Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I bought a Father's Day gift for my confessor yesterday. I have to admit now that I genuinely have come to love the man as one does a father and as an icon of God the Father. I know from how he acts with me that my confessor would have been a wonderful father had God not called him to the priesthood. For example, like a father and the Father who is both loving and a disciplinarian, a good priest is a tiger in the pulpit and a pussycat in the confessional. Father is demanding (see anecdote recounted here), but never harder on me than he needs to be (in fact, he has a reputation for wimpy penances). I'm hard enough on myself as it is; I don't think that is unrelated to his manner with me. In fact, only once has he so much as snapped at me; when I was getting ready to walk out of his office in a fit of despair, he said abruptly, "sit down."

In fact, I have to admit that in many respects large and small, I treat him as a father even though he is younger than I. For example, I don't ever call him by his first name, not just in direct address (I always call him "Father" or the more familiar "Padre"), but even in the third person. When I speak of him to other persons, when named at all, he's always "Father" or "Father [Smith]," never "[John]" or "Father [John]."

I also was corresponding earlier today with a different Catholic priest, Father Bryce Sibley of St. Blogs, Louisiana apropos of something else (he has a wonderful and timely sermon available as a CD here on the homosexual agenda and fatherhood). Anyway, I also got to wondering whether Father's Day is actually a lonely day for Catholic priests, given ... well, you know. Shortly before he retired his site, Father Sibley put up this baptism picture that people joked made him look so paternal, in the more-usual sense.

But I wished Father Sibley the following in parting, which I here universalize to all the good Catholic men who answer God's call to spiritual fatherhood:
And Happy Father's Day, Padre. Obviously, I know priests cannot be fathers according to the customary usage of the word, but thanks to you and all the rest of the good men who make the sacrifice you do, in order to be fathers to us all.
Thanks to all of you.

3 comments:

Jeron said...

Amen! Spiritual fathers are just as valid and important as our temporal fathers.

Anonymous said...

I wish Father Sibley was still blogging. His blog was always great

JH
louisiana

John Jansen said...

I know from how he acts with me that my confessor would have been a wonderful father had God not called him to the priesthood.

CM,

Obviously, I don't know your confessor, but based on your description, I know a great many priests like him.

You're definitely onto something here. It seems to me that all of those who occupy a place on the list of Really Good Priests I Know would have made wonderful fathers had they been called to the vocation of marriage and been blessed with children. (The same holds true for many lay celibates I know as well.)

Conversely, it seems to me that those who occupy a place on the list of Really Good Catholic Dads I Know would all have made great priests.