The First Two Rules Of Fatherhood

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Shortly after my daughter was born, a former student of mine sent me a link to a site titled 50 Rules For Dads Of Daughters.  While I cannot perform almost all of the rules since my daughter is only 7 months old to date, I did take to heart two of them.

The number one rule is to love her mom.  The author suggests, “Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection.”  Truly, this is every man’s wish for his daughter and so it is also my wish for my daughter.  And this isn’t just a human wish, it is also God’s desire that every single one of his adopted daughter be loved, honored, and respected for she has been loved into existence.  But this love many times will involve sacrifice and a vow of death to self in order that it can grow and thrive.  Thus far, I’ve been a father for a little over a year (yes, I’m counting her months in the womb), and I can truly say that what I’ve witness what my wife sacrifices out of love for Madison is truly remarkable!  So the sacrifices I must make to love my wife as a husband and father is nothing more than a little contribution to the fulfillment of my vocation as husband and father.  And why else make these sacrifices if not for the reason that she is a loving bride, an outstanding mother, a generous friend, and a beautiful beautiful woman and daughter of God!  I’m reminded here of that wise Chesterton’s saying:

Marriage is a sort of poetical see-saw.

The second rule is to always be there.  The author’s description is, “Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her.”

I have been hanging out with my daughter every chance I get  since the moment she was born with the two main distractions, i.e. TV and laptop, turned off.  My wanting to be with her isn’t about the fear that one day she will turn out to not like me for not being there for her; instead, I want to be with her and to do the silly things that make her smile simply because I want to do them and because I enjoy our time together.  The time we spend together is both mundane, and somehow very sacred.  Amid the clanging and banging of her plastic toys and her favorite teddy bear singing the usual children lullabies, there is a kind of spiritual connection established between a father and daughter that seems to slowly grow every time I’m in her presence.

So on this Father’s Day, I vow to continue to love my wife as God intends for me to love her, and to spend as much quality time with my daughter as I could since it is in my vocation as a father to do so.  I now leave you with a quote from the brilliant Fulton Sheen:

True love always imposes restrictions on itself–for the sake of others–whether it be the saint who detaches himself from the world in order to more readily adhere to Christ, or the husband who detaches himself from former acquaintances to belong more readily to the spouse of his choice.

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The Kingdom of God

I woke up this morning with the line “the angels keep their ancient places, turn but a stone, and start a wing”.  I’m not sure how these lines got into my head since I’ve not thought of Francis Thompson‘s poem The Kingdom of God for awhile now.  But since it is in my head, I’m going to share his wonderful composition with you.  Also, if you’re wondering who Francis Thompson is, he is the author of The Hound of Heaven.

The Kingdom of God

O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air—
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!—
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places;—
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ‘tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry;—and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry,—clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!

Substance and Appearance

I recently read an article from Ethika Polika that brought both sadness and laughter (a true catholic with my both/and haha).  The article can be found here, but I would like to highlight the two paragraphs that caught my attention, and the starting point for my current reflection:

But today, we Christians have really outdone ourselves.  We’ve somehow managed to become into an argument against the faith even when we’re not succumbing to immorality at all.  For in addition to the ubiquitous scandals of our sin, contemporary Christianity has another problem, perhaps responsible for even more damage to its evangelical efficacy.  Our faith has become, in a word, cheesy.

We live in a land of WWJD bracelets, Jesus-is-my-homeboy t-shirts, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend music, and “Tebowing.”  We traverse a “Christian” landscape as garish as a Thomas Kinkade painting, strolling to the beat of that sickly sweet poem about footprints.

Truly, we live in an age where appearance matters more than substance.  As I recently landed in Miami, a few moments before the plane touched down, I was able to appreciate the seeming beauty and peacefulness of Miami.  As the experience of my trip has informed me, nothing is further than the truth.  I’m not here suggesting that Miami is ugly, but what I’m saying is that its reality that I have come to experience is not as beautiful and peaceful as I experienced it from the plane.  I encountered heavy traffic from the airport to the university where I’m staying; I saw people throwing trash everywhere; I am told stories of people getting robbed, killed, kidnapped, and raped.  In other words, the substance of Miami is not as it appeared to me from the plane.

Likewise, there are many of us who wear the “things” of Christianity but are no closer to being Christian than those others who do not claim themselves Christians.  I’ve seen guys wear the rosary and crosses on their chests while talking about women as if they’re cattle.  I’ve seen girls who wear crosses on their necks that lay directly on their open chests in low cut shirts, a kind of immodesty that I suspect would make even Marilyn Monroe blush.  And then there are those who claim themselves as Christians, but whose behaviors completely betray their claims.

Christianity is not built on the foundations of mere appearance, but it is built upon the foundations of truth, of being, of substance.  It demands the transformation of our being–of our living out our faith; it does not demand a simple apparent outward showing.  Somehow, I imagine that genuine Christianity will appear a bit differently than a Christian faith that is for mere appearance.  I leave you with these words from Christ (Mt 6):

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.