What places the spotlight this year on Father's Day is the fact that we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the public acknowledgment of Father's Day. And yes, it was a dutiful daughter from Spokane, Washington who sought to honor her dad in some way that paralleled with the already established Mother's Day. In fact, it was on Mother's Day in 1909 when Sonora and her husband John Bruce Dodd, an insurance agent for Prudential whom she had married in 1899, heard a sermon in the Old Centenary Presbyterian church in Spokane. She felt families should honor the father in the same way and chose June 5 for such an occasion which happened to be her own father William Jackson Smart's birthday. In that way she'd honor both her father, her father-in-law James Jefferson Dodd and her own husband for she had just given birth to their first child John Bruce Dodd, Jr.
However, a covey of ministers, while subscribing to the idea, needed more time to plan the event and so it was delayed until June 19, 1910. Yes, it was a protestant-inspired idea, and something Catholics had already been commemorating for centuries on March 19 in honoring Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. But all faiths embraced the idea, including the Jesuits in Spokane, because even back at the beginning of the 20th century fatherhood was already being derided as the family was under attack for the progressives were well in place from the White House to the local bureaucrats and schools. Yes, Virginia, the erosion of morals and values did not happen overnight.
One of the sad aspects of America is that so many have been brought up in the protestant ways, deprived of the rich Catholic traditions of the faith of their fathers. Thank you, Protestant Reformation. Thank you, French Revolution, and, yes, Thank you, Vatican II.
I know, I know, you're saying this commentary is all about the tragedies wrought from Vatican II. This time you would be wrong because today I want to spend some time on the centennial celebration of Father's Day, how it originated and why today it is important in the face of so much demasculization of the father figure.
While the "heart of the family" had been honored in some way since ancient times, the "head of the family" was not given such a salute until 1910. In fact, the motivation for Sonora taking the initiative to attempt to proclaim June 5th as "Father's Day" was the disrespect that was prevalent with such popular song ditties as "Everybody Works But Father" to imply that women and the children did all the work while the dad just sat around. Were they really that unmindful of who put the bread on the table by working 40 to 50 hours a week in tending the land or some other means of commerce? As we know from the manifesto of Karl Marx, undermining the family unit was vital in destroying religion.
It was the family unit William Smart sought to preserve. This veteran of the Civil War raised his six children to adulthood in his home after his wife Ellen died when Sonora was 16. Out of love and respect for her father, she not only wanted to recognize that publicly, but also give kudos to all fathers. Regardless of the fact it was first established at a Presbyterian church at 3rd and Howard in old downtown Spokane, the idea had merit; and though it had trouble gaining legs in the first few years, it eventually took off and has become an international holiday of sorts, celebrated in over 50 countries from Antigua to Zimbabwe.
Though the original event was promoted in seven newspapers with a parade and roses distributed (a red rose to honor a living father; a white rose to honor a deceased dad), those early years of celebrating brought much ridicule and skepticism, and even gave signs that the celebration would soon die out, but Sonora, an artist, poet and writer, pressed on. She even managed to convince President Woodrow Wilson to travel to Spokane in 1916 to give a speech during a Father's Day celebration and encourage Congress to make Father's Day a national event. Is it not ironic that the biggest concern Congress had over Wilson's recommendation was their fear of the holiday being commercialized? Is it not as ironic that Hallmark also celebrates their centennial this year? If you study the annals of the Wilson administration, you will find that his promotion of Father's Day was the only good thing this evil progressive ever accomplished.
Subsequent presidents sought to make it official. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge suggested it should be made a national holiday, but never followed through with officially proclaiming it.
Though 1945 signaled the end of World War II, there was little celebration in the Dodd household at 603 South Arthur in Spokane's South Hill for Sonora's husband died. It was the same home where her father had died in 1919 at the age of 77. Yet the widow Sonora persisted in her goal, slowly but surely she would accomplish it. Sporting a white rose wherever she went to honor her deceased father, father-in-law and husband, she sought every outlet for gaining recognition for the logical rationale for this holiday.
It wasn't until 1966 when President Lyndon Baines Johnson, pressured by those who felt it necessary to promote both parents to keep the family intact in the face of the rebellious 60's, signed a proclamation making the third Sunday of June Father's Day. He had intended it as a temporary solution to appease his constituents and literally quell the fires. Like Wilson, it could very well have been one of the few good things the corrupt LBJ did during his administration. It was left to the much villified President Richard Nixon, who looks like a choir boy compared to today's Villain-in-Chief Resident Barack Hussein Barry Soetoro Obama, to make good Sonora's dream. Nixon made it a permanent holiday in 1972 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sonora had sought all her life to finally get the official recognition for Father's Day and it was that same year in 1972 when she sold her home, her goal achieved. Six years later, Sonora passed away at the age of 96 on March 22, 1978. She had dedicated her life to honoring fathers everywhere and fought for the patriarchs of the family to receive the recognition they deserved, not to mention filling the coffers of countless greeting card companies, promotion firms, media conglomerates and ad agencies.
Her home on South Arthur is the only private home in Spokane on the National Historical Society list, but not the only historic site for just across the valley north of the modest rock and wood home is Mount Saint Michael's, classified as a historic landmark.
Ah, St. Michael's is a story unto itself and we urge you to visit History of Mount St. Michael for the full story. Briefly, the property was originally purchased in 1881 by a Jesuit missionary Father Joseph Cataldo, S.J. in following in the footsteps of Father Joseph Caruna, S.J. who had founded an Indian Mission nearby. Fr. Cataldo secured a thousand acres at $2. an acre. You do the math. Ah, the good ol' days. Yet that was a lot of money back then. Its purpose until 1915 was for agriculture to feed the faithful and sustain members of the Society of Jesus at Gonzaga University south of the Mount. In 1915, with vocations mounting, there was a need for a scholasticate seminary and work began on the present location.
