What Do I Want To Pass On to My Children

Fr. Luke Veronis

Happy Father’s Day! Today we honor fathers and the father-figures in our lives. I’m sure my family will take me out to dinner tonight in my honor, and my children will probably give up the day to do something special all together as a family. I will feel loved and cherished, and I’m grateful for that. Yet, as I reflect on the meaning of Father’s Day, I obviously will think about my own father with deep gratitude for the figure and influence he has been in my life. Last year on Father’s Day, I talked about the lessons of life I learned from my father. This year, I want to focus on my own fatherhood, and what I hope my children will remember about me when they think of their father.

1. First, I hope they will think that THEIR FATHER PLACED GOD FIRST IN HIS AND IN THEIR LIVES. In today’s Gospel reading, we hear Jesus teach his followers to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Above all else, before my children, my wife, and my family comes God. Before my work, my hobbies, and whatever else I like to do comes God. Before my country and any patriotism I may have comes God. Jesus makes it very clear to “Seek first, before all else, the kingdom of God.” I want my children to remember a father who sincerely and passionately sought first the Kingdom of God!

In various parts of the Gospel, our Lord commands his followers, to do this very thing. He tells his followers that the greatest commandment, above all other commandments, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” At another time, Christ warns his disciples “If you love father or mother more than me, you are not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” What a difficult passage that makes clear how God has to take priority in our lives!

So when my children think of their father, I want them to think of someone who has a deep, passionate love for God, and a commitment to following Him first and foremost in his life.

2. Of course, as a human father I fail and fall constantly. I want to love God before all else, but how often I fail? How often I disappoint? How often I set a bad example for my children? I want to be the best father I can be, yet how easy it is to become impatient with my children, to yell at them, to show abundantly clear my weaknesses, and to reveal such hypocrisy to my children. As a priest, they hear me preach one thing, and yet I fail to live up to this high standard. More than anyone other than my wife, my children know my shortcomings. So, I PRAY THAT MY CHILDREN WILL ALSO SEE A FATHER WHO REPENTS, who takes the time to reflect on his life and not to justify his mistakes but instead, someone who goes to the Sacrament of Holy Confession regularly, and who strives to live a life of constantly turning away from my sins and turning towards God. I hope that when my children think of their father, they will think of a man who is not full of pride, arrogance, and self-assurance, but may they think of a weak father who understands that the path to God can only be found through constant repentance and a continual change of heart. I pray they will see a path of humility and repentance.

3. Along with these, I WANT MY CHILDREN TO REMEMBER A FATHER WHO LOVES THEM PASSIONATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY, who always sees the good in them no matter what bad choices they may make in life, and who always believes in them and empowers them to strive for and fulfill the God-given potential each of them have. Too often, there are many voices in our lives that try to tear us down, to point out our weaknesses, and to play off our insecurities. I pray that my children will always remember a father that encourages, builds up, and inspires my children to dream of doing great things for the glory of God! Yet, I pray they will remember a father who not only offers positive and grace-filled words to his own children, but shares this Christ-centered spirit to every person he encounters. I want my children to remember a father who sees the world around him as his family, and who believes that when we are filled with God’s love, we have an unlimited source of love to share with every person we meet, even with every person in the world!

4. I HOPE MY CHILDREN WILL SEE IN THEIR FATHER A SPIRIT OF COMPASSION, KINDNESS, MERCY AND GENEROSITY TO ALL IN NEED. Compassion implies reaching out to those who are in need, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Kindness is treating others with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God. Mercy is a free gift of love given, not to those who deserve it, but to those who don’t deserve it. And each of these gifts must be given with utmost generosity. I learned from my father, and I pray my children may learn from their father, that “If you err, err on the side of generosity!” Ultimately, this spirit of compassion, kindness, mercy and generosity are virtues that all of us receive in an unlimited way from our heavenly Father. And thus, it is only appropriate to pass it on to all those in need, to all those around us.

5. Finally, I PRAY THAT MY CHILDREN WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THEIR FATHER AS A MAN OF PRAYER, AS A MAN WHO COMMUNED WITH GOD DAILY, WHO PASSIONATELY SOUGHT AFTER GOD, TALKING AND LISTENING, READING SCRIPTURE WHILE SITTING IN SILENCE, AND FINDING DELIGHT IN DWELLING IN GOD’S PRESENCE. May they always remember the words of Jesus, “I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abide in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:6) When my children think of their father, may they remember to turn to God themselves, talk with Him, befriend Him, and discover the unlimited depths of His love by opening up their hearts and souls to Him through intense prayer.

On this Father’s Day, we pause to remember fatherhood, and never forget the great and grave responsibility we fathers have for our children. Fathers, and mothers, are the windows through which our children first understand what is important in life. As they remember and reflect on our lives, may they see an example of one who seeks first God above all else, who lives a life of constant repentance, who loves them unconditionally and helps them fulfill their God-given potential, who exemplifies compassion, kindness, mercy and generosity, and who has taught them and shown them the path to union with God.

Happy Father’s Day!

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