This Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day and I find myself continuing to think of and give thanks for my father. John Laurence Phalan. My Grandfather John wanted to call my father John as he was the first and only boy child. My Grandmother Helen wanted to call him Laurence. I don’t know why … They settled on John Laurence but then everybody called him Larry. My grandmother won that one!
Above all I want to thank my father and thank God that he was indeed a sensible man who literally built his house on the rock WHO IS CHRIST! His house – his life, his marriage, his family – built on the word of God. He was a normal guy. I am not talking about someone who was a fanatic. Rather, he and my mother, Kathy, shared an innate wisdom that they had received from 1500 years of Irish Catholicism… of what it is to be Christian Spouses and parents, transmitting the faith simply, like fresh air and light in darkness. My father wasn’t a big talker. He taught by his example… Simple things that spoke of an authentic life of virtues like honesty, respect, the dignity of each person, discipline, care for the needy… Simple actions like Sunday Mass, daily prayer, talking easily about Jesus… Everyday joy.
Not perfect. He had his weakness. He struggled at time with serious depression… but he had real, everyday faith.
At the heart of it all: I RECEIVED UNCONDITIONAL, UNSELFISH LOVE FROM Kathy and Larry together THAT I ALWAYS KNEW WAS BIGGER THAN THAT LITTLE FAMILY. THE LOVE IN MY HOME WAS JESUS LOVING US. So that faith, that LOVE OF THE TRINITY, was a word, a seed planted in good soil, and still runs in the marrow of my bones. Thanks to Kathy and Larry.
It was something strong enough even to weather the period of my life when like so many I was blown like chaffe and seemed to abandon my faith when I was a young adult… BUT THAT LOVE NEVER ABANDONED ME.
As I say, my father wasn’t a fanatic or a militant. STILL I KNOW HE CONSCIOUSLY CHOSE SOMETHING. He knew which would be the path to life. The Gospel text we hear today is actually a very important one. It is the end of the Sermon of the Mount: Jesus has just laid out the NEW LAW OF THE NEW COVENANT. Not just nice sayings. Rather A CHOICE… Actually a choice between life and death. Jesus is calling his people as did Moses: choose life so that you and your descendants shall live. My father chose life!
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About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!