By: Deacon Mike Monagle
As I reflect on Father’s Day, the word that comes to mind is “thankfulness”. Among the many things I’m thankful to my father for is teaching me how to hunt and fish; how to shoot a basketball; how to change a flat tire; how to play cribbage; for assistance when I needed help; the importance of self-discipline and hard work; how to be respectful to others; and how to live out the vocation of husband and fatherhood. Most of all, I’m thankful for his role in sowing the seeds of faith in my life.
As a father myself, I know that all dads want the best for their children – a good education, self-confidence, success, prosperity and happiness. As a Catholic man and father, my deepest desire is that my children come to establish a deep and lasting relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Yet I know from the polls, discussions with other dads, and my own experience, that only about 20% of our young adults who were raised Catholic attend mass on a regular basis, and over 1/3 of them no longer identify with any religion. What’s a father to do?
Our readings for Father’s Day give us some guidance. In the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord tells us, “I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.” Jesus repeats this message in Mark’s Gospel, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” What our God is telling us is that He is the one who is in charge of the growth of the Kingdom of God. My role as a father is to plant the seeds, then trust that God’s love will make that seed sprout and grow.
As fathers, our mission is to bring our children up in the Church – sowing the seeds of faith and making sure they are watered by the sacraments. For some, the seeds will sprout straight away. For others, it may take longer. For still others, there may be a long period of drought before the seed springs forth, but we dads will continue to courageously pray and patiently trust in our God that His Spirit will gradually surge up and yield fruit.
So, thank-you to my earthly father for planting those seeds and faithfully praying that they one day might bear fruit, and thank-you to my Heavenly Father for giving me the grace to allow it to happen, and His forgiveness for those times when I got in His way.