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Compare and Contrast: The Super Bowl and the Mass, Football and Faith

February 1, 2015 50 Comments

020115I write to you in the midst of a semi-“religious” event: the Super Bowl. People have donned their sacred attire and are shouting praises. I enjoy football, but see it a lot less than most since I’m a priest and tend to be busy on Sundays! Yet I remain quite fascinated at how passionate and dedicated many Americans are to their team and to the game.

Would that more Catholics had the same dedication to the Mass and the Church that true football fans have to the game. (Fan is short for fanatic.) Would, too, that all priests and religious had the same sacrificial dedication that football 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-round practice, weightlifting, and punishing games. They risk injury and suffer many pains, all for the game. Do priests and religious show the same dedication? 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 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 of football. They even come to Church wearing the jersey of their team, often sporting someone else’s name on their back! Let’s compare and contrast some of the aspects of football and see if the same thrill and dedication are exhibited for our 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 idea that a lot of people were present. Please take these comparisons in the light-hearted manner in which they are intended.

That said, the point remains a serious one: we often exhibit unusual priorities when it comes to worldly vs. spiritual matters. We do well to look at ourselves with humor in order to ask God for 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 the game for weeks. They follow the playoffs, review stats, and listen to commentaries and predictions. They make sure they are “up on” the game.” At a 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 emerge victorious! They anticipate the game and look forward to it joyfully.
  • Mass – Little preparation is evident on the part of most who go to Mass. Generally, they do not review the readings or spiritually prepare by frequent confession. Fasting has disappeared from the Catholic landscape. In fact, ¾ of Catholics don’t go to Mass at all. And even of those who do, many don’t anticipate it joyfully. Many even dread going; they try to “fit it in” at the most convenient time and hope for the shortest possible Mass. This is true even on the great feasts like Christmas, Easter, and Holy Week. Most Catholics do not talk to others about going to Mass or invite them to join them.
  • Super Bowl – Many fans wear special clothes for the occasion, even at regular-season football games. They wear jerseys, hats with insignias, and other “sacred” apparel. Some even paint their faces and bodies.
  • Mass – Sacred apparel for Mass is all but gone. There isn’t much special attire and little 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 all that is gone. “Come as you are” seems to be the only rule.
  • Super Bowl – People who go to football games often spend hundreds of dollars for tickets. Those who are fortunate enough to go to the Super Bowl spend 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, and do so eagerly. At regular-season games, many have tailgate parties. Fans at home joyfully anticipate the kick off and spend time in preparatory rites such as parties and beer. Even ordinary games find the fans watching pre-game shows and gathering well before the kickoff.
  • Mass – Many Catholics time their arrival for just before the Mass begins. Many—as high as 50%—arrive late. Arriving early to pray or to greet fellow worshippers is generally not something that is planned for.
  • Super Bowl – People LOVE the game. They are enthusiastic; they shout, cheer, and are focused and interested in each play. They are passionate, alive, and celebratory. They also care a great deal, exhibiting joy at good plays, and sorrow at bad ones. They are alive, exhilarated, and expressive.  They care passionately about what is happening on the field.
  • Mass – Many look bored at Mass. In many ways, the expressions on people’s faces remind one more of a funeral than of a resurrected Lord. Rather than a sea of joyful faces, it looks like everyone just sucked a lemon: bored believers, distracted disciples, frozen chosen. One finds exceptions in many Black parishes, at charismatic Masses, and in some Latino parishes. But overall, little joy or even interest is evident. It is true that many would not think of loud cheers as appropriate in Church, but even a little joy and interest would be a vast improvement.
  • Super Bowl – Many fans sing team songs. Here in Washington we sing, “Hail to the Redskins, Hail victory! Braves on the warpath! Fight for ol’ D.C.!”
  • Mass – Most Catholics don’t sing.
  • Super Bowl – Even a normal football game lasts four hours including the pre- and post-game shows. Toward the end of each half, the game is often intentionally slowed down; incomplete passes stop the clock, etc. Fans gladly accept this slowdown and are even happy and excited if the game goes into overtime.
  • Mass – Frustration and even anger are evident in many of the faithful  if Mass begins to extend beyond 45 minutes. Some people even begin to walk out. Many leave right 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 are angry when they are broken or when penalties are not called. They respect the role of the referee and the line judges and, even if they are unhappy, 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 flag” or assess a penalty of any sort. Often they 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 in which 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 a 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; it’s too cold; the Mass times aren’t perfectly to my liking. Why aren’t the pews cushioned? (They’re harder to keep clean, that’s why.) Why wasn’t the walk to my usual door shoveled clear of snow? When will the sound system be better? Why do they ask me to move to the front in an empty Church?

