It is a work of God to convert a father to the gift and task of his fatherhood; indeed, we live in a society in which many fathers have abandoned fatherhood. It is even possible that fatherhood is more hidden than motherhood and more susceptible, in a way, to general neglect; nonetheless, like all naturally good gifts, it responds to appreciation, cultivation and instruction. I am sure, however, that fatherhood is from the very root of personhood and needs the grace of God to flourish. Just as God has given me seven children, plus two in heaven and one to be born in the next month, so I need God to help me to adapt to the varieties of personality and the everyday dynamics of family life. The transformation of my-ever shrinking time for ‘me’ into the treasurable time for ‘my family’ is at the heart of God’s action in my life. Sharing, then, what God is doing with me as a father, is a way of fanning into life one of the gifts of God which has been severely frostbitten.
If it is simple to say that I am discovering some of the dimensions of the ‘Father’ as catechist, it is not so simple sustaining the simplicity of this in the reality of daily life. What I want to pass on to my children is a beautiful wonder at the mystery which permeates each person’s life, beginning as it does with Creation and the act of God at the foundation of each person’s life. What I am in danger of doing is passing on a dreadful gloom in front of the practicalities of life: the clearing up, the clearing out of the house in time for school, the rushed return journey and the endless unfinished things that express the impossibility of fulfilling my perfectionist tendencies. Not to mention the dreadful fears that arise in my heart from what I read in the papers.