» 02/04/2015, 00.00
Pope: a good father knows how to chastise without belittling, knows how to forgive and tirelessly protect
Another appeal for Ukraine, a scandalous "fratricidal war" among Christians." "Let us all pray, because prayer is our reaching out to God in time of war." "Being present is not the same as being an inspector! Because fathers who control their children, do not allow them to flourish". “Once at a marriage course I heard a father say, 'Sometimes I have to smack my children ... but never in the face, I don’t want to belittle them'... He sensed their dignity ...'".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " A good father knows how to wait
and knows how to forgive, from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he
knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, complacent,
sentimental. A father who knows how to chastise without belittling is the same as one who knows how to protect
"The positive aspect" of
the father figure was at the
heart of Pope Francis' catechesis at the general audience today, following on from his lesson last
Wednesday, on the "danger"
of absentee fathers.
But the audience also
afforded the Pope the opportunity to renew his appeal for peace Ukraine where a
"scandalous" "fratricidal war" is being
fought "among Christians."
"Once again - he said - my thoughts go to the
beloved Ukrainian people. Unfortunately,
the situation is getting worse and
the conflict between the parties deepening.
Let us pray also for the victims,
including many civilians, and their families, and
ask the Lord to cease this horrible fratricidal violence as soon as
possible. I renew my heartfelt appeal
that every effort be made -
even internationally - for the resumption of dialogue, the only way to restore peace and harmony in that
tormented land. When I hear
the words victory or defeat I feel a
great sorrow and great sadness. They
are not the right words, the only right word is
peace. This is the only right word. This is a war between Christians: you all have the same baptism and are
fighting with other Christians. Think
of this scandal. Let us all pray,
because prayer is our reaching out to God in
time of war".
Before the appeal, in his speech to eight thousand people present in the Paul
VI hall at the Vatican, the Pope
recalled that St. Joseph, who learned of God's plan from
the angel "became the father of the family of
Nazareth" and "the
example of the Father who is in heaven
- the only one, says
Jesus, that can truly
be called the good Father", to
affirm that "the fathers cannot
be replaced in families." "No one could better express the pride and emotion of
a father who acknowledges having transmitted
to his son what truly counts in life, namely a wise heart".
"Every family - he added - Every family needs a father. Today we reflect on the value of his role,
and I would like to begin from some expressions that are found in the Book of
Proverbs, words that a father addresses to his son: "My son, if your heart is
wise, my heart too will be glad. My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what
is right" (Proverbs 23:15-16). One cannot express better the pride and
emotion of a father who realizes that he has transmitted to his son what truly
counts in life, namely, a wise heart. This father does not say: "I am proud of
you because you are, in fact, just like me, because you repeat the things that
I say and do." No, he says something far more important to him, which we can
interpret thus: "I will be happy every time that I see you act with wisdom, and
I will be moved every time I hear you speak what is right. This is what I
wanted to leave you, so that it would become something of yours: the attitude
to feel and act, to speak and judge with wisdom and righteousness. And so that
you would be able to be like this, I taught you things you did not know, I
corrected errors that you did not see. I made you feel a profound and, at the
same time, discreet affection, which perhaps you did not recognize fully when
you were young and uncertain. I gave you a witness of rigor and firmness, which
perhaps you did not understand, when you would only have wished for complicity
and protection. I had to put myself first to the test of wisdom of heart, and
to watch over excesses of sentiment and resentment, to bear the weight of the
inevitable misunderstandings and find the right words to make myself
understood. Now, when I see that you seek to be like this with your children,
and with everyone, I am moved. I am happy to be your father." And that is what
a wise father says, a mature father".
"A father is well
aware how much it costs to transmit this heritage: how much closeness, how much
gentleness and how much firmness. However, what consolation and what reward is
received when children honor to this heritage! It is a joy that compensates for
every effort, that surpasses every misunderstanding and heals every wound. Hence,
the first necessity is in fact this: that the father be present in the
family. That he be close to his wife, to share everything - joys and sorrows,
efforts and hopes. And that he be close to the children in their growth: when
they play and when they are busy, when they are carefree and when they are
anguished, when they express themselves and when they are silent, when they
risk and when they are afraid, when they take a wrong step and when they find
the way again. A father that is present, always! But to be present is not the
same as controlling. Because fathers who are too controlling override the
children, they do not let them grow.
"The Gospel speaks to us of
the exemplarity of the Father who is in Heaven - the only one, says Jesus, who
can be truly called "Good Father" (Cf. Mark 10:18). Everyone knows
that extraordinary parable called the "Prodigal Son," or better of the
"Merciful Father," which is found in Luke's Gospel (Cf. 15:11-32). How much
dignity and how much tenderness in the father's waiting, who is at the door of
his home waiting for his son to return! Fathers should be patient, many times
there is nothing else that can be done other than to wait. Pray and wait with
patience, gentleness, magnanimity and mercy. A good father is able to wait
and to forgive from the depth of his heart. Of course, he is also able to
correct with firmness: he is not a weak, compliant and sentimental father. The
father who is able to correct without discouraging is the same one who
is able to protect tirelessly. One time, I heard a father, in a meeting with
married couples, say: "I, sometimes, must hit my child a little, but never
in the face, to not degrade him. How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity!
He must punish but does it justly and moves forward".
"Therefore - concluded the Pope
- if there is someone who can explain in depth the prayer of the "Our Father,"
taught by Jesus, it is in fact one who lives paternity personally. Without the
grace that comes from the Father who is in Heaven, fathers lose courage and
abandon the field. However, children are in need of finding a father who waits
for them when they return from their failures. They will do everything not to
admit it, not to make it seen, but they need him and in not finding him opens
in them wounds that are difficult to heal. The Church, our Mother, is committed
to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers
in families, because they are, for the new generations, irreplaceable
custodians and mediators of faith in goodness, in justice and in the protection
of God, as Saint Joseph".
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