This is not hyperbole : 40% of children in the US will be raised without their dad. Considering abuse and the many ways a father can be absent – emotionally, spiritually, physically – the ripple effect of a fatherless generation is just beginning. And considering that the very mission of Jesus was to reveal the face of the Father (John 17:25-26), and that the turning of father’s hearts towards their sons is central to God’s plan of salvation(Malachi 4:6, Luke 1:17), and that fathers are meant to image God (Ephesians 3:15), we can understand why Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict) said: “The crisis of fatherhood we are living today is an element, perhaps the most important, threatening man in his humanity.”
Where Are The Men (And Boys)?
Loneliness and isolation are debilitating problems. First, men are isolated from one another, losing the spiritual and moral strength to encourage and strengthen one another in virtue as only brotherhood can. As Scripture says, iron sharpens iron, and so must one man sharpen another (Prov. 27:17). The Apostle John even said that loving the brotherhood of the Church is how we know we have moved from death to life (1 John 3:14). But this is not just a problem for men, but the generations themselves are divided – sons are simply not being taught by their fathers how to be men of God. Men are abandoning Christ in massive numbers, perhaps only outnumbered by how many boys are poised to leave the Church.
The fatherless problem is not just a problem for boys. Presumably, for every fatherless boy there is a childless man out there. Without maturing into their paternal nature men are stunted, because the fatherhood is the maturity of men. There is plenty to complain about in our society, but much of the evil that has invaded our communities, households, and hearts is not because of the attacks from the enemies of the Church, but because of the failures of men to be the fathers they are called to be.
An Intergenerational Problem - And Solution
It is no secret that the Church has struggled for decades with bringing young men into the mature life of faith. Alongside this problem there has been a staggering exodus of men from the Church. These two problems are the same problem. Boys can only learn to be men from men, and men are fully men when they live the fatherly mission that is uniquely theirs. The strengthening of men will be the strengthening of boys, and the mentoring and fathering of boys will be the strengthening of men. And, just as we understand the problems unavoidably related, so too we must understand the solution.
Keep going to see how Fraternus meets this problem…