Catholics/morality

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Question
Hi, how are you?  Is it ok to pray that MLB and Baseball become the most popular sport in the Country and in the world?

would it be a sin to do that?

Answer
I don't think doing so would be a "Sin" necessarily.  However I would suggest that prayer in this manner suggests a rather undeveloped and immature spirituality.  

The thing is---people go through stages as they grow and mature physically.  When one is a child one walks, talks, and thinks like a child.  One relates to their parents as a child.  When one becomes a man one walks, talks, and thinks like a man.  One relates to their parents as a man.  

For whatever reason people physically mature, but few mature in the ways of spirituality.  Praying about Baseball, etc---is the spiritual equivalent of a 3 year old asking Santa Clause to bring them a pony.  When a 3 year old does this we say "How cute."  If a 36 year old man did this we would say "That guy needs help."  Yet when people pray to God in much the same manner--people say "Why doesn't God grant prayers? Does God exist?  He must not"  They see nothing immature or wrong with this.  

The most important thing Christians need to understand is that the number one thing God is concerned about is NOT our personal happiness and contentment but our HOLINESS and SANCTIFICATION.  This is why God allows suffering and even goes so far as to say "He who does not take up his cross daily and follow after me cannot my disciple be."  Luke 9:23/ Matthew 10:38.

Suffering (Represented by the cross) is what effects our transformation into holiness and sanctification.  The more one suffers the greater the share they have in the Cross of Christ.  The greater the share in the Cross of Christ the greater their holiness and sanctification--hence the greater share in the glory of God they will have.  

None of this is to suggest that God does not care about our personal happiness or contentment.  God indeed does care about that--He just cares about our sanctification and holiness MORE.  This means in the end that happiness and contentment take a back seat to holiness and sanctification.

Praying for the MLB Baseball to become the most popular sport in the Country and in the world, then, misses the point.  God isn't concerned about MLB Baseball. Baseball is a valuable sport, something that people do for fun.  Baseball is something people enjoy watching--but---it isn't going to bring salvation in the end. Hence--it is not going to be something God is going to be terribly concerned about.  Consider: why should God favor Baseball any more than some other sport? What is the difference? In the end sports do not bring salvation. They bring money, fame, fortune and popularity--but what are those trivial and petty things when compared to eternity?

My own personal opinion is that Americans in particular seem to have made athletics into a God. Just look at schools.  Look at where many schools invest much of their resources.  How many schools think nothing of investing tax payer money into making sure they have the most up to date athletic equipment and fields---when their students are under performing academically? Is the purpose of schools to play sports--or get an education?  And we wonder why Japan is always on top of their game academically and why they out perform us in math and science!  The answer is in front of our faces--we just refuse to see it.

When Cardinal Mahoney campaigned to build the new Cathedral in LA many people criticized it.  Their complains were "what about the 'poor?'"  "What about the 'underprivileged'?  Why can't the Diocese spend money on that instead of building a cathedral?"   

Now, I am no cheerleader for Mahoney---but he did correctly point out that these same critics seem to have no problem with a company that spends three times the amount of the cost of his cathedral to build an athletic complex.  He asked "If people can build temples to the god of athletics why can't we build a lasting monument to the one true God? If it is the poor you really care about why not halve the cost of your athletic complex and give the money to the poor?"  How many of his critics took him up on that?  ZERO.

In answer to the question, then--the diocese DOES spend money on the "poor" and "underprivileged" like all dioceses in the US--FAR, FAR more than any sports team or athletic complex does!

True, real and substantial prayer, prayer that God always promises to grant focuses on things that are lasting.  This means that real prayer is in praying that God will grace us with the things GOD values.  Examples include things like holiness, patience, wisdom, understanding, sanctification, salvation, forgiveness for sin, Justice to be done, Fairness, etc.

We should pray for those things that will make us more like GOD, and give us the ability to bring God to others.  Our prayer to God should be about finding God in every area of our lives--most especially the crosses that come our way.  Indeed we should pray for our human needs--those who are sick, or those who struggle financially, etc.  The best and most powerful prayer however is in finding God's glory revealed in our human weaknesses and in the crosses that come our way or in others.  Real prayer is in mastering our suffering by freely enduring it thus turning it into our glory and hence God's glory.  

The ironic thing is that the things that have the most value are those things that do not change.  Yet human beings put their trust in the changing and fading things of this world. True prayer asks God to help us value more and more those things that do not change and those things that are eternal: love, forbearance, kindness, patience, holiness, etc.

So---is it "OK" to pray that MLB Baseball becomes the most popular sport in the country and in the world?  Now that you have read my response, you tell me--is it?

My short answer would be "Yes it is OK in so far as it would not be sinful. It does however suggest a certain spiritual immaturity and lack of spiritual growth on the part of the person praying for it."  

As they would say on Fox News: "We report, YOU decide."  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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