OK, that’s enough. Remember, I use hyperbole here and intend this in a lighthearted manner. We humans are funny, and what we get excited about is often humorous. The truth is, people love their football. But this one point is serious: would that we who believe were as passionate as football fans. We need to work at this on two levels.

Clergy and Church leaders need to work very hard to ensure that the liturgy of the Church is all that it should be. High-quality, sacred music, good preaching, and 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 then 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 zeal that will be manifest on their faces, in their deeds, and in their dedication.

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

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  1. Vernon says:

    Hope that this message will appear in the Catholic Standard soon.

  2. Patrick Sanguinetti says:

    Well done. Always thought it was a shame that Americas favorite pastime that serves as a relatively safe release of inner frustration and aggression had to take place on The Day of Rest. Contributing to ignoring the sabbath and/or the feeling of guilt for enjoying.

  3. Romulus says:

    Yes, well the NFL actually puts some effort into production values. It is well done. It delivers what it professes to be. Liturgy in most parishes is slovenly, uninspired, and stripped to its barest essentials. It’s thrown together at the last minute, and it shows. NFL games are true to their nature: you’re never in doubt about where you are. Can’t always say that about the Mass.

    • edraCRUZ says:

      You can only get something of The MASS out of what you give to it. If you attend it passively giving nothing out of you, well you receive nothing. But if you give your best, attending The MASS knowing, understanding and self giving your full attention to its fullness of Truth, brother Romulus, you are in heaven, however slovenly, unsinspired and stripped to its barest essentials are your surroundings. GOD Bless you.

    • stoney says:

      well said, Romulus.

    • Fair enough, though not all masses are as you describe and still people complain. But you are also missing some of the points by merely dissing the Mass too. The NFL does NOT have a perfect record. There are scandals, most of the seats in stadiums are dismal, uncomfortable etc, The view is often terrible. Many of the teams are lousy. Ticket prices are too high, food in stadiums is WAY too expensive and they won’t let you bring your own food. Frankly a lot of the games aren’t all that good and I notice many leave the stands before many games are out. People are made to watch games in snow, freezing rain etc. I could go on. The big difference is passion. People overlook the doping scandals, high prices, constant ads during games and a thousand discomforts etc because they like football. They don’t like the Church that much. So I don’t think you’ve really made your case even if Mass “as entertainment” could be improved on.

    • Doug says:

      Romulus: you have identified a clear and present danger to our faith. I would encourage you to take up arms and make a difference. Are you, could you, be involved in the liturgy? Sing in the choir, serve as a lector or usher? Perhaps help with the audio-visual production, the sound and microphones and what not.

      You have the chance to make a difference.

  4. Aaron says:

    They forgot a big one:

    Mass – On Superbowl Sunday, many parishes will reschedule Mass or cancel other church meetings to fit around the Super Bowl.

    Super Bowl – There is no evidence that the NFL plans the Super Bowl around people’s Mass schedules.

  5. Richard Connell says:

    Maybe one way of drawing people back to the Mass and making them more interested in the Mass is to remind them that the definition of religion is basically to give to God the adoration and praise that justice demands are due to God. And evidence that the way of fulfilling that demand of justice given by Jesus isn’t heavy or burdensome is that Catholics can both go to Mass and watch the Super Bowl, which I did.

  6. Jamie Ryan says:

    I attended Mass in Kampala, Uganda yesterday. The church was full; there were scores of people in plastic seats outside; people queued at the doors to get a good seat at the following Mass. Most people sang (there was an excellent choir); everyone stayed until they were dismissed. It was a wonderful experience; and somewhat of a contrast with my US experience.

  7. Craig says:

    Good Reverend, you left out Traditional Mass participaters-smiling or not, I am quite joyful to be there! Pax.

