Letting God Take the Wheel
In the Super Bowl 41 played between Chicago and Indianapolis, some interesting comments were made after the game by Tony Dungy, then head coach of the Colts. He stated with respect to the game that both he and Lovie Smith, the head coach of the Bears, were both African Americans but also both Christian, and that they played the game “the Lord’s way.” A parishioner at Holy Name, my first parish, brought this to my attention, but he also said you wouldn’t find that quote in any of the video highlights they show from the game or the coaches though, just like you wouldn’t see the shots of the players praying together at midfield from the opposing teams at the conclusion of the game. Unfortunately, he’s right, because I didn’t remember that quote from Dungy, and despite watching a lot of football, rarely see athletes pray on TV, even though many do.
The problem is that even though we have freedom of religion, so many take a strict view of separation of Church and State that God is very much removed from their lives, or the faith becomes sort of bracketed as something to celebrate at Christmas and Easter, but not something to live out or share with one another.
Of course, we know better. Despite the attempts by many and society to shut faith out from our lives, there is part of us all that is hard-wired to search for the deeper meaning, that knows that something bigger than us is out there, that searches for the Truth, to answer the question of what will give me happiness and fulfillment?
One such person who did this was the woman we honor this upcoming Friday, July 14: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
She was born in present-day New York, and was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior and Christian Algonkin woman. Small pox devastated her tribe, taking the lives of both parents and her brother. Later on, her settlement was destroyed and the Marquis Alexandre De Prouville de Tracey, forced her to go to another fort. It was here she was baptized by a French Jesuit, and took the name “Kateri,” the Mohawk pronunciation of “Katherine.” After her baptism, she endured fierce persecution from her fellow Indians, who ridiculed her for her faith. There were even threats on her life, forcing her out of the fort and into Canada, where she cared for the sick and elderly, took a vow of chastity, and died at the age of 24. It was said that at her death, the scars on her body from the Small Pox vanished, revealing a woman of intense beauty. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure, but I think it does symbolize the intense beauty of her soul in how she found the truth of the faith, and would let nothing keep her from that truth.
Sometimes though fear can be a very powerful motivator, can’t it? None of us face overt persecution in this country for living out the faith, but there are many subtle ways the faith is subjected to ridicule. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Dungy was ridiculed by some who rolled their eyes at his statement, thinking “there goes another athlete again talking about God. Who cares?” Or, for you and me, every day we face decisions that tempt us to bracket our faith, or separate Sunday from every other day of the week.
Maybe it’s giving the dollar back to the clerk who gave us too much change at the store. Maybe it’s taking the initiative to show someone kindness at work we normally don’t talk to. Or maybe it’s finding the courage to do something in the parish we might not normally do.
With that, as I mentioned at Mass not too long ago, we also need to “let go and let God,” meaning find time for silence. What in our lives is God challenging us to do? Or what in our lives are we perhaps too controlling of? Are we listening to the voice of God or not? Often when we do, we will be challenged. But when we do, ultimately we will be happy.
I’m not a football player, though I love sports. I also love the music of Frank Sinatra, who had many famous tunes, including “My Way,” which was sort of his theme song. It’s not my favorite Sinatra tune, but it does I think relate to many of us in that we are always tempted to do things our way. The challenge though is that, like a football game, in the game of life, we need to do it the Lord’s Way. He’s given us the playbooks in the Bible and Catechism, and just as a coach is there for his players throughout the game, He is there for us in our prayers, in our reflections on the Word, in the Eucharist and in one another. Though I’ve never met him, I think Tony Dungy knows there are more important things than trophies and Super Bowls in life, for these get one temporary glory. Coach Dungy hopes for eternal glory. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha achieved that. Let us pray that we can do the same.
Have a blessed week,
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