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DEAR FATHER | Fatherhood fulfills masculinity

What is the unique goodness of fatherhood?

Something unique to the male psyche burns in the heart of fatherhood. In a pinch, a male can have a certain disinterestedness in his own body. We might see this in young boys who do not care about all being heaped together in the back seat of a car or in soldiers willing to risk all to save another’s life while having a strange insensitivity to imminent death that is the mark of courage. Every man can become a father, whether biologically or spiritually. Fatherhood fulfills masculinity.

As a natural father grows older and into the fullness of fatherhood, the instinct for protecting and guiding his children is transformed and elevated. He comes to see that he is no longer needed in the same way — to raise, guard and teach. He steps aside to give the children freedom. His last gift to his child is the child’s own parenthood.

Jeorge Islas and his daughter, Andrea Islas-Gasca, danced at her quinceañera in August 2022.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Just as the Easter Candle burns, leaving no trace of wax behind as it is consumed in a single flame, so too, fatherly love consumes his heart so that his joy and glory is to see his fatherhood transmitted to his sons and generating the authentic motherhood of his daughters.

The masculine disinterestedness is a great consolation for an aging father; it is the gift of a heart that humbly whispers, “My children must increase, I must decrease.”

The father perhaps does not fully know what his children are entering into, nor can he express the mystery. But he recognizes, “I came to be who I am through this mystery of my family. This is supremely good. I cannot say why, but I would not trade it for the world or my renewed youth. There is something greater here in seeing the fruit of my love complete than the youthful joy of labor that marked my earlier life.”

Thus the simple instinct of masculine disinterestedness finds its fulfillment as the man passes from strength to weakness once more, but even his physical decline matters less to him than the fact he can spend himself for those he loves.

In the heart of the Father, we see Solomon’s proverb come true, “Love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6).

Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.

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