  8. Lloyd Cadle says:

    Catholics are football fans too. We are more reverent in the Mass. The Pentacostals, however, act like they are at a football game during one of their services, as they will even roll on the floor and swing from the light fixtures! Some even have barrels of grape juice (their communion) in the back that folks can partake of as they are moved by the Spirit. I kid you not. Some Protestant churches actually do this.

    I much prefer the way Catholics conduct themselves during the Mass. We can act like Pentacostals at a football game!

  9. Max says:

    As Kurt Warner made his way through the players to deliver the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots, I was amazed at how it was truly idolized. Touched and rubbed and even kissed. Replete with dramatic background music, you would think it was something extremely important. Last I checked, it was still a game, right? Fun and exciting, surely, but to treat the thing like the golden calf…in this case, the silver calf? It just made me think about our priorities.

  10. Russell says:

    The salient difference: football is real.

    • I think you are going to be very surprised Russell, though I hope you will learn this before you die and so be prepared, but the visible things of this world are passing and thus less real than the things of God which are eternal. Even now consider that empires, nations potentates and philosophies have come and gone and the Church is still. Consider too of what is said of things you call unreal:since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor 4:17)

      For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 Jn 2:16-17)

      This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. (Heb 12:27)

      But the rich should not take pride, in their humiliation–they will pass away like a wild flower. James 1:10

    • JohnS. says:

      So is the Mass. You can shake hands with the people around you, burn yourself lighting a candle, bless yourself with Holy Water, taste the bread of the Eucharist.

      What more proof of reality do you need? How about the piano/organ, the missals and hymnals, the (yes, occasionally hard) pews, the reality of the Church building itself?

      If you meant to say that God is not real, well, the Church teaches that belief in God is an act of reason, not an act of pure faith. Perhaps you just need to learn something about the Christian religion, so that you might be clear about what it teaches, and to be able to access the huge amount of knowledge and understanding that is available to you through God’s Church. Christianity is, after all, the best system available for rationally understanding the universe.

      There are many things we all love and believe in that “aren’t real”, like justice, love and beauty. In truth, they are real, but while they may have a physical aspect, they also have a supernatural or preternatural aspect that is just as real, but not necessarily something you can touch, or measure.

      Science can speak of the pigment, the canvas, the molecules that make up same, the ratios and measurements, but is blind to whether or not that collection of stuff is Art, to say nothing of whether or not it is great Art.

      The Mass is like that. It is great art, though like great music, not always performed by world class performers.

      Hey, where else, on any given day, is God going to offer you the gift of his peace, not just once, but three times? That Father may occasionally flub a few lines, does not change the beauty of the sheet music, nor the transcendental nature of God’s peace.

  11. Mary says:

    First let it be said that I am far from the Catholic I long to be, but I do long to be the person God wishes me to be. However, I can’t tell you how many times my heart has ached because there is such a lack of fellow Catholics who care as much about the Mass as they do about sports. From what I see at my parish, nothing you have said is hyperbole. Understatement maybe, but not hyperbole. And even if others can’t tell, there are times when I myself am not paying as much attention at Mass as I would be to some comparatively minor other thing that interests me, I wonder if it’s not entirely my fault (though it may well be). I can’t imagine how sacrificial the life of a priest must be, and yet I expect more from the priest who is celebrating Mass. Specifically – the manner in which they pray the Mass. Speaking out loud can capture others attention, or it can make them feel disconnected from the speaker and what he is saying. Often the priest sounds similar to a lawyer who is reading out loud from a long legal document, looking for a particular point. It’s flat, with no emotion. Imagine if Fr. Barron spoke to the camera in the same way. So I often find my mind drifting away from what the priest is saying – it seems to be without punctuation or emotion. I know it must be so difficult for the priest to always feel as if each Mass is his first Mass, but that is what is needed. Let us pray for our priests! Let us pray for the whole Church that all of her members fully realize that they are actually in the presence of Our Lord at Mass – mysteriously present with Him at the Last Supper, at His Crucifixion, and at His Resurrection. If we only realized how truly blessed we are to be there. Thank you for another wonderful lesson Monsignor.

