I write to you in the midst of a semi-“religious” event: the Super Bowl. People have donned their sacred attire and are shouting praises. The game really lit up toward the end of the second half and again in the last quarter. I enjoy football, but see it a lot less since I am a priest and tend to be busy on Sundays! Yet, I remain quite fascinated at how passionate and dedicated many Americans are to the game and their team. Would that more Catholics had the same dedication to the Mass and the Church that true football fans have for the game. (Fan is short for fanatic). Would too that all priests and religious had the same sacrificial dedication that foot ball players have.

Consider for a moment the players. They spend years coming up through a system of high school, college and professional levels. Priest and religious do as well. Football players give their all to the game. Their whole life is centered on it. Exhausting, year-long practices, weight lifting and punishing games. They risk injury, and suffer many pains, all for the game. Do priests and religious show the same dedication and are they willing to make the same kind of sacrifices for Jesus? Will they risk injury and attack? I pray we will and do, but I wonder. True, we are not paid multi-millions, but we don’t do it for the money. Are we as dedicated and sacrificial?

And what of the faithful? So many Catholics are dedicated to the game. They even come to Church wearing the jersey of their team and someone else’s name on their back! Let’s compare and contrast some of the aspects of football and see if the same kind of thrill and dedication are exhibited to the Lord, the Mass and the Church.

Disclaimer – I write a lot of this “tongue in cheek.” I am not brooding over this, just observing. I am also using a technique known as hyperbole. Hyperbole uses exaggeration to make a point. For example the phrase, “There must have been a million people there” is an exaggeration that is not literally true but does convey the truth that a lot of people were present. Please take these comparisons in the light-hearted manner they are intended.

That said, the point remains a serious one: that we often exhibit unusual priorities when it comes to worldly vs. spiritual matters. We do well to humorously look at ourselves in order to ask God for a greater passion for what matters most. Football is about a bag full of air going up and down a field. Faith is about our eternal destiny.

Consider the following Super Bowl behaviors and contrast them to Mass and the faith:

