Friday, February 3, 2017

How Hallmark Destroyed Marriage

“Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”
These classic words from The Princess Bride, although innocuously sweet sounding, holds two of the most dangerous words to western civilization. “Tru wuv” or rather true love. This may lead you to ask, “What is the matter with you, are you a robot?” I have a great deal wrong with me, and no, I am no robot but actually a hopeless sentimental. Great love songs and sappy movies are my bane, yet I tearfully struggle through them. I love my wife and still remember shedding tears when I first saw her on our wedding day when she stepped through the church door to Pachelbel’s Cannon. Romance is not lost on me.
Despite my own mushy leanings, I contend that these words can be a black hole of sentiment that  lead unsuspecting lovers to broken hearts. Hallmark greeting cards, Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, Hollywood, romance novels, all fuel this dark singularity. Some of you are probably screaming, "Black hole? Singularity? What could possibly be so dangerous with romance?" Well, for Christians, specifically Catholics, our deeply held belief of the Sacramental nature of Marriage is at stake.
At one particularly moving wedding homily, a priest first told the following joke: “There are three rings in marriage. The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and suffer ring.” After raucous laughter he continued with a profound interpretation, “All joking aside, marriage is a sacrament precisely because you are called to witness to the suffering of Christ. Just as Christ loves us in our darkest moments when our actions show we despise Him, you must love your spouse precisely when romance is gone and you don’t feel the warmth of infatuation.”
What? The warm feelings surrounding a wedding won’t always last? I am called to love my spouse even when they aren’t loving me? What happened to happily ever after? Society has forgotten the depth and power of the marriage bond and the symptoms of this illness are everywhere you look. No fault divorce allowing one spouse to abandon the other without cause, children in poverty with unwed parents far more prevalent, sexual deviance justified because they ask what’s wrong with their “love”, young people waiting so long to marry they miss out on having children, etc. I could give you further reading but you could find mountains yourself and you probably don’t even need it to be convinced. It is easy to observe the breakdown  around us.
The Church hasn’t wavered from its positions regarding the nature of marriage, and rightly so, but teaching from the pulpit, focus within Catholic education, and reinforcement from parents and family has been woefully inadequate. As Catholic writers, parents, catechists, and parishioners the virtues of marriage as a sacrament must always be on our lips. We can affirm the joy a couple feels at a wedding, but more importantly we must extol the fidelity of a spouse who stands vigilant at their sweetheart’s deathbed. We must encourage each other to weather the pains of small annoyances so when we have to suffer greater indignities, especially for the good of innocent children, we have the grace and courage to do so. Through this discipline and effort can our society recover.
This St. Valentine’s Day it would be fruitful to meditate on the saint for whom the day is named. St. Valentine, who suffered and died for the glory of marriage, pray for us.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

More #ProLife Than You

Image result for mother teresa pro life meme

Let me save people some time. If, despite all of the facts, you still believe that before birth a fetus is just a clump of cells that are part of the mother's body with which she can do whatever she likes, you can stop reading because nothing I say after this is relevant to you. You must a) be ignorant of scientific facts or b) willfully adhere to a political persuasion that is impervious to reason. I wish you well and I hope you have a change of heart in the future.

This blog is for people who understand in a perfect world there would be no abortions because you know that a human life is being killed. The only thing is we do not live in perfect world and there are different opinions on how life should be protected.

With the Women's March closely followed by the March for Life, social media is aflame with nonstop discussions on the concept of being #ProLife. Here are two memes that have many similar replicates in cyber space that I have seen making the rounds.

No automatic alt text available.Image result for slavery abortion meme

The first meme would be the calling card for those who feel that people who are "obsessed" with ending abortion should care more about children who have already been born. They would also include helping poor mothers with children, family leave laws, refugee help, etc. The basic gripe being that the Republican party has a pro-life stance in its platform but also historically does not directly address the life issues mentioned above. All points merit attention.

The second meme would be the philosophical position of people who understand abortion as a marginalization of human life, even if not seen. The failure of a society to recognize the injustice of killing innocent life is front and foremost in the minds of those who would circulate these meme. The connections are haunting and relevant.

It has been very disheartening reading the vitriolic interplay between people who may likely be allies against the Enemy if we only put aside our petty differences and stopped yelling past each other.

