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5 Ways for men to practice spiritual fatherhood

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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 06/20/21

All men are called to be spiritual fathers, and the theology of the body reveals what this means in practice.

Just as Catholic women are called to spiritual motherhood, even if they never become mothers biologically, so also Catholic men are called to spiritual fatherhood. On this day honoring fathers, let’s reflect on what this calling looks like in practice.

St. John Paul II offers meaningful insights in his “Theology of the Body.” Our bodies express the “specific language of the spirit,” revealing how we can live the truth of who God created us to be in today’s culture.

St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” is a penetrating and vital work, but it’s dense and can be hard to digest. One book that’s really helpful for unpacking his writing is These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body

In her practical and engaging book, writer Emily Stimpson Chapman sheds light on what the theology of the body has to say about the everyday moments of life. It’s a book that every Catholic can benefit from reading.

In particular, Stimpson Chapman holds a light up to the concept of spiritual fatherhood. She explains exactly what spiritual fatherhood means according to St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. 

Using quotations from Chapman’s bracing work, here’s a look at 5 central ways that all men can (and should!) practice spiritual fatherhood. “In all these ways and more,” she writes, “men can become fathers in the world. They can become who they are.”

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