  • Super Bowl – Many fans prepare for weeks for the game. They follow playoffs, review stats, listen to commentaries and predictions. They are “up on the game.” At bare minimum they know who is playing, and usually a great deal more. They often plan parties and invite others to join them. They discuss with fellow fans their wishes and the likely outcome of the game. They often boast of their team and loudly proclaim their intent to watch the game and see their team win! They anticipate the game and joyfully look forward to it.
  • Mass – Little preparation is evident by most who go to Mass. Generally they do not review the readings or spiritually prepare by frequent confession. Fasting is gone from the Catholic landscape. In fact ¾ of Catholics don’t go to Mass at all. Many who do, don’t joyfully anticipate it. Many even dread going and try to fit it in at the most convenient time and hope for the shortest Mass. This is true even of the great feasts like Christmas and Easter, Holy Week etc. Most Catholics do not speak to others of going to Mass or invite them to join them.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Many wear special clothes for the occasion, even at general football games. Many wear jerseys, hats with insignia and other “sacred” apparel. Some even paint their faces and bodies.
  • Mass – Sacred apparel for Mass is all but gone. Little special attire or care is given to display one’s faith through clothing or other marks of faith. Sunday clothes were once special. Women wore hats and veils, men wore suits and ties and would never dream of wearing a hat into Church. But that is gone. Come as you are seems the only rule.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – People who go to games often spend hundreds of dollars for game tickets. Those who are fortunate enough to go to the actual Super Bowl spend many thousands, gladly. Those who stay home often spend a lot of time and money on parties.
  • Mass – Most Catholics give on average 5-7 Dollars per week in the collection plate. Many are resentful when the priest speaks of money.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Most fans arrive early for the game. They do so eagerly. Many, at regular games, have tailgate parties. At home, fans joyfully anticipate the kick off and spend time in preparatory rites such as parties, beer etc. Even ordinary games find the fans watching pre-game shows and gathering well before the kick-off.
  • Mass – Many Catholics time their arrival for just before the Mass. Many, as high as 50%, arrive late. The thought of arriving early to pray or greet fellow worshippers is generally not something that is planned for.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – People LOVE the game. They are enthusiastic, they shout, cheer, are focused and interested in each play. They are passionate, alive and celebratory. They also care a great deal, exhibiting joy at good plays, sorrow at bad ones. They are alive, exhilarated, expressive and passionately care about what is happening on the field.
  • Mass – Many look bored at Mass. In many ways the expressions remind more of a funeral than of a resurrected Lord. Rather than joyful faces, it looks like everyone just sucked a lemon: bored believers, distracted disciples, frozen chosen. One finds exceptions in Black Parishes, charismatic Masses, and some Latino parishes. But overall little joy or even interest is evident. It is true many would not think of loud cheers etc as proper for Church, but even a little joy and displayed interest would be a vast improvement.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Many sing team songs. Here in Washington we sing: Hail to the Redskins, Hail victory! Braves on the warpath! Fight for ole DC!
  • Mass – Most Catholics don’t sing.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Even a normal football game goes four hours including the pre and post-game show. Towards the end of a half the game is intentionally slowed down since incomplete passes stop the clock etc. Fans gladly accept this time frame and are even happy and excited when the game goes into overtime.
  • Mass – Frustration and even anger are evident in many of the faithful  if Mass begins to extend past 45 minutes. People even begin to walk out. Many leave after communion even if the Mass is on time.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Fans understand and accept the place of rules and expect them to be followed. Often they angry when they are broken or when penalties are missed. They respect the role of the referee and line judges and, even if they are unhappy they accept the finality of their judgments. They seem to understand that a recognized and final authority is necessary for the existence of the game.
  • Mass – Some Catholics resent rules and routinely break them or support those who do. They also resent Church authorities who might “throw a penalty flag” or assess a penalty or any sort. Often do not respect Bishops or the authority of the Church. Many refuse to accept that recognized and final authority is necessary for the existence of the Church. Many Catholics resent pointed sermons at Mass where the priest speaks clearly on moral topics. Praise God, many Catholics are faithful and respect Church authority, sadly though others do not.
    •  
  • Super Bowl – Many who go to any football game endure rather uncomfortable conditions for the privilege. Hard seats, freezing cold, pouring rain. Often the game is hard to see and the sound system is full of echoes. Still the stadium is full and few fans complain.
  • Mass – Many complain readily at any inconvenience or discomfort. It’s too hot, too cold, the Mass times aren’t perfectly to my liking. Why aren’t the pews cushioned (hard to keep clean that’s why). Why wasn’t the walk to my usual door shoveled of snow? When will the sound system be better, why do they ask me to move to the front in an empty Church? Etc.
  •  

OK, enough. Remember I use hyperbole here and intend this in a light-hearted manner. We people are funny, and what we get excited about is often humorous. Truth is, people love their football. And this one point is serious: would that we who believe were as passionate as football fans. We need to work at this at two levels.

Clergy and Church leaders need to work very hard to ensure that the liturgy of the Church is all it should be. Quality, sacred music, good preaching, devout and pious celebration are essential. Perfunctory, hurried liturgy with little attention to detail does not inspire.

The faithful too must realize more essentially what the Mass really is and ask God to anoint them with a powerful and pious awareness of the presence and ministry of Jesus Christ. They must ask for a joy and a zeal that will be manifest on their faces, in their deeds, in their dedication.

Enjoy this video by Fr. Barron who also uses a sports analogy.

54 Responses

  1. Ryan Ellis says:

    Maybe Catholics who do attend Mass would be more involved if parishes did the propers, Latin, etc. instead of “Gift of Finest Wheat” and greeting your neighbor. People instinctively recognize ugliness and respect beauty.

    The responses are appropriate. All but the most committed stay home. Those that attend, endure. The rest of us find an oasis of sanity.

    • :-) Gift of Finest Wheat isn’t really that bad. There’s a lot worse out there. As an organist for years I enjoyed playing Gift of finest wheat. It has an interesting pedal part in the refrain, starts up at A flat 2 and comes all the way down to e flat 1. Lots of good right and left work for an organist. Not a bad melody either.

      • BHG says:

        But the grammar! Gifts of Finest Wheat or the gift of finest wheat, but that lack of article or plural makes my teeth itch!

