Catholic Family News

The Indispensable Role of the Father and Today’s Crisis of Authority

The root of many of our human ailments is failure in authority. Like it or not, we live in a hierarchical world, a world of governance and order, wherein people have certain roles. Harmony depends on the keeping of these roles. St. Paul likens the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12) to a body – all the parts have their roles and work together for the greater function of the body.

Should all in the world perform their function according to right order and with true charity, we would experience harmony. The first failure of authority was that of Adam in not correcting his wife Eve, when she offered him the fruit of the tree from which they were forbidden to eat. If Adam would have corrected Eve within order and in charity, things would – needless to say – have been very different. If the man had exercised his authority, peace would have been maintained.

When authority is used correctly, peace will flourish. Disorder breeds chaos. We hopefully follow [a certain] order everyday: getting out of bed in the morning, brushing our teeth, eating, working, praying, playing, sleeping, etc. These orderly habits help to keep us healthy and happy. Falling out of order causes unhappiness, chaos, uncertainty, and the feelings of insecurity and inconsequentiality.

We know what order is, thanks to natural law as well as Divine law revealed to us through the Church. Through obedience to God, His laws and His Church, peace is acquired in individual souls and consequently emanates into families, parishes, towns, and nations. As we are made in God’s image, and as the natural order relates to the supernatural order, authority figures reflect the power and primacy of God in our lives and in the order of all things. We know that authority figures are, naturally, men. God has destined that gender to lead, not women, in a further reflection of His own nature: shown, too, through Our Lord’s becoming a man.

The failure of authority figures to lead and keep order necessarily leads to chaos and unrest. The root of all order is in Divine Grace; if we do not pray and give firstly our attention to God, all order will collapse because we will not have the strength, wisdom, and humility to make the right decisions in life and correctly order ourselves according to the truth. We must seek and obtain this grace through prayer. As we grow, who teaches us to pray? It should be both the father and mother, but primarily the father, because he is the leader, the head of the family. As there can only be one God, one pope, one head of state, one owner or CEO of a business, in the same way, there can be only one leader or head, in and of the home.

The nature of a leader is such, that he is able to convince others to take the path he himself has already undertaken. Our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Way,” (John 14:6) is the greatest Leader, the Leader par excellence, because He Himself has shown us how to do everything. He has not merely directed us from on high but beautifully chose to descend to earth, taking on on our flesh. Christ suffered everything we would suffer – including temptation, anxiety, and heartache – and set an example for us concerning every situation we would find ourselves in, in life.

Through my own experiences, I have found that my own inspiration to do good works has sometimes corresponded to my desire of pleasing a father: God, a priest, or my own natural father. Occasionally, in a misguided way, I have committed bad actions while seeking the attention of a father figure; these have such a powerful effect. Thankfully, I have a very good employer who expects from me a dignified quality of work, encourages me to do good, is patient with me, forgiving of my mistakes, and is solicitous for my well-being. Thankfully, too, my parish is shepherded by a good priest, who has given of his time to pray for me, listen to, instruct and encourage me. These two figures are motivational, inspirational to me, particularly in my current situation. They reflect the paternity of God the Father, on a natural level.

The millennial generation to which I belong, is starved for paternal confirmation, affirmation and love shown though leadership, charity, and discipline. When a father chastises or disciplines his children, showing interest in the children’s lives, the action demonstrates that he cares. Should a father show himself indifferent to the affairs of his children, these would understandably come to believe that he does not care about them. He is not giving the children freedom by neglecting to direct them, he is simply forgetting about them.

A man will always lead by example, but how will he lead? A selfish father will produce selfish children; a violent father will raise violent children. A husband who dishonors his wife, will no doubt beget children bound to likewise dishonor their mother. I know [of] fathers who think that escaping their responsibility to their families is actually possible. Instead, it is an impossibility. Children will observe their father’s good or bad example; either they will embrace and follow it, or they will absolutely reject it. Should they spurn the bad example [often a heartbreaking or challenging thing to do] they will incur all of hell’s obstinate indignation, coupled with the natural difficulties of overcoming these habits or actions. 

Women are not meant to lead themselves, nor are children. We need good men to lead. Women will fill a gap [by default] if left open, but because leadership is not inherently present in their God-given nature, they often lead themselves and others into disorder. Frequently guided by emotion, especially tenderness, and without natural qualities like levelheadedness and toughness, it is enormously difficult for women to navigate through worldly affairs. This is why that responsibility does not properly belong to them. Rather, the woman is the heart of the home: a noble and indispensable role which, if abandoned, will likewise lead to the ruin of persons and order.

An absent or disinterested father will instill a sense of worthlessness and rejection in those belonging to him, who will eventually seek a sense of belonging elsewhere. It is apparent that this has happened in uncountable homes, and in our beloved Church. The recent Popes have chosen to neglect disciplining us, and leading us as they should. It seems they have forgotten us, concerning themselves with other preoccupations. It appears that their main preoccupation is to please the world, i.e. human respect. This distracting vice has trickled down through the hierarchy into Catholic homes. Consequently men – religious and secular alike – reject their folds and families while pursuing the personal pleasure of being accepted by mankind at large, which incidentally is no true acceptance at all.

