Monday 24 May 2021

Priestly Fatherhood Treasure in Earthen Vessels - Father Jacques Philippe

Priestly Fatherhood:
Treasure in Earthen Vessels
Father Jacques Philippe
Neal Carter (Translator)
Scepter Publishers
eISBN 9781594174186

I have read books by Father Jacques Philippe 17 times now. From the first couple I read back in 2007 after being introduced to them while on retreat, to this latest volume I have loved everything I have read by this humble servant of God. I have not read anything from Father Philippe’s pen that did not bless, encourage and even challenge me. And even though this volume is written mainly to and for priests it is an excellent volume that all readers would benefit from reading. The beginning of the description of the book states:

“Recognizing the strong and gentle fatherhood which our Heavenly Father bestows on us lovingly and daily indefinitely changes the scope of our spiritual lives. Amidst the crisis of fatherhood in today's society, it is imperative, more than ever, that all men—especially priests—be images of this unfalteringly generous fatherhood of God.

What does true fatherhood consist of? How can true fatherhood help a person gain access to the freedom found through the knowledge of his or her identity as a child of God?”

As a father of four children, I really appreciated the examples of good early fathers and how they can be an example and model for priestly fathers. The sections in the book are:

Part One : Fatherhood, A Difficult But Essential Reality: Precautions On Language 
1. A Priestly Pentecost 
2. The Urgent Need for Fatherhood 
3. Suffering Caused by the Absence of a Father 
4. The Gift of Fatherhood 
5. A Father’s Blessing 
6. What Makes for True Fatherhood? 
     Unconditional Love 
     Words of Authority 
7. Failures in Fatherhood 
     The Superman 
     The Businessman 
8. The Children’s Problems 
9. Fatherhood in Scripture 
     Saint Paul 

Part Two A Profound Transformation Of Heart 
10. How to Become a Father 
     To Be a Father, You Must Be a Son 
     Being a Son and Groom of the Church 
     Being a Brother 
     Living in the Spirit of the Beatitudes 
11. Living the First Beatitude 
     Looking Out for the Other Before Self 
     Dispossessing the Self and Welcoming the Other 
     Consenting to Our Limits and Exhausting the Resources of Faith 
     What It Means to Be Poor 
     Spiritual Poverty and Humility 
12. Living the Rest of the Beatitudes 
13. The Church, Mary, and the Mystery of the Woman 
14. Baptismal and Ministerial Priesthood

15. Fatherhood in the Priest’s Ministry 
     Intercession for the People 
     The Celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments 
     Eucharistic Adoration 
     Personal Dialogue 
     The Government of a Community 
     Defending the Poor and the Little Ones 

Father Philippe in the introduction states:

“The topic of priestly spiritual fatherhood is an important one today. It is a delicate topic, particularly in light of the sad revelation of the behavior of some priests which is in total contradiction with true fatherhood. 

There is nonetheless an enormous need in our world for people who are authentic reflections of divine fatherhood. Not that it’s their exclusive domain, but I think that it forms an essential part of the priestly vocation.” 

He also declares:

“Through this little book, I would like to encourage my brother priests, who often have a pressing need for encouragement, and to help them believe in the fruitfulness— the fertility— and the beauty of their vocations. Even if it’s a difficult, demanding reality, fatherhood is also a source of great joy. There is nothing more beautiful than to give life, and so much more so when this life is eternal life, the very life of God. 

My book is addressed especially to priests, but I think that all people who are called to exercise a certain form of paternity (the fathers of a family, spiritual fathers, educators, people in positions of authority . . .) could find some useful elucidation on how to live their responsibilities fairly.”

The passage that stuck out most to me during my first read through was:

“The father helps his child find his or her true identity. In the Bible, the father gives the child its name. The name is not just a label, a word to be called by, but it represents a deep identity, the mission of the person.”

I have recommended everything written by Father Philippe that I have read. And this one is one of his best. But it and give it a read. Buy copies for the priests in your life. Buy copies to give to friends and family. It is a book I guarantee will bless you, and those in your life. And if you share it, it will bless those whom you give it to.

A wonderful book I give my highest recommendation!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Other Books By Fr. Jacques Philippe
From Scepter:

Called to Life
Time For God
Interior Freedom
In the School of the Holy Spirit
The Way of Trust and Love - A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux
Thirsting for Prayer
Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust

Fire and Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God
The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes
Nine Days to Rediscover the Joy of Prayer
Nine Days to Welcome Peace
Priestly Fatherhood

St Paul's Alba House:
Searching for and Maintaining Peace
Discerning Your Vocation: A Catholic Guide for Young Adults (Forward)

Pauline Books and Media:

Time For God

Time For God
I Choose to be Free: the Power of Faith Hope & Charity (a different edition of Interior Freedom)

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