Both sides are calling each other out for not being Pro-Life enough. So I decided to blow the argument apart and refer to an individual that was MORE Pro-Life than you, or me. Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Except for secular humanist lunatics like Christopher Hitchens, who infamously referred to Mother as "a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud," she is almost universally regarded as a person who encompassed both parts of the Pro-Life cause. She clearly lived her life in service to the poor, often women and children, inspiring millions with her missionary work. She extolled the importance of loving the poor as if Jesus was the one receiving your love. She picked up the dying from filthy streets to give them the dignity they deserved as human beings before they breathed their last.

She also understood the threat that abortion was to society. She eloquently explained that any country that believes that a mother should have the right to kill her child exists in abject moral poverty that will lead to all other social disasters that result from that ill. The question "And if we can accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" There is no response to this. Abortion is like cancer. It is an unseen killer. You do not see its effects until the sickness spreads into other parts of the body and wreaks untold havoc on the whole person.

Mother Teresa was completely Pro-life. She sacrificed her life for the poor. She proclaimed justice for the unborn. There are not two Pro-Lifes. There is only one. We cannot all live Mother Teresa's life but we are called to try. The Saints inspire us and need to follow. I will leave you with the ending of Saint Teresa's Nobel Speech. I can't do the subject any better justice.

"One evening a gentleman came to our house and said, there is a Hindu family and the eight children have not eaten for a long time. Do something for them. And I took rice and I went immediately, and there was this mother, those little one's faces, shining eyes from shear hunger. She took the rice from my hand, she divided into two and she went out. When she came back, I asked her, where did you go? What did you do? And one answer she gave me: They are hungry also. She knew that the next door neighbor, a Muslim family, was hungry.
What surprised me most, not that she gave the rice, but what surprised me most, that in her suffering, in her hunger, she knew that somebody else was hungry, and she had the courage to share, share the love. And this is what I mean, I want you to love the poor, and never turn your back to the poor, for in turning your back to the poor, you are turning it to Christ. For he had made himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, so that you and I have an opportunity to love him, because where is God? How can we love God? It is not enough to say to my God I love you, but my God, I love you here. I can enjoy this, but I give up. I could eat that sugar, but I give that sugar. If I stay here the whole day and the whole night, you would be surprised of the beautiful things that people do, to share the joy of giving. And so, my prayer for you is that truth will bring prayer in our homes, and from the foot of prayer will be that we believe that in the poor it is Christ. And we will really believe, we will begin to love. And we will love naturally, we will try to do something. First in our own home, next door neighbor in the country we live, in the whole world. And let us all join in that one prayer, God give us courage to protect the unborn child, for the child is the greatest gift of God to a family, to a nation and to the whole world. God bless you!"

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Real Problem with Obamacare

President Obama started his presidency with an all out bull rush to create a behemoth piece of legislation called the Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare). I am not here to debate it's merits or faults as far as policy matters are concerned. You can find mountains of information on both sides anywhere you look these days.

President Trump will seemingly start his presidency in a mad rush to repeal the healthcare law. Again, I am not going to write about the pro's and con's of that endeavor.

I have sadly read Facebook posts made by Christians, friends and strangers, both for and against Obamacare, that make me shudder. To make matters worse both sides fling the "You are not a Christian because..." line around casually as if we weren't brothers and sisters of the same Lord. 

So what do I think is the Real Problem with Obamacare? As Christians we should all be concerned that the ACA is a physical and secular band-aid response to a spiritual crisis. To expound on this I am going to rely on some work done by Christina Merhar in her article, 7 Reasons for Rising Health Care Costs. You can read her article either before or after, just please don't read it in lieu of mine. ☺
I have taken her reasons and tried to explain the spiritual illness that leads to health care cost disaster.

Seven Reasons for Rising Health Care Costs

1. We reward medical providers for doing more, rather than being efficient
Doctors are people too (unlike lawyers, 😂) They get tired, feel the pressure of being busy, and also want to get through their day in a path of least resistance. They are not paid to make you healthy, they are paid to provide you services that make you feel good right now or at least make you think that you will get better. This means prescriptions, advanced testing, follow up visits, etc. All of these things get you out the door in a quick way where they don't need to discuss ways for you to actually live healthier lives. 

