Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for February 5, 2006

Super Bowl weekend has finally arrived to the Motor City. The focus of the whole country has been on Detroit this past week, and even non-fans wonder what the final score on Sunday night at Ford Field will be. Just as with so many aspects of our lives, football – and in particular, the Super Bowl – can offer an insight into the challenges and triumphs in the Spiritual Life.
The Spiritual Life (or Interior Life) isn’t an artificial layer, added on by society or the Church. This “Spiritual Life” is actually the deepest and most fundamental dimension of who we are as men, women, and children. The Spiritual Life is the life of the soul, the closest point of contact between man and God, and the place of greatest struggle between good and evil. Although the human person is a “composite” unity, consisting of body and soul united as one, the soul is the dimension of man that allows him to strive for union with God, because it – like God – is a spiritual substance.

How does this relate to football, though? Just as in every sport, the athletes train and practice, working their bodies beyond the ordinary; they have God-given talent, but it must be refined by hard work, by discipline, and by continual effort. So, too, is each of us given the capacity to know, love, and serve God with our whole heart, mind, and strength. Yet, if we do not practice – if we do not train – these great “potentials” will remain just that. And when game time arrives – a difficult moral choice, a temptation to sin, or an opportunity for virtue – we will be unable to achieve victory.

Football also has rules and a structure. The quarterback is free to throw a pass once he passes the line of scrimmage; the secondary is free to practice pass interference; and the linemen are free to hold. But such apparent freedom results in penalties, and the actions of one player negatively affect the entire team. The major difference with our spiritual life is that the rules are not arbitrary. Football could be played in countless different ways; God, however, has inscribed only one human nature in our souls. There is only one human nature, and when we exercise our freedom, we are only truly free when we choose according to the truth. When we sin, not only do we offend God, we also damage the entire Body of Christ. Just as when one player scores a touchdown the whole team receives the six points, so too does the whole Body rejoice at the virtue and triumph of one of its members (this is the Communion of Saints).

The Spiritual Life is, however, the fundamental aspect of each of our lives. Nothing else is more important. We can choose to encounter God on the deeper levels of our Faith, to pray, to study, to discipline our souls; but we can also ignore our highest calling and avoid practice and sit on the bench. Unlike football, however, the Spiritual Life has eternal meaning. At the end of the game, the results of Super Bowl XL will just be another fact of history; Seattle or Pittsburgh will be victorious and the season will end. The Spiritual Life, however, does not just echo into eternity; it propels us to Eternal Life or eternal death. It isn’t just a game.

Thankfully, our Lord Jesus Christ has already won the victory over sin and death. When we live completely as members of His Body, there is no question as to the outcome; but we must choose to practice and to play with His team! Christ invites us to enrich our lives by encountering Him in prayer and the Sacraments, by renewing our commitment to practice self-discipline and penance, and to love God and neighbor with every bit of our lives. Then we truly will win the victory of everlasting life.