        • I am sympathetic to concerns about grammar. There are many problems, to be sure and I know that the decline in Latin was yet another symptom of the decline of the Roman Empire. But I also struggle to know the difference between being precise about grammar and just being antiquarian. The language does tend to march on. We’re not speaking Latin or Middle English any more. Words change meaning and creativity bends the rules. I get more than a few folks who point out my grammar flaws. I seem to often split my infinitives and use a preposition to end a sentence with. :-) How and when to use the comma has me on some folks’ bad list. And the semicolon and its use is very arcane to me. As for the use of the definite article in the song you cite, you are correct, but it never occured to me and I suspect most others have noticed what you say. Art, poetry, and song often take libertiee. Music especially, has a meter, and sometimes the text seeks to rhyme. These factors often affects the use of words and grammar. Anyway, I am sympathetic but also wonder where to draw the line.

          • BHG says:

            Oh, not really grinching out about Gift of Finest Wheat, Msgr (however, one could insert the article and the meter would be just fine–split the time [withthe]…try it). It’s a place where I have an opportunity to grow, though. I try not to let my shoulder devil distract me with that, but so far with limited success….as for the others–it’s a blog, Msgr! Let it flow and the purists among us can make mental corrections!

      • ****I am sympathetic to concerns about grammar. There are many problems, to be sure and I know that the decline in Latin was yet another symptom of the decline of the Roman Empire. But I also struggle to know the difference between being precise about grammar and just being antiquarian. The language does tend to march on. We’re not speaking Latin or Middle English any more. Words change meaning and creativity bends the rules. I get more than a few folks who point out my grammar flaws. I seem to often split my infinitives and use a preposition to end a sentence with. How and when to use the comma has me on some folks’ bad list. And the semicolon and its use is very arcane to me. As for the use of the definite article in the song you cite, you are correct, but it never occured to me and I suspect most others have noticed what you say. Art, poetry, and song often take libertiee. Music especially, has a meter, and sometimes the text seeks to rhyme. These factors often affects the use of words and grammar. Anyway, I am sympathetic but also wonder where to draw the line.

      • Cynthia BC says:

        @BHG re the lack of an article

        The handbell choir for which I ring takes a break during weekly rehearsals. We have snack. We do not have A snack, or bring THE snack. Apparently “have snack” and “bring snack” are compound verbs. Who knew? ;)

    • Cynthia BC says:

      It’s a close call between One Bread One Body and Gift of Finest Wheat for my un-favoritest Communion hymns.

  2. Mary says:

    I really enjoy the Super Bowl- but Love the Holy Mass much more. This year both were the super bowl and today’s Mass were especially poignant for me. Back home my good friends,( the parents of my children friends) and my family typically watch the Super bowl together. This year I was away, and yesterday our good friend Laurie received last rites and became a hospice patient. In Mass as our choir sang I was struck by the thought that soon she would be with God and the heavenly host singing unending praises to the Lord would make her smile and that smile we love so much would never leave her face. For us the super bowl is more about being together and sharing our friendship, not only with our peers but with our adult children.

    This year we are united in prayer.

  3. Mass>Football says:

    This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article. Thanks very much for sharing it with us, Msgr. Pope.

    After reading your complaints about mass attire, I started wearing ties to church a few months ago. I’ve found that it’s an excellent way to be a “salt of the earth.” My Sunday acquaintances and colleagues ask me why I’m so dressed up. This provides me an opportunity to share my interest in my faith without coming across as moralistic or in-your-face evangelical.

  4. Vijaya says:

    Thank you for this post. I agree that in our culture, football takes up more time — it is my biggest gripe. Our family is divided on football by gender — the boys love it, the girls don’t. But we do love our Sunday Mass and look forward to it. Both bring people together in friendship though.

    I also loved today’s readings and your homily (previous post) and our priest’s. And I am thankful you post yours the night before.

  5. Christopher Lange says:

    I am reading the book “Be a Man” by Fr. Larry Richards, who discussed these things as well; thank you for elaborating and expanding the ideal. Really sets me in my place and focuses me more on what should be my real goal.
    Any comments on the Lookup316 commercial, especially on how I had read that they were going to ban it.