Christian solution:
Without singling out doctors, we all could take our jobs more seriously as solemn vocations. We are called by God to treat each moment as sacred and work as divinely appointed instead of an a) drudgery to get through or b) solely a means for financial gain.
Time is wasted, effort is not given, and talent is not fully utilized and none of this is likely to change due to Obamacare. The dignity of work is a spiritual crisis.

2. We're older, sicker, and fatter
Nothing is more of a spiritual crisis than obesity. Sloth and gluttony are two of the deadly sins that we all are constantly in danger of committing in this country. While our wealth and living in excess put our immortal souls in danger, they also put our bodies are at risk. 
The more ghastly issue is that a huge chunk of health care costs are spent in the last month of people's lives. In the case of the elderly, there are often extraordinary measures taken to prolong lives for months, weeks, even days.

Christian solution:
Explaining the virtues of fasting, temperance, and moderation for the obesity and health issues and living out our vocations to the fullest for the end of life issue. The first is simple enough in discussion but needs fortitude and perseverance in practice. The second is much more murky. Simply living virtuous and saintly lives does not automatically make one ready to slip away into a sweet sleep with the Lord. I cannot say what I will feel when my last days are upon me (if I even have the luxury of avoiding a tragic death) but I have witnessed elderly loved ones accepting the embrace of death knowing they lived their lives to the fullest and I hope that I will be able to emulate their bittersweet exit.

The spiritual crisis that is already here and will only get worse is that many people are not living lives filled with purpose and meaning. Add a lack of belief in an afterlife and you will only see a staggering growth in how much people will spend in order to take a few more breaths. Even those who lead spiritually fulfilling lives and prepare themselves for Heaven can feel the real desire to remain with their loved ones. Nothing is wrong with that, but I hope you can see what could happen when everyone lives longer and the refusal to let go becomes greater in an increasingly secular society.

3. New drugs, technologies, and procedures are expensive
This is unavoidable, but factor in how many prescribed treatments are due to a spiritual imbalance which leads to physical or mental issues requiring drugs. The number of people who take mood/sleep/anxiety/hypertension drugs is disconcerting and ever growing.
Christian solution: answer pop psychology with real solutions for mental health through prayer, reflection, and spiritual healing.

4. Employer-sponsored health benefits are tax-free, so most consumers don't pay directly for their health care
I have a coworker who puts money in her son's lunch account for school. She is constantly amazed how he blows through his monthly allotment by purchasing additional snacks or desserts. This type of indiscriminate spending occurs in health care as well. Kids got the sniffles? $25 copay at the doctor. Feeling a little blue? $10 for prozac. Those aren't the real costs, but people don't fully understand how frivolous health care spending boosts premiums.
Christian solution: The concept of solidarity is lost in our society. President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Bernie Sanders ran on, "Ask not what you can do, but what we can do for you." We do not speak about living for each other or making sacrifice, but we need to. We need to be good stewards of our health care spending just like our wages.

5. We (consumers) don't have enough information to make fully informed decisions about medical care, and it's cost
Virtually everyone has access to more knowledge on the internet than ever before in history, but most people use the internet to superficially socialize or worse. There is something very Christian about learning and reason despite what the atheist prophets proclaim. We just seem to be going along with the flow.
Christian solution: There needs to be more of an attention to scholarship in our community. More reading, less tv. More study, less empty social media. Why do less people know about the faith when more access is there to learn about it?
6. Hospitals and other providers are increasingly gaining market share and are better able to demand higher prices
The Christian solution to this is far down the road. When nuns and brothers ran hospitals fully staffed by religious costs where minuscule. The poor had access to quality and caring service. We allowed society to squeeze out the religious life.  No one speaks of it. I make it a point to tell my kids that the celibate life is still a choice. How many people do?
7. Fear of malpractice lawsuits drives spending
Christian solution: Forgiveness, easy to say hard to practice.

You will hear a lot about Obamacare for some time, but who will truly lead us to a better future in terms of our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Obama didn't and I don't expect Trump to do it either. Let me know if you find someone who really gets it. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Red or Blue, It's Still Kool-Aid

It has been 8 years since President Obama's election. The election that promised a lot and delivered, well, whatever you believe it delivered. Plenty of friends of enemies of the 44th President have either polished or tarnished his legacy. A legacy which will take years to truly define like any other president before him.

I am not interested in discussing that here. This is a look at the atmosphere in 2008 and the current atmosphere now.

