The 7 Pillars of Fatherhood | Part 2
Pillar IV: Assume Charitable Authority
Mary, Joseph’s wife, was full of grace, and Jesus, his Son, was full of grace and truth. Joseph was the least of these three and yet God called him to assume his role of Charitable Authority over his house. God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. True authority is animated by charity. If authority lacks this character it is tyranny or domination. We fathers establish our authority not so much by setting up laws, but more so by setting the pace of self-giving love. Adam was called to defend the garden— a symbol of Eve’s interior person— but instead, allowed the serpent to have his way with her. Adam failed to set the pace of self-giving love and his human family failed, and died divided in sin. The new Adam, Jesus, entered the garden, defended His bride, set her free, and set the pace of self-giving love by offering Himself in sacrifice for her. Joseph entered Mary’s garden—without conjugal relations—and protected the interiority of Mary, never exposing her to the shame of lust. This, my brother, is our essence, how we establish our authority, how we become true men and great fathers: we set the pace of self-giving love.
Pillar V: Establish the Domestic Church – Trinity as the Identity of the Family
In order for our children to one day live in heaven, heaven must live on earth today. If the world is to one day enter the Trinitarian exchange of love, the Trinity must live in the world today. Society goes by way of the family, and the family goes by way of the father. Indeed, Joseph’s family was the human icon of the Trinity. After the first stage of Mary’s and Joseph’s marriage, Mary conceived God in her womb. God deliberately chose to have Jesus conceived after Mary and Joseph willingly consented to love one another, while also consenting to love God above the other. Mary and Joseph were married to one another, but remained celibate, and therefore were married to God. In the marriage of Mary and Joseph was the marriage between the earthly marriage and the heavenly marriage. It was this consent of wills that drew down the Marriage between heaven and earth— God in the flesh—the God-Man Jesus. The two, Mary and Joseph, by the power of the Spirit allowed Jesus to be conceived. This is our prayer: Mary and Joseph, by the power of the Spirit, let Jesus be conceived in me—in my family.
Joseph’s family was the icon of the Trinity and archetype of the domestic church. To establish the domestic church, we also must unite with our wives and together consent to giving our marriages to God. By means of this mutual consent between husband and wife do children become altus Christus.
Pillar VI: Establish the Tent of Meeting
We cannot give what we do not possess. We can only give Christ if we have Christ. God always gives generously to us. But in order to “make room” for that generosity we must carve out space and time for God. In ancient Israel there was the tent that contained the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, around which the Jewish community would worship. Moses also erected another tent—outside the camp—the Tent of Meeting, where he and others would seek consultation from God. To be successful fathers we need to establish our own tent of meeting—outside the camp of our daily life. We ought to create space dedicated solely to God, and carve out time daily to meet with God in this space. Besides lust, this is perhaps one of the greatest challenges for men—because it is the most essential. In the tent of meeting, we bring our experiences as fathers to God, and through these experiences, God sheds light on how He is a Father to us. “What man among you would give his son a stone when asks for bread?” By these words, Jesus is calling us to meditate on our fatherly love for our children, lift this love to the Father in heaven, and discover the love that the Father has for us. It is imperative that we carve out time and space in this manner. Our success as fathers depends upon this.
Pillar VII: Build the Temple of God in the Child
Visible signs reveal invisible realities. The body reveals the spirit. Christ’s body reveals the Father’s love. Human symbols reveal spiritual realities. Joseph’s marriage is a symbol of the marriage of heaven and earth. Joseph’s family is a symbol of the Trinity. Joseph’s home is a symbol of the domestic church. Joseph’s fatherhood is an icon, a symbol of God’s Fatherhood. Joseph’s Son, Jesus, is the Temple, and our children are symbols of Christ the Temple. Joseph recognized Christ as the Temple of God, in Whom the fullness of God dwelled bodily. We too, are called to see the invisible in the visible, the spiritual reality in our child’s humanity—to see that he or she is a temple of God—a house of the Holy Spirit. There are three things that we as fathers can do to assist our children in becoming Holy temples of God: first, recognize our child as the temple of God; second, give the child the materials to be built into this holy temple; and third, bless and charge the child to become a temple of glory—a temple of self-sacrificial love. One of the most effective ways of giving our children the materials to be built into a holy temple of God is familial work as an expression of love. If we work side by side with our children, teaching our children to be gifts to the family, and by their using these gifts they will discover their identity. It is to this end that we ought to place our hands upon them and bless them, commissioning them to become a temple of glory.