However this vice attempts to fill in persons the void left by their fathers: fathers who clearly did not instill in their children the knowledge of their obligation, of the grave necessity of keeping their responsibilities, and a sense of their dignity. Ultimately, however, [almost] all sense of dignity and responsibility instilled in man will fade and give way to the goddess of personal pleasure, should one not be formed and grounded in grace and truth, in He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and His holy Church.

If the dignity of man is not taught within the proper context of philosophical and theological truth, if it is not rooted in something greater than man himself, anchored by the gift of faith and leading one to understand that these are indeed immutable truths and eternal realities, any transitory pleasure will be sure to sweep away even upright men with a decent upbringing, as we see often today.

It is very important to always recall that creatures will inevitably let us down, and that no human father is perfect. We must let our souls be filled by God first and foremost – He must be our Father to fill that need in our souls. But men in authority – fathers and father figures – must do their best to fulfill their role, due especially to the heavy impact they have on lives around them. Men (and women too, in their own role) must do their utmost to live out their state in life, as it was established by God and meant to be lived.

No matter how saintly we may be as individuals, should the Pope and the Church hierarchy continue on as they have, instead of improving; and if they will not man up and fulfill their obligation to properly consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary despite any associated difficulties, we will never have the restoration of Holy Mother Church. She will continue to deteriorate, thrust further into disarray.

Children will never learn to be saintly if good men do not heroically imitate Our Lord, and show them a saintly example. A good man inspires heroism in others, catalyzing in them the aspiration to greatness in a way that a woman cannot. Likewise, only the highest authority on earth – that of a man, namely the Pope – has the power to catalyze true healing in the Church. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the leaders of our Church at present. Instead we must begin with ourselves, and with our own families if we are husbands and wives, to correspond with the movements of grace in our souls, striving after spiritual perfection. A good priest would direct us to do that anyway.

We must dispose ourselves to God’s grace by emptying ourselves of vain attachments, which are ultimately mere distractions. This is a very difficult process, and one of the great blessings of Christian marriage is having a companion with whom to undertake this journey to spiritual perfection, and ultimately eternal salvation. Another consolation – and the primary purpose of the married state – is the procreation and education of children to further populate Heaven. These beautiful little ones will undoubtedly, happily overwhelm you and inspire you daily as they practice their faith in which you form them, already received at baptism. The purity and fervor of children’s prayers will obtain for us many graces, especially that of the Consecration of Russia. Simply and truly living good Catholic family life will prove an indispensable, major step in transforming our disordered, hellish world, giving way to the Social Reign of Christ the King.

But, barring an extraordinary Divine intervention, there is no chance of this happening without good men, without good fathers, without good male authorities. Every figure of authority is, in some way, a figure of the God to others. This is why he must be like God: he must enforce order, which ultimately is truth, he must do so with charity as God does. He must have mercy as God has.

As previously mentioned, in my own experience, I have seen the positive influence and importance of a good priest. Before encountering this priest, I had considered Our Lord to be a harsh judge. But Father showed the tenderness and charity of the Eternal High Priest. Countless others will also have a deeper understanding of the nature of God, of His justice and mercy, when this is more clearly manifested by His priests.

Today, men must take up their staffs and do their best to shepherd their flocks. They must strive to love their wives as Christ loves His Spouse the Church, as He loves us. If a man holds himself to be incapable of doing so, he should examine himself, and discover what is keeping him from this ability to love, and weed it out. Often, an inability to truly love oneself properly is what prevents one from loving others. Men and women must also train their children to love God with purity and reverence, teaching them to what Our Lady asked of us at Fatima: to pray the Rosary daily, sacrifice for souls, to make the Five First Saturdays, etc. so that the Pope will at last do the Will of God, consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

But we shouldn’t carry out these devotions, simply because we want peace. Rather, we should seek to purify our motives, and do them because God Himself desires it. Christians suffered in the past under cruel torments, like those of Nero. All throughout history, the Saints and our Christian brethren have heroically suffered for Our Lord. Why should we excuse ourselves? What we are presently enduring is simply a self-inflicted chastisement. How gracious and generous of God to offer us peace through Our Lady, if only we do what She has commanded, unworthy as we are! In good times and bad, rain or shine, we must seek to always do the Will of God. If we do so, we shall receive countless blessings from our Heavenly Father.

He is a perfect Father, and we know that good fathers chastise their children out of love. Let us pray that our fathers, at home and in the Church, do the same for us. We greatly need leadership from men, these figures of paternal authority, just as we need the tenderness of women’s un-feminized hearts, to influence these men to rule with justice, charity, and mercy. Without it, the sheep will continue to wander astray.