Happy Fathers Day, not just to all biological fathers, but to also all priests of the Church who are our fathers in faith. As I wrote in an earlier article, there is a connection between the term ‘presbyter’ and ‘father’, being that the former term comes from the Greek term for ‘elder’ and fathers are elders, so these presbyters are fathers. In addition, Saint Paul told the local Christians, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15).The priests really need our appreciation, because they have given up so much to nourish us in the faith and give us the Sacraments. The priesthood is the most holy vocation, because it is a faculty instituted by Christ through which He offers us salvation in the Sacraments, visible signs of His invisible grace. He breathed upon the eleven, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23). Only a validly ordained priest can confer Sacraments like Reconciliation, Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick and sometimes Confirmation, though the latter is usually conferred by a bishop in addition to Holy Orders. So, hopefully you see the reason why we need more priests. Not just anybody can confer these Sacraments, only a validly ordained priest and/or bishop can confer them.
Last but not least, we give thanks to God the Father who created all things. We remember how He gave His only begotten Son in the flesh to die for our sins and give us life. He deserves our praise, adoration and thanksgiving together with the Son and the Holy Spirit. We remember when He gave Moses the ten commandments, one of which says, “Honor your father and your mother”; this not only applies to our biological parents, but also are parents in the faith. So, we must honor our fathers in faith. More so this is because, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Luke 10:16). Our fathers in faith reflect God the Father because they have been ordained by bishops, successors of the apostles, who received their ministry from God the Son who was sent by the Father.
This is Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s prayer for more vocations.
O Lord of the Harvest, Your Word finds a home in our hearts, calls us to community, And invites us to generous service of the human family. Bless with courage and spirit your priestly people, Called to full participation in the one Body of Christ. May many choose to respond in public service To your call in Jesus’ name. Amen.