The best Lent of my life involved getting up every day at 5:30 a.m., hiking for miles through ankle-twisting, cobblestoned city streets, dodging drivers for whom traffic laws were traffic suggestions, avoiding the chaos of transit strikes and other civic disturbances and battling bureaucracies civil and ecclesiastical — all while 3,500 miles from home sweet home.
Baseball is, in my opinion, the most Catholic of the sports on which we lavish such attention and passion.
Because it's played without a clock, baseball is like the liturgy: a foretaste of the time-beyond-time, which is God's time, which is eternity. Baseball is also spatially eschatological or infinite: in theory, a baseball field could extend forever — as center field in New York's old Polo Grounds seemed to do, except when patrolled by a higher spirit in human form who made space disappear: Willie Mays.
And let's not forget baseball and Catholic social doctrine.
In speaking engagements around the country in recent years, I ask Catholic audiences how many know the date of their baptism. The high-end response is a little under 10 percent. The average is about 2-3 percent. This, brethren, is a problem.
You know your birthday. You know (or you'd better know, gentlemen) your wedding anniversary. You know your children's birthdays. So why don't you know the date when you became a friend and companion of the Lord Jesus Christ — the most important day of your life?
Excavating my desk recently, I found the program notes from a Tallis Scholars concert my wife and I had attended a few months ago. Arvo Pärt's was described as "I am the true vine," and its "qualities of stasis and timelessness," as reminiscent of what "former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has described as 'silently waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark'."