From his blog, a very good question:
One of my favorite memories of baseball is about the pitching legend Sandy Koufax. This cherished recollection about one of the game’s greatest pitchers did not occur on the mound, however, it came in 1965, when Sandy informed the manager of the Dodgers that he would not be able to pitch on the Jewish high holyday, Yom Kippur. For Sandy, his faith was more important than even baseball. Last week I was taking a walk in Central Park and stopped at a cart for a bottle of water. But, the attendant was not to be seen. I walked around the cart hoping to find him, and there he was, a faithful Moslem, on his knees for his duty of prayer. How about the movie Chariots of Fire, the true story about the committed Christian Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, who would not compete on Sunday, the Sabbath? Remember? And now I understand the Jewish members of the senior class at Baruch University have asked that their late Friday afternoon graduation ceremony be rescheduled earlier so as not to interfere with Sabbath. God bless them! What about us Catholics? From what I can detect, instead of fidelity to communal acts of penance, we write in for “dispensations” for the measly eight days of fasting left – – Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. We continue to schedule celebrations, parties, and fundraisers during what should be forty somber days of penance.
Sociologists tell us that a religion needs what they call “markers” to flourish, external signs (like Sabbath observances and fasting) to flow from internal conviction. Am I exaggerating when I ask if we Catholics have lost it? Where’s the Catholic Sandy Koufax?