Here is a bizarre and, in retrospect, embarrassing article from 2008 about Obama's spiritual wisdom. If you want to save time, taste the following:

"Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul." - Mark Morford
Mr. Morford was not alone in his bromance with the newly elected wunderkind.
The Nobel Prize committee made the following observations before Obama had even served for a whole year.
We honor Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said.

These are but two examples that are inline with dozens of similar nonsensical remarks I heard from left-leaning friends. Conservatives pointed out, "We are talking about the same first term Senator who was buddies with the Illinois Governor soon to be sent to prison, trained in the traditionally most corrupt city in the country (where his close friend is now mayor), preached to by the virulent Reverend Wright, and inspired by the radical Saul Alinsky, right?"

The fact was too many people got caught up "drinking the kool aid" - blindly following someone or something. (Reference to the mass suicide in Jonestown in 1978) You would think we would have learned our lesson...

Fast forward eight years and another unbelievable election cycle and we have come full circle. Donald Trump won a convincing Electoral College and we are hearing the same kind of quotes again.

"Our country's hit the tipping point. We're paying out more than is coming in, and we need a businessman," said disillusioned real estate agent Terri Brennan.

"He didn't get to where he is by being a lone ranger," said Ireland-born Alice Butler-Short, 72, a retired paralegal who moved to the United States in the 1980s. "He will have the right people around to advise him."
As for Trump, "he's a statesman. That's the way our country started, statespeople," Terri Brennan added, referring to America's founding fathers who took time from their careers to serve the public.
My social media feed has been inundated with celebratory quips from Trumpsters. Trump love is only barely eclipsed by the infantile Trump hate seen in college protests and Hollywood elitist rancor. I want to shout, "He is just a man!" Like Obama before him, he is just a man. 
Make America Great Again
Does Trump know how to make America great? I don't know, I'll give him a chance, but one man who knew how society would best function was Pope Leo XIII who released the epic encyclical Rerum Novarum on May 15, 1891. The original manuscript is quite a reading but this digest boils it down to 7 core principles written by Barbara Lanari. 
1) The dignity of the human person, as mentioned above, comes from the fact that man is created in the image and likeness of God. Each person has God's life, law and love deeply imprinted on his very nature. God, each person has the ability and desire to both give and receive life, law and love to others. The ability of man to practice virtues in regard to God and his fellow man gives him a value much higher than any other earthly creature
2) The common good, according to RN, is truly more about making man virtuous than granting man material comforts. Pope Leo XIII believed that the highest good a society could have was virtue. For if everyone in society was virtuous, then there would be just and fair laws, and no one would be without the means to live fairly well because Christian charity would cause others to provide for those who were needy. Rightly understood, the "common good" does not mean what is most materially good for the most number of people. Rather it means the good that is shared by all, which they hold in common. It is really more the moral and spiritual good that all members of society hold in common.
3) Subsidiarity is a very important principle in Catholic social doctrine. While RNdoes not use this term specifically, it refers to the basic principle. Subsidiarity is the principle that governments should not intervene in matters that can be taken care of or resolved by families or communities. States or governments should not replace the rights and responsibilities of families. Rather, those in authority in government should see themselves in a fatherly role of guidance and protection. They should only intervene when a family or community is unable or unwilling to fulfill their rights and duties in regard to its members. Government should be at the service of the family, not vice versa.
4) Participation is the principle that every person in a society should participate in building up society, while keeping in mind God's plan for the human person individually and communally. This principle is based on the belief that every person has been given gifts and talents by God to grow in virtue themselves and to aid others in growing in virtue. By using one's gifts and abilities, one can achieve his highest good and intended end, as well as help others to do the same. God wants man to participate in the world in which he lives.
5) Solidarity is the principle that all members of society have a responsibility to help the other members of their family, community or country with the needs and problems that they cannot remedy themselves. This includes protecting and caring for those who are weak, injured or unable to provide for themselves for one reason or another. States have a duty to prevent abuses of basic human rights and punish abuses when families and communities are unable or unwilling to take care of abuses on their own. 
6) The right of private property is explained extensively in RN. Pope Leo XIII states that private property represents the wages that one has rightfully earned, and that one needs private property to provide for the needs of one's family. This was especially true in 1891 when many grew food, raised animals for food or sale, or produced a marketable crop on their property. Pope Leo XIII rightly predicted that if private property was stolen from rightful owners and given to a state in the name of distributing the wealth more equitably, workers and the poor would suffer the most. 
7) Universal destination of goods is the principle that God made the goods of the earth for the use of all men so that all would be fed, clothed and sheltered. RNstates that Christian living should lead to temporal prosperity for all; not necessarily great temporal wealth for all, but adequate food and shelter for all. In order for this to be a reality, man must share the goods of the earth with all. Property rights and the right of free trade are only instruments for respecting the greater principle of the universal destination of goods. For example, private property can be taxed to assist in providing goods and services that are at the service of all, like police protection, the building of roads and public libraries, for example.

