A MESSAGE FROM FATHER LOU
THE SUPER BOWL
The NFL season is nearing its end with playoffs and the Super Bowl just around the corner. The Broncos, God-willing will be in the mix again this year. Whether we are talking about the Super Bowl, the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup, the World Cup, the Olympics, or the World Series, athletics and athletes are a part of the fiber of our country, our society and the world.
Steroid scandals notwithstanding, athletes are heroes to millions of people worldwide. Their incredible physical feats are what legends are made of. We have to understand that a 430 ft. homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning, of the seventh game of the World Series is only part physical. The attitude of the player and his mental focus plays more of a role. I once had a coach that believed that a successful athlete had 10 percent talent and 90 percent fortitude. It is more what is inside a person that enables him or her to actualize heroic events in the extreme pressure of the moment.
Our lives are a contest of sorts, with the prize not being a Super Bowl ring, and Olympic gold medal or a multi-million dollar contract. Rather the prize is dwelling within God’s presence now and for all eternity. St. Clement of Alexandria addresses this topic:
“This is the true athlete – one who is crowned for having victory over all passions in the great stadium, the world. For he who directs the contest is the Almighty God, and He who awards the prize is the Only-begotten Son of God. Angels and demons are spectators. And the contest, containing all the different exercises, is ‘not against flesh and blood,’ but against the spiritual powers of unregulated passions that work through the flesh. Those who master these struggles and overthrow the tempter win eternal life.”
Eternal life — is that not our goal? Most athletes are at the top of their game or can expect to play their game for a decade or two. The real question is, how do they live their life off the playing field? Or, how do you or I live our lives in the “Great Stadium” of our home, our work, our school, our play, our life? Do we live now with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, which is “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?” (Galatians 5:22). St. Paul reminds us in these very verses; “… those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit, let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:24-26). How do we relate to others? Are we kind, forgiving, patient and loving? To do so is often a great challenge, a battle, a contest. To do so consistently is a great feat indeed, worthy of legend.
This new year of 2015, as the NFL Playoffs begin and as Super Bowl Sunday approaches with the best two teams and multi-million dollar T.V. commercial spots secured, make a commitment of your life to Christ. Commit to an ascetic and athletic struggle against the passions that challenge you. Remember that this is a contest of spiritual dimensions – not against people but against the powers of darkness. It is only by and with God’s Grace that we can be victors. Have a blessed New Year filled with God’s grace, strength and Divine Presence.
With His Blessings,