by Father Mark Goldasich
There’s a sign hanging on a refrigerator in the lunchroom at the church offices. You can’t miss it, as it has a large Kansas City Chiefs logo on it.
Once your attention is grabbed, you smile as you read these words:
“If you made any promises during the game, services are at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. next Sunday.”
I wonder how many promises were made during the Chiefs’ two playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl. You remember those games, right? Weren’t we behind in both of those? And how many additional promises floated their way to heaven with 7:13 to go in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl with the Chiefs down 20-10?
Apparently, Catholic Chiefs fans at my parish were a loyal, believing crew, since I didn’t see an uptick in attendance at any of the Sundays during — or after —the playoff run.
As humans, we tend to be a superstitious bunch. I recall seeing postings on Facebook during those Chiefs games, advising people to remember exactly where they were sitting during each game, what the snacks and beverages were, and what they were wearing . . . and to duplicate that in subsequent games.
Those who didn’t watch the games were encouraged to NOT watch in the future so as to avoid imperiling the Chiefs’ “good vibes.” Even though most of us know that those things have absolutely no impact on how a team plays on a particular day, we still put them into practice “just in case.”
As a kid, I used to read the horoscopes in the newspaper. The Kansas City Star had a unique way of presenting them where you had to puzzle together your “fortune.” I don’t know how long it took me before I realized that when my horoscope said that I’d be meeting someone “attractive and mysterious” (I could hardly wait!), it also applied to my dad, an uncle, several aunts and a cousin who were also born in the month of November. What the heck?
I think it was then that I tossed out my lucky rabbit’s foot, let a black cat walk across my path, intentionally broke a mirror, cavalierly stepped on a crack in the sidewalk, spilled a couple of salt shakers on the table, polka-ed under a stepladder and flapped open an umbrella several times in a row inside the house.
And, let me tell you, nothing unlucky happened. Knock on wood.
So, why all of this talk about superstitions? Well, this week, we apparently hit a trifecta. Some people bemoaned that we lost an hour of sleep due to the beginning of daylight saving time. (I never saw that as terribly unlucky.) Second, there was a full moon but, unless you suffer from lycanthropy, I think you’re still pretty safe.
But the third superstition pushed things over the edge. It’s “paraskevidekatreisphobia” — that is, the fear of Friday the 13th, the day this issue of The Leaven comes out. I hope you didn’t get a paper cut opening to this page.
Tracing the origins of most superstitions is difficult. For Christians, the number 13 reminds folks of the Last Supper where the Twelve Apostles sat at table with Jesus, just hours before his betrayal, passion and death on Good Friday.
But honestly, a number is just a number and a day of the week just a day of the week.
And if there are “unlucky” numbers and days of the week, why do they vary from culture to culture? For example, in many Spanish-speaking countries and in Greece, it’s Tuesday the 13th that’s feared; in Italy, it’s Friday the 17th! In China, 4 is considered unlucky, while a multiple of it — 8 — is considered the luckiest number. Go figure.
The message in all of this is that no numbers, no particular days of the week, no stars in the sky and no psychic hotlines can predict the future. But if there were any number that is lucky, I’d propose it be the number 1.
Each of us is unique. We have one life to live here on earth. We believe in one God, who has loved us into existence and will one day call us home. And we’re to live one day at a time in gratitude and confidence, making of it the best we can.
By the way, if you did happen to make any promises during those Chiefs games, Masses in Tongie are at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 8 and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday!