On Sunday, June 18, families all around the world surrounded the family patriarch with love to celebrate Father’s Day.
As this special day, set aside for celebrating the most important men in our lives, be it fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, uncles, or any father figure, approaches, it is the ideal time for Catholics everywhere to remember the supreme example of the most famous earthly father – St. Joseph.
When Pope Francis proclaimed Dec. 8, 2020, through Dec. 8, 2021, as the “Year of St. Joseph,” he penned his apostolic letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), which recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
“The greatness of St. Joseph is that he was the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus. In this way, he placed himself, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, ‘at the service of the entire plan of salvation,’” Pope Francis wrote at the beginning of the letter. “St. Paul VI pointed out that Joseph concretely expressed his fatherhood ‘by making his life a sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation and its redemptive purpose.’
“Thanks to his role in salvation history, St. Joseph has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people. This is shown by the countless churches dedicated to him worldwide, the numerous religious institutes, confraternities, and ecclesial groups inspired by his spirituality and bearing his name, and the many traditional expressions of piety in his honor,” the pope continued.
Just as Joseph, in his relationship with Jesus, “was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” watching over him and protecting him, so, too, are Christian fathers called to be to their own children.
“Fathers are not born but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking responsibility to care for that child,” Pope Francis writes in the letter. “Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person.”
Thus was the case for St. Joseph, who willingly took on the responsibility of being that earthly father for Jesus, when he refused to have Mary punished under the law and instead trusted the voice of the angel in his dream who told him that this was God’s son. With that, he protected and loved Him as his own, fleeing to Egypt when Herod’s soldiers wanted to kill Jesus, teaching him carpentry upon their return to Nazareth, and more.
It is this example that Jason Liuzzi, a parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, said he looks to in his role as a husband to his wife, and as a father to his 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
“Despite St. Joseph’s famous silence in scripture, he is a tremendous man of action who is always seeking to do the Lord’s will. As a husband and father, I look to St. Joseph and remember that I am not called to provide for my family because that is the Lord’s job,” said Liuzzi, who will become a father of three in just a few months. “It’s my job to protect them and do what I can to help lead them to Jesus Christ, which is only possible if I am seeking God first in my life.”
Dan Schachle, a parishioner of St. Christopher Church in Dickson and a father of 13 children, ranging in age from 8 to 30, agreed.
“I wish I could completely live up to the standard of St. Joseph. We all must strive to do so. As a father, I must provide safety, security, example, and provision for my family as St. Joseph did,” Schachle said. “The obligation extends to the worldly messages my children are subjected to. They are bombarded not by soldiers of Herod that want to destroy their body, but messages that aim to destroy their soul.
“We can guard not only by creating a safe environment, but also standing up fearlessly against the false teachings of the world with the truths of our faith,” he added.
“We are in a tenuous situation as fathers as we try to uphold the truths of the faith, while the world is telling our children that people who believe as we do are full of ‘hate’ or ‘judgment,’” Schachle continued. “We must come from a perspective of love for the eternal soul of those we encounter, especially our children. We are all wounded and so are those we meet.
“We must help our children to see God as the divine physician and the Church as a hospital. With great love, we must encourage striving for holiness for the love of God who loved us first.”
Liuzzi said a love for the Catholic faith and a relationship with the Lord is “all I want for my children.”
“When we pray as a family each night, my son will often give me a hard time because my prayers do not change much from day to day. They mostly consist of me petitioning the Lord to let my children know and love Him,” Liuzzi said. “There are so many things that we think we have to do to be good parents or a good father, but really, if my children understand Christ’s command to know, love, and serve God and their neighbor as themselves, then I can rest easy knowing that they are on a path to Christ.”
“I love being a dad, it is seriously my favorite thing to talk about, especially because our culture so often portrays dads in a terrible light,” he said. “I think it is more important than ever that good fathers recognize the power that their witness of holy fatherhood can have not just in their family, but their community.
“I don’t mean to imply that holy fatherhood means that a dad has it all together, but rather that they are actively striving to do the Lord’s will and bringing their family closer to Christ.”
St. Joseph, our father in faith, is the perfect model to do that not just for fathers, but for all of us.
“For every believer, St. Joseph is a model of wholehearted love of Jesus Christ and his virgin Mother, an example of perfect fidelity to the will of God,” writes Father Frederick L. Miller in “St. Joseph: Our Father in Faith,” published as part of the Knights of Columbus’ “Building the Domestic Church” series. “He is a teacher of holiness in marriage, chastity for the sake of the kingdom of God, the sanctity of human work, and contemplative prayer.
“By his example, St. Joseph teaches Christians how to love and serve Jesus Christ and live and die in His presence,” Father Miller continues. “He is a model for all the faithful: the laity, married and single, consecrated religious, and clergy.”
“The ultimate goal is to get my children to heaven by helping them develop a relationship with Jesus Christ within the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church,” Liuzzi said. “Personally, as a father, I need to be striving to model our perfect heavenly Father, just as St. Joseph did.”