  6. Rouxfus says:

    Stephen Colbert, a Catholic, recently featured on his “Colbert Report” show (Comedy Central) the chair of Harvard’s department of philosophy whose recent book put forth the idea that nothing in American culture remains sacred, except perhaps football, and that the sport was the closest thing we had in this country to a national religion. The show can be viewed here:

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/373139/february-02-2011/sean-dorrance-kelly

    (Colbert’s character, who is also portayed as being Catholic, makes some interesting remarks about his faith, saying he believes in everything the Church teaches except for the bit about self sacrifice. !!!)

  7. Ann says:

    I will only comment on the singing. How can anyone sing when the singer is singing two octaves above what any normal woman could sing at, never mind a man? When the songs sound like Broadway tunes? The music is horrible, and I’m not complaining about the old Dan Schutte songs.

    It would be better if they took more of the music OUT and let the people SPEAK the words in prayer.

    When I listen to the Our Father, which thankfully is still spoken although I’m sure our singer would love to belt that out opera-style too, people are saying it, men and women alike. The Gloria, on the other hand, which is a roller-coaster ride of warbling in my parish? No one. No one can.

    Maybe when the singers start to realize that their dreams of being opera singers are over and start singing with the intent of having the people sing along, then people will. Until then, they seem quite content to make the show about them.

    I agree on the rest of this article though : )

    • Yes, cf THomas Day’s Book “Why Catholics Can’t Sing”

    • Carl says:

      Christina Agulaira sang the national anthem. We all know the words to it (though she didn’t), but nobody could sing along with her due to all of the artistic liberty she took with the melody. It’s the same with the Gloria. I can understand 4 or even 5 versions. It’s when there’s one for every parish that it bugs me because I can’t sing along, especially when they often repeat parts, start high, go low, and go high again. I have no problem with singing, I even try to sing songs I can’t stand sometimes because I have a need pray in song, but it gets tiring. That being said, people complain about the pop singers butchering the national anthem all of the time, so it’s not just a Catholic thing.

      • Donna Ruth says:

        Amen to that, Ann! Choir leaders lament that the congregation is not singing wholeheartedly, yet they still insist the choir sing in SATB four-part harmony, where the melody is the soprano voice. Many in the congregation cannot reach those stratospheric heights, so choose not to sing at all. Every year I attend a large Catholic rally where the music ministry understands the average pewdweller is not Rene Fleming or Placido Domingo. Given moderate keys in which to sing, the gathering sings their hearts out. Let us give the heave-ho to four-part harmony, except for presentation pieces.

        As to congregations looking bored, I learned a good lesson when I was teaching young Catholic parents. So often in the course of the ministry I would see several parents seemingly looking bored, and it would dishearten me. Yet, more often than not, the ones who looked bored ended up coming up at the end, wringing my hand, and thanking me for my words. So – expressions are not always indicative of what is going on in the heart. But I expect the good monsignor already knows that.

      • All of these remarks on music are good. I frankly lament the lack of use in the Catholic CHurch of the metrical hymn. THe Protestants have had congregational singing for years and learned that to get a large congregation singing music with a strong and steady beat (meter) and a memorable melody are essential. We other other hand sing in many of our parishes sing wandering high pitched songs of irregular meter. It just doesn’t work.

    • CastingCrown says:

      Having gone to a Protestant church for several years, the issue of singing is one that frustrates me greatly in the Catholic Church. In Protestant churches there is often a deeply imbibed idea that “The Congregation *Is* The Choir”. This means that *everyone* sings. Since Holy Communion usually takes a significantly smaller role in Sunday worship (if, indeed, any role at all), singing is often regarded as the primary form of worship and thanksgiving (“eucharistia”).

      However, I find that most Catholics seem to think that singing is “isn’t their job”. There is, instead, this rather twisted idea that the lector reads so we don’t have to, the priest is involved in the liturgy so we don’t have to and that the choir sings so we don’t have to. This makes me very sad.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      Oh, don’t get me started on how the National Anthem is sung!! My husband or I routinely hit the “mute” button when it’s time for the National Anthem before a sporting event. If it’s someone who isn’t a pop-music dude or chick we may give him/her a chance, but 95% of the time it’s “click” before they get to “…can…”

      Like Carl 11:55, I also am irked when I can’t participate in the liturgy because I’m not familiar with the particular setting. If cantors were trained to announce that they were using thus-and-so setting on page x, that would make a huge difference in helping people to participate fully in the Mass.

