Spirituality for Today – Apirl 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 9

Waiting at Home Plate

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A black and white photo of Babe Ruth swinging a baseball batGeorge Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr. saved baseball. On the eve of the Roaring Twenties, scandal rocked the sport. The 1919 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox was fixed. Allegedly, gamblers had arranged payoffs to eight players on the White Sox to throw the series. The Black Sox Scandal, as it known, threatened the survival of the Great American Pastime. Fortunately for baseball, in Boston there was a young pitcher named Babe Ruth who seemed destined for the Hall of Fame. In December of that fateful year of 1919, Babe was sold to the Yankees. The Babe's prodigious persona and excelling baseball skills won the American people back to baseball.

The Church and faith itself could use a Babe Ruth of its own. One would not be considered an alarmist in stating that the Church is facing huge problems ahead. The scandals are documented. Atheistic secularism is making gains especially in Western societies. One is reminded of the ominous scriptural query about whether there would be any faith remaining on earth when the Lord comes. If belief is to thrive and to prevail on this earth, the faithful must give heed to the call to discipleship. Godless secularism has dropped the gauntlet. People of deep religious faith have to rise to the challenge. Believers have to respond decisively – they have to show up – everyday. If not, the biblical warning may come to pass.

If a contemporary version of the Great Awakening is to occur, a fundamental cultural shift is required. The current trend of supporting and even rewarding bad behavior would have to end in favor of celebrating those who are upright and promote excellence. A free society is not a chaotic society. Without guiding principles and values, freedom descends into license. It is an absurdity to ignore the weaknesses, frailties, and the mental illnesses that exist in human nature. Adapting the dictum of President Theodore Roosevelt, every peacemaker ought to carry a big stick. Yet, the emphasis must be on the virtuous person. Affirming a morality and a people expressing the highest aspects of human behavior constitute the greatest hope for any society. As a most revered mentor of mine says, "We need to take care of the well."

Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Leaders of faith, vision, and commitment must appear from all corners of the Christian world. There is an enormous reservoir of talent among the clergy and laity that ought to be tapped. The Church needs to open the necessary pathways for these men and women to contribute their gifts to the community as a whole and to the world itself. Men and women of faith in the corporate world ought not to be bullied by the atmosphere of the times that coerces them to lock there faith tightly inside and become an automaton for the system. The world would become a more peaceful place if the principles and values taught by Christ were applied to corporate planning. One might remark that these are the pipe-dreams of a Pollyanna. One might surmise that the brilliant minds of the business world ought to be able to widen there scope to recognize that it is good for any business to do business for the good. Is there anyone of good will who would not support an enterprise that promotes fairness, justice, and a concern over the effect of their business policies on the population and the environment of the place of its operation in contrast to a business venture that stands for profit above all and the exploitation of a people and the resources of their country?

A clarion call for the presence of champions of virtue is heard globally. Whether in the Church, government, or personal relationships, individuals of courage and goodness are needed to go to bat for those very qualities. An age of saints very well may be upon us.

The Babe left this world on August 16, 1948. His funeral was held at Saint Patrick Cathedral in New York City. The church was filled. Let us hope that there will emerge men and women of heroic faith that will produce the same effect. By the way, why not imagine yourself in the on deck circle?