Dignity and authority of man as father ~ Father Muller


st. joseph

Man, as father, represents God the Father, the Creator and Preserver of all things.

God the Father begets from all eternity His only Son, a perfect image of His own divine substance, and equal to Him in all things. This is undoubtedly the greatest act of His infinite power. Hence it is something far greater in God to be Father, than to be Lord. As Father He generates His Son, another self; as Lord He has created the universe, which is infinitely less than His only Son.

Now, God the Father has made the earthly father a sharer in this almighty power of His. He has given him power to call into existence another self, his own image and likeness, a citizen of this world, and an inhabitant of the next, who shall live when this solid earth shall melt with glowing heat; when the sun shall grow black as sack cloth and the stars shall fall from the heavens.

As the priest carries on the work of Redemption of the human race, so man, as father carries on the work of the creation of mankind. The priest is the representative of God the Redeemer; man, as father, is the representative of God the Creator. Christian father, you honor the priest because he is the representative of God the Redeemer, and you do well; therefore you should also respect yourself, because you are the representative of God the Creator.

Man, as father, represents also God as the Preserver of all things. God the Father takes care of all things, preserves all things, arid governs all things. Man, as father, imitates God as far as possible. He labors for his family, sustains and directs it. When the father anxiously provides food, raiment amid comforts for his family, he is the right hand of Him of whom it is said that “He gives to all meat in due season; that He opens His hand and fills with blessings every living creature.” (Ps. cxliv., 15-16.)

When the father educates his children, watches carefully over them, when he rewards those who are good, and punishes those who are disobedient, he acts as the ambassador of God the Father, of whom it is written: “One is your father, who is in heaven.” (Matt, xxiii., 9.) How sublime, in truth, is the office of a father? To be, in the hands of God, an instrument to continue the work of creation, to give and preserve life like God, to reward the good and punish the wicked like God, to direct the family, as God directs the world ! 0, Christian fathers, do you understand your high dignity, your sublime office? You bear the name of God Like him you are called father; you bear the name of his Vicar on earth who is called the Father of the faithful. If your children are bound to love, respect and obey you, it is because you are invested with the divine dignity and authority of father. Were you deprived of this dignity and authority of father, the relations between you and your children would be merely natural. You would, it is true, possess a certain physical power over them; but your children would be bound to you only by the tie of self-interest.

Man also as master and head of the family is the representative of God on earth. The authority of father is the oldest and the most sacred of all authorities; it resembles most the authority of God. The first authority established by God on earth is that of a father or head of the family. In the first ages of the world, fathers of families were the only kings on earth. It was especially in the times of the patriarchs that human society appeared in its true character. The patriarchs were at the same time fathers, priests and kings. The family was the patriarch’s kingdom, the subjects of his kingdom were his children even to the fourth degree of relationship. His power over these was unlimited. He exercised all the functions of civil and sacerdotal power. In after-ages, it is true, these relations of the father to his family have been more or less changed, but it is true that, even at the present day, a father is still king in his family; his kingdom, his paternal rights are inalienable, because they are of divine origin; even tyrants cannot, without injustice, encroach upon those rights; they cannot take from the father his home, his wife and children without violating the laws of nature. Jesus left to his Church his power as teacher, as priest and as lawgiver. This threefold power is invested in the Pastors of the Church. The Catholic father possesses a similar threefold power. He exercises this power over his family, as the Pastors of the Church exercise theirs over their flocks. His vocation is to teach the true religion to his family and to make them live for God; to govern them according to the commandments of God and the Church. He is, as it were, a priest in his family; hence he is to offer daily to God the sacrifice of the family, prayers and labors, crosses and trials, the works of charity and other virtues, to present himself before God in behalf of his family, and obtain grace and mercy for them all. All the members of his family are obliged to love, respect and obey him, not merely because they are indebted to him for their temporal welfare, but especially because he is the organ of the Holy Ghost to teach and direct his family towards God, towards their supernatural end, which is heaven. Deprive a father of these privileges and you sanction tyranny and rebellion; for why should one man have authority over another, unless such authority is given by God?

Great, very great, indeed, is the dignity and authority of man according to the spirit of Christianity. Would to God, that all men, all husbands, all fathers and heads of families understood the greatness of their dignity, truly appreciated it, and knew how to preserve it. God has assigned to man a most important place in the plan of divine Providence; God has invested him with his own authority, and it is on this account that man s vocation is so sublime, that his duties are so grave, and that God requires so strict an account of him.

Taken from Chapters 4 and 5 from Dignity, Authority, And Duties of Parents, Ecclesiastical and Civil Powers-There Enemy  by Father Muller

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