From the Mind to the Heart: Fatherhood and the Sacred Heart

Service d'Animation Missionnaire

This June we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This month we also celebrate Father's Day. Although both holidays are not directly related, they share a significant connection. We can affirm that the symbolism of the heart present in both points to what connects us to each other and, of course, to God.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrated on June 7th, comes from a private revelation to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, highlighting Jesus' love and desire to bring true freedom to all humanity through an intimate relationship with Him. Other devotions such as the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Eucharistic Adoration, and Divine Mercy are also linked to this tradition.

Father's Day, on the other hand, is typically celebrated on the third Sunday of June in Western countries. In the U.S. and Canada, it historically complements Mother's Day. However, different countries celebrate it on different dates, such as April, May, other Sundays in June, August, September, and November. Traditionally, the Catholic Church celebrates fatherhood on March 19th, the feast of Saint Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.

Fatherhood can be seen as a conscious choice that complements motherhood. Over time, the role of the father has evolved from holding predominant power to focusing on the well-being of children, as the concept of childhood has changed. In ancient societies, where the mechanism of human reproduction was not fully understood, kinship was primarily based on motherhood, leading to matrilineal societies.

The saying "A mother is, a father becomes" highlights that motherhood begins biologically at conception, but fatherhood has a significant mental component that starts with realizing that the changes in the mother's body come from the new being that is arriving. The experience of childbirth can be the moment a father recognizes his child and partner as distinct individuals. As such, he can help children and the mother move beyond the emotional fusion formed during pregnancy, helping children develop healthy heart-to-heart relationships, becoming relational and equally autonomous individuals.

Speaking of heart-to-heart relationships, the bond between the heart of the Father and the heart of the Son is profound and a central model of relationship. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). These statements show that Jesus, being one with the Father, is a unique person whose heart reflects the heart of the Father. The Sacred Heart invites us to free ourselves from everything that enslaves us and to connect with what brings us true fulfillment and freedom. Being a father can be a decision to reflect the Heavenly Father, not only through marital and parental functions but above all by guiding others towards freedom, fulfillment, and good decisions.

In times when fatherhood faces challenges due to negative behaviors related to toxic masculinity and the negative notion of patriarchy, embracing the values of the Sacred Heart offers a renewing perspective. Renewed fatherhood is called not to take the role of a father for granted but to offer unconditional love and lead by example towards the greater good.

Happy Father's Day and Happy Sacred Heart Month!