“The vocation of being a father”

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We need a cultural conversation about this.

I devoted two hours of radio to a discussion of fatherhood, families, children, the culture, men’s organizations and efforts to support them all. It was edifying.

Fr. Sammie Maletta, a pastor in St. John, Indiana, told me about a men’s group preparing to take the ‘Courageous Pledge’ on Father’s Day. It was started by the ‘Iron Disciples’ and required a rigorous preparation. He hoped he’d get as many as 50 men signed up. He got 230.

Fr. Maletta read the Pledge and I jotted notes as fast as I could. These men are claiming a dedication ‘to love, protect, serve and teach,’ he said, and I missed a bunch of words in between. Those are the highlights. Here are some more:

To be the spiritual head of my home…to bless my children and teach them and train them…

To pursue justice and love mercy…to provide…repent and reconcile…

To model and teach integrity and honor and faithfulness…with resolve.

And I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with him.What a great witness to manly men, not daunted by political correctness but concerned with moral correctness. St. John, Indiana thus becomes a shining city on a hill.

Bishop Jose Gomez just wrote about the vocation of fatherhood.

Even after a long day of work, even if he’d rather be doing something else—instead he will smile and laugh and take delight in spending time and playing games with his kids. Because that’s what fathers do. They keep their promise to love.

This Sunday is Father’s Day, when again we celebrate the beautiful reality of fatherhood and the importance of our fathers and grandfathers in our lives. But we also realize that we’re living increasingly in a “fatherless” culture where many fathers are absent from their children’s lives. Almost half of all American children are now born to mothers who are not married to the child’s father. More than a third of our children aren’t being raised in the same home as their fathers. These trends are part of a broader skepticism in our society toward traditional ideas of the family and the human person.

There are strong forces at work that would have us reimagine and reengineer the basic meaning of human nature. They want us to believe that whether one is a man or a woman is just an “accident” of birth, and not intrinsic to who we really are. They want us to believe that motherhood, fatherhood, and marriage aren’t natural realities, but just arbitrary “social constructs.”

And at great cost. One of my guests, Steve Wood, cited a mind-boggling finding of what the cost of that is. After I referred to a poll result from his website.

According to a 1996 Gallup poll, 79.1 percent of Americans feel “the most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home.” This number is up from 69.9 percent in 1992.

He asked if I was sitting down, because reports reveal “the estimated cost at the federal, state and local level of these absent fathers is $100 billion.”

Wow. G.K. Chesterton called the family ‘the original department of health, education and welfare.’ It’s clearer these days how true that is.

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