Message from the Hermits of Westray to fathers and their families

Published on behalf of Fr Stephen de Kerdrel, Sr Colette Roberts and Br. Damon Kelly

The Family is the very foundation and heart of the Church, and it is the obvious tactic of the devil to destroy the Family. Tragically this is being aided by none other than Pope Francis himself and his subordinates.
God wants to save the Church through re-invigorating the Family. How do we assist God in this goal?

The Father as head of the family

Firstly, we must bring back the father to his central place as head of the family. To know how to do this, all one has to do is to read Ephesians chapters 5 and 6. There is a plan for perfect family life. Yes the wife is subject to her husband, but he must love her in the following way:

Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians: 5: vv. 28-30)

Though the mother is the heart of the family, the father is the head. Children must never lose a sense of awe and a loving fear of their father, a fear like the fear of the Lord. This fear is one that does not want to offend their father for it will bring him sorrow. Children usually know when they bring their mother sorrow, because women usually show their emotions more, but this is not so easy for many fathers.

The Father as humble protector of the family

The husband must lay down his life for his wife and children in the same way that Christ laid down his life for the Church. The husband must see his life in a sacrificial light. It is not about going out to the pub with his friends, or to the local sports clubs, to the exclusion of the family. Fathers are there to protect the family and bring his children up in the love and the fear of the Lord.

Fathers must be very humble and strong. Here St. Joseph is an example of a father’s love and a mirror of God the Father. Joseph was not immaculately conceived like Mary, he was simply a just man, but a man of such love and dignity that there has never been a saint like him, for no other saint was given charge of the God-Man and his Mother. True humility is strength. Fathers must look at the sacredness of their vocation.

The Father as patriarch of the family

The father must be like a patriarch for his family and should reflect on the lives of the great patriarchs, especially Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Immersing themselves in the lives of these great men, they will realise their dignity as fathers, which is to reflect God the Father. It is precisely because the vast majority of them do not, that the world is in such a mess.

As patriarch the father should lead the prayers in the family and teach the children their catechism; it is not just for mothers to shoulder all this. He must know how to teach his children, play with them when they are young, be intimately taken up with his children’s interest. He must take them to entertainments, sports events either as participants or spectators. He must go with them to films and cultural events when they are going through their adolescence, and keep a hawk-like eye on the company they keep. He must imbue a real and living chastity in his children and show them that sex is for marriage and that the modern idea of dating is dangerous. Above all he must teach them respect for others, a deep and profound respect. He must also be intimately involved in who his children marry, and may have to refuse his permission. This is not old fashioned, it is simply biblical.

The Father as guardian of the family’s faith

In these dreadful times the father must guard the Faith. If the parish priest is not orthodox, the father will have to correct the priest. If the priest does not listen, then he may have to withdraw the family for a while from the parish and inform the priest that he will not be giving any money to the Church. This must be done with respect but so firmly and in such a godly manner that hopefully the priest will repent. He must associate himself with other men to monitor what is going on in the local catholic schools, and lead peaceful demonstrations if necessary to get the erring school to teach the Faith.

The father as patriarch and guardian of the family is not an abstract ideal or an insular way of thinking but can be traced back to Noah, Abraham, and the other patriarchs who officiated as priests, protectors and guardians. The father, like all baptized Christians, has the threefold vocation of Priest, Prophet and King. It is kingship that is most apparent in the father’s vocation, but there is still a priestly function there, and certainly a prophetic one. The father must speak out when things are wrong, not only when this happens in the family, but in the Church and society. A great example for fathers to follow is Blessed Franz Jaggerstater, St. Thomas More and St. Louis Martin, father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

St. Joseph’s Brothers

So how do we proceed? Catholic and Christian fathers need to support each other. Many years ago I helped found a movement called ‘Joseph’s Brothers’ which was to help men be good fathers, and good husbands. Some of them were divorcees, some were just fathers, and some were happily married men with families. They would meet every two weeks. They would begin the meeting with a prayer, a reflection on scripture which was to do with fatherhood, and then share and discuss, and then it would lead from St. Joseph to God the Father. The meeting would end with a prayer, and a meal.

Sadly the three groups that I helped get off the ground petered out. Why? Because they relied on me as the priest, so when I was moved to another friary the group lost the leader. Men in the Catholic Church have lost their leadership qualities and rely too much on the priest for leadership.

The faithful today need to be led by courageous fathers and husbands; in their hands lie the sword that will deal a deadly blow to Satan. It is for the father to wield the sword with the dexterity of King David and the fearlessness of Elijah. May fathers and husbands accept this great and noble vocation.

Fr Stephen de Kerdrel

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