A Familiar and Kindly Office
A Bishop from another region visited out here a while back to give a lecture that I attended. At a gathering afterward someone asked him about his ring. He explained that it had been his father’s before his passing and he now wears it as his episcopal ring. The spiritual significance of the ring and the familiar and kindly role of his office as a father of souls–of a family of kin–were not lost as I stood there staring at his hand when he gave a blessing to end the gathering.
More and more through the years as I’ve prayed over the memories of unrestful wounds and mistrust about my father, I can say, in good faith and with a trust learned only from He alone who is trustworthy, that He has made me more and more fortified with the edification and confidence that comes from the intercession of Saint Joseph and that way in which Saint Francis came to truely be able to call God in Heaven his Father.
As I often wrestle in good conscience in examining my memories of my father alongside the commandment to honor my father, I come to rest in the peace of knowing that, despite how often honoring him meant speaking with him in disagreement and aparent disobedience, it was done in the hope of moving him closer to a place in Heaven, even knowing my likely losses in the world for confronting him about evident contradictions and inconsistencies between his words, his actions, and his expectations of others.
With the sense of my own helplessness before floods of memories of many poor examples of masculine virtue to help me in learning what it means to be a good man, I have increasingly looked to recognize that, in the least, I happen to know, desperately, painfully, and intimately, what is not a good man. I am also seeing with an increasing awareness of how few men in our age have had the example of a charitable and generous, a protective and guiding father to lead them into becoming as much for their own children.
With this awareness I go on pleading for the righteous and chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help me become the good man God intends me to become. I can confidently and ever more joyfully permit Saint Joseph’s adopted Son to attend to the many small wounds in my heart by leading me on the way to the wound of His Most Sacred Heart–an overflowing wound that remains open and large enough to receive the whole world.
Along with the good illumination of Our Good Lord Jesus and his adopted father’s good sacrifice that, mysteriously, both preceded and follows Christ’s in kind, I am learning a lightening of the familiar weights of my grief-stricken soul. I am finding Jesus already saving me, even before the course of my earthly life has concluded. He is operating as a good physician does, to heal me ever more, through His inspiration: that I be for all others, ever more, the father that I now know I had once needed.