    • Doug says:

      “First let it be said that I am far from the Catholic I long to be, but I do long to be the person God wishes me to be. “ So well said, that I say, “Me too.”

      I am very fortunate in that I have the honor of serving my parish as an MC. I help Father by helping the altar servers, and I remind them before Mass the serious work we are about. While my mind does drift, I need to keep it reeled in so I can anticipate what is happening next. Shortly after Father gives thanks for and blesses the bread and wine I line up the altar servers and then we go in front of the altar. I go with them. Our cue is the “Holy, holy,holy,…” While kneeling there the Holy Spirit comes down like the dew and that bread and wine become the Precious Body and Blood of our Savior. I relish and cherish the moment. Every Mass this miracle occurs for us.

      I thank my priests after every Mass–for their presence, for our blessings in being there and for opportunity to serve our Lord. My prayer is that more would come to appreciate the great gift we have been given.

  12. TONY CAMILLO says:

    Thank you for driving the point via ‘hyperbole’. We pray it won’t be dismissed by cynics as ‘hyper-BOLA’ (super ball)!

  13. edraCRUZ says:

    True indeed are the words you used to incisively describe the indifference we give to our LORD and HIS Church. If we have the ‘fanaticism’ we have for sports and also apply them to our faith how even more wonderful this world would be. Yet, maybe we are allowed to wallow in the quagmire of artificial and clichè, shallow and superficial so that when we realize it’s futility we can greatly accept and tightly embrace the Good, the Beautiful and the Truth. Today, we celebrate Candlemas. It points to lessening the light of the candle to a greater Light of the HOLY SPIRIT. YOU can dismiss YOUR little servant now that The Greatest of LIGHT has come into the world. YHWH SHEKINAH!

  14. Bee bee says:

    My favorite of your observations was “Fans understand and accept the place of rules and expect them to be followed.” Oh, YES! In fact, sports fan of all stripes are almost rabid about the rules, and will argue for hours about a call or play where the rule was not followed or the decision could be disputed. In fact, they are almost childish about their insistence that the rules be strictly followed in order to be “fair.” That is a HUGE contrast to how many flaunt the rules of the Church, and even resent the authority of the Church to establish and enforce the rules.

    Of course, the Church and life are not “games” in the same sense as is the contest between sports teams. There is something about contests that gets people involved and excited. And anyone whose ever been a child will tell you playing or watching a contest is a lot more fun than doing any work. And going to Church and practicing a religion is more like discipline and the work of your life, and not much like a fun contest.

    But I DO see and appreciate your observations on how many people are willing to spend so much time and energy on that which is passing, and not on what is going to really matter for eternity.

    I had never thought of this, but I think it is an important observation about our culture.

  15. James says:

    The problem is that the Novus Ordo mass is boring. It is dumbed down, robotic & empty. It does nothing to elevation the congregation to God. With the focus shifting to man and attempting to entertain, instead of being other worldly, the mass can’t compete with entertainment such as the super bowl or real pop music. That’s why so many churches seek to find ways to please man.. folk music, rock music, contemporary worship, father cracking jokes in the homily, girl altar servers, turning to greet everyone. And it varies from one parish to the next. To think that the Church had it wrong for 1900 years and the mass needed to be scrapped and redone to adapt to the modern age is the height of human arrogance. The Church is reaping what it sowed. And people are actually surprised. People need to experience a taste of Heaven on earth. Maybe that way the reality of the Eucharist and belief in it will be restored. Blame the people, blame the super bowl, heaven forbid we blame the banal Novus Ordo mass and it’s endless novelties.

    • C Beltz says:

      James,

      I agree and disagree. First, 1900 is a bit of a stretch, and Msgr has documented the timelines quit well. If that was hyperbole I’m sorry, it was too subtle for me.

      Does the church pander to man? Yes. Is it right? No. Is it entirely the mass form fault or can we finally put the blame where it belongs…squarely back on ourselves.

      For the first 300 years or so, just being a follower of Christ was pretty exciting what with being potential lion chow and all.

      We have had it too easy of late and we got bored. Our religion was handed to us by the martyrs who came before us and we got lazy. That, my friend is why we look to jazz it up. Because no one is ever better for having something handed to them. We have not earned our religion and on some level we know it. The day is coming, however, when we will again, I’m afraid.

