Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father as priest

Priesthood is essentially fatherhood. That’s why we call our pastors our spiritual fathers--they father a community. It is a special relationship, modeled on the fatherhood of God. St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Though you have countless teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15).

Adam was the first priest because he was the father of his family. He spoke to God on their behalf and spoke to them on God’s behalf. He was the one who offered their sacrifice and taught them the faith. And this same pattern followed for generations. Eventually, God ordained men to serve in this capacity for a community in the Old and New Testament priesthoods.

What most people don’t understand is that the father’s role as priest of his own family, for whom he is responsible before God, remains. He is the one who is to lead them in prayer and make their offerings. He is the one who is to teach them the Faith of the Church. And he is the one who has the authority to bless his children.

Just like the priest in church, a father should put his right hand on his child’s head and say “I bless you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” And a father should offer longer benedictions (Latin--“good word”). Say things like, “May you be wise and just and caring and merciful. May you be prosperous and generous and faithful. May you find a loving husband/wife and many children." And so on.

A helpful reminder on this Father's Day.

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