A good father clings to Our Lady

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When my wife and I moved to the Bay Area from southern California, we were stressed.

I was starting a brand new job, our first child was less than 18 months old and not sleeping at all, and we were staying at my wife’s parents’ home while we waited for our house to sell in the middle of a depressed housing market down south.

As each day passed, I became more and more frustrated with our situation.

The long commute to and from work meant that I barely got to spend any time with our son. The lack of offers on our home kept us from being able to settle down on our own. And my father-in-law, despite being absolutely loving and amazing by letting us stay with them as we made the transition up north, accidentally deleted from the DVR Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between my beloved Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins.

I was losing it, and it was starting to show.

About that time, I found out there was a parish near my new office that had a Perpetual Adoration chapel and I figured stopping in every once in a while would be a great way to calm down and connect with God. Each day, I would head on over to the chapel on my lunch break and spend a good 30 minutes praying before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

On one occasion, as I shuffled through the books available in the chapel, I came upon True Devotion to Mary  by St. Louis de Montfort. I had never heard of the book and had certainly never heard of the Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary before that moment, but found the title interesting and decided to spend that day’s truncated Holy Hour thumbing through the short work to see what it was all about.

I was completely blown away.

St. Louis de Montfort’s presentation of what true devotion to Mary looks like, what it can mean in one’s life, and the step-by-step preparation for the consecration absolutely captivated me. I started my preparation that very day, and made my official consecration to Jesus through Mary on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Feb. 11.

My relationship with Jesus and Mary dramatically changed, and as I grew closer to them through this spiritual exercise, I realized that it left me wanting to take more concrete steps to be a better husband and father. I saw the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary as my blueprint for doing so, and prayed for her soul to come into mine to help me cultivate those virtues. Her sweetness, her obedience, her wisdom, her patience, her humility; these were the virtues I was slowly realizing I needed to cultivate in my own life if I ever wanted to be the kind of father and husband God expected me to be.

Unfortunately, one doesn’t completely change from sinner to saint over the course of 33 days, even when one wants to do so more than anything else in the world. My prayers began to sound like that of the beloved Catholic author Flannery O’Connor:

“What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. O Lord, I am saying at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately.”

It doesn’t happen that way for the majority of us, of course, and no matter how hard one prays there is still work to be done in order to grow in relationship with Our Lady and Our Lord, and to take steps toward becoming the kind of person God calls us to be.

That work, the hard steps toward becoming a good Catholic father and husband, continues every day, but by clinging to Our Lady, the path forward seems to be far straighter than trying to go it alone.

That path involves prayer, asking Our Lady to come in to our hearts, asking her to protect our families, and asking her to help us take steps toward growing closer to her Son.

That path involves submission, submission to the will of God, submission to and trust in Our Lady’s love for our families, submission to the Church, the sacraments, and our role as the servant-leader of our families.

That path involves humility, honestly examining ourselves to see where we need God’s help, remembering our mission on earth to sacrifice for the sake of our family’s sanctification, and a realization that holiness and growing in virtue is not something we accomplish but rather something God accomplishes in us.

As we come upon Father’s Day, we should take a moment to reflect on Mary’s role in our lives.

How have we welcomed the Blessed Virgin into our families? How often have we asked her to protect our families as we try and grow closer to her Son in the midst of a culture hostile to our faith? How have we grown in our relationship with Mary, and explored the lessons she has for us as fathers?

This Father’s Day, let’s pick up our rosaries and ask the Virgin Mary to take us by the hand and lead us in our role as husbands and fathers. Let’s ask her to be our guide toward living a more virtuous life. Let’s cling to her amidst the storms and tumult of our lives.

Let us be all hers so we can be all his.

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