I have to wonder if Sonora was aware of all the fathers-to-be that would be nourished as priests and bring the faith to so many. She had to be aware of the construction for Father Arthuis, S.J., who had just built the magnificent church of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga on the campus of the fledgling college of the same name, was commissioned to build the seminary with the blueprint of a four-story Tudor-Gothic edifice to include a spacious chapel as well as accommodations for class rooms, gym, dining, library and housing. To convey materials, Father built a railway up the majestic bluff overlooking the city of Spokane. The cost of all this back then? $400,000. Do you realize it cost more than that to replace the old elevator at the Mount last year?
Yes, the times have indeed changed and that was never more evident than in 1968 when the Jesuits closed the seminary because of a lack of vocations thanks to, you guessed it, Vatican II. For the next decade or so it served as a residence for priests and retired Jesuits. Slowly it became an ecumenical center as the heresies of Modernism crept in and settled. Fortunately the cost of maintaining it soon caught up and in 1977 they planned to sell it to a group of developers who intended to turn it into a commercial secular venture.
That's when, we like to think, the heavenly Father intervened by sending His emissaries in the persons of what would become the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen and the Mount's rescuers and caretakers, saving the campus from a fate worse than death.
Today, as when the Jesuits started in the early part of the century, the same Latin Mass is said daily in that majestic chapel known as St. Michael's Church with its magnificent stain glass windows, statues and paintings that take your breath away and angels everywhere both in stone and spirit always adoring the True Presence in the tabernacle on the impressive, awe-inspiring altar in the marble inlaid sanctuary. There is another phenomenal story on the transformation of a stark iconoclastic chapel and how the saints and angels found their way back to Spokane from Superior, Wisconsin, but that's for another time. Having had the extreme privilege of spending three years attending St. Michael's in what Cyndi and I considered a literal 'spiritual boot camp' in relearning the treasures of Tradition, I can tell you it is the closest thing to Heaven on earth.
Our pastor there Father Casimir Puskorius, CMRI, as the rector of the entire Mount, is compiling various vignettes honoring fathers and he has a special reason since he is the father figure of fathers both ordained and married. The Mount is also the Mother House of the CMRI Sisters, recognizeable by their striking blue traditional habits and also known for their musical acumen as the "Singing Nuns." This year the current father of the Congregation Bishop Mark Pivarunas will celebrate the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood on June 27, 1985. Having received the true rite of Holy Orders, we can be assured of not only his and all the CMRI priest's validity, but also his place as a true successor of the Apostles. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency who will celebrate a Pontifical High Mass at the Mount on June 29, the First Class Feast of the first Fathers of the Church Saints Peter and Paul.
We not only had the great privilege of having Father Casimir's fatherly spiritual direction while we were in Spokane, but this editor had the great honor of serving at a Requiem Mass he said for my own father Lowell "Mickey" Cain who passed from this mortal earth into immortality, having completed his 91 1/2 year journey in this vale of tears three years ago on May 23, 2007. As I wrote in my tribute to dad in my editorial "Come ye, blessed of My Father", a father is so important in fostering and perpetuating the faith. Oh yes, the day Fr. Casimir held the Requiem? June 5th. I didn't realize until I researched on Sonora Smart the significance of that date. Now I know.
The eternal sea is calm this day for I have the soothing assurance that Dad is safely in Heaven. Good sailing, dad, and may you navigate, through your intercession, those still splashing in the whirlpool of wishes to realize the only safe passage to that same port is aboard the sure Ark of Salvation: Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded upon the Rock of Peter. It is part of the lasting contract we made with each other. If I was wrong about my belief that salvation is only attained by one's soul being in the state of Sanctifying Grace, then allow God to show me a sign of my error. But, if I have been right, then you owe it to your children, dad, to ask God to show them a sign that their older brother is not whacko. That I do indeed speak the truth and now dad knows the fullness of what I assured him. I pray he will do all he can in eternity to persuade my brothers and sister, my nieces and nephews, yay, even my own sons and daughter-in-law to be that outside the Church there is no salvation. Help them to reach for the lifeboat before it is too late!
It is an exhortation I am compelled to add with all the love a loyal son, father, brother and uncle can offer to those he loves and seeks their company in eternity. Mine and Cyndi's parents have finished their course as have so many parents out there. We pray they have heard those wonderful words of our Lord recorded in St. Matthew 25: 21 and 34 respectively, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" and "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Let us also remember the true priests who serve such a vital role as fathers today. Without them we have not the sacramental necessities of Sanctifying Grace. Without them we have not the proper guidance for today's fathers and fathers-to-be to reinstill old-fashioned values and morals. We need to reinforce our fathers more than ever in the face of the enemy at our gates as the demons threaten to destroy the family unit from overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and turn to encouraging a sodomite world. Father, send Thy Son. Come, Lord Jesus, come, and when You do, may we pray and hope You will find men of faith because of the fathers who passed it on.
In researching the word "dad" the closest I could find was that it was of Welsh origin and yet that doesn't satisfy other than the Irish use of 'da'. There really is no etimological source. And then I realized what 'DAD' really stands for in studying my own dad's life, his influence and the significance of the Faith as handed down through the generations by fathers of every stripe, all in concert with what the perennial Magisterium of the Church has always taught. Yes, it makes perfect sense in God's magnificent plan of salvation. DAD: An Acronym for Divinely Assisted Direction!