Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saints, Sportsmen, Spirituality and Sports: Five Things You Might Not Know About the Sacraments

None more deserving of this honor.
The recent nomination of Pope Francis as Time magazine's "Person of the Year" and Peyton Manning as Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" makes me think of many things, but one in particular: sacraments—yes, sacraments. That is also the topic of a talk: "Saints, Sportsmen, Spirituality and Sports" I am giving tonight to a confirmation class.  I think that milieu is a fun way to make some creative connections and think differently about sacraments—a great gift of the Church.

I think it's important to consider what one already knows about the sacraments. Many Catholics are likely to reply "there are seven of them." Good answer! And this group of 20 freshmen and sophomores is about to receive one, but there is much more. 

For their purposes, it is important to know that confirmation is not graduation. For some reason, it feels that way, but we never graduate from our faith. As stated in "Life Teen," "Jesus is always forming us, and there is always more that we can learn. There are more ways to grow. Our faith is a life-long journey, We can always experience deeper conversion, and Jesus continually calls us into a deeper relationship with Him."  

Who was the best man? Cooper or Eli?
Another sacrament can serve as an important example to help us understand this truth about confirmation. The resource guide states "Two people do not stop falling in love the day they get married. There's a beautiful celebration, family and friends have gathered to witness the sacrament a couple has been preparing for. But those two people don't look at each other the next day and say Finally, we graduated from falling in love." To stay married, a couple commits to continuing to love, cherish and respect one another. Certainly, that requires God's grace. That grace is given in the Sacrament, but sustained in community, the Church, its liturgical celebrations and prayer.

Confirmation then, is a sacrament of Christian maturity. As one of the three sacraments of initiation, we are reminded in this sacrament that we received the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism (the flame from our baptismal candle represented this). This grace, and initiation into the Holy Spirit is not yet complete. That grace, from Baptism, is completed and sealed by the Sacrament of Confirmation! This Sacrament signifies a greater outpouring of God's grace—one that is given for a purpose. Our gifts and talents point to what that may be.

What a year.
And the Sacraments are one of two great gifts we receive from the Catholic Church. The Catechism states that "Jesus commissioned the Apostles first to make people disciples through their preaching, in other words, to awaken their faith and only then to baptize them. There are two things therefore, that we receive from the Catholic Church: faith and sacraments." Increasing our faith by worship, community and of course the Sacraments is something that we can seek out all of our lives.

In his First Angelus, Pope Francis said "the Lord never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who tire of seeking forgiveness." How true are his words! My humanity binds me to imperfection. I hurts others and myself. I sin and mess up. God's mercy ever flows, his grace is gratuitous. It has strengthened my journey in spite of my ways. Thank you Lord!

And so the next posting will include the "Five Things Your Might Not Know About the Sacraments." The Pontiff and #18 will provide some fun examples and insights, those creative connections I am hoping for!

Photo Credits

No comments:

Post a Comment