Has President Elect Trump read Rerum Novarum or will he? We can only hope.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Subsidiarity and St. Aquinas

If you abandoned the unending stream of political rancor too soon you would have missed the contents of a particular alarming email sent between high ranking Clinton Campaign insiders. Before you close this blog in fear of running into partisan rhetoric that will make you retch, be not afraid. Any mention of politicos will be solely for reference. So what is is this scandalous email then?

John Halpin, a former Democrat strategist was writing to Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta and Clinton Director of Communications Jennifer Palmeiri when he said in reference to Catholics:

"They can throw around "Thomistic" thought and "subsidiarity" and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they're talking about."

My gut reaction was to be angry, but then I realized I had no idea what I should be angry about. I knew Thomistic thought referred to Thomas Aquinas, but I didn't really know what that was, and don't even get me started on the subsidiarity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This person was apparently mocking Catholics but I was too ignorant to be fully offended. So I hit the "interwebs" for answers.

First, the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is so rich and voluminous that Dr. Taylor Marshall takes a quick look at the Saint in a free book that is a short 50 pages! I downloaded it but time constraints only allowed me to go to wikipedia for an even more condensed approach. Although not 50 pages worth of material, an encyclopedia type examination of Thomistic philosophy was a lot to chew on. One take home point that stuck with me was that Aquinas held that faith and reason go hand in hand. Not only that, but that the existence of the almighty can be shown through reason even if faith remains a gift. I won't go through the "Five Ways", but you can contemplate them here.

As a person who holds a degree in Math and one in Chemistry, I have often been asked by my non-believing friends how I can believe in God. The supposition being reason and faith are mortal enemies. I never believed it. Now I know I have a great friend and advocate in St. Thomas.

Second, and more easily understood, comes the concept of subsidiarity. More than just a ten cent word, I found upon googling it, that my outlook on life actually had a single word that specifically described it, outside of "Catholic".

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. 

Yes, this, a lot of this. Individuals make things happen. My gut tells me that when hard work needs to be done, those in the trenches are who gets it done. Don't get me wrong. There is something be said for leadership, especially leadership which inspires. Leadership which demonstrates an example to those who need an exemplary path to follow, but then the work needs to be done, and it is done by those closest to its effect. 

Why would a trio of Democrat strategists (could easily have been Republican) be complaining about Catholics and their subsidiarity? The answer is clear. Imagine what would happen if Catholics started living out our discipleship. If every Catholic, every Christian, every citizen spent an hour a day and a fraction more of their resources to make an improvement in the lives of our neighbors, what would we need from Big Brother? The answer is very little, if anything. This entire ruling class of elitists who think their Utopian world would come to pass if we (ignorant and backwards Catholics) would just progress out of the Dark Ages.

If you have some time, read up on St. Thomas, but if you don't have time like most us, claw out opportunities to make the world better around you, because that is actually how things get done, even if politicians wished it was otherwise.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Not a Victory, Only an Opportunity

Image result for president trump


Despite what the media tried to force feed into our collective conscience, Americans did not overwhelmingly want Hillary Clinton as President, but let's be honest. 

1) Hillary won the popular vote.
2) If Hillary did that, any moderate democrat would have trounced President Elect Trump.

So I say very directly, THIS IS NOT A VICTORY. The only victory we have is in Jesus. 
This election has not gained you anything you hold sacred or dear. No promise has been kept. No fruit has been produced. 

All that we have been given is a chance and the knowledge that there are still enough people left that don't want to live under the tyranny of government. There are so many whose desperation is so complete that they would turn to a false god in the shape of the government, but for now there are enough people that think I can do this for myself and with my community I can care for my neighbors as myself. But make no mistake about it, our numbers are dwindling. Just by demographic shifts alone, this election result would never have happened in four years.