  8. Bob says:

    If it weren’t for friends and family watching the superbowl I wouldn’t have cared that much about it. I suppose there are others like me but how many I’m not sure.

    The superbowl wasn’t all that bad though (although it certainly wasn’t all-good); I have to say what made it worthwhile was the Packers’ player they interviewed at the end of the game whose comment about their victory was something like,”give all glory to God!” (and this I believe he repeated). Ironically, some of these players might be themselves active church goers who enjoy going to church and have a good and active faith. Hopefully, by their witness we can see the fans inspired to do the same.

    At the same time the Black Eyed Peas had many…em…. “vice filled” dancing/lyrics for the half-time that apparently climaxed with a song about faith and the line “practice what you preach” (fortunately there was no wardrobe malfunction). This makes me think that the greatest obstacle to the deep grounding and preaching of faith is not necessarily just the priest but people of faith who don’t live authentically faith-filled lives; maybe the Black Eyed Peas should listen to their own advice, as well as the fans who they are singing and dancing to.

    If people would take the good out of the messages of the superbowl while trashing the trash I think a brighter future might be in store for both football and going to church.

    Hosanna! and….go Pack!

  9. Chatto says:

    Hi Father,

    interesting observations. I’m a football fan, but from the other side of the Pond, so I don’t really get to watch the Super Bowl either because it’s on in the middle of the night!

    Reading your side-by-side (play-by-play?) comparison of Mass and Super Bowl, I couldn’t help but notice that you’re comparing the football fans to the laity, while earlier on you compare priests/religious to the players. I thought that perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be players-laity, and coaches-priests/religious. After all, the laity aren’t merely spectators at the Mass the way that fans are at the game. The fans may sport their team’s colours, but that doesn’t give them a spot on the roster, and they don’t get championship rings when the team wins. On the other hand, the baptized really are part of the ‘team’, the Church, and are called to “run the race [or play the game] to the finish” for that crown of unfading glory.

    Likewise, while the players/laity can concentrate on their own assignment in a given play (their particular charism), the coach/priest has be concerned about everyone else. They should know more about the fundamentals and theory than anyone else, and it’s their job to prepare the players to play in all phases of the game (liturgy, charity etc). They sacrifice even more than the players, because they work for their whole lives to reach that level, and for a lot less worldly reward and recognition.

    Anyway, just a few random thoughts. Keep it up, Coach!

    http://therecusanthousemate.blogspot.com/

  10. Anita says:

    “hurried liturgy with little attention to detail does not inspire.”

    That’s a good point, Msgr, couldn’t agree with you more. I attend daily Mass and because people have to start work (8:00am Mass) or return to work (lunch time Mass at 12:10pm and 1:10pm), Father has to “hurry” it along. No singing. The Mass is completed in 25 minutes from start to finish. I’m fine with that, we all have to get back to work. However, Sunday Mass, should be a slower pace. This is just an observation but if priests, God bless them all, could just enunciate each word, say it with meaning, slow it down – take your time – instead of rattling it off, it would inspire us faithfuls hearing it during the Eucharisitc Prayer. It makes a huge difference.

    Congratulations to the Packers. Steelers will be back (soon). There’s always next year.

  11. Terence Filmore says:

    “Do priests and religious show the same dedication and are they willing to make the same kind of sacrifices for Jesus? Will they risk injury and attack? I pray we will and do, but I wonder.

    >Well, Msgr, there are plenty of religious in DC alone that deal on a daily basis with the effects of drugs, crime, sexual abuse, and a host of other problems. Then we have religious in so many difficult places – Congo, Sudan, Iraq, and dozens of others – that offer Mass and many social services under dire circumstances. We see the list of those religious who have given their lives printed each December in the Catholic Standard. Each of them shone their light brightly and bravely. We should celebrate their lives more.

