Matt C. Abbott
On fatherhood and homeschooling
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By Matt C. Abbott
December 28, 2011

Below is the Introduction to the recently-published book Who's Got You? Observations of a Homeschooling Father, authored by John Clark, a businessman and father of nine children. Thanks to Mr. Clark for allowing me to reprint this excerpt. Click here to order a copy. It's also available on Kindle.

I should point out that I'm not in any way suggesting that homeschooling is the best option for every family. (I was not homeschooled.) Even Mr. Clark writes in his book: "I personally know of a number of Catholic schools — led by dedicated staff and exceptional parents — that are doing an excellent job of primary education. They are to be congratulated. Clearly, for many families, the local Catholic school is not only a good solution — it is the best solution. What I am suggesting is that if fathers feel called to the heroism of homeschooling, they should realize what's at stake, and accept the challenge."

I agree, and I fully support parents who choose to homeschool.



Introduction

Many Catholic families start their day with a prayer called the Morning Offering. It begins: "O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, sufferings, and joys of this day..."

The Morning Offering is a prayer of worship, but it is also a prayer of friendship. What you're asking in this prayer is very simple. You're saying, "Whatever happens today, whether good or bad, please be with me — please stay by my side, because I love You, and I believe You love me." But it alludes to another truth: that we will have prayers, works, sufferings, and joys, and how we react to these determines much of who we are.

In these pages, I have let you peek in on my family's life — on the prayers, works, sufferings, and joys of the Clark family. Although these stories are about us, my guess is that they are, in a sense, about your family, too. I have received many compliments about my articles in the past few years, and I am very grateful for these compliments. But I think that the source of joy for other people in reading these essays is that they see their own families in the printed word. In their letters, I think what people were saying more than anything was, "my family is like that, too." The most important things — the things that endure — are common to many Catholic families.

My hope is that these essays help fathers understand more fully why they should appreciate their lives. To put it more simply, I have tried to show fathers why they should be laughing instead of crying.

It is with deep affection that I approach good and strong fathers. The responsibilities of fatherhood can be overwhelming. They can make us tremble. But what if no one accepted the challenge of fatherhood?

I've wondered what it would be like if, instead of growing up on earth and becoming a father naturally, fathers were recruited from a batch of men in Limbo. An angel might appear to them, tell them that there was a job needed on earth, and ask men for volunteers. The angel might then explain the job in the following way:

"You will be responsible for little boys and girls. In the first few years, they will not be able to do much of anything for themselves. You will need to feed them and clothe them and protect them. You will need to nurture them. When they suffer, you will feel their pain more than they do. You will need to teach them about God, while many others on earth will lie to them and tell them that God does not exist. You must pray very hard for them, because they will be tempted to turn away from everything you love and believe most. They will be tempted to turn away from you, and believe that they no longer need you. They will be tempted to think that you don't understand them, even though you may understand more than anyone else. They will be tempted to think you don't love them as much as others, even though you love them more than anyone else. In the end, if you're called to do so, you must be willing to lay down your life for them."

When asked, a man might say: "Why would I want that?"

Then the angel might respond: "Because God loves you.

"Because the first time you feel the baby kick in your wife's belly, you will love what you cannot yet see.

"Because God wants you to understand more fully what love is.

"Because God believes in you.

"Because God is willing to entrust you with His most precious gift.

"Because there may be no better way for you to love God than to love as a father."

Fatherhood is a tremendous responsibility. The modern world understands that, which is why few want the responsibility, and even fewer see it through. What is less understood is that fatherhood is a blessing of incomprehensible magnitude. While other men run away from responsibility, we Catholic fathers need to embrace it.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 "Unsolved" podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He is mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)

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