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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”-1 John 5:14
Psalm 90, Verse 11
Who comprehends the strength of your anger? Your wrath matches the fear it inspires.

This is the prayer of Moses: The Man of God who furthers states, “Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Men often throw away their time and forget their life with or without God will be an eternity. Remember “Leaders don’t kill time, they execute it,” says John Maxwell. Saint Benedict recognize the importance of being a workman for the Lord in his phrase, “Ora et Labora’, which translates to the prayer of the hours and work. Moses finishes this psalm in verse 17 with: “May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands”! Notice the double emphasis on work of our hands. This week focus on good works and humility. 

We know that our work is important but is our leisure just as important? One ponders this question with the recent dust up caused by football players refusing to stand for the National Anthem. I question is this a violation of church and state under the constitution? Afterall isn’t Football our national religion?

The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church[1]

Super Bowl XLVIII may have been a bust as a football game, but it was a blockbuster as a cultural event. The telecast of the event attracted a record 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched television event of all-time. That record will most likely be eclipsed by the next Super Bowl, and the trajectory shows no signs of dissipating. America takes its sports seriously, and Americans take football with the most seriousness of them all. In a real sense, big-time sports represent America’s new civic religion, and football is its central sacrament. The relationship between sports and religion in America has always been close, and it has often been awkward. The “muscular Christianity” of a century ago has given way to a more recent phenomenon: the massive growth of involvement in sports at the expense of church activities and involvements. About fifteen years ago, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, then the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, lamented the fact that Little League Baseball was taking his altar boys away on Sundays. “Why is it religion that must always accommodate?” asked the Archbishop. “Why must Little League and soccer league games be scheduled on Sunday mornings? Why create that conflict for kids or for their parents? Sports are generally considered good for kids. Church is good for kids.” The Archbishop blamed secularization for this invasion of Sunday: “This is the constant erosion, the constant secularization of our culture, that I strongly believe to be a serious mistake.” So the cardinal took on Little League and the youth soccer league in New York City. And he lost. Nevertheless, he was right about the problem. The massive rise of sports within the culture is a sign and symptom of the secularization of the larger society. New evidence for this pattern comes from academics Chris Beneke and Arthur Remillard in an essay recently published in The Washington Post. Writing with Super Bowl XLVIII in view, Beneke and Remillard note: “American sports fans have forged imperishable bonds with the people, places and moments that define their teams. You might even call this attachment religious. But that would be unfair—to sports.” In other words, the attachment many Americans now have to sports teams far exceeds attachment to religious faith—any religious faith.

The two academics then make their central case:

“While teams and fans are building powerful, cohesive communities—think Red Sox Nation or the legions of University of Alabama faithful who greet one another with ‘Roll Tide’—churches are losing followers. According to a 2012 survey by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University, 20 percent of Americans ‘claimed they had no religious preference,’ compared with an unaffiliated population of 8 percent in 1990. Roughly two out of three Americans, a 2012 Pew report noted, are under the impression that religion is losing influence in the country.” That impression is growing because it is true to the facts. Religion is losing ground and losing influence in American society. The fastest-growing segment of the American public in terms of religious identification is the “nones,” designating those who identify with no religious tradition at all. At the same time, a religious dedication to sports has been growing. While correlation does not prove causation, the links between these two developments are haunting. Interestingly, Beneke, who teaches history at Bentley University, and Remillard, who teaches religious studies at St. Francis University, document the dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who consider themselves to be sports fans. Just a half-century ago, only three in ten Americans identified themselves as sports fans. Fast forward to 2012 and the percentage is greater than 60 percent. At the same time, church attendance and other marks of religious activity (especially the number of hours each week devoted to church activities) have fallen sharply. Beneke and Remillard describe the current picture in vivid terms: “Modern sports stadiums function much like great cathedrals once did, bringing communities together and focusing their collective energy. This summer, the Archdiocese of New York is expected to outline plans to close or merge some of its 368 parishes; 26 Catholic schools in the archdiocese have ceased operation. By contrast, the city and the state of New Jersey spent hundreds of millions to build new baseball and football stadiums.” Cardinal O’Connor would no doubt see the pattern and lament it, but a good many evangelical Christians seem both unmoved and unconcerned. The problem is quite ecumenical in this respect. The youth minister or pastor at your local evangelical church is almost sure to tell you the same story. Team sports activities or other forms of organized athletics have taken many evangelical families away from church activities. Many children and adolescents know very little of church involvements, but they and their parents (and often their grandparents as well) would not miss a scheduled practice, much less a game or competitive event. The same is increasingly true of spectator sports. Beneke and Remillard conclude by asserting that “when it comes to the passionate attachments that sustain interest and devotion, it’s time to acknowledge that sports have gained the edge. And they show no sign of relinquishing the lead.” In the larger society, this is most certainly the case. This dramatic shift could only come to pass if the larger culture has been largely secularized. In this case, secularization does not necessarily mean the disappearance of religious faith, but merely the demotion of religious involvement and identification to a level lower than those granted to sports. Americans may not know who their god is, but you can be sure most know who their team is.

Whose team is yours? [2]

Let us never forget that Satan does his utmost to destroy mankind. In a thousand ways he plots and wars against God and tries to usurp His throne. On this subject, the following instruction given by Our Blessed Mother to Venerable Mary d' Agreda, is worth quoting: "My daughter," she says, "by no power of human words wilt thou in this mortal life ever succeed in describing the evil of Lucifer and his demons against men, or the malice, astuteness, deceits and ruses, with which, in his wrath, he seeks to bring them into sin and later on to eternal torments. He tries to hinder all good works . . . All the malice of which his own mind is capable, he attempts to inject into souls. Against these attacks, God provides admirable protection if men will only co-operate and correspond on their part." Among the means provided by God for our protection, is the ready recourse we may have at all times to the strengthening Blood of Christ. "This Blood," declares St. John Chrysostom, "has the power to drive away the evil spirits and to draw to our side the good angels, aye, the King of Angels, and to blazen the way to Heaven." Fortified by the Precious Blood, let us place ourselves under the leadership of St. Michael and unfurl everywhere the banner of our Faith, without fear of godlessness. If Satan tries to induce us to sin, and promises honors, riches, happiness on conditions that we omit a good work, or commit an evil deed, let us ever oppose the tempter with the energetic words: Who is like unto God? God is my only treasure, my highest Good, His Blood is upon me, and "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil." If in time of temptation, we have the courage to rebuke the evil one and call upon the assistance of our leader, St. Michael, the enemy will surely be put to flight. But if we wish to enjoy the great Archangel's protection, we must also imitate his virtues, particularly his humility and his zeal for God's glory.

"O great St. Michael, take us 'neath thy shield, Thy mighty power in our favor wield!"

Today is my grandson “Macky’s” birthday, please pray for his intentions.

Daily Devotions/Prayers
·                 Drops of Christ’s Blood
·                 Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus
·                 National 54 day Rosary day 43
·                 September Devotion: Our Lady of Sorrows
·                 Total Consecration Day 16
·                 Day 5 – St. Therese Novena

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