Father's Day is upon us and, much like its maternal counterpart, this holiday is often filled with love and appreciation, heartache and mournfulness, contempt and disesteem, or all of the above.
The complex and fractured state of many families in the United States today is due largely to turn-of-the-century controversies and ideals including, but not limited to, alarming divorce rates and same-sex marriages, followed suit by a disquieting large number of children within the foster care system. These have deemed cookie cutter families of the mid-20th century a thing of the past.
Too often, however, it is the children who suffer most severely. Substantiated by the Gospels as well as an overabundance of scientific case studies and social cross-examinations, children need the qualities of both parents. Moreso now than ever before, strong moral and Catholic ethics should be instilled on the young, allowing them access to the tools of faith at an early age.
I grew up within a fatherless household of four siblings anchored by the painstakingly hard work of a single mother who managed to always provide. The Catholic Church and its role models, both secular and clergy, met to influence my positive direction and religious understanding.
I attended a Catholic high school in the Bronx. As part of the Student Sponsorship Program, I met someone who would become one the most positive male role models in my life.
I was truly blessed because he not only helped pay a portion of my school tuition, but also provided a particular guidance impossible for my mother to provide, and within a borough which oftentimes provided misdirection.
Fathers, now more than ever, for better or worse, are not always biological. They can take the form of foster parents, and even outside fraternal figures, in households lacking male influence. Despite this ambiguity, fathers and their counterparts help provide a moral foundation, discipline and understanding, as well as fortitude and counsel.
As fathers and men of the Lord, there is further spiritual responsibility to imbue the importance of the teachings of the Catholic Church on younger generations. Written in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
As such are our responsibilities as fathers to provide spiritual and moral guidance. It also should be equally important on Father's Day to thank those men who have shown this likeness.
This is a reflection on the topic of Father's Day and the importance of all they do, as well as our thanksgiving. In theory, however, this is moreso a piece on how paternal roles have changed. Even more, it is the added responsibility we, as men, have on not just our children, but on all students of life and faith.
Fathers and father figures alike are important in any child or young adult's maturation. On this day, all the important and influential men, starting with our Lord Jesus, should be given appreciation and gratitude.
Richard Rodriguez serves in the Office of Cultural Diversity of the Diocese of Buffalo.