A couple of weeks ago, my six year old daughter wanted to put on a dance show for me. Her beautiful blond hair flowed as she bounced in her little ballerina outfit across our family room floor. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I noticed that as she danced she would consistently look up from watching herself and check to see if I was watching her. In that moment, through my daughter, I discovered something that cut to my heart: my daughter longs for her father’s gaze. Every child longs for their father’s gaze—in fact, we all long for The Father’s gaze. We want to know that we are chosen, selected—that His eyes are on us. If our daughters do not have our gaze, they will try to obtain it from Billy. If our sons don’t have our gaze of approval, they will seek to be approved by those we don’t approve of. This is the state of our world, our families, our children: they long for the Father’s gaze and only we, as fathers, can give this to them.
“Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6) This is the last prophetic message of the Old Testament. Before the end, God is going to do something great: He will turn the gaze of fathers toward their children, and children will then return to their fathers. Jesus, the Son of the Father, united His mission with that of His Father: to turn our hearts—God’s childrens’ hearts—back to the Father. This is Jesus’ mission: to turn the hearts of fathers to their children that all may turn to the Father and be His children. Indeed, “Change the father—change the family.” “A great father makes a great family.” “Society goes by way of the family – the family goes by way of the father.”
In the days of Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch, the world was plagued with a great famine. Joseph, the patriarch, stored grain in the Egyptian storehouses for seven years in order to provide the people of the middle-eastern world grain from which they could make bread. When the people came to Pharaoh, he commanded them, “Go to Joseph, what he says you do.” (Gen 41:55) Joseph saved the people of the earth from starvation. Today there exists a different famine: the famine of fatherhood. The world is starving for fatherly leadership. What should we do? “Go to Joseph, what he says you do.” We need to go to Joseph, who speaks by his little, hidden, silent example.
What does Joseph’s silent, hidden, humble example tells us fathers?
1) Joseph was a man of silence: he presented his needs before God. This is how Joseph handled crisis: he presented his needs to God in silence. Let’s begin by spending 5 minutes a day in silence – listening to Jesus’s words and waiting on Him.
2) Joseph trusted in the Father, “doing whatever he was commanded.” Our vision of the Father determines our future. Remember the Parable of the Talents: The two servants believed that their Master was generous, and therefore they multiplied their talents. The wicked servant, however, believed the Master to be a tyrant. His outcome was tragic. Our vision of God determines our outcome.
3) Receive the Blessed Mother: As Joseph entrusted himself to Mary, we too should pray to her daily, asking her to show us how to be real men. In fact, Jesus from the cross told John to behold his Mother, that she might teach him of the True Man.
4) Eat dinner with your family: Joseph gathered the fruits of his labors, and Jesus and Mary gathered around Joseph, and when Joseph led the prayer of thanksgiving, this gathering gathered all of them to God. By leading our family in dinner prayer, we gather our children to God.
5) Exercise Charitable Authority: lead your family in prayer, even if it is only a simple morning offering, or blessing your children before bedtime. Do not underestimate the power God has given you to lead your family.
6) Date Night and Daughter/Son time: your marriage will be transformed by spending 1 hour a week with your wife. Date night, or time by yourselves—simply talking and getting to know one another—will transform your communication and love for one another, which also will enable you to love your children better. Spend time with your children for no other reason than spending time with them, and their hearts will turn to you, their human father, and ultimately trust that their Father in heaven loves them and wants to spend time with them.
Custos: A Father’s Entrustment is a nine day novena that will help us to turn our hearts toward St. Joseph, God the Father and true fatherhood. By meditating upon Joseph’s fatherhood, we will discover what our fatherhood needs. Joseph always leads us to Jesus Who always leads us to the Father. God is not your competitor, He is your collaborator. He wants your fatherhood to reflect the greatness of His Fatherhood. Believe that “He who did not spare His only Son, will He not also give us all things with Him?” (Romans 8:32)