Saturday, September 16, 2006

Reflections on a college football game

Today the number 16 University of Iowa hawkeyes defeated the unranked Iowa State Cyclones. There were some huge mistakes on the Cyclone cyde and some great plays by the hawkeyes. It was hard to come to the realization that my beloved Cyclones were going to lose to the hawkeyes and that I was going to have to hear all my hawkeye friends rub it in. Ugh!

It's tough to be a Cyclone fan. They showed marked improvement from last week and they continue to improve but they still aren't great. I think of the Cyclones as somewhat like our struggle with sin. Sometimes you win but often you lose. It's easy to get frustrated and want to give up but you know that you can't. You can get just have to pick up and try again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Iowa/Iowa State football

I'm an an Iowa State Fan. I've said it in the blog before. I will say it again. I went to Loras College but I was sold on Iowa State when my brother brought me here for little brothers/little sisters weekend.

I got this joke from a friend this week that describes my feeling for Iowa State really well....

An Iowa State Cyclone fan used to amuse himself by scaring every Iowa Hawkeye fan he would see strutting down the side of the road in their obnoxious black and gold colors.

He would swerve his van as if to hit them, and then he would swerve back on the road just before hitting them. One day, as the van driver was driving along, he saw a priest. He thought he would do a good turn and pulled the van over.

He asked the priest "Where are you going, Father?" "I'm going to give Mass at St. John Neuman's Church, about five miles down the road," replied the priest.

"No problem, Father! I'll give you a lift. Climb in!" The priest climbed into the passenger seat, and the van continued down the road. Suddenly, the driver saw a Hawkeye fan strutting down the road, and instinctively, he swerved as if to hit him.

But as usual, just in time, he swerved back to the road, narrowly missing the guy. Even though he was certain he missed the guy, he still heard a loud "THUD." Not understanding where the noise came from, he glanced in his mirrors, but he didn't see anything.

He then remembered the priest, and he turned to the priest and said "I'm sorry, Father. I almost hit that Iowa Hawkeye fan."

"That's OK" replied the priest. "I got him with the door."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On Notice

A friend sent this link to me a while back and I thought this week was a good time to use it. The first one is "Coach" Mike Sanford of UNLV, by the way. Please note that Staph meetings are above Staph infections....

Once again impressed with Jack Trice Stadium

I had the oppertunity this last Saturday evening to watch the Fightin' Iowa State University football team play at Jack Trice Stadium. It's the second time I've had that chance since my childhood. It tells me a lot about what has changed here at ISU since then.

Back then, we never knew whether we were going to score, let alone if we were going win. It was dreadful and embarrassing. I went to the game to listen to the band.

When I went the other day, I had hope that Coach McCarney would pull out a victory and my hope was rewarded. Iowa State beat UNLV despite the whiney protests of one of the sorest loser coaches in football history, Mike Sanford. Can you imagine a coach that is so terrible that he keeps his team on the field for 15 minutes after the game because he disagreed with a call? And the UNLV players went out and stomped on the ISU class whatsoever.

What had great class, as far as I'm concerned, were the Iowa State University students. I was incredibly impressed with their positive attitude and support of the Cyclones. They got frustrated with eight minutes of time out that UNLV got when they reviewed one play right before the end of the game. But they sang Sweet Caroline to entertain themselves. And they did cheers. Athletic Director Pollack should be commended for his adjustment of the stadium to put the band and student sections together. I'm just glad that Iowa State students have something to rally around.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

He does all things well

In talking with student, I've learned that one of the reasons they love Iowa State University is because of a certain emphasis that is placed on internships. It might seem as though they are saying that they like to be able to get away from campus but what they are really saying is that they like to be able to know that all work they put in their classes will be utilized for something. They like to know that there's a use for it in the "real world". And, to be honest, I can sympathize with that. I had four internships in my years of seminary, one of which took place here at STA. I found them all to be times when I felt like I was being validated on my journey to priesthood. Yet, there were also times when I felt like I was being challenged and totally unworthy of being a priest. One of the most difficult times happened at the end of these internships, when I would sit down with the director of seminarians and the internship director to reflect on my growing edges that need to be knocked off. A particularly hard evaluation took place when I opened up the written evaluation and started reading glowing reviews. Dennis preaches well. Dennis sings well. People feel like they can talk to and relate to Dennis well. There wasn't a single negative comment on the sheet. I thought to myself, "I'm not perfect! This isn't right. Where's the negative feedback?"

That was kind-of my reaction to today's gospel. We're used to criticism being heaved at Jesus from all sides. He gets criticism from the Pharisees, Sadducees, disciples, and crowds. It's very rare that people say, "He does all things well." Now, admittedly there's a larger theological construct going on called the messianic secret, which is a fancy phrase indicating times in the gospel of Mark when Jesus wants the crowd to be silent in order to prevent them from spreading a false understanding of what it means to be the messiah. As we heard in the first reading, there were correct understandings of the messiah but there were also misunderstandings of temporal leadership associated with the messiah. Throughout the gospel of Mark, Jesus tries to prevent crowds from spreading this misinformation, though he almost always fails.

Yet, I think Jesus' instruction is applicable to us too. The fact that he ordered them to tell no one is not just about humility, I think it has a lot to do with stewardship. Stewardship is the notion that God gives gifts to his people and we are expected to use them. Jesus was merely using the gifts that God has given to him. In so doing, he is teaching us not only to be humble in their utilization but to not be afraid to actually use them.

Each of us have been given gifts and talents by God to be used in the service of the body of Christ. There is a way that each of us have of underutilizing our gifts out of a false sense of humilty; basically by saying that we aren't good enough. This is, kind-of, what James was cautioning against in the second reading. James reminds us that there have only been two perfect people God has called to his service, Jesus the Son and Mary his mother. The rest of us feel imperfect in need of God's perfecting grace. Maybe you feel like you aren't good enough to serve in some role in liturgy; musician, extraordinary eucharistic minister, lector. Maybe you feel like you aren't good enough to reach out to the poor in loving service. Maybe you don't feel like you are good enough to consider being a priest, sister, brother, or deacon. God has given us these gifts. The question we must ponder isn't what we aren't good enough for. The question is, "What has God called you to do well?"