. But Jesus also came to reveal the Father, who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4). The invisible nature of God became visible in and through Jesus’ actions.

The Catechism teaches that “it pleased God … to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature” (#51).

Sadly, with so many young people (and grown adults) with no concept of a loving father, how does the Church communicate the love of God the Father, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ?

The crisis of fatherhood is epic, and the statistics are alarming. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that nearly half of children (43%) are being raised without a dad at home, and 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The youth suicide rate is five times higher for kids without a dad.

There is no easy answer, but we are all called in our own particular way to mirror God the Father’s love to our own children and be surrogate fathers to people who are lacking that example.

The first time I ever saw my dad cry was at his father’s funeral. I was six years old, and the image of my father tearing up when he said his last goodbye will stay with me forever. He loved his father deeply.

George Novecosky with his six sons in May 2012

George Novecosky with his six sons in May 2012

Now it’s my turn. My father — George Novecosky — has cancer and I’m faced with the prospect of saying goodbye to him. Fortunately, he’s making it easy for us with his refreshing good humor. In a documentary I made on my parents’ spiritual legacy a few years ago, he quipped, “I’m not afraid to die, but I’m in no hurry!”

In his encyclical Rich in Mercy, Pope St. John Paul II taught that “the truth, revealed in Christ, about God the ‘Father of mercies,’ enables us to see him as particularly close to man especially when man is suffering” (#2).

My father’s spiritual legacy will live on in his nine children and 17 grandchildren. He taught us to live well, to love well and to remember that our end is to live forever in the Father’s House.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

EDITOR’S NOTE: George Novecosky was received into the arms of Our Lord on July 30, 2016.