On the Liturgy of Football

It’s Superbowl weekend. New York City.  Seahawks and Broncos.Odds-to-Win-2014-Super-Bowl-020313L

What is fascinating about the Superbowl is that, very year, we witness a liturgy of football that most of us do not see at any other time.

When most of us watch a sporting event, we do not see the entire ritual that goes before starting the game.  The entrance of the teams, the national anthem, the coin toss, etc.  Yet for some mysterious reason, we see it on Superbowl Sunday.  We see it every year. In fact, it wouldn’t be Superbowl Sunday if we didn’t have these preliminary rituals broadcasted all over the world.

It seems that we need to see this ritual seen and reseen.  It brings us together.  It binds us.  We like the predictability.  The ritual gives our society a common text that we read from.  And dare I say, in a city of insurgents and dissenters, some go out of their way to tell people of their disinterest in the game.  And funny enough, this, in itself, is a participation of the event.


Photo credit: Mary

Catholics like ritual, too.

We’ve been doing the same darn thing over and over again, a number of times a day, for the past two thousand years.  We go through the ritual of liturgy for much the same reasons.  As a people, it brings us together.  It binds us.  We are told and retold the Great Story of the Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of God.  Our ritual too gives our society—the Body of Christ—a common text that we read from.  It forms our mindset and grants us our presuppositions.  It reminds us of greater, granter, nobler things.  Not only that we belong to the American Community—that is what the Superbowl does—but that we belong to God’s family.  That our binding is not merely based on citizenship or pieces of paper, we Christians are bounded by blood and water and sacrifice.

The liturgy we partake in every time we attend Mass–Sunday, during the week, or otherwise–reminds us of that deeper something .  Seeing and reseeing the Great Story of Jesus Christ over and over again effects us, unites, and brings us (hopefully) into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ and his Church. Seeing an reseeing the Great Liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass binds us and makes us one.

So okay, football fans of the Catholic nature, enjoy watching (or not watching) the game in New York.  Have fun watching the commercials, watching or not watching the halftime show.   But as you are going through the Gathering Rites of the Superbowl, remember the Greater Rites of your faith.  We will not crown Russell Wilson or Peyton Manning as Emperor, we will not throw ourselves at the feet of Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we will not sacrifice our health to the pagan gods of hot wings.  Instead, we will remember that our God is King, we will throw our lot with the Queen of Heaven, we will sacrifice our health and lives to earn immortality.  With our liturgy, there are more noble, wondrous and amazing things awaiting.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

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