Baseball: A Catholic sport?

baseball-picBaseball season is upon us, and John L. Allen, Jr. over at Crux has put forward a list of the 9 reasons why Catholicism is to religion what baseball is to sports. The similarities are quite interesting. Here are a few:

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both cherish the memories of a Communion of Saints, including popular shrines and holy cards.

2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates. (Think the infield fly rule for baseball fans and the Pauline privilege for Catholics.)

3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important. (As a footnote, that’s why basketball is more akin to Pentecostalism, since both are breathless affairs premised largely on ecstatic experience. I’d go into why football is pagan, but that’s a different conversation.)

4. Both baseball and Catholicism generate oceans of statistics, arcana, and lore. For entry-level examples, try: Who has the highest lifetime batting average, with a minimum of 1,000 at-bats? (Ty Cobb). Which popes had the longest and the shortest reigns? (Pius IX and Urban VII)

Read the rest at Crux.

Posted in News

Bishop Kevin Vann: ‘God loves you. It’s not about issues. It’s about people.’

Photo credit: Eugene Garcia, The Orange County Register

Photo credit: Eugene Garcia, Orange County Register

As we celebrate Easter, we are called to reflect on the love and mercy of God and to show this same love and mercy to those around us. But we’re human. Sometimes we treat those who hold different political, idealogical, or cultural views as an enemy to be conquered rather than brothers and sisters to love.

In an interview with the Orange County Register, Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange has a great reminder for all:

“God loves you. It’s not about issues. It’s about people.”

His witness throughout the column is an excellent example of how to share the message of Christ’s love with those around us. The Orange County Register columnist who interviewed Bishop Vann describes himself as a lapsed Catholic, but comes away from the conversation impressed, and perhaps one step closer to coming home.

I ask about tolerance, and about illegal immigration in particular.

The bishop immediately dismisses the term “tolerance,” which he says has become a politically-charged word. Instead, the bishop addresses the issue in religious terms, equally telling but more powerful.

He asks if Jesus would turn away a certain group. Answering his own question, Vann says, “God loves you. It’s not about issues. It’s about people.”

Yes, Vann practices what he preaches. As a young priest in Illinois, he taught himself Spanish so he could minister to a Latino family who ran a restaurant. He explains, “You minister to people who come your way.”

The bishop also has taken a leadership role in the immigration debate. In September, for example, Vann, as chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, co-signed a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security. It urged the secretary “to protect undocumented individuals and families as soon as possible.

“With immigration reform legislation stalled in Congress, our nation can no longer wait to end the suffering of family separation caused by our broken immigration system,” he wrote.

And gays?

Vann offers one of many gentle smiles and nods. “I just don’t categorize people.”

The bishop also doesn’t shrink away from the molestation scandals. English, Spanish and Vietnamese leaflets sit in the administration building’s lobby detailing the diocese’s pledge, “To do everything possible to help the healing process of the victims of sexual abuse.”

So what’s all this have to do with Easter? As a lapsed Catholic – and it’s impossible not to re-evaluate one’s relationship to the church when talking to someone like Vann – I would suggest everything.

Read the rest at the Orange County Register.

Posted in News

Praying the Rosary…on Good Friday

Our ChapelIf you’re a regular listener to Immaculate Heart Radio, you may have heard us mention that we pray for listener intentions each day, during our staff Rosary.  It’s true…we do.  And we’re fortunate to be able to join together in a beautiful little chapel, dedicated and blessed by his Excellency Bishop Jaime Soto in 2011, in our Loomis, California office space just a few feet away from the radio station’s central broadcast studio.

Long before the chapel, staff would pray the rosary in whatever space was available…around a conference table or desks.  These days, anyone who doesn’t happen to be working in the Loomis office can join by conference call — there’s a speaker phone in the back of the chapel, sitting near a basket of rosaries and cards to follow along if the prayers aren’t familiar.

Our founder and president Doug Sherman feels strongly that setting aside this time in the workday and giving people the opportunity to participate draws everyone together in a powerful way.

If you’ve ever prayed the rosary with a group of people, you know what Doug’s talking about.  To hear the voices of the people you work with praying…asking for the petitions of listeners who have asked us to pray for them, leading the rosary…reciting the Hail Mary or Our Father…well — it’s sometimes overwhelming.  There’s really something special about recognizing the sound of these voices joining together.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, St. Paul writes that we should ‘pray without ceasing.’ This word from scripture can have two very different effects on our lives. Either we can reject it as a pious sentiment that is ‘not practical,’ or we can allow it to transform how we understand prayer. In this way, this passage can challenge us to move outside of our comfort zones and embrace a mystical vision of life. It can help shatter the illusions that keep us from intimacy; the divides that prevent us from true flourishing.  Catholic Online

This Friday — Good Friday — there’s a movement underway asking people to pray the rosary between noon and 3 p.m.  If you haven’t already received the email or heard about it on social media, here’s the plea:

picture of a rosary

“Imagine what might happen if every Catholic in the world would pray a Rosary on the same day! We have an example in October of 1573, when Europe was saved from the invasion of the mighty Turkish fleet, by the praying of the Rosary by all Christians – the origin of the Feast of the Rosary.

In the 1920s, the Church in Portugal experienced a miraculous resurrection in the face of the fiercely anti-Catholic republican government, because the ordinary people who had seen the miracle of the sun in October 1917, willingly complied with Our Lady’s request to pray the Rosary every day …

In Austria in 1955, the Soviets voluntarily withdrew the Red Army of occupation, after 10% of the population joined in a Rosary crusade with public processions …

So, on Good Friday, let us all pray a Rosary for suffering and persecuted Christians wherever they might be, for peace in the world and the return of moral values into our communities. If possible, please pray your Rosary between Noon and 3:00 pm.

Let’s unite in praying one of the most powerful prayers in existence, for these intentions, on one of the holiest days in our Church year.

Ave Maria !”

You don’t have to be Catholic to pray the rosary — you just need to want to pray!  And if you have the opportunity to pray the rosary on Good Friday – imagine the chorus of voices you will join!

For more information:

A Brief History of the Rosary

How to Pray the Rosary


Posted in News