Sunday, August 26, 2018

This is What a Father Does

I was going to wait and just share an article that I wrote for Catholic Exchange once it went live...but then the news just kept rolling out. And then I heard the readings for this morning.

The readings for this Sunday include the "husbands love your wives" passage as well as Peter declaring to Jesus, "Lord, to whom else shall we go?" Both of them summarize what's on my heart today.

On Friday morning, I woke up and was terribly nauseous. I was afraid that I was unexpectedly pregnant. (Spoiler alert, I am NOT pregnant.) It turned out that I just had some kind of stomach bug, and I've been in bed most of the past three days.

Thankfully, stomach flu is a piece of cake compared to HG (another post for another time), but I've still spent the weekend noticing how much my Andrew has been doing for me and our whole family. First, he had to stay home from work on Friday (because I was in no shape to be taking care of the girls). For some husbands, that might be a treat, but Andrew ADORES his job, and he is genuinely sad when he doesn't get to go into work. Then, he spent all day Saturday and Sunday taking care of the girls, too. (I was well enough to go to Mass, but that hour at church was really the only stretch of time when he had help....and he spent most of it pacing in the vestibule with the baby.)

That's a piece of cake compared to what HE has to do when I have HG. He basically has to take over most of the parenting and household responsibilities for around two months - and clean up my puke, bring me whatever food or drink I can stomach (and run to the store or get take out if it isn't something in the house, because HG is all about survival, and I can usually only stomach one particular food at a time), and talk me through swallowing a million anti-nausea pills and sticking myself with needles for more anti-nausea meds. To say his life is messy and smells like puke and dirty diapers and wet sheets from a potty-training-someone wetting their bed, etc. would be an understatement. (I mean, maybe not literally, because he has the best hygiene habits of anyone I know, but you get what I'm saying.)

One of my favorite early parenthood memories of Andrew was right after we had had our first baby. I was still home on maternity leave, but he had to go back to grad classes the day after I got home from the hospital. He changed most of the diapers in the beginning, and I remember him coming home from class one day and saying, "I was sitting in class today, looking at my fingernails...and I realized there was yellow baby poop stuck in there."



My husband may not be perfect, but he is genuinely trying to lay down his life for his bride and his adorable little brood.

I was also thinking of this, because a friend of mine is currently pregnant with twins and has HG, and another mutual friend was commenting how - watching this friend and me with our HG - she was struck by how hard pregnancy and motherhood are.  And I was reminded (especially this weekend, as I've been having HG flashbacks with the stomach flu) of the times that I have literally laid down everything that I have to give for the sake of my husband and children.

Added to that is the fact that we, like so many young Catholic couples we know, practice NFP. Chastity in NFP is essential, especially if you are using it to avoid pregnancy. Abstinence and chaste love are a given at times. Self-control is a must. And through that chaste love, real love grows. Through the cross of sacrifice, our marriage is strengthened.

Then, I've been following all of the things happening in the Church.

There is simply no explanation, and no excuse. I sincerely hope that you have a priest or bishop or someone in your corner of the world that is showing you what a father's love should look like right now.

But do you know what? I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure that out. When Andrew and I were talking about what sorts of responses were appropriate to the recent rounds of scandal, I asked him, "Andrew, as a father, how would you respond if someone hurt your child like this?" A look sufficed to confirm what I already knew - he would hold nothing back.

I hope that you - like me - are in a diocese where the bishop is taking some swift and sure action to dredge up all the dirt and begin the work of healing. I hope your pastor, like mine, didn't mince words in his homily. I hope your local seminary, like ours, takes this all very seriously and has been actively working to form priests rigourously.

But, I'm guessing that that's not the case for many of you. And do you know what? Despite that being the case for me, I still feel hurt, confused, frustrated, angry, discouraged, disillusioned, etc. Because even if I know good priests or bishops, it doesn't take away from the awfulness of the many who perpetrated these terrible crimes.

And so, I'm not going to make excuses for any of it. I'm not going to defend any of it. There are no excuses. We have been terribly betrayed.

If that is you, if you are feeling hurt and betrayed right now...you are not alone. God is big enough to take it. And Mother Church - the real Church, not those in the hierarchy who have been masquerading as such - is big enough to take it. It isn't the first time that the Church has been rocked to the core by scandal. The Holy Spirit hasn't given up. I know He hasn't, because so much evil is continuing to be uncovered, instead of getting swept under the rug. I've had fleeting moments when I've wondered, "Am I in the right Church?" Then, I remember the words of Peter, "Lord, to whom else shall we go?" No church can stand as substitute for the Church founded by Christ.

But even knowing that doesn't take away the anger at knowing that here we are - trying our best to live chastely in our state of life, to sacrifice for our children and each other, and yet, many of our spiritual fathers have turned out to be absentee or abusive.

What we need right now, what the Church really needs, is fathers. Good fathers. The Church needs fathers willing to get poop gunked under their fingernails if it means a spotless Bride of Christ. The Church needs fathers willing to clean up puke and run themselves ragged taking care of their children.

I know some men who already fit that bill (both priests and bishops), and I'm happy to call them my spiritual fathers. These men fairly reek of their sheep, just as shepherds should.  But we need a whole lot more of these good men. And we need that fathering especially from those in authority, some of whom it seems have been more interested with their own gain than that of their children. We need fathers willing to lose everything so that their chidlren may live. We need men willing to lay down their lives or for their Bride, the Church.

Please join me in praying for the Church, and especially for the many, many victims who have had to suffer in silence for so long. No more. Come, Holy Spirit.

Please also join me in praying especially for all seminarians. I know so many, and they are a cause for real hope.


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