It’s back-to-school season—a time of the year that also coincides with football season. This year, I have found a beautiful connection between the two.
My youngest child started college this week, and my middle child is a senior in college. It never gets easier to leave them, and I pray for them daily. As I drove away from leaving my youngest for the first time, I not only said prayers for a successful and fun year, but I prayed that I laid a good foundation for him to battle the secular culture he will encounter. I prayed that he will remain steadfast in his faith. And I prayed that he will meet people who build him up rather than tear him down.
As I was making the long drive home and changing channels on the radio, I came across a rerun of a show on SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel called “Conversation with Cardinal Dolan.” In this particular show, Cardinal Dolan interviewed Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs—and the man who kicked the winning field goal in this year’s Super Bowl. Butker is known for his Catholic faith, and after he kicked that winning field goal, the scapular he had worn for about a year came untucked from his jersey and was visible for all to see.
In the course of this conversation, one of the things that Butker talked about was the importance of that foundation of faith. God’s perfect timing in allowing me to hear this just when I needed it gave me hope that the foundation of faith I have tried to give my own children is strong enough for them to build on while living in a culture that repeatedly tries to chip away at it.
Our world doesn’t want our children to rely on God. It doesn’t want them to embrace their faith. It wants them to elevate their feelings above all else—to do what feels good and to do what makes them happy, even if it’s sinful. But the world doesn’t understand that happiness is fleeting. Moods and feelings change. What truly matters is our eternal soul.
Butker explained that, just as athletes have a game plan, we, as Christians, must have a game plan for life. Because our ultimate goal is to spend eternity with God in heaven (the ultimate Super Bowl!), all that we do here on earth should lead us to Him, should glorify Him, and should reflect His love.
Part of Butker’s game plan includes praying the rosary, and as he spoke about his devotion to Mary, he mentioned that he had been wearing the scapular for about a year, but it was only after the biggest kick of his life that it came untucked from his shirt. He said he felt it was as if the Holy Spirit was putting our Blessed Mother in front of the world for all to see.
This beautiful image has stayed with me, for isn’t that what we should all do—build on that foundation of faith and then put it in front of the entire world to see?
Without our faith, we have nothing. Our faith will get us through both the highs and the lows of life. But if we allow the world to make repeated cracks in our foundation so that it begins to crumble, we too will be reduced to nothing.
And so we must fortify that foundation—in ourselves and in our children—every day. We do that with prayer, with adherence to God’s commandments, by surrounding ourselves with people who truly care about our well-being, by continually learning new things about our faith, and by regularly going to confession and receiving the Eucharist.
Then we live that faith openly and proudly. We serve others, we teach the faith, we speak the truth in charity and love when it comes to sanctity of life topics, and we never ever deny that God is our creator and that we owe everything we have to Him.
With this game plan for life, we set ourselves up to hear those six words we should long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”