    • John says:

      This is more true than many think. .. and if it wasn’t for me stumbling upon the traditional (divine accident) I never would’ve reverted. Deo gratias!

      I would even go as far too say that Anibal Bugnini created the novus ordo to take away catholic identity, and benedict will one day be canonized for making the traditional mass more available, and reminding the hierarchy that “what was once good and Holy cannot all of a sudden be otherwise”

    • stoney says:

      exactly, this ain’t rocket science.

  16. C Beltz says:

    A couple points here…

    I stopped singing at mass when they changed the words in the songs to be non-gender specific. Honestly my brain just shuts down to all but “this sounds stupid, the old version was better”. I am not a fan of blaming feminism for the lack of male involvement in the church, but that is one area where I believe it had a detrimental effect yet was also entirely pointless.

    The hot cold thing was a big deal for me this year as our church spent much of 2014 without a functioning HVAC. It does a number on you.

    Football? Well it was fun as a kid, but it’s so melodramatic anymore that I am bored by it all. Maybe my age just caught up to me.

  17. Andrew says:

    Living in Chicago, yesterday was a bad blizzard. I normally drive 30 miles to a church that provides either a Tridentine mass or Novus Ordo in latin. Because of the snowstorm, we went to our local parish church. Only 30 people attended the Mass due to the weather, but even I (a faithful Catholic) couldnt wait to get out of there. Even though only 30 people showed up, they had a full choir and the music was cranked up quite loud. I gritted my teeth through the entire Mass, and thought the same thing you propose – why is it that we cannot go enthusiastically to Mass while on the other hand, Super Bowl Sunday is so popular? Being in business, I came to the conclusion – its because the product is not desirable. The super bowl is a desirable product, your typical Mass is not. Its a harsh reality, but if the Church cares so little about presenting its best for the average church goer (consumer), then the consumer responds in like. I dont like greeting everyone around me (not a desirable product), I dont like the music (defintely NOT a desirable product), the homilies are usually worthless and unchallenging (certainly would not pay for it), and cant stand the army of extraordinary ministers (not a desirable product). So, I attend out of obligation, niot because its desirable. So there was one highlight of the Mass – the altar servers were actually boys! This was so odd on this parish, that my wife actually stopped them after Mass to encourage them. BTW, they looked more bored than me.

  18. Max says:

    The Novus Ordo is all I have. And if that is all I have, I’ll take it. Because I get to receive the Eucharist. Pretty good deal for attending the old, boring, banal Novus Ordo!

    Bless you, brother. It ain’t a perfect world, but it’s the only one we have.

    Max

  19. Deb says:

    I attend the Novus Ordo Mass. I have attended the Traditional Latin and I still do now and then, but I have no idea what is going on and if I want to pray in the presence of God, I will go to Adoration. I belong to a parish that pretty much fits everything written in this blog. I have shopped the parishes and I have been a member of a Charismatic Catholic Church and a more Traditional beautiful church and I have landed in a parish that has been unformed for probably fifty years. The people do not know the faith, they most likely have no belief in the real presence, the bulletin is a social newsletter, it is pathetic. I am there because I am being fed by a very holy, priest. The direction I get in his homilies and in confession are life changing for me and I think for others. Confession is offered six days a week and I see the young people coming. I go to daily Mass even though it involves a forty mile round trip during my work day. My coming to Mass a half hour early to pray the rosary and then prepare myself for Mass is what I always do. My doing that is now having an effect on others around me, as I am a living witness. My dress and my reverence during Mass is a witness.
    To me, it is the height of human arrogance to determine what is going on within another persons heart. It is arrogant to think that one cannot be in communion with the Lord unless the Mass is in Latin. It is arrogant to think that one only need attend the Latin Mass and they are instantly saints, saints who gather around and insult the other 95% of church goers.
    I can walk into any church, empty or full and immediately be drawn into the arms of Jesus. His power and glory is present in every Tabernacle. I can worship in silence and I have learned to worship with distractions, which I offer up to the Lord. The Lord pours out his grace upon me in every Mass and every Eucharist. He doesn’t reserve his love for Latin goers only. He did not come for the righteous, he came for sinners. There are people in this world who are lucky to receive the Eucharist once a year, standing in a hut with a tin roof and they thank God for that blessing. We, as Catholics need to continue to grow deeper and deeper into relationship with the Lord and work to bring others into that also. We do that by being a witness, not in putting on our top hat, extolling our greatness and shunning those poor, stupid, Novus Ordo Mass goers. Change things, start with yourself.