    My own personal favorite – a missionary priest I met in a horrible Nairobi slum who moved from his parish residence outside the slum into the slum itself to be closer to his flock. No sanitation, running water, or security – just his people. What servants of Jesus men and women like him are.

  12. Anniem says:

    Oh My! This deserves to be read by every Catholic!!! Many decades ago I wrote a short letter to the editor of our hometown newspaper, and mentioned a few of the same ideas: the “vestments” of the players, the enthusiasm of the crowd, the participation, etc. etc. Could it be that Vatican II had anything to do with this “dumbing down” in “Catholicity” of Catholics? Being a regular participant of the Tridentine Rite, I can’t help notice the difference between the the casual or worse “dress” of participants at the Vernacular Mass, especially on weekdays, and the “dress up attitude” of those who attend the Extraordinary Form each Sunday. A woman does not show up in trousers or short skirts; dresses or skirts are an unwritten rule. Most women wear blouses or dressy tops and often a blazer or a coat if the weather requires it. And veils or hats, of course. Contrast that with jeans, T-shirts, tight pants, low-cut blouses and tops at the usual weekday Mass (even among the Extraordinary Ministers of the Altar) and often on Sundays. Proximity to the beach invites even more scandalous clothing. Nary a word about this at any parish. “We are just glad you are here; we might drive you away from attending Mass if we enforce any rules of conduct or dress!” Can you imagine showing up at Buckingham Palace or the White House in such casual attire? And yet we are with the King of Kings, and receive His Body and Blood. No more mention, too, of a proper preparation for Communion, before Mass, or 10 minutes or more of Thanksgiving. I am fervently praying that the new translation will inspire people to conduct themselves and dress themselves in a manner appropriate to the occasion: Calvary re-enacted in an unbloody manner. Wish I had the money to buy many copies of “Dressing with Dignity” for wide distribution. Bottom line: being a Catholic is not just showing up for Mass, but means a deep relationship with the Trinity. We cannot remain Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday just to get our ticket to heaven punched for that week! We have bought the pagan cultural message: “I did it MY WAY!” Radical changes are needed in our lives. Me first!

  13. CastingCrown says:

    A while ago I put together a rather tongue-in-cheek explanation of the local church’s football (soccer) team:

    http://thisrestlesspilgrim.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/the-church-football-team/

  14. CWG says:

    I am shocked that the average donation is $5 to $7. How can this be? I give $120 per week and I feel I should give more for the upkeep of the parish. $5 to $7? If some of us give over $100 (I know there are many of us) then there are a lot of people giving nothing at all!

    On the music problem… there is a simple solution. Get rid of all the songs that sing about “me”, “I”, “we”… and only sing songs that sing about “God”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”, “Mary” or the saints. Really, it’s that simple. Look at the words of the song you sing this Sunday, and see if they are all about “us” or about our God!

    • The question of Average Catholic donations is somewhat disputed. Here is a study that sets the amount at $5.40:
      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n7_v120/ai_13654300/

      The disputes center around the sample that is taken. For example, are practicing Catholics distinguished from bad Catholics who only attend at Christmas and Easter and contribute only a little. If they are eliminated the numbers skew higher. Likewise there are important regional differences. Catholics in the Northeast give a LOT less than Catholics in the South. THis also seems correlated with the fact that Mass attendance is much lower in the Northeast and dissent a lot higher than other regions.

      In my own parish that average donation froms $35-40 every week. Some are much higher. Black Catholics are generally supportive of the teaching on Biblical tithing.

      • Cynthia BC says:

        I would think that average weekly collection divided by average weekly attendance = average contribution per parishioner.

        Is it typical in Catholic parishes to count the number of people in the pews at each weekend Mass?

        • Well, there’s a lot of leakage in the number since some people who do not regularly come send in donations by mail. But Generally your method works alright in a parish setting. Trying to get those numbers to easily roll up into national figures is not as seemless as you might expect since many parishes do not take accurate attendance numbers or account well for contributions that come in “over the transom,” i.e. by some way other than the basket.

