Faith & Life


The Model Father for Catholic Dads

By Cathi Douglas     3/20/2018

Anyone who is a parent knows that children try your patience. Unlike pets, they can’t be sent to the back yard with a dish of water and praise. They need guidance, support and love, 24/7. 

St. Joseph, our spiritual father, is the model for selfless fatherhood. St. John Paul II explains that the Holy Family is inserted directly into the mystery of the Incarnation, according to  

“Though St. Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father, when he reveals, relives, and radiates the very fatherhood of God, he becomes Jesus’ authentic human, and I would add spiritual, father,” notes writer Dave McClow. “His masculinity is fully expressed in his spiritual fatherhood, as it should be for all men, first and foremost, even if they are not biological fathers.” 

Today’s males face a crisis of faith. They are challenged to face the realities of fatherhood along with the responsibilities of raising kids in a world that doesn’t openly value dads. McClow says, “The antidote is men fully living out their faith as spiritual fathers by informally adopting our lost generation. Our faith calls us to care for the ‘least’ and the vulnerable (Mt. 25:40) and to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt. 28:19) – that’s spiritual fatherhood; that’s the summit of being a man, and St. Joseph is our prototypical model.” 

As if being a dad wasn’t hard enough, our prototype St. Joseph is endlessly patient, abounding in love and content to fade into the background as his stepson lives out his fate as Our Savior. St. Joseph’s kindness abounds. His strength is quiet, sincere and everlasting. 

McClow’s story notes that more than 40 percent of kids today grow up without fathers, according to the U.S. Census. “Fatherlessness is devastating – legally, morally, psychologically, and spiritually,” he adds. Fatherless kids comprise 63 percent of youth suicides, according to the U.S. Department of Health; 90 percent of all homeless and runaway youth are fatherless kids.” 

Sobering statistics, they emphasize the importance of a strong father in the home. My husband provides the backbone of our family. When I was out earning a living at a stressful position, he had a flexible teaching job that meant he was home to cook dinner and do homework with the children.  

No doubt that is why our oldest son says he wants to be home for his future kids in the same way his father was, as he recalls piggy back rides to the pool and riding along on Dad’s bike to his first swim classes.  

Father John A. Hardon writes on that our prayers to St. Joseph for direction toward being good parents are well founded. Hardon says that true fatherhood begins with a lifetime commitment of the husband to his wife, and true fatherhood builds on the selfless love of the husband for his wife. 

“True fatherhood depends on the generous love of the husband for the offspring of his wife,” Hardon writes. “True fatherhood means that the husband cooperates with his wife in the spiritual upbringing of the children. 

“True fatherhood therefore, is not only or even mainly generating a human body in this world,” Hardon concludes. “It is also and mainly collaborating with the mother in developing the human soul for everlasting life in eternity.” 

Yes – parenthood is tough. Still, it may the work that brings us spiritual salvation with the guidance of the holiest of dads, St. Joseph.