Wait a Minute… (Plus: Good, Good News)

Big East Georgetown

conclaveWait just a second here, Divine Providence.

Are you trying to tell me that the conclave and the Big-East tournament will start on the same day?

Lord, are you trying to give me a heart attack?

…That said, we could wind up with a Jewish Pope next week for all I care, because:

The Big East HAS BEEN SAVED!!!!!

__

From “Sports on Earth:”

[The Big East’s] backbone runs straight up and down I-95, as it should.

[Due to football-motivated conference aligment, disussed before HERE,] the Big East was in danger of becoming one of those great classic rock bands who lost the rights to its name because it fired the bass player who came up with the name. Georgetown-Villanova-Seton Hall-Providence deserved better than to become Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.

yesThe Big East is about East Coast city schools where basketball is king…They have the downtown, what’s-football vibe… The Catholic angle has always been the spice, not the stock. The Big East is a basketball conference for basketball schools and basketball fans, not a Frankenstein lumbering after football dollars.

So now the husk of football has been sloughed off. The Big East is a beautiful butterfly with a shaky jumper but sharp elbows again.

Two thoughts, perhaps not of equal importance, but both of profound significance:

1. May the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church do the will of God.

2. Syracuse v Georgetown

Want a Seat? Stand. (Also, turn on the tv)

Most exciting sporting day of the year, my friends.

Why do you tarry here? You should be watching ESPN.

(I do not approve of playing hooky for the ridiculous NCAA tournament. But for the Big East tournament? Um…)

…I don’t see how we can find fault with Mrs. Zebedee. When the Lord originally summoned her sons to go with Him, she let them go. They left home, and no one knew if they would ever come back again.

When the mother came to Christ, she approached Him with admirable faith. She acknowledged that He would reign one day as king.

What loving mother doesn’t want her children to succeed? What Christian mother doesn’t want her children to succeed in getting to heaven? May they reign with You, O Christ. May they be close to You, closer than anyone else.

What mother doesn’t go to the Lord every day and make this very request for her beloved children?

What kind of priest would I be if I didn’t pray every day that all of you would be on Christ’s right hand in the kingdom of heaven—with all my dear parishioners who don’t know how to turn on a computer on His left hand?

But the Lord laid down a condition. Be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized. Drink the chalice I must drink. Submit to the will of the Father. You want to get to heaven? Don’t worry about where you will sit when you get there. You will sit where the Father wants you to sit.

Don’t worry about when or where you will sit at all. Worry about where the people who spend all day on their feet will sit. Offer your favorite chair. Stand up and wait on someone who spends the day waiting on other people.

Just stand up and take care of everyone in sight. The Father will let you know when to sit down.

Big East + Listening to His Enormous Demands

Final day of the Big-East men’s basketball season.

Which means that the only really important sporting event on earth will take place this week, in the Garden.

Hoyas square-off in Milwaukee this afternoon. Do I care that it’s Marquette “Senior Day?” Let them weep through it.

This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.

Saints Peter, James, and John heard these words spoken from heaven. Listen to Him. Do what He says and avoid what He prohibits. Nonetheless—even though God Himself, in no uncertain terms, told them to listen to Christ—the Apostles had a hard time obeying Him.

Is it any wonder, then, that we have a hard time bringing ourselves to obey the Son of God?

After all, it would be one thing if Christ said, “Love your friends and let your enemies go to the dogs.”

Or if He said, “Don’t worry about Judgment Day. My Father doesn’t really care how you treat other people, especially the people you don’t like.”

We might listen to Him more eagerly if He said, “Blessed are the likable, good-looking people. Blessed are those with nice cars. Blessed are you when you finally make it, and vest your retirement plan, and get nice, big, fat bank statements in the mail. Rejoice and be glad, because heaven belongs to the people with 70-inch flatscreens.”

BUT: To listen to the Son of God, Who says, “The meek will inherit the earth.”

And “The rich cannot enter the kingdom of heaven without passing through the eye of a needle.”

And “Even the pagans pray for their family and friends. You must love and pray for the people who curse you and hate you.”

To listen to this Teacher…Let’s put it this way: We do not come into the world able to do it.

Continue reading “Big East + Listening to His Enormous Demands”

I Have Always Hated…

DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER

I root for the Va. Tech Hokies, just like all God-fearing people.

