A Providential Day
I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Chose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live. (Deut. 30: 19).
This year the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple occurs on what is called Super Bowl Sunday. We ask all readers to give very serious consideration to the following:
It is tempting for those of us whose beliefs remain in accord with the Church concerning crucial doctrines and moral teachings to assume the posture of the “remnant” who are faithful to Christ, and therefore hopefully assured of salvation. After all, we can rightly claim that we are guilty of none of these individual mortal sins. And we therefore feel fully justified in pointing our fingers at others – those bad members of the hierarchy, or those Catholics who are in explicit denial of the Catholic Faith and its moral teachings.
The question needs to be asked, however, whether there is not a deeper and more all-pervasive adultery to this world existing even among those of us who might consider ourselves faithful Catholics – an adultery which, while not involving guilt in regard to any one of the mortal “sins of the flesh” mentioned above, nor being guilty of rejection of any doctrines of the Faith, has yet sunk us so deeply into the pleasures, possessions, pretentions, and preoccupations of our modern world so as to have it constitute a form of the most severe duplicity towards God. In other words, we also need to ask whether such duplicity can exist even within the souls of those who might pride themselves on fully accepting all of the Catholic Faith, who attend Mass regularly, pray the Rosary daily and participate in all sorts of Catholic devotional practices, including Eucharistic Adoration. Is it possible that, even in the midst of so much Catholicity, our hearts might be far from God, and that this is why our requests and prayers to God go unfulfilled? We quote again the words of St. Paul: “But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God.” Is it possible that through the dialectical process of cultural decay working upon our minds and hearts over the past decades, and even centuries, we have become so immersed in our lower natures through compromise with the sensuality and affluence of the modern world, that it has become virtually impossible that God should draw nigh to us and answer our prayers?
In order to help us answer this question, we wish to offer here an analysis of just one example of such immersion of Catholics in the sensuality and paganism of the modern world. It involves that event which is surely the largest collective mass-descent of persons in this country (including Catholics) into the crudity, vulgarity, and luxury of man’s lower appetites: the Super Bowl.
It is estimated that in 2018, 188.5 million adult American viewers of the Super Bowl spent 15.3 billion dollars on this event (National Retail Federation). This expenditure included everything from the tickets, travel, hotel, and other expenses incurred by those who actually attended the game, to home TV- parties, attendance at bars and restaurants, etc. in order to view and party during the game. It does not include the expenses of the event itself. Each 30 second commercial, for instance, cost 5 million dollars, and it is estimated that the insurance alone for the Half-Time event cost 100 million dollars.
None of these statistics touch on what interior states of mind and heart motivate such massive enthusiasm and passion for this event. We leave that up to the self-examination of those who participate. There of course can be nothing spiritually elevating in it. It was the Roman poet Juvenal who said that, in the age of the decline of Roman civilization, the people were kept from revolution by providing them with “bread and circuses”. The word “circus” is defined as a “large, oblong, un-roofed enclosure used for performances and contests”. Now, we have roofs.
What we do know with a certain amount of accuracy is that 815 million people in the world will go to bed hungry that same Sunday night, and that the next morning 66 million primary school-age children will attend classes hungry in the so-called “developing world”. It is estimated by the WFP (World Food Program) that it would take 3.2 billion dollars per year to insure that these children were fed. This tallies out to the fact that what is spent by consumers on just one Super Bowl would eliminate hunger for all of these 66 million children for slightly less than 5 years.
We also know from statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that, worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source, and that 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, and that because of these privations, 801,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea each year. Meanwhile, according to Nielsen statistics, Americans spent 1.3 billion dollars on beer and cider, 979 million on soft drinks, and 597 million on wine for consumption during the 2018 Super Bowl.
St. Paul writes, “For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die”. (Romans 8: 13). The Super Bowl, while indeed seeming to represent that event which constitutes the most massive and communal descent of Americans into the world of the flesh, is of course only one example of our profound abandonment of that poverty of spirit (and of the flesh) which is the First of the Beatitudes, and the foundation of all spiritual life. This abandonment of the Christian spirit of poverty exists everywhere in developed countries, and in all the various facets of our lives – in economics, in our massive and suffocating system of usury, in all the various forms of money speculation (including the stock market), in the way we recreate and entertain ourselves, in every sector of advertizing, selling, buying, and consumption, and even in such sacramental occasions such as marriages and funerals. We are as immersed in this anti-Christian spirit as fish are in water.
The Gospel demands simplicity both in regard to our living in this world, and simplicity of intention towards God: “If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.” (Mt. 6: 22). The Christian interior life can only exist where there is exterior mortification and a spirit of poverty towards all the things of this world. It may indeed be difficult for any of us to see how we can possibly reverse our present immersion in this world “which is an enemy of God”. However, if we do not set our foot on the path of return it is impossible to believe that God will honor our prayers for purification of the Church, no matter how many Masses we offer, Rosaries we pray, or hours we spend in Adoration Chapels.
We therefore propose, as a beginning, that all faithful Catholics resolve not to participate in any way in the upcoming Super Bowl. We certainly cannot expect that Our Lord and Our Lady will take seriously our prayers and work for the purification of the Church if we participate in such things.
It would seem providential that this year the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple on February 2nd occurs on the same Sunday as the Super Bowl. We believe that it would be a source of many graces for the purification of the Church if all those Catholics who have been addicted to celebrating this event would renounce their participation, and have recourse instead to their local Churches in order to pray the Rosary for their own interior purification and the purification of the whole Church. We also recommend that Catholics everywhere present this Proposal to their pastors. We further request, if this be possible, that all faithful Catholics gather in their Churches for this purpose during the actual time of the Super Bowl, which begins at 5:30 P.M. CST.