Friday, March 23, 2007

Fatherhood -- Priesthood - Do they go hand-in-hand?

I would like to go back to our inquiry into fatherhood and ask what does fatherhood look like drinking the cup, as in this excerpt from Bailie's talk, Entering the Biblical Story at the Eucharistic Table? Notice how right away he dismisses John the Baptist as a role model.

The word (martyr) means to witness. Simply to be the kind of person who when something begins to swirl, when the melodrama gets set in motion, when accusations are made, can we step into the breach and absorb some of that animosity and break up the little knot that is forming?

Not by going in as John the Baptist would do and fighting it back in the other direction. But simply by stepping into that world and absorbing that tension (like the old Rolaids commercial, absorbs 47 times its own weight in access stomach acids…).

Can we be the kind of people that can move into that place, and drink the cup and be part of Christ forgiveness? The world is going to choke on its own unforgivenness if we don’t. That is our role in the world.

Is the whole idea of absorbing the tension of the ... (you name it) the family; or of the community; or of the world; is it really a key component of fatherhood?
It is not forgiveness on the cheap. So it is a subtle process, it requires character and dignity and courage and most of all it requires an enormous moral generosity. So Jesus is inducting us into service for history in a world which is going to now increasingly be deprived of its old mechanism for taking away its own sins on the cheap. He is bringing us into this mission of taking them away in such a way that not only honors our dignity and our freedom, but also rehabilitates us.
It has always seemed to me that fatherhood actually is a major ingredient to tension build-up within the family. How does father help others to hear the cock crow AND absorb the tension that the crowing usually results in?

When we hold up the image of a human father does it reveal a side that fails, at least in all cultural terms? It seems to me that fatherhood is always on the verge of being sacrificed. In other words, his role will often take him on a path of being expelled either by his family or by the culture.

Pulling out another excerpt from the Bailie talk:

... Eucharistic Mandate. He says that Christ often calls us to failure, not success just as He Himself was called to the Cross.

“The marvelous religion teacher, the hard working bishop who manages his diocese well, the mother of a family strongly rooted in the faith have done no more works than the dedicated religion teacher whose classroom is like a drudgery, or the zealous and caring bishop whose administration is constantly criticized or the loving mother whose family, despite her efforts, have all abandoned the Church. In many ways the last three have received a higher calling.” (Bailie here quotes from Wm. Riley)

Isn’t that amazing? We are called to move into that place of brokenness and to take up our cross. And to do it in such a way that the world hears the cock crow, and that the world feels the forgiveness of God. And that the world recognizes that we are not doing it on our own, or that we are not doing it because we are nice, or morally superior. We are doing it because Christ has laid His Hand on us.

I suggest that fatherhood needs to be looked at in relation - in particular, in relation to the Body of Christ, the Church and priesthood - not independently, as the head of the family, as if we could separate fatherhood and Church. It is actually by way of this separation that we have been able to deconstruct and dismantle fatherhood. I think that what I am saying is that the only real way to define, model and/or re-present fatherhood is through the strengthening of the Church and the priesthood. What do you think?


Athos said...

Aramis, you are making connections that are mighty far reaching (others might say 'a stretch'), yet intuitively I am inclined to agree with your perceptions. Do they not line up with those of Barbara Kay?

Porthos said...

I think it's on the mark and corresponds with my experience and inchoate thoughts along these lines. Maybe a useful reminder is the crown of thorns; it's incredibly painful, it's humiliating, it is the very sign of mockery and ridicule itself.

But Jesus actually is the King.

I do think gender modelling through religious vocations is important, and I wondered when/how we were going to get there. However (re: your last assertion), I'm not sure which is supposed to define/model which, and I tend to think of it as more reciprocal ("real" mothers model religious vocation mothers as religious vocation mothers model "real" mothers; "real" fathers model religious vocation fathers as religious vocation fathers model "real" fathers).

Porthos said...

Can I recommend a really good series that addresses this very point (husband/father/priest) and from the perspective of JP II's Theology of the Body? Behold the Man, with Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (downloadable from EWTN).

This is now my 23rd official recommendation of that series. Hey, one day this may actually work!

Aramis said...

Man! You sure are persistent there Porthos. Let me look in my trusty bag of excuses and see if I have any left …  smiley face 

Sorry about the vagueness of that line of modeling, I was rushing to finish my thoughts and get it posted yesterday. I like how you phrase things better. The point I was trying to get at is the connectedness of the deconstruction of religion, in particular the Church and Christianity, and as how it coincides with the breakdown of the family. And any attempts at re-building or actually re-making (as we are not going to get the toothpaste back into the tube) these roles independently - the family and the Church - will not work.

I hope this opinion does not stifle comments as I am not an expert on the subject. Fatherhood IS hugely important and I truly am interested in your's and Athos' expanded thoughts on this topic.

Porthos said...

When I'm 90, I'll still be saying "Yuh know, you fellers really oughter have a listen to that there Behold the Man series." And you two will still be saying, "Why, that's a humdinger of an idea, Porthos! I remember you said something about that once. What did you say the name of that series was?"

Aramis said...

Let me know when Gil covers the series.

Porthos said...

I don't think Gil will. There is a lot of cultural and theological affinity between the two, but the approach and targetted audiences are different. "Behold the Man" is a plain-spoken everyman style series directed at Catholic men, probably younger men in particular. Gil's approach is more wide-ranging and literary, and not quite so issue-specific, with the targetted audience being more general, a tad more mature, and with an outlook informed by the classic liberal-arts education of the 60s-70s. Gil did a nice CD on Theology of the Body, though.

Oh, by the way:

Athos said...

I really enjoyed the first two in the series; I shall listen to the rest. Promise!

Porthos said...

Yeah, sure you will, Ath. When have I heard THAT one before? Sure you will, Ath. Uh-huh. Like I really believe that. RIght.

(just kidding.)