Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, editor-in-chief of Canada's Convivium magazine, pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University, visited Ave Maria University recently. Fr. de Souza's primary reason for visiting the Sunshine State was to enjoy (or, at least let us say, witness) the Notre Dame-Alabama championship game. But while in South Florida he extended his stay to visit with Michael Novak and see Ave Maria. Fr. de Souza writes about his experiences at the National Post and The Catholic Register.
In "Glimpsing Holiness through the joy of sport," Fr. de Souza writes in part:
This football trip to Florida occasioned re-reading another of his books, The Joy of Sports, which glimpsed that same divine spark in baseball, basketball, soccer and various other sports, but above all in football. Readers will find in Novak’s 1976 book why he is not a theologian of economics as much as a theologian of freedom.
“Play is the most human activity,” Novak writes. “It is the first act of freedom. It is the first origin of law. (Watch even an infant at play, whose first act is marking out the limits, the rules, the roles… The first free act of the human is to assign the limits within which freedom can be at play.)
In "God is a sports fan," Fr. de Souza reflects:
“Eternity, theologians say, is not extended time but altogether different, a different sphere of being, all-gathered-up simultaneity, presence, now,” Novak writes. “Those who have experienced contemplation — in prayer, play, the theatre, painting, holding one’s own infant in one’s arms and, yes, in sports — have already tasted it. We will know, at least, what to look for when we die.”
And in "God doesn't care about the game. But his Mother does," Fr. de Souza tells us:
Football is never just football at Notre Dame. Papal biographer George Weigel wrote of the “singular place that Notre Dame holds in both the American Catholic imagination and the American imagination about Catholicism.” Indeed, when President Obama was trying to drive a wedge between the Catholic faithful and the Catholic bishops, he knew that seducing Notre Dame was an indispensable part that plan. Notre Dame, often far too ready to be seduced by money and apparent prestige, let her virtue slip at first, but since smartened up and is currently suing the Obama administration for violations of religious liberty.