Archive for the Baseball Category

World Youth Day – Part IV

Posted in Baseball, John Paul II, Liturgy, World Youth Day with tags , , , on November 13, 2009 by sjdemoor85

In order to understand the size and potential power of a World Youth Day, conjure ‘the’ common Americana experience. Perhaps the only American born experience that even remotely approaches the immensity of a World Youth Day is a professional sporting event, or a very large concert. Many, if not all Americans, have at one point in their life attended one or the other. Now with America’s pastime being baseball, and the average capacity of ballparks near 50,000 people, let us use this image to dream. Now picture your last ballpark experience, then multiply that image by 40. This sea of people in your mind is what you begin to approach for the final World Youth Day liturgical experience, the closing mass!

*Addendum* Personally, Coors Field is the state of Colorado’s home ballpark, which can hold 50,454 people. Conceptualizing 40 Coors Field’s side-by-side brings the Church’s size and potential into perspective. But now imagine how many Coors Fields the Catholic Church would need to build to host the 1 billion baptized Catholics at Sunday mass every week? 20,000 in case you were wondering. I digress…

Read on: Without any hesitation at all, the best experiences of my life have been at World Youth Day. By God’s grace, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Paris, Rome, Toronto, and Cologne’s World Youth Day growing up. No college degree or crash course on the faith could have taught me more about my Catholic heritage. Without a doubt, the power of attending one mass with two million people has helped fortify my love for Christ and the Church he founded upon the Rock.

Way of the Cross

Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/Getty Images Aug 16, 2005

Spreading the sea of the lay faithful is the Cross at the closing mass. The Cross pictured to the right was given to the youth at the first World Youth Day in Rome, in 1986, by John Paul II. Since¬†that time it has journeyed millions of miles to remind all, of God’s love for us. As the millions descend upon ‘the fields’ for the final liturgy, this cross focuses the crowds and makes its way to the altar where the pope presides over the holy sacrifice of the mass.

Prior to beginning this four day series on World Youth Day, ambitions to encapsulate the experience into a compact, understandable, and succinct package was the dream. But it is just too good. Too much holiness in a single place. Too much passion for authenticity all at once. I mean think about it, imagine a communion line that is a half mile long people? That is holiness. That is faith! That is World Youth Day. Young (and chaperones too!) lovers of truth! True joy. Jovial hope for a better world when they leave that sea of pilgrims. If God can bring 2,000,000 young people to one spot from the death grip of this culture, then He can do anything! We face the darkest hours in the 21st century, and it may become even darker. For all who read this, consider attending World Youth Day. If you want hope for the future, an experience of authentic love that you can reference for the rest of your life, then go to World Youth Day, preferably the next one in Spain, 2011! Click on the picture below for the link to the website. God Bless, ‘rise, let us be on our way.’

World Youth Day - Germany

© 2009 Diocese of Paisley

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Snapshot: The Babe’s Last Rites

Posted in Baseball with tags , on November 6, 2009 by sjdemoor85

Babe Ruth - Sacristy BoxOn August 16, 1948, this sacristy box was used by a priest to administer the last rites to ‘the Babe.’ His funeral three days later at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, was presided over by Cardinal Spellman.

The Great Knight

Posted in Baseball, John Paul II, Knights of Columbus, Pope Benedict XVI with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by sjdemoor85

Yankee Stadium FacadeAlthough the Rocky Mountains are home, my mother’s roots dig deep in the state of New York. Her Catholic-size-family, combined with devout Yankee fervor, equaled blissful summers of Yankee love during my formative years. And although I cheer for the Rockies, I am a Yankees fan through and through; always have been, always will be. Not only am I a Yankee fan, which I hope does not scare any of my blog followers away, but God may be too! After all, can a strictly human-driven sports team win 27 World Championships? Not only are the Yankees playing on hallowed ground in the Bronx because of past and current baseball legends, but more importantly because of the organizations repeated support for the Faith!

Opening day, April 19, 1923, Knights of Columbus member Al Smith, the governor of New York, threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the ‘House that Ruth Built.’ To follow that up, Babe Ruth, a Knight himself, christened the new stadium with the first home run in the third inning that day. On top of the Knights being in charge of throwing out the first pitch opening day, they also were the Yankees’ landlord for 20 years. Beginning in 1953, the Knights bought the 9 acres that Yankee Stadium sat on at $2.5 million to create another outlet of fundraising for the Catholic apostolate. By leasing the land for $128,000 per year for 28 years, the Knights were trying to make an investment to aide the future safety of their organization and its charisms. Their charisms were first advocated by Knight’s founder, Fr. McGivney: country, family, and faith. However, after just twenty years of owning the land upon which many Yankee legends were made, the drastic 1974-75 renovation of the Stadium, eventually led to a for sale sign by the Knights.

Papal Mass Yankee Stadium If the Knightly history is not enough to prove the Yankee’s support for the Faith, ask yourself where the Popes bee-line for Mass when they arrive on American soil. The line up of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, have all brought our highest liturgical celebration to the faithful at Yankee Stadium, the Mass—60,000 packed in for Pope Benedict in 2008. In addition to the true presence coming forth in the footsteps of Yogi, DiMaggio, and Maris, so to has the permanent commemoration of papal visits. Beginning with Paul VI, a bronze plaque of the late holy father rests permanently in Memorial Park, any true Yankee fans most hallowed ground. Along side the ‘Iron Horse,’ Mantle, and Rizzuto, rests 100-pound bronze plaques for the three popes who celebrated mass in the Stadium during their respective pontificates. Just as in 1966, when over 12,000 Knights attended the dedication of Paul VI’s plaque, similar numbers were present for the Benedict ceremony.JP II Plaque

Now if were going to talk numbers, it is hard to argue against The Greatest Knight of them all, George Herman Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, The Great Bambino–The Great Knight! Babe Ruth became a Knight in 1919, in Boston, and lived out the charisms of the Catholic apostolate for the rest of his life, most especially with respect to caring for orphaned children.

Now as I reflect upon my time as a Yankee fan, many memories arise. Boone’s game winner, Wells’ perfect game, and yes, now the 27th World Championship! However, I think the white Cathedral-like facade of Old and New Yankee Stadium has played host to far greater memories over the last century than the 40 pennants and 27 World Championships. Certainly the papal masses rank high, and perhaps the dedication of the Pope’s plaques, but more importantly, it is moments when professional ball players take the time to live their faith out in the public sphere. For instance, during Yogi’s years as manager, he would often hop the fence between innings and share a word with Bishop Greco. So simple an act, yet so profound for this day in age. We need World Championships to cheer for, as shown tonight, we need the celebration of papal masses, but we also need professional ballplayers living the faith out with an undivided heart. The time for fence riding is over, the season for a Championship Faith is upon us all!