It’s an exciting time to be a sports fan. Major League Baseball has started up again, and the playoffs for both the NBA and the NHL begin next week.
Playing sports is an activity that is filled with rituals, and while many Catholics are sports fans, we don’t often recognize the similarities between the rituals of sports and our experience at Holy Mass.
Fr Kevin Drew is a contributor to a new book, Apostolic Athletes: 11 Priests and Bishops Reveal How Sports Helped Them Follow Christ’s Call and he recently stopped by Morning Air® to share some surprising connections between sports and the Mass.
“When we go to Mass we want to put our game face on,” Fr. Drew said. “We all want to put the helmet of salvation on, and we want to offer ourselves spiritually with Christ in His one, eternal sacrifice.”
Below are some of the connections that Fr. Drew reflected on:
1. Preparation. What do they tell us not to do before we go swimming? Eat anything for an hour before. In a similar way, we don’t eat anything for an hour if we plan on going to Communion.
2. The stadium. I find the Mass is kind of like a football game. You think about the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and traditional churches are long and narrow edifices. And you have this idea of a procession. You’re heading to the goal line.
3. The locker room.We have silence in the locker room before the big game, and we have something in our Church where the priest goes called the sacristy. We all need to prepare. We all need to be silent and go into that locker room – and then go up to the altar of God.
4. Pre-game rituals. We have some pre-game rituals. Wayne Gretzky, the great hockey player used to have a ritual of how he would put on his uniform. And we do that as well. I have something I put over my head first, it’s called an amice. It goes over my head and I have a prayer where I put the helmet of salvation on me, and the sword of Spirit in my hand – it’s from Ephesians.
5. Uniforms. The last thing I put on is my chasuble … it’s kind of my uniform. It’s colorful. Is my name on the back of it? No, there’s a big Cross on the back of it. And we have different colors for our jerseys. Right now we’re the home team, because we just started Easter, so we’ll wear white at Holy Mass for 50 days.
6. Moving toward the goal line. We carry a ball over a goal line in the big game. At Mass we pick up our cross and carry it up to Calvary to unite our sacrifice with Jesus Christ.
7. Halftime. We even have halftime at the Mass. We have the first half where we set the stage with the Liturgy of the Word. And at the Offertory, things get a little different. The priest, instead of addressing the people, is addressing the Father in the person of Jesus Christ. So we have a little halftime there.
8. Fans as participants. What about the people in the pew? Are they there as silent spectators? No, they are there to participate in this Game 7 of the World Series, this Superbowl as well.
Listen to the full conversation below: