As I wrote two weeks ago, Ant (my eldest daughter, 20) and I have been on pilgrimage to Chartres. We were blessed with good weather, neither too hot nor too wet for the arduous march from Paris to Chartres, and with great company.

I was sad that the other children couldn’t come this year, but in some ways that was also a blessing. Three days with just one of the children is a rare luxury, and Ant is very good company. Moreover, as she approaches adulthood (and is away at University for much of the year) it feels particularly precious to have so much time with her.

We both agreed that it had been a time of special grace: the meditations were excellent, the company great, the liturgies beautiful and moving, and the singing superb. And as a dad, I was proud of Ant this year: a young adult with a real love of her Faith and a commitment to follow it wherever it leads her.

But the pilgrimage was also a challenging time: great meditations, particularly one on the Catholic’s Plan of Life: that is the structure of each and every day, starting with a Morning Offering, including both family prayers (grace before and after meals, Angelus, rosary etc) and private prayers and meditation, and of course spiritual reading, and daily Mass if at all possible; and ending with a proper examination of conscience, and night prayers, with a final meditation on the Four Last Things…

Then there was an examination of conscience that probed every aspect of my life, and that was supplemented by good spiritual direction from the priest who heard my confession, I came home with a number of important resolutions.

I am not going to share those here, for the obvious reasons; but rather make the following point: sometimes, as a Catholic Dad, I can be too busy thinking about my kids and their Faith, and what I can and should be doing to nurture that; too busy because it can provide a convenient distraction from my own spiritual life.

As Dads, of course we should nurture our kids’ Faith; of course we must love our wives; of course we must set a good example; and so on. But part of that vocation is also to make sure that, like Our Lord, we also can retire in private to spend time with Our Father, to develop our personal relationship with Him, His Son and His Holy Spirit. Because that is the source from which all the rest follows.

So that is the challenge for this week: to consider how to dedicate time each and every day in private to be with Our Father, in order that we can become the father he calls us to be.

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