Friday, August 5, 2016

A Case for the Away Game

I love the away game....sitting in enemy territory...being that fan that stands out of the crowd for their opposing colors or cheers. And my annual service trip to the Romero Center in Camden NJ afforded twelve students, two fellow teachers and me the timely opportunity to watch our San Francisco Giants take on the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen's Bank Park. Many of my students remarked that they had never seen the Giants on the road. They were excited to experience the unique traditions of another team, to determine how "The Bank" compares with AT&T Park, what Philly fans are like, what they do with the Liberty Bell right of centerfield...and of course who or what the Phanatic appears to be. 
Through their eyes, I was reminded that there is much to gain from the away game. We enter in with fresh eyes and must modify our listening skills. Even though a respectable number of fans donned orange and black, the roar of the crowd wasn't in our favor. I know many people who plan summer travels in and around exciting cities where their hometown team will play.Summer vacation is an ideal time to visit another Major League Ballpark and take in a road game. But I will not let this idea be limited to sports. I have always believed the notion of attending an "away game" applies to our faith as well.

For most people, teachers in particular, summer is a wonderful break from the daily grind of work. We all need rest and relaxation. Time away from both home and work is a welcome thing. But I have never understood how or why people view vacation as a time to take a break from our faith. If anything, we should have more time for prayer or service work. I know for a fact that parishes don't stop hosting mass in the summer. In fact, many of those located in popular summer destinations count on out of town visitors. And much like my appreciation of attending the away game in Major League baseball, I have always enjoyed visiting other parishes throughout the country. 
The view from behind the altar at St. Francis
Growing up, my family went to Tahoe the first week of August every summer. Given the view from inside of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Incline Village, it was hard to complain about the Sunday obligation. It was also impossible not to be prayerful and feel grateful for the beauty of God's creation known as Lake Tahoe while listening to the Gospel.

A popular summer spot for many people from the Bay Area, I remember attending mass in anticipation of who my family might run into. always enjoyed wondering who we might run into at Mass up in Lake Tahoe every summer. I never knew if the priest was going to have us stand and share with the congregation where we were from (always felt a little awkward). I gained a glimpse what different churches valued and promoted and with what issues they struggled. I didn't need to know that Catholic means "universal" in order to understand how that spirit applies to my faith. 

There's more value to attending an away Mass...a roadie....and even standing out in the crowd that one might anticipate. I encourage any family or individual who is traveling for what's left of our summer, to make the little effort that it takes to find the away game Mass. No one loses...everyone wins.*** (99% of the time. blog posting on this to come).

Photo Credits
St. Francis

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