Ours is a world in desperate need of fatherhood. A quick online search reveals the startling rise of single motherhood here in the US and in the world. Soberly revealing our need for heavenly intervention for our fatherless families and overburdened mothers. Starkly exposing our culture’s bereft notion of fatherhood as mere sexual congress.
These very simple words, “father” and “fatherhood,” once had plain, unadulterated meanings. But that was before the intensification of the “struggle between the family and the State for the minds of the young.”
And the realization that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be marriage and the family. The struggle for the control of the minds of our children is not a new one. Rather it is an age-old battle between the state and the family.
The ideal for which [the family] stands in the state is liberty. It stands for liberty for the very simple reason with which this rough analysis started. It is the only one of these institutions that is at once necessary and voluntary. It is the only check on the state that is bound to renew itself as eternally as the state, and more naturally than the state…
Every sane man recognises that unlimited liberty is, anarchy, or rather is nonentity… So long as the state is the only ideal institution the state will call on the citizen to sacrifice himself, and therefore will not have the smallest scruple in sacrificing the citizen…
The state consists of coercion; and must always be justified from its own point of view in extending the bounds of coercion; as, for instance, in the case of conscription. The only thing that can be set up to check or challenge this authority is a voluntary law and a voluntary loyalty. It is a principle of the constitution that the King never dies. It is the whole principle of the family that the citizen never dies. There must be a heraldry and heredity of freedom; a tradition of resistance to tyranny. A man must be not only free, but free-born.
Each Christmas, we hear and read these words about St. Joseph,:
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” (Matt. 1:19) ”
And hear interpretations that Joseph believed Mary’s pregnancy had resulted from another man, that she’d had relations with another man. But Michael Palakuk challenges that assumption with his remarkable meditation, Doing Justice to St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s hesitation emanates not at all from suspicion of Mary’s infidelity with a man but rather from the prophecies which he knew well, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a child.” Palakuk reaches back to the third century to find a far more plausible reason for St. Joseph’s hesitation to become the legal father of Jesus.
St Jerome writes that, “This may be considered a testimony to Mary, that Joseph, confident in her purity, and wondering at what had happened, covered in silence that mystery which he could not explain…”
And from Origen we find this, “He sought to put her away because he saw in her a great sacrament, to approach which he thought himself unworthy.”
Pope Francis published his Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde.
It begins, “WITH A FATHER’S HEART: that is how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as “the son of Joseph”. After a careful read of Patris Corde, I find the document
Early in the apostolic letter, Pope Frances writes,
Joseph had the courage to become the legal father of Jesus, to whom he gave the name revealed by the angel: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). As we know, for ancient peoples, to give a name to a person or to a thing, as Adam did in the account in the Book of Genesis (cf. 2:19-20), was to establish a relationship.
Stirring language, isn’t it?
“Joseph had the courage to become the legal father of Jesus, to whom he gave the name…as we know…to give a name..was to establish a relationship.”
This is the authentic fatherhood once understood and revered in the world. One which comprehended, in the words of Father Paul Scalia , that the “greater part of fatherhood is not begetting a child or training him for worldly success. No, it is the imparting of wisdom, patrimony, and identity.”
is a man of silence. Although St. Joseph is known as guardian, protector, and legal head of the Holy Family, we never read a single word of his.
As a matter of fact, we hear very few words from Mary. We read only her Fiat to the angel Gabriel, her Magnificat, admonition to her Son once she and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple. And the last words we hear from the Mother of God at the wedding at Cana are:
“Do whatever He tells you.”
In today’s culture of “wokeness”-the war on words- where the meaning of enduring concepts seems to deteriorate with staggering frequency, the silence of Nazareth is a formidable weapon.
I am exceedingly grateful for the balm offered to this world in desperate need of fatherhood: Patris Corde, With a Father’s Heart.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.