Happy Father’s Day,
While Mother’s Day has its origins going back to Ancient Greece and Rome, and in the United States going back to the Civil War, Father’s Day doesn’t have as long of a histo- ry. One person credited with forming Father’s Day in an official way, and who would be the primary influence to it first being declared a state holiday in the state of Washington in 1910, was Sonora Smart Dodd. She had been raised with her five siblings by a single father and wanted a day, like Mother’s Day, to honor him. While some other states and other local celebrations would form in the early 1900’s, and by the end of World War II it was a standard American practice, it would not become a federal holiday until 1972. (Mother’s day became a federal holiday in 1914.)
So why and how do we celebrate Father’s Day? The fact that it is a federal holiday doesn’t really make much difference to most of us since, like Mother’s Day, it is on a Sunday and that doesn’t affect the banks, the mail, or most or our work weeks. Hope- fully it is a time to be particularly aware of all that our fathers have done for us and to give special thanks and recognition for this. In the Catholic Church there has been a history of this in connection with the feast of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. We real- ize the critical role he played in raising Jesus, and many of the characteristics we often associate with the role of a father: protector, provider, and leader. I think it is particu- larly important that in these roles a father also shows his faith to his children, recogniz- ing that in his position of authority it is most important to recognize a supreme authori- ty and demonstrate their faith and their reliance upon God.
Jesus even taught us to refer to God as our Father, but also gives us an image of God the Father in the story of the prodigal son. The father who loves us no matter what, whether we are the faithful son who listens and obeys or the rebellious one who is only concerned with his inheritance. I hope all fathers see this as a model of how they are to live out this relationship, and all of us, their children, are grateful for all our fathers have done for us. A special blessing we will have for all fathers at Mass this weekend follows:
God our Father,
In your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless these men,
That they may be strengthened as Christian fathers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters,
May honor them always
With a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Thank you for all the fathers who have helped us learn what it means to love.