It is Fathers’ Day in Australia.
Marie Madeleine had a special relationship with her father, Sylvain de Begny. At the time of the Revolution, he emigrated with his family from their city home to take refuge in the countryside. He lived a long life, which, as his letters seem to suggest, enabled him to follow and support his daughter’s work and foundations.
To Marie Madeleine’s son, and his grandson, Eugene, he would impart wisdom, “Men do not judge by height, as your Uncle told you, but from the head to the heart. What captivates is a good man, one who is both religious and educated. I hope my grandson will develop these qualities and then I shall always be able to speak of him with pride.” (22 May 1821)
To her, Mon. Sylvain would sign off, “…I am for life, your father and your friend” (1823), words she would later make her own in her correspondence to her own son and daughter-in-law. What a remarkable gift her father must have been to Marie Madeleine.
In a spirit of friendship then, we remember, pray for and thank all fathers and father-figures in our families, communities and lives. We also remember those without positive role models in their lives, and also for the many women (and men) who go through life, with the responsibility of parenthood, but for one reason or another, having to do so without a partner. Marie Madeleine was one of these women. May the intercession of St Joseph, together with his wife Mary, the mother of God, continue to inspire us to be humble, loving and noble parents and caregivers to those for whom we provide and minister.
And in all this, may we be graced with a consoling assurance that God, through Jesus our faithful Companion, will always be our Father.
Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For yours in the kingdom
the power and the glory
now and forever,