A healthy society needs the protective force of fathers

by Michaelyn Hein –

Photo: Kelli McClintock, Unsplash.com

The other day, I opened my web browser and clicked my way to my email in search of the day’s Mass readings. On the way there, I was confronted with an article that grabbed my attention.

“Actress Reveals Teen Abortion,” it read, adding the woman’s own description of the event as “the hardest decision of my life.” I did as the editors hoped: I clicked the link and read on.

I knew the way the story would end, but somewhere within me I hoped for a different outcome. I hoped the woman would share that she regrets the decision. I hoped she’d call for reforms that would make it easier for a woman in a crisis pregnancy to choose life. I hoped she’d speak words to encourage others in a similar situation to give life to their unborn children.

Of course, it was a desperate hope that wasn’t realized. Instead, as expected (or the article wouldn’t have been published on the site I found it on), the actress defended her decision as a choice she would make again, despite its hardships. Though she relayed the heartrending decision the abortion was, she still maintained that because she chose to abort her unborn child, she was able to live a subsequently joyful and successful life.

My own heart ached in the reading. My face winced when she shared, “I wanted to keep the baby, but how?” As the father of her child was presumably no longer in the picture, there was one man to whom the actress turned to help her answer this question: her father. Along with her mother, he urged her to abort her unborn baby.

“We decided as a family that I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy and agreed that termination was the right choice. My heart was broken nonetheless,” she confessed.

My own heart broke for her as I read her words.

The response of her father (and mother), led me to wonder sadly, Where are the men who are called to protect? Of course, many men are also victims of abortion. There exist fathers of aborted babies who desperately wanted their children to live. There are grandfathers of aborted children who wish their daughters had turned to them in their crisis or that they had listened to their pleas not to abort.

But there are vast numbers of other fathers who shirk their God-given responsibility to protect and who, instead, cause grave harm. The father of this actress was created by God to defend his daughter and grandchild, but instead unwittingly urged the killing of one’s body and the other’s soul. Obviously, such men are lost and troubled themselves. Lost souls lose souls; we need to start winning them back.

We obviously cannot change the past, but we can alter the future. In this waning year of St. Joseph, we need men to come forward and to more vocally defend the defenseless. Perhaps this year of the Head of the Holy Family is the call men have needed to take back their role as protector of life, to take back their voices as defenders of the vulnerable, and to be unashamed to speak out on this gravest issue of our times.

For too long, men have been told they do not get a say on this topic, and some would-be valuable voices have grown silent. We need to change that. The message of Fatima indicates as much.

On October 13, 1917, while the sun danced, Our Lady appeared with St. Joseph at her side, and in his arms was the Christ child. Together, the Pillar of Families and the Child Jesus blessed those in attendance as they witnessed the miracle of the sun. Joseph, defender of the Holy Family, was by Mary’s side on the same day that she asked people to “not offend our Lord anymore.” This final message of Fatima was not left to Mary alone; her husband, Guardian of Virgins, stood by her side.

Our Blessed Mother is directing men to model themselves after her chaste husband. Indeed, many men openly seek to do just that.

But as St. John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world.” Since men are the “protector of the family,” then they do have a profound effect on the direction women – and our society – choose to take, a path either towards life or towards death.

At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St. Paul VI addressed women, asserting that “women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aide humanity in not falling.” The time has come to reawaken men to the power they hold in this regard, too.

We must make a more concentrated effort to raise up men who will be the ones to save life rather than leave women to feel that they have no choice but to kill. We need to prioritize teaching our sons from a young age that it is their role to honor the women in their lives by protecting their purity, even when they don’t see that purity in themselves. We must remind men that though the world tells them they are unnecessary, the opposite is true. Their voices matter and their leadership has a very real effect on the choices women make.

Scripture tells us that Our Lady gave her fiat to God, but it is often forgotten, that in his own way, St. Joseph did, too. He said “yes” to protecting the lives of his wife and Son. May all men follow his lead and do the same.

Michaelyn Hein is a Catholic writer, wife and mother from Hipwell, NJ, and a regular contributor to Soul Magazine and the World Apostolate of Fatima USA blog.

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