Each of Us is in Search of the Father

It was Bruce Marshall who famously said, “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”

Likewise, the young man rioting in the streets is unconsciously looking for God.

These are strange and controversial times, but let us start off by saying something which should be completely uncontroversial: children need dads. 

Kids Need Dads

Children need dads just as plants need water. 

This is not a declaration of the biologically obvious. Certainly, every child requires that type of “father.” Rather, a child needs a father who is wed to the child’s mother and who lives in the child’s home. 

The rising rate of fatherlessness in this country is staggering, alarming enough to be considered a national emergency. After all, if the family is the backbone of a society, well, then our society has a broken back.     

Speaking on this matter in Familiaris consortio, the Church tells us, “As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance.” In his extensive scholarly work on this topic, David Blankenhorn writes,

“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women.”  

Many men and women, secular and religious, have undertaken the task of documenting the societal ills caused by absentee dads. Their work is thorough and undeniable. 

Through a Hero’s Eyes

You may recall the 2019 Colorado school shooting that claimed the life of the heroic Kendrick Castillo. His story provides a worthy anecdotal example of America’s growing dilemma. Kendrick charged and pinned his gun-wielding classmate against a wall, saving all of his classmates’ lives, but losing his own when he was fatally shot.

On the other hand, we now know the shooter regularly witnessed his father beating his mother, and that’s when he was around at all. His father spent most of his time running drugs from Mexico, and was ultimately deported under charges of illegal weapons and domestic violence.

Just eleven days prior to the incident, the shooter posted on Twitter that he missed his dad. In fact, the shooter was not a “he” at all, but rather a biological female who had recently “transitioned” to living as a male. The other shooter was adopted, abandoned by his biological father and not cared for much better by his adoptive parents. 

As for Kendrick Castillo: he was raised by a deeply committed and loving father who spent every possible waking hour forming his son into a virtuous young man. The dichotomy here is staggering: this Christ-like figure who sacrificed his life for his friends, and the demonic shooters, one of whom, just moments before the shooting, wrote “666” on his garage wall before spreading gasoline on his mother’s car and setting it on fire. 

Truly, a father can make or break his children. (Kendrick’s full story can be read in my new book that features the stories of twenty-three fathers that led their children to Christ.)

The Father’s Love

Why is a father so crucial when it comes to stabilizing a child? The theological and psychological explanations are likely miles deep, but perhaps it can all be boiled down to the answers to three questions that reside in every child’s heart:

  • 1) Where did I come from?
  • 2) Does anyone (besides mom) love me?
  • 3) Who am I supposed to be? 

A natural frustration and resentment fester within a child when these questions are left unanswered. 

Moreover, the answers to these questions are what ultimately lead every person to the true source of peace and happiness: God. 

The love that both parents possess for one another and their children is like a bridge that connects them to God, and fatherlessness is like a gaping hole in that bridge. A father in the home is a model for our Father in Heaven. Pope Benedict XVI says in Deus Caritas Est, the family is “the icon of the relationship between God and his people.”

In seemingly prophetic fashion, Pope Leo XIII said this about young people over a hundred years ago: 

“When children are not enlightened by religious instruction…every form of intellectual culture will be injurious; for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything, they will easily be incited to disturb the public order.”

What could better explain what we are witnessing in the streets today? Millions of children formed as secular instruments, raised without fathers or religious influence, and seldom denied any materialist comfort they have ever desired.

What did we expect?     

And what do we do now with a generation of kids without fathers? 

We help them become Catholic. We introduce them to the true Father. 

We All Need the Church

The fifteen year-old kid marching down the streets with a Black Lives Matter sign — he needs to be Catholic. 

The twenty year-old anarchist, throwing rocks at the police — he needs to be Catholic. 

The high school kid dedicated to ending global warming and white supremacy through Marxist revolution — she needs to be Catholic. 

The millions of young teenage boys and girls who unsuspectingly drift through high schools and colleges while being seduced by a sinful pop culture, cynical media pundits, political revolutionaries, and race-hustlers who use their youth and energy for their sinister political ends —they need to be Catholic. 

That is what you give to people searching for God. The truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.    

No, it is not enough that they are concerned with justice and idealism, or that they post the latest political fad to their social media accounts.

No, it is not enough that they claim to be “spiritual but not religious”, or even go to an occasional church service. These young people need to be taught the Catholic faith and adopted into the true Church that Christ founded, intended for every person, and which is not only necessary for salvation, but also for authentic peace and happiness in this life.      

It is obvious in so many of their young faces that they want to belong to a cause that is greater than themselves, something that offers more meaning than the cheap thrills of the Modernist’s political agenda. Why not welcome them into the fold of the greatest cause of mankind? Imagine these young hearts being formed by the Saints and directed towards victories for Christ! We need to turn their energy into the Church’s next generation of fathers, priests, nuns, monks, and missionaries. 

Watch their passions ignite the world, rather than downtown streets.

What Can I Do?

You and I must convince them. We must convert them. “Go out into the whole world…” Yes, even Portland. Catholic men and women need to be the light of Christ to these young Americans, so they can see clearly the path to God. Seek them out and talk to them about the Gospel. Hand them tracks and CDs and Mass schedules. Invite them out for a meal. Befriend them. Debate them. But do not abandon them to the evil culture that surrounds them.    

Tell them about the Church’s two-thousand-year unparalleled commitment to the Corporal Works of Mercy; and then explain that we must also care for the spiritual needs of our fellow man.

Tell them that universal human rights, anti-slavery, and racial equality are authentically Christian ideas. In Christ, tell them, racism and tribalism and every form of unjust treatment of man goes to die, and in its place a radical belief in the equal dignity of all human beings is born. 

Through Christ, their anger and resentment will be crucified and turned into the type of love that sets the world ablaze with faith and hope.  

Then, the pains of their absent fathers will be replaced with the love of Our Father, and they will join a new generation of men who hold high the Cross as the only true comfort to the world’s valley of tears.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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Tyler Rowley is a husband, father, and entrepreneur from Rhode Island. He currently serves as the president of Servants of Christ for Life which defends unborn children through pro-life activism. He is a past leader in young adult ministry in the Diocese of Providence. Tyler is a graduate from Bishop Hendricken High School (Warwick, RI) and Brown University where he studied Political Science and played football. He currently lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island with his wife Nichole and their four children (Gerard, Fulton, EveMarie, and Baby Boy - name TBD). Rowley is the author and editor of Because of Our Fathers: Twenty-Three Catholics Tell How Their Fathers Led Them to Christ (Ignatius Press). He is currently working on his second book which he is co-authoring with Abby Johnson (Life to the Full; Ignatius Press). The book will feature twenty powerful stories that show the dignity of every human life. He can be contacted on Twitter @tylerrowley or at TylerRowley.com. 

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