September 12, 2010 – A Late Effort

Well I’m a little late getting a blog out this week.  Yesterday Popeye Picnic activities plus tuning in to the SIU – Illinois foofball game got in the way (my Salukis got thumped, ouch!).  So I had planned to write something this morning and I got a surprise visit from my nephew and his family, so its now about 5:15PM and I’m trying to write and pay attention to the Rams game at the same time, so this will probably not be my finest literary work (as if my first 100 were anything worth sending to the Smithsonian).

I want to first and foremost thank all of you who worked so hard in preparing and manning the different stands and other events surrounding the Popeye Picnic.  I continually am amazed at how generous people are with their time and talent.  One of my relatives mentioned recently that some of the people in their parish were getting disgruntled because they have to work at so many fundraisers.  So again thank you for all of your tireless efforts.  If you didn’t get to sample the fish and bbq at the KC’s, you missed a great treat.

OK, anyone who has followed my first 100 blogs knows about my deep love of sports.  It’s hard for me to participate in conversations about movies, TV dramas, etc. because if you pop into my house chances are that the TV will be tuned to either a sporting event or something related to sports.  To me sports encompasses everything I need to be entertained.  If my team is performing badly (which for us St. Louis Louis fans has been an all too common occurance lately) then I can let out my frustrations.  If my team performs well then I can feel the sense of elation.  And unlike a movie or TV show, no one knows for sure what the outcome is going to be.

Unfortunately, sports continues to receive black eyes from the actions of its athletes and coaches.  From steroid use, to illegal drug use, to sexual misconduct, etc., etc., sometimes the sports report sounds more like an arrest report.  But there are many positive influences to be found in sports as well.  A few weeks back I listed out some of the athletes who have been positive role models.  I’m addressing the subject again because there are also coaches who provide valuable life lessons as well.

I heard an interview this past week with Bill Curry.  Bill Curry is a former NFL player and currently is head coach of Georgia State University.  He is known for being a disciplinarian and for demanding that his players follow team rules to the letter.  When asked why he demanded that his players follow such a strict code of conduct, his reply was “which do you think is greater – the pain of discipline or the pain of regret?”  In other words, so many people go to great lengths to avoid punishment for their wrongdoings, but is it worth it to have to endure the burden of guilt of  knowing that they have gotten away with something?

In today’s gospel Jesus is being chastised for socializing with tax collectors and sinners, ending His parable by saying that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”  One of the great gifts God gives is His forgiveness, a means to lift that pain of regret.  There is always pain in discipline, even if it just admitting to ourselves that we are not perfect and that we always have room for improvement, but as Jesus showed us at Easter, there is light after the darkness, there is healing after the pain.  And the pain of discipline is only temporary, whereas the pain of regret can last forever unless we take the necessary steps to alleviate it.

Next week’s blog will likely be a little late as well, as I am scheduled to attend a workshop on Friday and Saturday on funeral rites.  This is a follow-up to the workshop I attended a few years ago on lay leaders of prayer.  In an emergency, if a priest or a deacon is unavailable, a trained lay leader of prayer can lead a wake service and can also lead the prayers of interrnment at the cemetery.  A lay person cannot have the actual funeral service, but this is a means of being prepared in an emergent situation.  This workshop will be on Friday and Saturday, and I’m sure it will be a learning experience.

Well my Rams are playing hard, but right now are still coming up short.  But, oh, a fumble by Arizona!  Oh, the drama of sports!  I love it.  Enjoy the week ahead.  Peace.

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