Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Saints Day, the Red Sox, and Being In That Number

Boston University, where I am the Catholic Chaplain, is only a block away from Fenway Park. On October 31st, a million or so people in Boston lined the streets to participate in the Red Sox World Series Win Parade. As the Sox rode down the street, tens of thousands of others joined in, celebrating the Sox win. Some who went to the parade probably never watched a Sox game, but they wanted to be part of the event. Some may have bought a Sox hat and felt that that entitled them to say, "WE won!" Others, avidly watched every game throughout the long series. We like to celebrate when "our team" wins. We like being a part of it. Even though we had very little to do with it, we somehow feel like when they win, we win.

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. We celebrate the Win of our brothers and sisters who have fought the good fight and won the victory. The Sox didn't win the world series by lottery. They won by practicing and excelling. The Saints were not spectators in this life. They had a desire not just to watch others be holy. They desired personal holiness. They got in the game. By God's grace, they strove for excellence. They strove to win. They, as that old black spiritual says, wanted "to be in that number when the Saints go marching in." They did what it took and fought the good fight. The way to the World Series is a long slog. The way to heaven is a lifelong pilgrimage. 

The Sox won the Word Series. I can say, "We won," but nobody gave me the money or the trophy. Nobody asked me to be up on one of the trucks today. That's because I didn't actually play in the World Series. Sometimes, we think that we're going to heaven because that's just how it works. We bought a hat that, for instance, says, "Catholic" on it, so that's enough. But it's not enough. We actually have to want to be in that number when the saints go marching in. We have to be in the pilgrimage, not spectators of it. We have to be in it to win.

I want to propose four very simple ways that are indispensable for Catholics who want to be in that number when the saints go marching in.

1. Go to Mass. If you are a Catholic and are not going to Mass every Sunday, there's very good reason to believe that your soul is in big trouble. Yeah, I know: Lots of people go to Mass on Sunday who are bad people. Okay, great. It does not, however, follow that we are now able to excuse ourselves from following the very basic commandment of worshiping God. If you aren't going to Mass on Sunday (unless there is some grave reason), then you are putting yourself in serious spiritual danger. And the longer you don't go, the more difficult it will be for you to repent and to return. Shut the TV off on Sunday mornings, and go to Mass. The Saints worship God. They worshiped Him in this life, and they worship him forever in Heaven. Go TO MASS.  Never miss. Ever.

2. Go to Confession. Confessing our sins is humbling. Staying in our sins is deadly. Baseball players need constant instruction in order to improve. We need constant mercy and grace to grow into heavenly champions. 

3. Pray every day. Again, we can get so absorbed in everything else that we ignore the one most important thing: God. Talk shows, Twitter, sports, politics etc? None of these things are going to save us. If you don't know how to pray, ask someone to teach you. Learn how to read Scripture, how to pray the Rosary, how do mental prayer. 

4. Grow daily in virtue and in the life of charity. Find virtues that are lacking in your life and try to grow in them. Are you negative about everything and complaining about everything all the time? Perhaps attempt to grow in gratitude. Is your humor negative or biting? Perhaps seek to grow in encouraging others. Are you stingy and selfish? Grow in generosity. 

We shouldn't presume that we are bound for heaven. There's nothing inevitable about it. We should be striving to live a holy life. A holy life demands everything from us. The way of the saints is the Way of the Cross.  

On All Saints Day, we honor those in our company who have won the race. Their example ought to inspire and encourage us to continue marching in this great pilgrimage. We are not called to be spectators. We are called to be in that number. We are either playing to win or we are wasting our time. 

Get in the game, so that you can be in that number.

A Great Version of "When the Saints Go Marching In"

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Father Barnes! Very easy plan to follow and helpful to me personally. All Saints day is my birthday