The bad man announces the bad news.

…college football. Hated it. But now? Rage. Rage, wrath, fury. And more rage.

I have two good things in my little life.

God.

And Big East basketball.

Who could be surprised that Syracuse University would cast aside everything that is holy and good? Who could be amazed at such cretinous mutiny and faithlessness?

But to throw your lot in with such unspeakable villains? A conference made up mainly of teams from North Carolina, many of which simply cannot be named in decent company?

And for football? Who cares about Syracuse football?

Thanks for ruining college basketball. Thanks for ruining the one good thing left in the middle of the inanity of “March Madness.” (Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden). An ACC tournament at Madison Square Garden? What’s next, a gay ‘marriage’ between James Worthy and Fred Brown?

Listen: I will root for the Hoyas. I will root for the Hoyas if they just play St. John’s and Providence over and over again every season. I will root for the Hoyas if they join the Big 12 or the “Catholic League” or Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations. I will root for the Georgetown Hoyas!!!

But, gosh, talk about a buzzkill: The ruination of one of the few truly excellent things on earth, Big East basketball. And for football. Football should be ashamed.

Another thing…

…to keep in mind is:

In order to win the ACC tournament, the Virginia Tech Hokies will have to beat:

1. Georgia Tech on Thursday, which is eminently doable.

2. Florida State on Friday. (Tough.)

3. Duke on Saturday. (Been done!)

4. UNC on Sunday.

If Tech makes it to the final, I will root with the Blacksburghers. Otherwise, go Tar Heels!

…May I make one other observation?

If you are like me, you have watched “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy more times than you care to remember. The movies are now a decade old.*

When the movies were first released, I was livid because they departed so shamelessly from the books. But I soon persuaded myself to go easy. After all, film is a different genre, and some concessions must be made.

Does it make sense for Aragorn to be felled in a skirmish with Uruk scouts, only to be revived by a kissy-kissy from Liv Tyler? No, it makes no sense. But this is a movie.

Does Viggo Mortensen ‘own’ the role of Aragorn, as Peter Jackson put it? Um…Does Pierce Brosnan ‘own’ James Bond? Does Vivien Leigh ‘own’ Anna Karenina? Does Jim Caviezel ‘own’ our Lord Jesus Christ? NOT. No. Not at all. Good yeoman efforts, yes. But ‘own?’ Please. (By the by, in my opinion, George C. Scott does in fact own Rochester, so you can forget about this new Jane Eyre movie.)

However: I can live with Viggo Mortensen.

Should poor John Rhys-Davies, an accomplished Shakespearean, and poor Gimli son of Gloin, who could kick any of our butts before you can say the word ‘midget’–should the Dwarf warrior be reduced to silly comic relief? No. But…We will let it go.

So I have had a decade of peaceful coexistence with these movies. But two particular things still rankle. They both concern the final film, and they have helped me to realize exactly what these movies are.

1. How is it possible that the script-writers thought it was plausible for Elrond to demand that Aragorn “forget the Ranger,” and become the man he was meant to be? Makes NO sense. The Rangers are the Dunedain, the remnants of the most excellent men, the Numenoreans. Even if we leave that aside, Aragorn’s majesty derives precisely from his humble, hardscrabble Ranger resourcefulness. If he were no Ranger, he would be no king.

2. In the greatest betrayal of all time, how could Peter Jackson possibly have thought that it was alright to remove the most important part of the whole plot? The climax of the book is NOT the destruction of the Ring or victory over Sauron’s armies. The climax of the book is when the Hobbits return to the Shire and clear Saruman’s petty dictators out of it.

Oh–you didn’t know that Saruman went north into the Shire after Isengard was reduced to ruins by the Ents? You didn’t know that the evil wizard engineered a sinister take-over of the the Hobbits’ homeland by wastrels he found wandering the roads around Bree? You didn’t know that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin had to show the punks who was boss when the heroes returned home from Gondor?

Well, that’s because you wouldn’t know it, based on the dagblame movie. Since the movie pretends that such things never even happened!

So, what are Peter Jackson’s movies? They are an extremely good comic-book version of the “The Lord of the Rings.” It is hard to imagine a better comic-book version.

___________
*This is the beginning of a LONG series of ‘Reflections on the Oughts Decade.’

Please pray


…for the poor people of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Flood? No. Earthquake? No. Boll-weevil swarm? No.