  20. PD says:

    But doesn’t the bible contain “Hyperbole” also?

    • JohnS. says:

      Yep. And metaphor, allegory and a bunch of other stuff like that.

      That’s one of the things that makes the Church necessary; we need an authoritative interpreter of the Bible, to keep from arguing to the point of schism about what all that scripture really means.

  21. c matt says:

    Football is about a bag full of air going up and down a field.

    No, it isn’t really. It’s about larger than life men attempting to make a bag full of air go up and down a field or preventing same. And therein lies the drama.

    I get the point. But these are two separate things. Football (and similar physically demanding sports) are about the physical, material struggle. It is much easier and requires far less work on our part to identify with the struggle we are witnessing.

    The Mass is a re-presentation of a spiritual and metaphysical “struggle” – of infinitely higher stakes. It requires far more of us mentally to adequately grasp the realities present that we are witnessing. In our current state, that is nearly impossible. Reverence on the part of the celebrant and those who assist certainly helps, but at a fundamental level, we are just ignorant of what is really going on and why it is important. Easy enough to grasp what’s going on in football. With the Mass, not so much.

  22. Max says:

    Well, a bag MOSTLY filled with air, in the case of the Patriots.

    Had to go there.

    Max

  23. Nate says:

    Msgr.,

    Your analogy breaks down and the reason for the analogy’s failure is why the Church is failing. The players and franchises that make it to the Super Bowl do so because they work harder, invest more time and often money in their effort, etc. In other words, they play to win. The Catholic Church today stinks of mediocrity. Not the mediocrity brought about by sin, which has always been there. No, it’s far worse – a loss of purpose and direction, a lack of desire to win. Most clergy and laity aren’t interested or believe it is necessary to convert others or ensure those already in the Church reach Heaven. The Church offers half-baked defenses of its principles in society and rarely challenges her opponents. And those few brave clergy who do express zeal for the Faith are often punished. Its the equivalent of kicking Tom Brady off your team because he hurt someone’s feelings and then wondering why you keep losing games. If I may make a baseball analogy, we have become the Florida Marlins of religion and with similarly bad attendance. You want people to show their support, build a program committed to its mission and not committed to holding hands with the opposition. If the game of salvation is more important than the NFL, then how come the Church plays it the same way little girls play soccer? Go out and crush the head of the serpent, don’t kiss it and talk about animal rights….

    • You have some good points, but they are excessive and I don’t sense you merely mean to use playful hyperbole. Your own analogy also breaks down because you over-generalize.

      There are many in the Church among the laity, clergy and religious who work a lot harder than you ever will. How hard are you praying Nate, how hard are you working for the Kingdom?

      Also you overgeneralize the NFL which is PLENTY full of PC nonsense and feminizing trends you describe.

      So work a little on your own faulty analogy you sissy….That tough enough for you? You want more challenge from the Church? well hear me you little coward, hear this challenge: Get out there and knock on doors and make some converts. Stop hiding beyond a computer screen and get out there an execute the play. Stop all your whining and bellyaching about how the coaches (err, I mean the clergy) are mediocre. Wah…WAH! You pathetic little baby.

      Is that loud and proud enough for you, you little girlie man? Or have I hurt your precious little feelings. Are my remarks NFL enough for you? (A don’t even get me started with the baseball sissies and their little PC stuff).

      Frankly, its a fake NFL you idolize but since you have this notion of tough guy theology, how do like your cartoonish notion directed at you…you little sissy, get off my football field, err..I mean get off my blog…

      :-O

      • Nate says:

        Hey now! I’m just a single-A player who is struggling to hit a curveball and wondering why the owner is firing all the good coaches and trading the good players!

