Column: Three chairs for Catholic Press Month

by Father Mark Goldasich 

Because this paper is coming out on Super Bowl Weekend, I‘ll start with a sports story that you might have missed.

One day, due to some cosmic hiccup, three people from the sports world suddenly found themselves standing before God. The first was Bill Self, head basketball coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. God congratulates him, especially on the thrilling national championship game against Memphis in San Antonio. Then God asks Bill, “What do you believe?”

Bill reflects for a moment and then answers, “I believe in hard work, giving a good example to the young men on my team, and staying true to family and friends. I’m blessed to be a coach, and I always try to do the best for the fans, the players and the university.”

God smiles at this answer and offers Bill a seat to his left.

Then God turns to Michael Phelps and congratulates him on all of his gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Then he asks Michael, “What do you believe?”

After hesitating for a couple of seconds, Michael says, “I believe that passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. I believe in pushing myself to become the best I can be. I’ve been blessed and, win or lose, I always try to be a good sport, both in and out of the pool.”

God is moved by Michael’s honesty and offers him a seat to his right.

Then God turns to George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, and says, “And, George, what do you believe?”

Without missing a beat, George replies, “I believe you’re in my seat!” (Adapted from a forwarded e-mail . . . with apologies to Mr. Steinbrenner.)

Even though I’ve told the above story a lot, I don’t really like it — it hits too close to home! There have been plenty of times in my life that I’ve had a “George moment,” when I thought that God was in my seat.

As a result, I sometimes feel burdened by my many efforts to “run” the world. But for me, there’s a simple cure: a visit to a library or bookstore. Once inside, think of the millions and millions of words contained in those books and the vast array of topics they cover. Even if I read constantly — 24/7, for my whole life — I could only get through a fraction of the material available in just that one place. A single trip enables me to humbly give God his throne back, grab a book, find a seat and put the mind that God gave me to work and READ.

Every February we celebrate Catholic Press Month. It’s a time to take pride in the many Catholic newspapers, books, magazines, pamphlets and newsletters that are available to help us grow in faith. From breaking news to Bible studies, from books on prayer to pamphlets on how to deal with grief, from daily meditations to challenging moral analyses, there’s a world of Catholic learning out there. Our hope at The Leaven each week is to give readers a taste of, and a hunger for, the rich and diverse Catholic world that we live in. We strive to make things as interesting and inviting as possible, but you’ve got to do the rest: Sit and read.

Let Lettie B. Cowman, who worked as a missionary in the Far East with her husband at the beginning of the 20th century, inspire us during this special month with these words she wrote: “The more we read, the more we believe; the more we believe, the more we hope; the more we hope, the more we pray; the more we pray, the more we love; the more we love, the more we labor.”

May your reading of The Leaven have a similar impact on your life. And take comfort in the fact that, not having to run the world (that’s God’s job) gives us plenty of time to read.

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