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Musings on Fathers|
by various poets and authors
First Father's Day
"There are in my memory some small, bright, open places that never close or fade. I remember as if it were yesterday the moment when the doctor put our just-delivered, still-wet, first child on my trembling arm. I remember the outside things: the antiseptic hospital smell, the unique combination of joy and fatigue on my wife's face, the exquisite perfection of each tiny new finger and toe. Even more, I remember the inside feelings: the sighing relief, the welling joy, the almost irresistible urge to throw open the hospital window right then (at 3 A.M.) and announce the new arrival to the world. Slid in, just
under the joy, was another feeling: the weight of responsibility, the sudden remarkable reality that this soul, this spirit, this tiny real person was ours now, ours to raise, her destiny so totally trusted in our inexperienced, untried, untrained parenthood.
Within the next hour there were calls to new grandparents and the fun of hearing their voices jump from grogginess to excitement. Then finally, with new baby and new mother fast asleep, there was nothing more for me to do but drive home. By then it was early-summer dawn, with deserted streets and delicate, pale gold sky. Spontaneously, as I drove, I started to pray out loud. Somehow the joy, the marvel, the miracle of birth had lifted my spirit higher, closer, so that it seemed natural right at that moment to just talk to God. "Thank you" was the essence of the prayer; thank you for something so great I could not comprehend, for something I could not imagine I was worthy to receive. After the thank you, all that was left was the desire (not the obligation) to repay, to commit, to promise--to somehow make my thanks more than just words by pledging that I would honor the stewardship, that I would strive to be a great father. Suddenly, the fullness of the word struck: "Father." The Father of us all had just allowed me to take that role, that title (His role, His title) for one of His children. I remember the exact words that came next in my prayer: "Oh, Father, help me to be a father."
If We Had but a Day
We should waste no moments in weak regret.
If the day were but one;
If what we remember and what we forget
Went out with the sun;
We should be from our clamorous selves set free,
To work or to pray,
To be what the Father would have us be,
If we had but a day.
Mrs. M. L. Dickinson
Love in Life
I love men so much, that I like above all other things in the world to be loved. And yet I can do without it when it is necessary. I love love, but I love truth more, and God more yet. If it were necessary to stand in dark days, the God that helped me then will help me now to stand in brighter days; and if the winter did not destroy, so neither shall the sun of July nor of August destroy me, for I am in His hands to do His work among His people; and to Him, not to me, be the praise. If I should look for implements and instruments, collateral and subsidiary, I should say that
I owe more to my father and mother than to anything else that I know of in this world, because they gave to me a bodily strength and health that labor does not seem to grind nor wear out. The spring that turns the wheel is perennial, and I go on milling and milling and milling, not because it is my duty, but because I can't help it. I had his company, counsel, instruction, and example; and an honester man, a more generous nature, a more magnanimous soul, with as little envy and jealousy in it as can be conceived of in an earthly man, never lived.
Henry Ward Beecher
Description of a Summer Day
Beloved, the earth is today so beautiful! that, indeed, makes man more tender: heaven rests with a caress and kiss of love on the earth, as a father on a mother and her children - the flowers and beating hearts fall into the embrace and nestle around the mother. The twig gently rocks its singer up and down, the flower cradles its bee, the leaf its fly and its drop of honey: in the open flower-cups hang the warm tears, into which the clouds dissolve themselves, as if in eyes, and my flowerbeds bear the rainbow, which is built up on them, without sinking. The woods lie nursing themselves at the breast of heaven, and having drunken deeply of the clouds, all summits stand fixed in silent bliss.
Jean Paul Richter
As a little child relies.
On a care beyond his own,
Knows he's neither strong nor wise,
Fears to stir a step alone -
Let me thus with thee abide,
As my Father, Guard and Guide.
Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Vol. V, No. 4: June 1999
A Prayer for Fathers
Most gracious Heavenly Father,
We thank you for our earthly fathers, those to whom you have entrusted the responsibility to provide loving protection of their families and guidance of their children. We thank you, also, for our priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood is so vital to the faith of your people.
May our earthly fathers imitate the manly courage of Abraham, Jesse and Joseph, and all the holy fathers of the past in providing wise counsel to the children you have given to their care. And may our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Sts. Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world.
Assist all fathers of families, all spiritual fathers, and all Christian men, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them.
As you, our Heavenly Father, so loved the world, sending your only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer, we ask you to help all men to imitate His fatherly gentleness and mercy toward those who are weak; His humility, perfect obedience to your Will, and fearless witness to your Truth. May their lives be examples to all of heroic faithfulness to you.
We ask your blessing on all those to whom you have entrusted fatherhood. May your Holy Spirit constantly inspire them with justice and mercy, wisdom and strength, fidelity and self-giving love. May they receive your Grace abundantly in this earthly life, and may they look forward to eternal joy in your presence in the life to come.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son and Our Lord, Amen.
Copyright 1999 Adoremus Bulletin