Playing football at a Catholic High School means attending Mass right before the game. Football and Faith ... it works.
In a moment of weakness my husband and I decided to let our son play football. There are many things about football that I could complain about: the long practice sessions; the grass stains; the sickening sound of helmets clashing (it is, after all, my son's head under that helmet); the reality that it always rains when it is my turn to take him to practice; the fact that it disrupts our family dinner.
But I am surrounded by boys, and in order to relate to them I am learning to enter their world. I now know that "sacking" has to do with tackling and not a large bag; that when someone calls "hit it", pushups are required; and I know the difference between a lineman, a linebacker, and a wide receiver.
One evening after practice the coach gathered the kids around and told them to "take a knee". It was a beautiful thing to see, all these sweaty boys, bulked up with shoulder pads, kneeling on one knee as they respectfully listened to the coach. At a scrimmage the following evening, the whole team "took a knee" in silent prayer when there was an injured player on the field.
While praying is something we do often as a family, I now realize that my son is getting a new lesson on this theme from football. By "taking a knee" with his coaches and his teammates, he is learning that prayer can be incorporated into many areas of our lives. Prayer isn't just limited to church, or the dinner table, or our school, or family rosary night.
I love that my son is learning this. Kneeling is a very humble act. We kneel in adoration, in respect, in prayer, in times of need. It is an acknowledgement that we as human beings are indeed frail, and when we kneel, we surrender this weakness and yield to a higher authority, our God. I want my sons to learn to "take a knee" in life.
So now, instead of complaining about all the disruptions this football season has caused, I am thankful for lessons he's learning . . . lessons that reinforce what we try to teach him at home. And sometimes I get a glimpse, however brief, of the man he will one day grow up to be.