If in the family and in society God's holy providence has allotted to the mother a place which only the Christian mother can fill, with much more reason may we say the same of the father. A father, becoming under God the principle of existence to others, shares with the great Creator and Father of all the noblest prerogative of which a creature is capable, that of paternity or fatherhood. The father actually holds the place of God, and exercises an authority subordinate only to that of God, over his children, and in return he rightfully challenges and instinctively receives respect and honor approximating the honor paid to God himself.
With inborn reverence and confiding trust the child looks up to the father as the sum of all power, knowledge, and perfection. Great indeed, then, must be the responsibilities, most sacred the duties, which God and nature impose on the father. He must try hard to realize the child's ideal and put on the character of Him whom he represents. It is a mysterious but undeniable fact that children are left entirely in the hands and, we may say, at the mercy of the parents who beget them, for life, physical constitution, native character, and moral training.
To the father, as head of the family, and invested with God-like powers and divine rights, it is given to exercise a controlling influence ; he shapes the destinies, he moulds the characters of his offspring. As a general rule, children are what their father makes them. Like begets like. But the father not only transmits to his offspring a great resemblance to himself in form and feature, temperament, constitution, and natural disposition, he moreover unconsciously communicates to his children his own habits of thought, his likes and dislikes, his religious sentiments and moral principles, whilst his children in after-years recall his examples, his actions, and his words, by which to rule and square their own conduct and lives. The Christian father will naturally instil Christian habits, impart a moral tone, and infuse a religious spirit into his family; and as the family is the foundation of society, we must make the father truly Christian would we reform society, Christianize the land, or make the people moral.
How can Christianity flourish ; how can public or private virtue prevail ; how can morality exist among the people, if fathers who have the moulding of the future generations, the training and education of children, under their almost exclusive control, are unprincipled or immoral men, unchristian, irreligious, or sensual ? Give us, on the contrary, Christian fathers, and we shall soon have wellreared families, happy and virtuous homes. None are more alive to the pressing need of
good Christian fathers than the ministers of religion, whose calling brings them so often into contact with wretchedness and sin.
This, doubtless, it was that impelled the Rev. W. Cramer, a holy and learned man, who for years has been the educator, counsellor, and guide of the Clergy of the Diocese of Munster, to publish the excellent littie work "The Christian Father" now for the first time given to the English-speaking public. He draws a life-like portrait of the true Christian father, shows the sublimity ol his calling, explains his duties and obligations, the difficulties and dangers to which he is exposed, the graces which he needs for the sanctification of himself and his household, and the means which he must employ in order to secure those needed graces. May God bless the good Priest for this little gem of a book ! May it find its way into every Christian home in the land, and may every Catholic father in America exemplify in his life "The Christian Father"!
+ S. V. RYAN,
Bishop of Buffalo.
Feast of the Circumcision, 1883.
A PDF file of this book as well as an online version can be found below.