Catholic Father’s Day Is A Fractal

Catholic Father’s Day Is A Fractal June 16, 2014

I’m slowly starting to get used to the fact that Father’s Day is a day when I get celebrated too. In my family, we never gave much thought to either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But yesterday it hit me that, especially for the Catholic, Father’s Day is a fractal.

First, like for everyone else, Father’s Day is an occasion to remember patrilineal relationships at several levels. My daughter and my wife fete me. I fete my Dad. And I had a thought and prayer for my two grandfathers, both of whom are now in the Father’s house.

Then, for Catholics, Father’s Day is also the holiday of priests. They are our fathers in the Church just as we have fathers in our family. The vast majority of priests work tirelessly on our behalf, and they aren’t thanked nearly enough, so when we do get an occasion to thank them (and pray for them!) we should.

And then, of course, there is God the Father. We Christians are privileged to look to God and cry out “Abba! Father!”

But, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, or if it’s just this year, or what, but Father’s Day, this year at least, coincided with Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is, or should be, one of the major holidays of the year–far from being an abstract doctrine, it is absolutely foundational to Christianity. The God who is Yahweh, who is the very nature of being itself, is also a communion of persons, is also total self-giving in love. This means that to be is to give.

The Trinity is defined by the relationship between Father and Son, in the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. On this world, we are meant to be images of God, that is to say, images of the Trinitarian God, an image of total self-giving in love.

And look, this is the meaning of the relationship between father and son on Earth, to image the relationship of Father and Son in the intimacy of the Trinity. The loop is closed.

I’d never paid attention, but Catholic Father’s Day is a fractal.

Julia set for z³+c” by Yami89Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


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