Meditating on a father’s love

By Lauretta Brown | OSV News

In his new book “The Father: 30 Meditations to Draw You into the Heart of God,” Father Mark-Mary Ames of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal leads the reader to reflect on God’s delight in us, care for us and his calling to us as our Father through touching, real-life stories of biological and spiritual fathers.

This is the cover of “The Father: 30 Meditations to Draw You into the Heart of God,” by Father Mark-Mary Ames of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. (OSV News photo/ Ascension Press)

The book is arranged as a 30-day retreat, and each story is followed by related Scripture verses, a reflection, prayer and space for the reader to write their own thoughts.

As Father Ames points out, Jesus himself used the example of earthly fathers to teach about God, our heavenly Father, when he asked, “What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? … (H)ow much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Mt 7:9, 11).

Many fathers fall short in their calling to reflect the goodness of our heavenly Father, he acknowledges, but this does not change the fact that God reveals his love for us through good earthly fathers.

Some of the stories show the spiritual fatherhood of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, including one about a man, Nick, who stayed at one of the homeless shelters run by the friars after serving a prison sentence. He broke down in tears when the friars made a cake for his birthday because it was the first time he’d seen a birthday cake with his name written on it.

“There is something so beautiful about being called by name and celebrated by name,” Father Ames writes. He points out how God repeatedly communicates to us through Scripture, “I have called you by name and you are mine” (Is 43:1).

Another reflection that begins with a story from the friars’ homeless shelter is that of the prestigious New York City police commissioner who occasionally volunteered at the shelter and befriended Amy, a woman in the shelter who was dying of terminal cancer. She had become like a “mom” of the shelter, helping to run things as the friars helped her get to doctor’s appointments. The commissioner sat with her over meals and got to know her as he volunteered there. When she passed away, the commissioner used his authority and prestige to give her a formal NYPD funeral, complete with motorcycles, a color guard and bagpipes.

Father Ames calls the reader to reflect that the commissioner’s “desire to give her such recognition echoed the words shared between Jesus and his Father: ‘All mine are yours'” (Jn 17:10). Just as the commissioner “found in his heart a place for this poor, lonely, sick woman,” the Lord looks upon us in our lowliness and says, “All that I have is yours.”

The meditations also include powerful stories of biological fathers caring for their children, concluding with the true story of Thomas Vander Woude, a father who drowned in saving the life of his son with Down syndrome.

Ultimately, stories like that one show the depth of the love of the father that these meditations are calling the reader to consider as “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 Jn 3:16).

Reflecting on this collection of beautiful stories about the love and care that earthly fathers have for their children helps us to see how much more these things are true of our Father in heaven.

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Lauretta Brown is culture editor for OSV News. Follow her on X @LaurettaBrown6.

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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