Super Bowl: Reaping the benefits of prayer?

During a visit to Pittsburgh this weekend, I could feel the Super Bowl excitement in the air. The grocery stores were packed with people stocking up for the big game; people and businesses had signs in their windows; and the Steeler Nation was the topic of conversation all over the city.

So I was not surprised when I went to Mass Sunday morning to see at least half of the church decked out in black and gold. Adults and children sported team jerseys: No. 7, Ben Roethlisberger; No. 86, Hines Ward; No. 43, Troy Polamalu; No. 39, Willy Parker.

I was surprised when the priest did not mention the Super Bowl. He greeted parishioners in Chinese for the Chinese new year and gave a nice homily about the readings. No Super Bowl hype here: In fact, the first mention of the game came in a pulpit announcement about celebrating “Souper Bowl Sunday” with a collection for a Pittsburgh soup kitchen.

At the end of the Mass, however, the priest shared with parishioners why he had remained mum about the big game.

“That’s because I believe it is wrong to pray for a team that you bet on,” he said, adding, “But you can pray that I reap the benefits of my bet.”

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