Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy Fathers Day - Auguri!

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. Now, for many people in the USA who are of Italian descent, this means one thing - St Joseph Cakes or Zeppole! The delicious filled doughnut-like pastries are traditionally available here in the states only around St. Joseph Day. But, even more important than these delicacies, today also has another important significance in Italy. Today is celebrated as Fathers Day in Italy, in honor of the man who raised Jesus as his own son. We really do not know much about St. Joseph, only that he was "betrothed" to Mary, found out she was pregnant and decided to "divorce her quietly" when God revealed to him that Mary had not cheated on him but rather was carrying God's own Son. Joseph unbelievably accepted this and, from that point, could not have been a more loving or caring father. We know that, according to Scripture, he took Mary to Bethlehem for the census and, after the birth of Jesus, brought his wife and child to Egypt for safety. After presenting the child in the temple, the only other time we hear Joseph mentioned in the bible is when the family went to Jerusalem and when they left, Jesus remained in the temple teaching and amazing the much older and "wiser" adults. After they returned home, there is no other word of Joseph. Families today are so complicated, and often children are not given the experience of growing up in what we sometimes refer to as a "traditional" family with father, mother and child(ren) all living together. Funny thing, though - this has never really been the norm, even at the time of the Holy Family. You see, life is never neat and orderly. Life is messy and jumbled and full of joy and sorrow. Men and women role models are both important in the life of every child, and so families sometimes have to get creative in order to make this happen. It seems to me, then, that this is a very appropriate day to celebrate fathers. And maybe even more importantly, to celebrate those men who have taken upon themselves the role of a father for those who are not their biological children. I have seen incredible love poured out on children by men who have all sorts of relationships to them. And today I think it would be a good idea for all of us to celebrate them and, if possible, tell them how much we appreciate them. It does not matter what their age, race, creed, orientation, profession, status or how the relationship came to be, the men who are looked upon as a father and do what a father does are vitally important for us and for our world. And we need more of them. I know that, as I get older, there are fewer and fewer of these men left in my life. But I also know that I need to tell them how important they are to me. And I also have to tell those men I know who are fathers (in any and every sense of that word) to others that I appreciate them too. They make me want to be a better man, and, perhaps, to be a better father to anyone I encounter. So, to Uncle Art, Enzo, Charlie, Giancarlo, and the other men in my life who "father" me, thanks and Happy Fathers Day. And to you, dad, I know that you are celebrating in heaven today with mom, which is better than any Zeppole!

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