“Let everything take second place to our care of our children, our bringing them up to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ”
– St. John Chrysostom
This Sunday we have the opportunity to celebrate Father’s Day, to recognize and honor the fathers in our lives, giving thanks for our own godly and loving fathers, whether they are with us or have gone before us.
We know that studies have shown that children without fathers, whether boys or girls, are at much greater risk for violence and criminal behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, and to drop out of school. Indeed the majority of men in our prisons today had little to no relationship with their fathers.
Of course, based on our faith and our family experiences, we don’t need studies to tell us that a father’s involvement with his children’s upbringing is vitally important and can have a significant impact on their lives. A father’s example is the most powerful influence to help children learn about work, cooperation and responsibility. The role of a Christian father is even more important, since his role is to be the spiritual leader, the example for his family.
When a father takes responsibility for his own life and spirituality by being active and involved in the ecclesiastical and liturgical life of our Church, and the “everyday” practices of prayer, worship, fasting and the study of Holy Scripture, he receives the respect of his family. As he grows in his own spiritual life, he is able to be an example of Christian leadership and love as a father. Of course this is a difficult and challenging responsibility. In fact, it may seem impossible for anyone accomplish by themselves; however we know that with God’s help, we can do all things.
The most important gift that a father can give his children is to lay a loving foundation of faith for them. The most important lesson that he can teach them is to love the Lord, and place God at the center of their lives. If we are not sharing the love of God with our children, if we are not praying with them and blessing them, if we are not growing in our own faith, if we are not bringing them to the Divine Liturgy, then we are failing as not only as fathers and but also as followers of Christ.
In conclusion, I wish a most blessed and joyous Father’s Day to all fathers everywhere on this special day!
Metropolitan of Atlanta