As fathers, we are concerned if our children are hearing the things we are trying to teach them, moreover, if they are applying and internalizing any of what we are attempting to impart. As a former Pastor(now Catholic layman), I’ve preached countless sermons, given countless talks and teachings, and in most of those sessions, my children were present. I’ve always tried to remind myself internally that I must deliver a message that is worthy of a father giving to their children, and I must be aware that my Heavenly Father and all of Heaven is observing. I’ve fallen short many times, more times it seems than I have done well.
Having lost my father earlier this year, I was the recipient of his personal photo collection. As I looked through his collection this last father’s day, the above photo stuck out to me. I remember the day, but I don’t remember the conversation. It’s strange what we can and can’t remember about times with our loved ones who have past. I remember my mother coming in the room and attempting to get that ‘perfect’ picture of father and son in deep conversation. Little did she know that this was a teaching session; a father attempting to teach his young adult son and a young adult son who thought at the time he didn’t need any teaching. I remember my father continuing his speech as he gave the camera the glance in the picture, and his eyes tell his thoughts about the picture being taken, but his speech didn’t stop. I remember him on the verge of pulling back from conveying his thoughts to me when he put the pen down and said, “Josh, you’re not listening”. He would not continue until I assured him I was listening.
It makes me laugh to myself now; those family moments when a parent feels like the children aren’t listening and there is no use continuing persuasion, and conversely the child feels as though the parent has no relevant perspective on a given situation. But how times change.
As I look at his picture I’m reminded to slow down and to listen. I’m reminded to listen to the good things I’ve been taught, to listen to the things I thought weren’t important and didn’t apply to me. I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father is also attempting to teach and lead me. I’m reminded of the beauty and sacramental creation of God all around me that I miss all the time.
The Sacraments of the Church are showing me the way and leading me closer to Our Lord, Sanctifying me, attempting to teach me and guide me to Heaven and eternal union with God. It would be easy to just go through the motions in church without really ‘hearing’ and looking for the truths and meanings just under the surface of the form and matter.
I’m reminded that my default setting is to cruise past opportunities to appreciate the moment in a frantic race to the conclusion. I’m reminded to be patient with my own children, understanding that it may seem to me now I’m not being listened to, but if I endeavor to speak meaningful, loving, and guiding principles and teachings to my children, I give them something to look back and reflect on. This lays a foundation for Our Lord to use in regards to our children. What a burden but what a privilege; to be a father, to imitate the love that Christ has for us, and impart it to our family.
Our Lord would show us the deeper meaning of all things if we allow Him. I pray this Father’s Day, we as fathers and men would fulfill our roll of imparting wisdom, knowledge, but most of all the faith to our posterity. We must be doing this even if it seems we are not being heard, for even Our Lord on the Cross said, “Father forgiven them, they know not what they do…“.
Men, what is our Lord attempting to show us today? What is our priest attempting to teach us? What is our wife attempting to show us? What are our children attempting to show us? Are we listening?
It may seem at times as you are lovingly teaching and imparting that’s no one is listening, but maybe they just aren’t listening yet…