Every family needs a father.
The first need is this: that a father be present in a family. That he be close to his wife, sharing everything—joy and sorrow, hope and hardship.
And that he be close to his children as they grow—when they play and when they strive, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they are talkative and when they are silent, when they are daring and when they are afraid, when they take a wrong step, and when they find their path again: a father who is always present.
To say “present” is not to say “controlling.” Fathers who are too controlling stifle the spirit of their children; they don’t let them develop.
The Gospel speaks to us about the exemplarity of the Father who is in Heaven who alone, Jesus says, can be truly called, “the good Father” (cf. Mk10:18).
Everyone knows that extraordinary parable of the Prodigal Son, or better yet, the Merciful Father (Luke 15:11-32). What dignity and what tenderness there is in the expectation of that father who stands at the door of the house waiting for his son to return!
Fathers must be patient. Often there is nothing else to do but wait; pray, and wait with patience, gentleness, magnanimity, and mercy.
A good father knows how to wait, and he knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself… .
[All of this is, of course, not easy, so Fathers need God.] Without the grace that comes from the Father who is in Heaven, fathers lose courage and give up.
Children need to find a father waiting for them when they come home after failing. They will do everything not to admit it, not to show it, but they need it. And not to find it opens wounds in them that are difficult to heal.
The Church, our Mother, is committed to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers in families, for they are the irreplaceable guardians and mediators of faith through their goodness, justice, and protection.
—Excerpted from a catechesis on the family at a general assembly on February 4, 2015.