BASEBALL AND FAITH
The baseball season is over half finished, and there are always surprises. For the many local Brewer, Cubs and Cardinal fans, this is an exciting year. The Yankees are once again in control of their division. And for Twins fans, this has been an exciting and surprising year to follow. We see baseball is a long season, but hope returns every spring. By mid-way through the year, hope may have dimmed, but for most teams it remains at least a glimmer. There is a video produced a few years back, Champions of the Faith, in which some MLB players and coaches speak of their Catholic faith, and how the sport of baseball personifies this in many aspects. Not sure if this is on YouTube or not, but if you can find it, I think it is worth checking out.
There are some lessons for us in baseball, really an all-American sport, sometimes the call goes your way, and not so much at other times. Another thing to remember, everyone strikes out. In fact, even the best of hitters get a hit only 30% to 40% in their at-bats. Imagine failing 60% to 70% in your business. This helps us deal with failure in our lives as well. It is not the fact that we will get knocked down, it is about getting up again. Approaching the plate again; and again; and again and...
This is true in our spiritual lives also. We can often find ourselves in a spiritual rut. The same sin again and again. No matter how often I come to confession, it continually rears its ugly head. It happens to all of us, even to priests. So what do we do when we find ourselves in this situation?
Take a clue from a batter. You continue to practice; you go back to the basics. Spiritually, the basics are prayer and virtues. Taking an honest look at our spiritual life, try to determine what it is that lies beneath this or that particular sin, whether it is a sin of commission or omission. Most commonly, we can trace our sins to pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth, all capital sins that become manifested in many ways. Once the base cause has been identified, there is a corresponding virtue that is a corrective action; humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality and diligence are virtues that we call upon to attack these vices. Recognizing the sin is the first step in attacking it and beginning working on the cure. And just like taking batting practice makes a better hitter, practicing these virtues, until they become second nature, makes us a holier person. We do this until the particular sin is overcome, not by our strength, but by God’s grace. The practice is simply allowing His grace to work in our hearts and souls.
Once we are on the way to getting our swing back, now it might be time to work on our defense. We approach it the same way; identifying the vice, and work on the virtue. Satan is powerful, but he is also a creature of habit. He knows where we have a tendency to fail, and he will take various approaches to trip us up until, by God’s grace, he is defeated.
Never say never; never give up. As every spring hope burns eternal; with each confession and Mass, Hope is eternal.
God bless Fr Jim