My friend Monica Rafie, founder of “Be Not Afraid”, recently told me about the Judice family, whose son Eli was prenatally diagnosed with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Chad Judice recently published an account of his journey from fear to faith.
As the Judice family anticipated little Eli’s arrival, Dad Chad – a basketball coach for a local Catholic high school – began writing of how that unborn baby rnewed the faith and invigorated the devotion not only of their own family, but of the entire school community. In the words of Mr. Judice: “God [uses]. . . the weakest, the most powerless, and fragile among us to bring a community to Himself.”
As we look ahead to Father’s Day, we honor such men among us, men who act courageously to protect and provide. Sometimes – as in the case of Chad Judice – those men share a biological link with their children. Other times, fatherhood is of a spiritual, rather than biological, origin. In either case, the connection is breathtakingly “real.”
Children in families formed through adoption, foster care, or remarriage experience this special kind of love. Love in action, lived out according to the credo of my own parents when they learned we were going to foster-adopt a sibling group, “You bring ‘em to us, we’ll love ‘em.” And so they have. And so they do.
This kind of self-donating love is a rare and beautiful gift – perhaps especially in men, who express it distinctively, in strength and security. We see it in the men who “mentor” fatherless children in their churches and communities, playing ball and helping with homework and leading Scout troops. In men who fix the sinks and mow the lawns and install cribs for families whose husbands have been deployed. In men who become teachers, daily offering their students a living example of manhood that boys with fathers are absent or neglectful desperately need.
And men like Chad Judice, sentries of courage and witnesses to truth, no matter what the cost. Thank God for such extraordinary fathers.
Heidi Hess Saxton is the founder of the “Extraordinary Moms Network” and author of “My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories.” “Waiting for Eli: A Father’s Journey from Fear to Faith” may be ordered from Acadian House Publishing at www.waitingforeli.com, or ask your local bookstore to order it.
Copyright 2010 Heidi Hess Saxton