On this Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
It was a devastating defeat. After surviving the regular season, the 8th grade boys looked poised to claim a place in the Catholic Youth Organization championship game. Having handily won every regular season game, they quickly dispatched their first three playoff opponents, winning districts and regionals and setting up the ultimate semi-final showdown: French saint vs. French saint. St. Joan of Arc on the one side squaring off against St. Thérèse of Lisieux–our Little Flower–on the other.
And then the unthinkable happened. SJA shut down the mighty Little Flower, dominating the entire game and sending my son and his teammates home to prepare for their Spring sports.
The team was in shock—my son, inconsolable.
How to help my son? How do I make lemonade? I knew there was a valuable lesson in this loss. How do I convey that to my son?
As we left De La Salle High School, something caught my eye: two stone tablets on a monument in the parking lot. Instead of the Ten Commandments, these tablets contained the Beatitudes. And so, I read–and prayed:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Lord, please use this loss to teach my son to seek only the glories you offer.
- Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Thank you for giving my son this opportunity to mourn so he can learn to comfort others.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Please teach my son humility in this loss.
- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Please teach my son priorities, so he knows there are higher things to fight for than victory in sports.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Please help my son learn to show mercy in victory.
- Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Please use this loss to cleanse my son of all self-focus.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Please help my son to learn how to love in loss and bring Your peace to his teammates and adversaries.
- Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Please give my son the courage to do what is right no matter the consequences.
- Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Please embolden my son in his faith that he can face those who ridicule our faith.
As I left, I reflected on this wonderful juxtaposition: the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments. Moses brought down from the mountain ten directives on how to live. Jesus climbed the mountain to deliver nine entreaties on how to live fully.
And extending the comparison: Moses asked God for food for the Israelites and was answered with daily bread in the form of manna. Jesus came to give us Himself, the true Bread of Life.
As I reflected on the great gift of the Eucharist, I was reminded of my primary role as father: to teach my kids—through example and instruction—to hunger for Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Every defeat we experience is an opportunity for us to draw closer to God and to love one another.