Teenage Adventures

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Super-Bowl-XXII MVP Doug Williams

Today we keep the 130th anniversary of the holy death of St. John Bosco. Among many other accomplishments, Don Bosco published an apologetics magazine. Catholic Readings defended Catholic faith and practice, using extensive Scripture citations. To protect and fortify the souls of teenage boys, Don Bosco became a famous media mogul. He is the first canonized saint ever to have been interviewed by a newspaper reporter.

Now, speaking of teenage boys… Today we also mark the 30th anniversary of the greatest of all the Super Bowls, number XXII, which took place under the open sky, in San Diego, California.

don bosco catholic readingsIn those simpler times, the late 1980’s, it could come to pass that a middle-class lawyer in Washington, D.C., might find himself in possession of two Super Bowl tickets, through a business connection. He might think of giving those two precious tickets to his enterprising 17- and 15-year-old sons.

Those sons might buy cheap airplane tickets with their part-time-job money. They might learn the San Diego public transit system. The boys might, with their own eyes, then behold Doug Williams the Great making mincemeat of the Denver Broncos defense, in a resounding 42-10 MVP performance. The boys might have seats right behind the very end-zone in which the Washington Redskins scored five touchdowns in the second quarter. Then, the young men might catch a bus to the airport, then a red-eye flight back east, and find themselves in school before the first bell rang on Monday morning—which was the one stipulation their mother made in order to grant her permission for the trip.

Such adventures could happen in 1988, and they did. In those days, we did not suffer from as much fear of the outdoors as we do now. I’m not sure the world was really any safer then. But dads like ours had faith in Providence, so they weren’t afraid to let their teenage sons travel clear across the country on their own, to go to the Super Bowl. Also, my brother and I were tall and big and maybe a little cleverer than most 17- and 15-year-olds.

Anyway, Don Bosco knew that publishing his magazine involved risking his life. Mid-19th-century Italy was no safe place for a well-known zealous Catholic priest. In those days, people got beat up in the streets for defending the papacy. But Don Bosco prized the souls of his young readership over his own mortal life.

Faith in Jesus’ Father can, and does, give you the kind of courage that can turn life into an adventure.

Mark White Redskins fan

Two Black Quarterbacks Ago…

Doug Williams Sports IllustratedIn thirteen days, Cam Newton will start at quarterback against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

But it won’t be the first time the Broncos have squared-off against a team with a black quarterback.

Two years ago, the Broncos faced Russell Wilson.  But that wasn’t the first time, either.

Long-time readers remember that, two winters ago, I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage along the California Mission Trail.

We started in San Diego, of course, in Mission Valley, at the basilica of San Diego de Alcalá.  That particular shrine of holy martyrs lies less than a mile away from Qualcomm Stadium.

But that wasn’t your humble servant’s first trip to Mission Valley.

Qualcomm Stadium used to be known as Jack Murphy Stadium.  And on January 31, 1988, the Broncos got trounced there, in Super Bowl XXII.  By Doug Williams and the Washington Redskins.

Some of us remember that night as if it were yesterday.  Some of us even remember the balmy air in Mission Valley that night.  Your unworthy  servant, thanks to Divine Providence–and the fact that my dad, though not rich himself, associated with some seriously rich people, who had Super Bowl tickets to give away to their friends’ sons–my brother and I saw Doug Williams destroy the Broncos with our own eyes.

In Super Bowl XXII, a black quarterback led the winning team for the first time ever.  Two Super Bowls ago, it happened a second time.*   The Broncos have been on the losing end both times.

Cam #3?

 

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  • Donovan McNabb had a chance to be #2 in 2005.  But the Eagles lost Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots.

David Recovering

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Kind David enjoyed a sparkling early life. With God’s help, he slew Goliath. He ascended the throne of Judah in a thoroughly honorable fashion. He played the harp and danced to the glory of God. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem as the people exulted with joy. David commanded a powerful army and ruled an extensive kingdom. What could go wrong?

Well, lust. Dishonesty. Malice. The king lost his way spiritually. His own son rebelled against him. David had to flee for his life.

Now, Peyton Manning had a rough night on Sunday.* But it was nothing compared to what King David went through late in life.

Bad as things got, though, David never lost his fundamental sense of right and wrong. When he had sinned, he knew it. And he admitted it. He never lost the humility of the shepherd boy he had been. Even at his lowest, David trusted in and revered God.

In other words, David never became self-centered. So, when his son was killed, even though Absalom had betrayed him, David wept. David had committed grave sins, but he never became hard-hearted. He would rather have died than see his son die, even though Absalom had been gunning brazenly for David’s life.

TP_278400_LYTT_DWILLIAMS_1Reverence for God keeps us from losing our way completely, even when we make mistakes. Yes, we fall. Tell lies, do wrong, mess up our obligations.

But if we always give God His due—if we pray every day and go to church every Sunday—then He gets us back on track somehow. He keeps our hearts close to Him. When we keep our religion intact, even if we sin, we can recover from our mistakes and find the right path again.

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* The Denver Broncos have gotten whupped in the Super Bowl before, by a similar score, by an NFC team from the other Washington. Super Bowl XXII ended 42-10.

Your humble servant witnessed it firsthand, in San Diego, on January 31, 1988, with his beloved younger brother, with tickets our venerable father lucked into. The man handed his 17- and 15-year-old sons two tickets to the Super Bowl and said, “Have at it. If you can get yourselves there, and be back before the first bell at school the following morning, I can’t wait to hear about it.” That’s how we rolled back in the 80’s, peeps.

In heaven, that’s the Super Bowl that will be on.