Growing up in Minnesota, there were two seasons; road construction and hockey. Now, I’ll admit, I totally don’t understand road construction —I am forever stumped as to why a sea of orange cones block off an entire lane backing up traffic for miles and yet driving by the area “under construction” seldom reveals construction being done. But hockey, well now, that’s a different story. I get hockey.
Though I never played, I have spent many hours being dragged to my brother’s hockey games (and confession time here folks.... in the 8th grade I was a hockey cheerleader.) Eventually, hockey seeped into my blood and I became an avid hockey fan. So, I understand the game of hockey. I understand the rules and the purpose they serve. I get it and I like watching and being part of the game.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but upon my college graduation, which completed my 16 year quest for knowledge at three different Catholic schools, I knew more about hockey than I did my Catholic faith. (Something tells me I’m not alone here.)
Over the last decade I have learned more and more about my faith and in doing so, I have learned the beauty of the Catholic Church and why she does what she does, and in those past ten years I have shared the joy I find living and learning about my rich faith. Many times I share my love of Christ and the Church he founded by relating through stories. Well, my job of evangelizing just got easier in the great state of Minnesota and Canada, eh? Truth be told, it got easier to explain the Catholic Church to anyone with this great comparison between a much loved icy sport and the Catholic Church.
In her debut book, THE CATECHISM OF HOCKEY, Alyssa Bormes shows readers that hockey, among many sports, is really a metaphor to understanding and believing what the Catholic Church teaches.
Why does hockey have so many rules? Why do Catholics? Do we still need to have penalty boxes? Why do we have to go to Confession? Can’t we get rid of offside? What’s the need for a Sacrament? And why is practice so important? Do we really need to go to Mass every week? What’s the big deal with the Commissioner? And coaches? And referees? Why do we need priests, and what’s the big deal with the Pope? Why can’t they just let us play? Anyone involved in hockey – players, parents, fans – would never take any of those hockey questions seriously. Without the rules, there would be no hockey. And without the drills there would be no thrills.
And yet Catholics ask similar questions about the Church all the time.
Bormes offers a fun and enlightening playbook with the ultimate goal of explaining the richness and beauty of the Catholic faith through comparisons to hockey.
So, I got the book and read it in almost as long as it takes to play a hockey game! It truly is a game changer for evangelizing and had me laughing out loud on various occasions. Then, I had the idea to do something that would help me share the beauty of my faith with someone who is one of the most important people for me to share it with, my son.
One night, for his 20 minutes of reading, I decided to have him read The Catechism of Hockey to me. SCORE! It opened up an exciting world of conversation on a topic that to an average 11 year-old boy (and let's face it, many of us) can seem rather dull —Church teaching. The result was a Win-Win without a shootout! He got his 20 minutes of reading in and we learned how cool the Church was by comparing it to hockey.
Coming from a hockey family, I believe this Christmas I have scored big time. In fact, I think I have a Christmas Hat Trick! I have a son reading about the Catholic faith and loving it; a family discussing hockey and the teachings of the Church at the dinner table; and best of all, I have the perfect gift for my entire family this year! My shopping is done! (Mom, Dad, Jim, Becky, Jake, Ben, Sally, Sam.... if you're reading this, just look really surprised when you open your book this Christmas Eve!)