January 20, 2012 – Talking Fire and Football

I’ve got several things floating in mind this week, so this blog will probably be a little bit all over the place (as if none of the others weren’t).  So here we go….

First of all, I can definitely say that the flame is being fanned here at St. Mary’s.  In fact, right now it is a blazing inferno!  Our “Fanning the Flame” series is off to a wonderful start.  We had almost 30 people crammed into the Parish House this past Tuesday night to discuss the first chapter of the adult catechism.  There was very good conversation and good nuggets of information thrown out by Fr. Gene.  Also our original supply of 50 catechisms went like hotcakes, and we had to bring in another 25.  I’m also getting questions about where to find resources on the web, etc.  So we are off to a great start.  If you haven’t looked into what is being offered, find out what all of the excitement is about.  Go to the homepage of www.maryhoc.org and browse the links, or look at some of the materials in the center vestibule of church, or better yet join us this Tuesday night for what I’m sure will be another fruitful discussion.  We will break off into two groups if we have to.

I think the response we have gotten so far shows that people still have a thirst for knowledge about their faith and that we do not have an attitude of “I know all there is to know.”  Knowledge is power, and the more we learn about our faith, the closer our relationship with God can become, and the better equipped we can be to act as Jesus’ disciples and to spread His good news.  So again, please join us in whatever way you feel comfortable, whether it be reading the Catechism, doing individual reflection, or getting together as a group for discussion.  Even if you are not a member of our parish, you can still take advantage of the online materials.  E-mail me at webmaster@maryhoc.org if you have any questions.

You know, we can say about our faith what they say about baseball: that we are never masters of the game, but always students of the game.  Someone who came as close to being a master of the game as there was is Stan Musial.  Cardinal fans and anyone else who lives around this area know not only about his accomplishments on the field (.331 lifetime batting average, 3-time MVP, 24-time all star, 7-time batting champion, and on and on), but also know the exemplary life he has led off the field (devoted family man, devout Catholic, accessible to fans, and again on and on).  However, nationally he has seemed to not get the recognition he deserves, partly I think due to the fact that he does not draw attention to himself, and he does not live in a large media market like New York or Boston.  George Vescey, who is a nationally known sportswriter, released a biography on Musial last year, which I have not read yet but hope to in the near future.  Some have panned the book, saying that it is boring and not “juicy” enough because Stan was never involved in any scandals, affairs, etc.  However, Abp. (soon to be Cardinal) Timothy Dolan, who grew up in St. Louis, mentioned in a recent blog that Stan is just the kind of role model people need to be exposed to.

There has been a long-standing debate over whether athletes make good role models for people, particularly for the kids who idolize them.  Charles Barkley, a former NBA player who now is a studio analyst and is very outspoken (and has had a few brushes with the law), has said that kids should not look to him as a role model.  I have always had issue with this because the fact is, we are all role models, whether it be in our role as a parent, grandparent, friend, pastor, athlete, actor, or even as a big fat dude who teaches religion and plays on the computer.  Kids see what we do, hear what we say, and emulate what we do and say.  This week’s chapter for Fanning the Flame focuses on how God reveals Himself to us.  One way God reveals Himself to us is through us – in other words our ability to spread His message is one way we can influence others to experience a more intimate relationship with God and to act in a moral way. 

I think traditionally it has been difficult for Catholics to talk about their faith outside their own “circle”, but God encourages us and expects us to spread His message with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This weekend marks the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States.  It is an opportunity for us as Catholics and as people who believe in what scripture tells us to make known to others that life truly begins at conception, and that we do not have the right to decide when that life should end.  So this weekend especially we pray for our culture that it may value life as the right choice, and pray for those who will be marching in Washington, DC to support the pro-life cause.

Finally, many people would say that the biggest football weekend of the year is Super Bowl weekend, but for the true football fan this weekend, in which the 2 conference championship games are played to decide the Super Bowl contestants is the ultimate.  No 6 hour pregame show, no elaborate halftime shows, just 2 games and about 7 hours of non-stop football!!  Ooofa!  Personally, I would like to see the Ravens and the 49ers win.  If this happens, then it would be the first time that brothers would be head coaches against each other in the Super Bowl.  But, as much as it pains me, I’m afraid the Patriots have too much firepower.  So for my predictions, I’m going with New England 33 – Baltimore 20, and San Francisco 20 – New York 17.  And as always, this is strictly a recreational activity, so no wagering please!

Have a great week.  Keep the flame alive!  Peace. 



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