"Big Four" Highlights


A Story of True Love

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

As dads, we don’t have much time before our kids start listening to other voices and hearing contrary messages. We’ve got to teach the core lessons of life early and often.

St. Ignatius of Loyola knew this when he said that if he could train a boy in virtue and faith before age 7, the lad would be won over for life. That was the 16th century, before the internet and i-phones. Seven may be too late today! The drums of our culture beat loud and long – around the clock on cable and computers – with a discordant message: life has no ultimate meaning, now is the only time that matters, so enjoy whatever you can, whenever you can.

What do we say to counter that siren call? We have to talk about true love, and we have to live that love consistently in the home and in the world. Even before we have “the talk” with our kids about where babies come from, they should already know a lot about love. My boys are 15 and 11. A few years ago, I began talking to them about love during car rides to school or sports.

Crazy? Yep. It was awkward at first, trying to find an opening for the subject amid the banter about school, videos, homework, the latest game, and brother-teasing-brother.

“Oh, by the way, boys, let’s talk about love.”

“Yuck, you mean that girly stuff?”

It didn’t go too well, and I know they were thinking, “What’s up with dad?”

I tried again though, a week or so later.

“You remember the last time we spoke about love. What I wanted to say was that love is more than just a feeling or emotion, or liking someone a lot. Love is an act of the will. To will the total good of the other person, in all circumstances, and to act in accord with that settled will toward the other, even if it means that I may not get what I want right now or ever. That’s the meaning of true love. This may be the only time you hear this in your life, so remember it.”

I had triumphed! The seed was planted, the idea was nestled in their brains, and I had done my dad duty. Now came the test, a month or so later.

“So, boys, what’s the meaning of true love?”

Blank looks. The little one made a yucky face. Back to the drawing board.

I finally decided to follow the way of the Lord. Stories. Parables. Not so much to get information in, as to draw knowledge out. After all, the word education comes from the Latin for “to lead forth.”

“Guys, I read this story about a boy who was caught in an earthquake and buried beneath tons of rubble. There was no way anyone could get to him, even if they knew where he was. But his father knew where to look, and he dug and dug for days through the rubble, even though all the other searchers were giving up. He was hungry, tired, bleeding from all the jagged rocks, but he went on until he heard his son’s voice. Do you know what the boy’s first words were?”

My boys were riveted in their car seats, waiting for the answer.

“He said, ‘I knew you would come for me.’

“Now,” I concluded, “do you think that was an example of true love?”

They agreed, yes.

At that moment, I realized something myself. Why did the boy know his dad would move tons of rubble to get him? Because his father had shown his steadfast love in so many ways before that, day to day. The son had absolute trust in the heroic love of the father, and that love drove them both – for the dad to dig and for the boy to live in hope. This is the love that holds on for dear life.

So, fellow fathers. Let’s start telling our kids heroic stories, and living our lives in true love.