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Preparation in sports echoes preparation for Mass

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Similar rituals for the Liturgy and games help keep us focused
by Pat Macken

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The celebration of Sunday Mass is significantly more important than any sporting event, and yet we can see similarities between the preparation and execution of the Mass and an athlete or team preparing for a championship event.

In the period leading up to the athletic final, an athlete will be practising and doing drills preparing for the big event. This buildup includes forming a game plan and improving on deficiencies while reinforcing the athlete’s strengths. We need to offer our absolute best for the big show. Some athletes practise mental imagery by “eating and drinking” the big game all day.

In the days before, the stadium will be cleaned and set up.

For a Catholic, we also live our faith 24/7 during the week. We must be Christ-like at all times. Our preparation for Mass may include confession, penance, and much prayer, acknowledging our sins and asking God to help us be made worthy to receive his son. We can mentally visualize what is happening at Mass, as we want to be in the best spiritual shape possible in order to offer Jesus everything.

And the church or chapel is set up beautifully to honour our Lord.

When the sports final begins, there is a procession of the athletes or perhaps the announcement of the starting lineup. There will then be the singing of the national anthem with everyone encouraged to join in. The sense of tradition and importance becomes obvious, and there is huge anticipation among the crowd.

At Mass, there is a procession of the priest and all serving at the Mass. We also have a processional hymn in which we should all participate. Again, there is a clear sense of anticipation of the most incredible miracle and gift of love that is about to occur.

When games get under way, athletes will focus on cue words that help them stay on task. They will keep reminding themselves of micro-goals under pressure and in some sports will receive a pep talk from the coach at the intermission.

As the Mass moves through the Liturgy of the Word, we do something similar, trying to experience God’s love by participating in prayers and saying aspirations such as “My Lord and My God” to help keep the focus on Jesus’ sacrifice. We listen to a homily from the priest who helps bring the message of the Gospel to life for us in our everyday activity.

In sports finals, the level of intensity increases near the end when the taste of victory is ever so close. There is no room for error now. The athletes put it all on the line. This is the culmination of all the hard work put in.

In Mass as we approach the altar to receive our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, there is an incredible amount of emotion. This moment is what our faith is about. This is the source and summit of Catholic Christian life – Catechism of the Catholic Church (2357). Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice and now we give everything to him.

At the end when an athlete or team has secured victory they raise the trophy and give thanks to those who played a part in their success. There is a procession out of the stadium. The sense of gratification is immense, and confidence in moving forward toward future events is considerable.

After receiving the Eucharist, we as individuals and family also have a sense of deep gratitude to God for giving us his son and for our divine filiation. As the priest proceeds to the back of the Church, we feel an unmatchable joy as we celebrate the greatest of all gifts and the most amazing victory of all.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:08  

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