Our Father…

Here begins a series of meditations on the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase:

Patriarchy is not popular. Our society–like one herd of prodigal lemmings is running from the Father as fast as they can. It’s understandable. Bad fathers leave deep wounds. Absent fathers leave empty spaces in human hearts. Violent fathers hurt souls and minds as well as bodies. Abusive fathers should wear millstones and go swimming. To top it all, the Catholic Church who calls their priests ‘Father’ too often bears the shame of men who are bad and abusive spiritual fathers.

But there is another side to this coin. The human heart is, because of our fallen condition, in a default setting of rebellion against the Father. It is part of healthy human development to break away from the parents and establish emotional and spiritual independence, but this natural stage of development too often turns into an ugly rebellion against the Father. It must be said that this rebellion is often exacerbated by sinful choices. To put it bluntly, much of the rage against the Father is not the Father’s fault. It is the fault of the prodigal son and the prodigal daughter who choose to run away and therefore have only themselves to blame when they end up in the slime and filth chomping on pig swill.

As a result, what a beautiful and simple phrase with which to start the prayer of prayers! “Our Father” we humbly say; and in that phrase is captured the entire heart wrenching story of the prodigal son. In that phrase we have “come to ourself” and turned our hearts to the Father, and this is the core experience of the Christian faith: to say “I will arise and go to my Father.” As we do, the rebellious streak within us withers and dies. We cannot turn to the Father and be rebellious against him at the same time.

So what happens when we turn to the Father? Spiritually we have oriented ourselves ‘ad Deum’. We have turned to God. We have repented. We have opened our hearts to all that is infinite, that is simple, that is beautiful, that is ‘yes’. Emotionally we have turned away from the ragin emotions of lust and rage and hate and selfish desire. We have turned away from the fickle and confusing maelstrom of emotions and have turned to the objective One–the Presence–the Rock. In turning to the Father we build our house upon the Rock and not the shifting sands of our own emotions and perspectives.

Psychologically, in turning to the Father we have turned our minds to the Ground of our Being. We have oriented ourselves to both the Alpha and the Omega–our origin and our destiny. In doing this we connect with the Big Old Holy One. In turning to the Father we put down deep roots and we put up high branches. In turning to the Father our mind and our world and our perceptions expand.

For in Him we live and move and have our Being, so as we say “Our Father” we send our roots rain.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16185810008704682978 Coffee Catholic

    Father, it's not just bad or abusive fathers that have destroyed our society's love, and respect, of Patriarchy. It's also the non-stop flappin' lips of the Feminists/Liberals going on and on and on and on about how awful and evil and "oppressive" any form of authority, let alone *male* authority, is to all of mankind. If we want to heal this festering wound we need to get right to the heart of it: the created myth of the Big Bad Patriarchy that has been force-fed to us since childhood. "The Patriarchy" strawman that has, and *still is*, being demonized in our media and right there in our public schools and universities! (Geez, just watch 10 minutes of the Lifetime channel…) For the most part it is young *women* from decent families that are teaching kids and young adults to not only fear men and authority, but to outright rebel against any form of authority, especially religious authority – the most patriarchal kind out there! (Er… did I spell that right?) (Is that even a word?) I see it taking place right inside of our parish churches!! And the majority of the time the women spreading all this nonsense and promoting rebellion! I just about yanked my hair out by the roots when I heard the *women* go off, after a priest re-introduced a processional cross, about "Oh noooo! We're being dragged back into the Dark Days of Authority!!" (These kinds of comments, pouring into the ears of young impressionable kids… coming from women with perfectly nice dads and safe, happy histories and zero exposure to the less then 1% nasty priests out there.)Going on about bad, abusive, mean fathers is just playing right in to that same jazz. What we have here is not bad mean abusive men driving folk, society-wide, to reject the authority of the Church but instead the still-smoldering fallout after the cultural revolt that came to a head in the 1960's and tore our society to shreds.The only way to get folk to embrace the authority of the Church is to start slapping duct tape onto the mouths of Feminists and Liberals as soon as they start to blab. Next time I step out outside of the house I'll make sure I have a roll in hand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07932665331766567610 jedesto

    Third sentence, fifth paragraph: "ragin" needs a final "g."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07932665331766567610 jedesto

    Delete prior comment.SIXTH sentence, fifth paragraph: "ragin" needs a final "g."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    The effects of abusive or even just negligent fathers and male role models cannot be underestimated. That said, I agree with Coffee Catholic. Whenever I hear a woman say something about not being able to find a "nice" guy or that there aren't any gentlemen anymore, I tell them that if they want a good man then they need to demand that men be men. This is not done by preaching to men what it is to be a man and what they what us men need to do. It is done by women being women, treating themselves with respect and dignity. Only then will men be men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    Father, on another note, thank you very much for this reflection. Our true dependence on our Father is something that I have recently been becoming more aware of in a concrete way. Because of your post I will be more conscious of this when I pray "Our Father."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09015745990344837357 Nârwen

    Fr. Longenecker:This seems to be related to a piece you wrote for "Inside Catholic ". I'm curious how you would respond to the last comment on that latter piece, the one by 'Benjamin Smith'. He agrees with you that patriarchy is embedded in Christianity. However, he goes on to say that fact is why Christianity should be rejected, and a large part of why he personally did so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04359745494874972939 Julia

    "For in Him we live and move and have our Being, so as we say "Our Father" we send our roots rain."Thank you so much for this reflection…I look forward to continued reading.