Feb. 3, 2008, is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (year A, cycle II). It’s also Super Bowl Sunday and the World Day of Consecrated Life.


Parish

Souper Bowl Sunday. Parishes of all denominations designate Super Bowl Sunday Souper Bowl Sunday. Parishioners bring a can of food and a dollar to Mass which the parish social services committee uses to donate to the poor.


Family

Last week, in preparation for Lent (Ash Wednesday is Feb. 6 this year), we wrote about adopting a family schedule. This week we want to suggest Lenten practices that build charity.

Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is a modern classic of the self-help genre that provides a real insight into family life when it identifies five ways people communicate and receive love. The five “love languages” are: Words of affirmation (compliments and encouraging words), quality time, giving gifts, acts of service, physical touch (hugs, pats on the back). Often, says Chapman, the way you say “I love you” isn’t always the way your spouse or child hears “I love you.”

For this Lent, reflect on which of which “love language” your spouse and children best understand. Resolve to “speak” it more.

Make it practical: Adopt the Boy Scouts’ practice and “do a good deed daily.” Write out each person’s name and the love language they have. Consult the list each morning and plan exactly what you will do for them, and when.


Readings

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; Psalms 146:6-10; First Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Epriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Each year we give a special name to Easter Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, Trinity Sunday, and more. Only once is a Sunday named after a secular event: Super Bowl Sunday.

SportsLeader.org is evidence enough that there are plenty of important lessons to learn from sports. In the Register, we have often interviewed the Catholic chaplains of Super Bowl teams, who assure us that game day starts with Mass for many players. In Faith & Family magazine we recently featured Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had profound things to say about the importance of his Catholic faith.

But while virtues like perseverance, determination and preparation cross over from sports to life, it’s striking how the readings in this week’s Mass point to counter virtues. The beatitudes are the opposite of the football virtues. Poor in spirit, mournful and meek aren’t typical descriptions of NFL stars.

But they should be typical descriptions of Christians. The first reading describes God’s people not as the dominant force on the earth, but as a remnant of honest and humble people. St. Paul identifies this “remnant” with the Christians — people who are not wise by human standards, nor powerful, but weak “so that no human being might boast before God.”

So perhaps the day’s readings are an excellent balance to the grandiose trappings of “Super Bowl XLII.” Enjoy the game, but remember that God is watching a very different contest — one in which we can all compete equally and, with his help, win an eternal prize.


The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (faithandfamilymag.com).