They will soon have a new priest living in their bucolic piedmont town. A tall geek you know.

…The Hoyas begin a long, hard Lent on Ash Wednesday. In order to win the Big East tournament, it will be necessary to beat UConn, then Pitt, then Syracuse (or St. John’s), then either Notre Dame, Louisville, or West Virginia–on four consecutive days in Madison Square Garden.

A Herculean feat. If they manage it, we can all take the rest of Lent off. (Kidding.)

After winning the Big East, the Hoyas will get to rest for two days before beginning the long march to Houston. But, seriously, you can have the NCAA tournament. All I care about is what happens in New York.

Except: Yes, I hate the North Carolina Tar Heels as much as any Hoyas fan should. But who could resist the Cinderella story of the 2010-11 UNC season? With demolishing Duke as the coup de grace?

It is almost enough to make a guy forget about the James Worthy thing forever.

…I never should have made fun of “The King’s Speech.” It is a beautiful movie. I cried like a woman through the whole thing.

Sick

Leave it to me to fall prey to food-poisoning just as the Big East tournament comes to a thrilling conclusion.

Sickness robs one of every delight. I feel like Captain Ahab:

“How now,” he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, “this smoking no longer soothes.

“Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring— aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and fullest of trouble.

“What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more-”

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks. (Moby Dick)

If you feel sorry for me, maybe you could e-mail me some scrambled eggs, dry wheat toast, and Gatorade. Thanks!

Happy to Be Alive

This time last year–quarterfinals of the Big East tournament–the Hoyas were already dead.

But today we visited sweet revenge upon the USF Bulls.

Tomorrow? …Oh, yes: Syracuse. High Noon.

…Check out this interesting sculpture from Chartres cathedral.

The Lord is forming Adam from the dust of the earth, sculpting the head of the first man.

The original Adam was made in the image of the New Adam–Christ. This sculpture reflects this.

May it also reflect the way that the New Adam shapes and moulds us. Only Christ can form me into the person I am truly meant to be.

I allow Him to form me by worshiping Him, studying Him, obeying Him, imitating Him.

May He make saints out of us all!

THE Tournament

I despise the term “March Madness.”* It is imprecise.

You can have the NCAA tournament. You can have it.

Take it. Do your office pool. Throw a few bucks in the kitty. Take a lot of wild guesses. Give it your best shot.

The Big East tournament is where the real action is. Big Apple. Mid-town. Basketball nirvana.

Click HERE for the bracket. Go Georgetown!

______________
* “I hate the phrase, like I hate hell, all euphemisms, and Duke.”

“Playing in the N.I.T. is not an embarrassment.”

–Seth Greenberg, coah of Virginia Tech.
nit-logo-328No one is surprised that the Georgetown Hoyas are nowhere to be found in the NCAA brackets.

It is interesting to note that the Hoyas actually beat three of the top twelve seeds in the NCAA tournament (UConn, Memphis, and Syracuse).

On the other hand, three Big East teams that handily defeated Georgetown were not even invited to the N.I.T. (St. John’s, Seton Hall, Cincinnati).

If I were a St. John’s fan, I would be incensed that the Hoyas are in the N.I.T. and the Red Storm are not. After all, St. John’s beat Georgetown twice in eight days, and that was six days ago.

I searched St. John’s fan-blogs to find the justifiable rage. But the ragtag lot of Red Storm fans are resigned to their fate. Their team is going to the College Basketball Invitational.

tybalt-cardAt the N.I.T., the following could happen, and it would make life livable again:

The Hoyas beat Baylor, then Virginia Teach, then another team, then Davidson, then Notre Dame!

This dream scenario involves delightful re-matches.* It is also highly improbable.

(* Notre Dame beat us on New Year’s Eve. Davidson knocked us out of the NCAA tournament last Easter. Also, a Georgetown-Virginia Tech game would be great.)

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt has an excellent short speech. Benvolio protests that he has drawn his sword only to keep the peace, and the truculent Prince of Cats replies:

What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
1.1.67-68

Well, let me say that I hate the phrase “March Madness.”

The phrase is a crass neologism. It is imprecise. It is inaccurate.

I hate the phrase, like I hate hell, all euphemisms, and Duke.

Baylor almost won the Big 12 Championship
Baylor almost won the Big 12 Championship