While not a liturgical observance, Father’s Day is an appropriate time to recall the essential role of fathers in the life of the family and in building a culture of life. It is also an opportunity to highlight spiritual fatherhood, which all men are called to embrace.
Fatherhood has its origins in God, who chose to reveal Himself to us as Our Father, sending his only Son for the sake of our salvation. Fathers therefore have a special role “in revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God” (Familiaris consortio 25). Indeed, the role of the father “is of unique and irreplaceable importance” (FC 25).
As a Church community, we need to encourage and support men to follow the example of St. Joseph and embrace their various roles as father. Even if a man is not a parent, he is still called to spiritual fatherhood—a fatherhood that fosters others’ relationship with God, protecting them from evil and providing an example of Christ’s love.
St. Joseph, himself, was unexpectedly called to both practical and spiritual fatherhood, and amid very difficult circumstances. But despite all obstacles, Joseph was faithful. He welcomed life, offering care and protection to Mary and Jesus. We pray that each expectant father will find courage in the example of St. Joseph and offer loving, life-affirming support to the mother of his child.
A Prayer to St. Joseph:
St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary,
you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty.
You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands.
Kindly protect all the fathers who trustingly come to you.
You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes.
They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness.
But amid the worries of material life your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God’s Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother.
Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone.
Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over him faithfully as you have done.
—St. John XXIII