All gifts to me, yes, that’s what they are. I never call my dad “father” because, well, I wasn’t brought up that way and it seems rather formal to me. My dad is gentle, thoughtful, funny, and creative. We all know how much he loves us because of his interest in us and his quick eye-catching smile when his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are around. Tom’s “dad” also earns the affectionate name and we all know that he loves us. We are very grateful to each of them because we recognize that not all fathers are “dads” too. If the term “dad” conjures up an idea of affection, then the term “father” for me shows respect.
In our Catholic faith we use the term “father” rather freely. We call our priests “Father,” we have Church Fathers, and “our” Father God. I know that some people don’t think it’s right to call a priest “Father,” but our first apostles and their disciples commonly used the term “father” (or son, or children) to describe their affection and concern for each other during the earliest gospel times. When we call a Priest “Father” we acknowledge their spiritual fatherhood as they care for the rest of us. See the link below for a good article on the subject.
I never thought much about the “Fathers of the Church” until our David (son) studied them and shared some of his interest in them with us. Many were bishops in the very early church, (CCC, 8) and much of what they taught was first presented as sermons. We can trust their personal witnesses to how the very early Christian church functioned and developed as it spread. This is in part what the Catholic Church refers to as “Tradition.” We say the Catholic Church is based on the Bible and Tradition with a capital “T.” It makes sense to me that we would pay attention to the teachings of the earliest Christian leaders, since they lived before the Bible as we now know it was compiled. Some familiar Church Fathers are St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.
And finally, there is “Our” Father God. Not mine alone, but ours, because we are all “his creation, a work of his hands… an image of his beauty.” (J. Kentenich)
In hope, Peggy