So what can be done?
1) Pray
2) Fast
3) Give alms

That is the beginning. That can only prepare you for the real work. 

REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING is what will make America great again, not the federal government.

If we don't spread this message constantly from the pulpit, on social media, and through our own personal lives the media and progressives will reclaim the House, the Senate, and the White House again, this time for good. This message cannot be understood in one tweet, in a sound bite, or in a one time exposure. The spread of Christianity has always been greatest in the context of suffering. People will believe in Christ when we suffer as Christ. Our lives will need to be the Gospel before our lips can carry the Gospel.

Under Hillary Clinton and progressive rule Christians would have suffered to maintain our faith. Now with a small window of opportunity Christians must willingly suffer to spread a message of hope to those who rose up against the puppet masters in Washington, Hollywood, and the media.

A recession is coming soon (this happens every 8 years or so regardless of who is in power) and manufacturing jobs are gone. The government will not be able to do anything to change this. Every professed Christian must sacrifice his and her personal comfort on a daily basis to build community, love unconditionally, and connect to the broken. 

Trump will be my president, but I put no trust or hope in him. My hope is in Him who suffered, died, and rose to claim true victory. Pray that my life and yours may shine light on that hope.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cubs Win and Discipleship

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The Chicago Cubs finally have won the World Series and their fans are rejoicing. As I write this, hundreds of thousands of people are flooding the streets of downtown Chicago to continue in the merriment. The long wait is over ... blah, blah, blah.

Don't get me wrong. I am a Cubs Fan. I was 10 years old in 1984 when the Cubs fell in the NLCS against the San Diego Padres sending me to bed in tears. I followed them closely in 1989 when the San Francisco Giants topped the beloved. Together with all of Cubdom, I screamed at Steve Bartman in 2003 while the Florida Marlins stole another shot at glory from the hometown heroes. I know the pains of being a Cub fan and have enjoyed the success of my team.

I just wanted to share something that surprised me after the last out was made on Wednesday night. I didn't feel the overwhelming joy that I thought I was going to feel. As I remembered my father-in-law, a huge Cub fan who passed to his eternal rest in March, I shed a few tears, but I expected a transcendent emotional rush that never came. What I did feel was the same kind of comfort and elation that I feel when I receive the Lord in the Eucharist every time I am at Mass. 

Image result for eucharistic host

Then, looking at the thousands of fans cheering, singing "Go, Cubs, Go" and crying after the big victory, I realized that this rejoicing multitude was made up of souls who are already pre-discipled. They fully understand the mechanics of discipleship. Of course, many of them could already be fully active Christians, but as research would indicate, most of them are likely unchurched. 

As we look to make disciples of Jesus Christ and consider how to build bridges of trust we should use the latest big sports victory as an opportunity to point out that elated fans already understand what a religious experience feels like.

Consider the experiences of the exuberant sports fan and how they parallel religious practice.

1) Getting together to watch a game - at a bar (church) at Wrigley Field (cathedral)
2) Singing songs - "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", "Go Cubs Go", people will even sing the National Anthem and God Bless America (hymns)
3) Learning more about their team in the newspaper (Bible)
4) Knowing about the All-Stars and Hall of Famers from the past (Saints)
5) Attending rallies and parades (Pilgrimage)

Of course, the Cubs victory didn't bring joy to non fans, just like showing up to church doesn't automatically bring you to a state of ecstasy. It requires hours of watching games, trips to the ball park, and arguing about the best player and mistakes the manager made. The big win becomes even more savory if big losses weigh heavy on your heart and years of waiting create anticipation. 

I posted on my Facebook:

"The celebration is on.
Many of my friends wonder why I am religious.
My answer to Cubs fans: The joy that you felt after Kris Bryant made that third out was only a glimpse of the joy I feel when I go to Mass.
Sharing a common hope, suffering with fellow believers, and celebrating together are elements that make that kind of joy possible.
God created us with the capacity to feel His joy."

Next time you encounter a die-hard sports fan who sincerely questions you on why they should be religious, ask them to remember what it felt like when their team won the big game and invite them to come share that joy every week. Most sports fan has someone in their life that hooked them to their favorite team. Their father or mother, grandparent, uncle, best friend, or coach, someone made a difference. Can you be that person that hooks them on Christ? Pray for me, so that I can.