      • *** Well, there’s a lot of leakage in the number since some people who do not regularly come send in donations by mail. But Generally your method works alright in a parish setting. Trying to get those numbers to easily roll up into national figures is not as seemless as you might expect since many parishes do not take accurate attendance numbers or account well for contributions that come in “over the transom,” i.e. by some way other than the basket.

      • Cynthia BC says:

        On the subject of parish contributions, I have rather mixed feelings about publishing each parish’s goal for the archdiocese’s Appeal, and whether they met that target. There is no accompanying explanation about how such targets are established. Is it a percentage of a parish’s income? Is it last year’s contribution plus x%? Are we supposed to feel smug if our parish exceeded its goal (with or without our help), and look askance at parishes who fell short?

  15. Bob says:

    Great points Msgr. Pope. I have also written something similar, titling it “What Catholics can Learn from Sports Fans.” Two more points I would like to add: 1. No one complains that there are no female quarterbacks on a professional football team. 2. The fans act as if they have actively participated in the game, truly believing “We Won!” or, “We Lost!” even though their participation is passive. We who attend Mass actively participate in the greatest victory of all time: Christ’s victory over sin and death, but I never hear people getting so excited over that victory.

  16. bt says:

    I didn’t watch the superbowl this year. I did hear the national anthem get masacreed, though. Argh! Think about what it took St. John Vianney to get his parish turned around. Didn’t it take about ten years? I need to reread his biography, but I seem to recall his parishoners didn’t always appreciate him! Ultimately he spent long hours in the confessional. Now look at the situation in the U.S. A parish has a priest for maybe five or seven years (not even ten years). I look at my parish bulletin and see confessions are offered on Saturday from 4:30pm to 4:45pm (or by appointment). This is obviously because people aren’t going, but digging deeper, people don’t have a concept of how sin alters their relationship with God and causes their life to suffer. Sin is the big secret no one wants to talk about. I can’t speak critically here without pointing a finger two or three at myself and my once or twice a year confession. How often are the saints talked about in sermons? Rarely. How often is marriage discussed? Rarely. It seems that many practical aspects of Catholic life get little mention in Church. Evidently the Church is supposed to spontaneously regenerate herself and to grow and thrive with little external nourishment required. I noticed that a workshop was given at a nearby Catholic church on a few weeknights. The topic was the Last Things. Why is this topic reserved for a workshop? Shouldn’t something so important be worked into a sermon? Shouldn’t the whole congregation hear about the Last Things.

    As a Church, we need a better appreciation of the holiness and significance of the sacraments. We need a better understanding of our church history, of the church Fathers and the saints. This requires education and some of it is going to have to occur on Sunday morning. It will require a concerted effort, and it will require some real leadership from our bishops. Perhaps their could be a guidebook for parish priests, put out by the U.S. Bishop’s conference, which give them assistance and guideposts in formulating sermons in such away that the church’s history, traditions, and faith get worked into the sermon. The sermon might be two or three minutes longer, but who cares? I think there would be much benefit.

  17. Linda O says:

    This post is really interesting to me, because yesterday I was thinking of live facebook-posting during the Superbowl game (tongue-in-cheek) of things that we’ve all heard regarding typical complaints about Mass/the Church.

    I did put one post asking what is the latest I could start watching and how early could I stop watching and still fulfill my SuperBowl watching obligation. Most people didn’t get it. I wasn’t at my computer and don’t have a smart-phone so I didn’t add any more but here are some that I was thinking of posting:

    “This game is just boring. I’m only here for the half-time show.”
    “That music is horrible. How do they expect people to continue to watch?”
    “Why couldn’t they make the game earlier in the day so I could just watch and get it over with? Have the rest of the day to do what I really want to do.”
    “Does the NFL actually expect women to watch these games when there is not a single female officiating the game? Not a single female player nor a female sportscaster? Oh a few token women on the sidelines but all the real power positions are held by men! I’m protesting the NFL next year!”
    “I did not get anything out of that game. Next year I am just going to get my sports experience by taking a walk in the woods.”

  18. Peter Wolczuk says:

    I just have no frame of reference here. When it comes to sports played on a field, in a gymn or even hockey on a rink I’ve never seen the point. I’ve always preferred wilderness sports – the less man made structure or technology the better. Leaves more room for the pattern which God has placed there.

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