Chaplain March 2024

Brother Knights,

As a lifelong baseball fan, there’s always a news report that is music to my ears: “pitchers and catchers report to spring training.” In the midst of the cold winter, the occasional snow showers and just some of the wintertime blues that we might feel, these are welcome words. Springtime is coming; they will be playing baseball soon.

Lent by analogy could be compared to spring training. Professional baseball players usually don’t have much of an actual offseason. They are usually training on their own during this time. Oftentimes, they are working with personal coaches.

But, with spring training, they come together as a team, working hard, making sacrifices together for the good of the team. They are willing to go through some hardships for a good result.

It’s good for us to see that the season of Lent is a communal activity—and that should strengthen us. Throughout the year, we should find times to both feast and fast. The Church directs us to offer some kind of sacrifice during every Friday of the year—not just during Lent. Outside of the season of Lent, we can still choose to abstain from meat, or we may choose some other kind of sacrifice. Unless, of course, the Church is celebrating a solemnity—a high feast like the Immaculate Conception, Christmas, or the Feast of the St. Joseph. These feasts should be celebrated with great joy.

The point is that outside of these Friday penances, our sacrifices are up to us individually. In the season of Lent, we do this together. Lent should not make us cringe when we think about it. It’s all about being closer to Jesus, being a better disciple. And being a disciple takes discipline.

Perhaps there are some pitchers and catchers in spring training right now who wish that they had eaten less junk food in the offseason, and went out on a few more jogs. As Christians entering into Lent, maybe we wish we had cracked open our Bible and reflected on the Word of God more often; maybe we have had the intention to pray more often, but haven’t pushed ourselves to find the time. Maybe this Lent is a time where we can show our Gospel demand to love of neighbors in a more concrete way.

But, the greatest thing that keeps us from Jesus is sin. And we are all tempted in some way. Temptation is something that we do battle against every day. It arises from the world, the flesh and the devil (in other words, it comes from the outside and within us)

In the middle of the season, a baseball hitter would probably not think about completely changing his swing, or pitcher his throwing motion, but in spring training he might. Lent is a great time to take a look at what our great temptations are. Which of the seven deadly sins do I struggle with the most? Identify those things, and ask the Holy Spirit to open up your hearts to be healed.

Fr. Kipper