        I realize you’re being a bit tongue and cheek and I do come to this blog because you rarely do pull punches. Sometimes though, I don’t think you realize (or maybe you do and just dont blog about it) how discouraging the friendly fire from the clergy (including Francis) is to people struggling to do the right thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports, corporate work, or whatever….when leaders don’t have their people’s back, it’s a big problem. Call me weak. I suppose I am and that’s why strong leadership is important to me.

      • Clyde S. Dale says:

        Yep, once my beloved Chicago Bears came out wearing pink, along with all the other teams, I started caring less about football. The “Black and Blue Division” had become the “Black and Blue and Pink Division.” I abhor misogyny, but when a man’s last bastion of, well, manliness is infiltrated by people who think Barbie Doll pink is appropriate for the National Football League (and MLB), I’m out. I’ll ride my bike and sample craft beers without wearing pink.

        I am grateful the Catholic Church is one of the last few organizations which authenticates and endorses men being men and women being women in this confusing world of ours.

        Max

    • C Beltz says:

      Nate, everything stinks of mediocrity. You idolize things of this earth as if they were divine. I think that is pretty mediocre. Why not reach for more?

      Wow, the NFL is really good at profiting from people who have disposable income. Together the NFL and the Superfans will all spend eternity rehashing the last play of the 2015 Super Bowl. Wow. Srsly? That was old by 10:00 this morning. Sounds like they will be spending eternity in the bad place.

      For 4-5000 years we have been contemplating God and it NEVER GETS OLD.

      I don’t know whether to grimace or chuckle when I see people like you apply short term logic to a timeless God.

  24. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    It’s probably not a fair assessment to compare spiritual life with football. A more realistic perspective would be a choice. Say Russel dies and has to face his Maker and given a choice to spend eternity living a spiritual life in the Body of Christ or participating in eternal Super Bowl weekends. I hope they have an endless supply of little blue pills so he can stay in they game.

  25. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    It’s probably not a fair assessment to compare spiritual life with football. A more realistic perspective would be a choice. Say Russel dies and has to face his Maker and given a choice to spend eternity living a spiritual life in the Body of Christ or participating in eternal Super Bowl weekends. I hope they have an endless supply of little blue pills so he can stay in the game.

  26. Diane Isabelle says:

    Good points, Monsignor. Our society’s priorities are wrong. Football has become an obsession. I think that football shoiuld be against the law. It is an agressive, violent sport. Any activity that results in the number of concussions for which the NFL is being sued has got to be wrong.

    Regarding the Mass, my parish tries hard to conduct reverent liturgies. Homilies are thought-provoking and challenging. Choir and cantors are very good. As to why many people don’t sing: Many hymns are written in a very high key. People don’t want to screech. Composers seem to think that everyone is a soprano or should be. But I think that God wants to be praised with both high and low notes.–A Struggling Alto

  27. Doug says:

    Hear the beat of the drum,/keeping the marchers in step./Hear the beat,/leading the marchers to where they go./Rat-a-tat-tat-tat.

    Hear the beat, Russell? Hear it Nate? Have you ever thought about who’s actually playing the drum, or are you also too mediocre to recognize that only your honest efforts are going to make a difference? That is, if you really want The Church to be what you think it should be. Remember, uh…gentlemen, the road to a good life is still narrow. Ready to get back on it, or are you just going to live your lives regretting it?

  28. dd says:

    Well, if you had the mass once a year, people would make a bigger deal out of it

  29. cermak_rd says:

    I thought Midnight Mass was like the Superbowl for Catholics. Even those who haven’t paid attention all the liturgical year make time for it.

    But on a more serious note, I think a reason for a lot of the lack of joy among the folks who go to Mass is they, well, don’t want to be there. That was me, back when I was a Catholic. I didn’t want to be there, but knew it was required. So I gave it the 45 minutes (I never walked out if it ran late though, I just mentally tuned out). When I changed religions, I found myself happily attending services that lasted much longer (on the other hand, they’re on Friday evening before clubbing time, so much easier for enjoying my weekend). Of course, the difference is I’ve bought into my new faith.

  30. patty sue says:

    Serve hot dogs and beer.
    The Passover, upon which the Mass is based, was a celebratory affair. You’ve turned it into the equivalent of a weekly funeral.

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