Happy Father’s Day to all of our beloved fathers, living and deceased, biological and spiritual!  There are so many wonderful men in my life who have helped me to be a better woman and a better human being. 

There is my own father, of course, who has always been a rock-solid foundation for my mother and my sister and me, always doing and giving everything he can for us and for our happiness and security.  He has always given to others as well.  He has long worked in service to others, particularly blind and visually-impaired people.   Among many other things, my dad has taught me so much about generosity, selflessness, and forgiveness.

I will never forget this one lesson he gave me in 2002, when we lived in Louisville.  I was still in my apostate phase, but I sometimes went to Mass with him at the cathedral downtown, just because it was such a beautiful, peaceful place and I enjoyed the music there.  Every time we went, there was this woman outside who would ask for money as the people left the church.  And every time, my dad would give her something.  After seeing this a few times, I said to him, “Dad, why do you always give her money?  She could be a con-artist, she could be using it for drugs or booze or something like that!”  He replied, “Well, maybe so, but who are we to judge?  Don’t we all sometimes squander and abuse the things that God gives to us?  He knows we do it, but that doesn’t stop Him from giving to us.” 

I scarcely believed in God at that time in my life, and yet I was rendered speechless.  Even if I didn’t believe in God, I knew that my father himself had given so much to me in my life, and I knew I had squandered much of it, but despite that, he had never stopped giving to me.  Not after all I’d done, all the anxiety and suffering I’d caused him and my mom, all the burdens I’d imposed upon them repeatedly.  My dad never once gave up on me or stopped loving me!  He was always, always there for me, even when I was stupid, selfish, or ungrateful.  Even when I preferred bad people and bad things to him and the things he provided.

That is the true meaning of fatherhood: that constant and unconditional love and mercy, that patience and forebearance, that giving without counting the cost.  These are qualities we see in our Lord (incidentally, these are the themes of our Mass readings for today).  We are also blessed to see those qualities in many men in our lives and in our world–in countless good fathers, grandfathers, uncles, husbands, friends, priests and religious brothers, teachers, and many others.

I would also like to add that it is men like that who influenced me, in ways big and small, to become pro-life.  It was my father, it was my late fiance, Patrick, it was men like Pope John Paul II, Fr. Frank Pavone, and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer.  They have been the greatest influences upon me when it comes to abortion and other family and life issues.  I have since met many wonderful and inspiring women in the pro-life movement, too, but it was those men who really opened my eyes and got through to me. 

And, for the record, I give money to people who ask for it at every opportunity, whenever I am able, and whenever I feel it is safe; occasionally, I do get serious “bad vibes” about people and situations, in which case I avoid them–I assure you that generosity has had no adverse effects on my common sense!  And when anybody questions or admonishes me about it, I take the honor of telling them what my father told me.  I don’t know if it ever changes anybody’s mind, but it’s far too precious a lesson for me to keep to myself! 

Thanks be to God for all of our fathers, and may all men faithfully fulfill the vocation to fatherhood in one way or another!