Nope. Fortunately or unfortunately you’ve got him in line for practice. So let’s start the way we always practice. Welcome to practice. They say practice makes perfect. But in basketball, arguably the greatest
of all time, Michael Jordan said that you can practice for eight hours a day but
if you don’t practice well then you’re just practicing how to do it the wrong
way. First part of practice is listening and watching to know what you’re
supposed to do so that you’re doing it the right way. Professional athletes will shoot 300 to
500 jump shots a day. Repeating over and over again the same scenarios so they
become proficient in that same skill, no matter what is in front of their face. So
that come game time, they can shoot the same jump shot.
I mean practice practice practice You’re in. I’m in. Practice, practice, practice. Practice. One study say’s we need to practice 10,000 hours to become proficient at a skill. It takes you
that much time doing one particular craft so you become a master of it.
Bill Maher one time in an interview with Stephen Colbert asked him, “I thought you
were a practicing Catholic.” “I am. Doesn’t mean I’m good at it.” Are you a practicing
Catholic? Do you practice your faith? We need to pray and ask for that gift of
faith but at the same time we have to practice our Catholic faith. We have to
work at it. It’s not just I have faith or I don’t have faith, there’s work involved.
God asks for our collaboration. So we have to work at it. We have to
practice our faith. Recognize this? A rosary. Repetition, over and over again, 50 plus
Hail Mary’s every time we go around. Do you like the rosary? Well maybe not. Because you’re probably not very good at praying it. Have you prayed the rosary
for 10,000 hours? Are you a master? Are you proficient at praying the rosary? It
takes practice. One day Peter goes up to Jesus and asks, “How many times do I have to forgive my brother? As many as seven time?” And Jesus responds, “No. Seventy-seven times.” Seven was the number for perfection and so seventy-seven
times was seen as even greater than perfection. Practice doesn’t necessarily
make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect. Even knowing how to forgive is a
practice in our faith. Which is why I think Pope Francis reminds us, he says,
“God never tires in forgiving. We simply tire in asking.”
We need that practice of learning how to receive that forgiveness and to give
that forgiveness. Or St. Paul in his first letter to Timothy, “Set believers an
example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Attend to the public
readings of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that
you have. Practice these duties. Devote yourself to them, so that all may see
your progress.” You can think of five different elements to practice that we
need to remember and to grow in. One is that when we practice, we experiment. We
don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again, because we might be
doing it wrong. In our life of faith there are so many different ways to pray.
Have you experimented with different forms of prayer? The rosary being one, the mass, praying with Sacred Scripture, devotion to the Saints, novenas, Saint
Michael the Archangel Prayer. All of these different forms of Prayer. What
speaks to your heart? What grows naturally from your own life of prayer?
Experiment with forms of prayer. Another part is you’re supposed to practice like you would in a game. You’ve got to practice like it’s game time, all the
time. Because otherwise the way that you practice can form bad habits. So do we
pray like it’s game time? What do I mean by that? There are certain parts of our
life when we’re going to need prayer. We just need it is so profoundly in moments of
loss and moments of difficulty. We know that we need our prayer, but if we haven’t practiced our prayer like it’s the game time we’re not gonna know
how to pray in those hard times. We have to completely immerse ourselves, put our
hearts and our soul into that prayer, so that when it comes time where we need
prayer we have it ready at our disposal. Another part is the quality of our
prayer. What is the quality of our prayer time? If I’m just praying in the car on
my way to and from work, don’t get me wrong that’s good, but if that’s the only place I pray how much can I say is the quality of my prayer? Or am I just leaving prayer
until those last few minutes before my head hits the pillow? Again, good that you
pray at the end of the day, but what is the quality of your prayer time? When are you
choosing to pray? How are you praying? Where are you praying? The quality of
that practice of your prayer. Then consistency. Doing it over and over again, in the same way as shooting those jump shots as a basketball player. Doing the same thing over and over again.
You’ll see NBA players when they go to take their free-throws, they have a whole
ritual that they do that every time they practice that free throw,
they’re going through that same ritual so that that consistency stays. So that
they become more proficient at that particular skill. Finally we need perspective, and where do we get that in sport and in our life of faith? With a coach. We can’t
figure this out ourselves, you don’t practice a sport all by yourself.
You have a coach that helps you push through when you face challenging times.
You have a coach who gives you a different perspective on how to improve
in that particular skill. You have a coach who gives you tools to improve
exponentially in your sport. Who’s your coach in your life of faith? Who’s
teaching you how to practice your faith? Who’s helping you get through those
moments where prayer is dry and boring? Who’s helping you find new perspectives
on the way that you pray? a basketball A basketball player is not gonna go to practice one
time and think that he’s ready for the game. He’s gonna know his method, the way that he trains to maximize his potential. He’s going to have his quality practice time. When and where and how he does that training. He’s going to have consistency in what
he does. He’ll have his coach along the way to help him, guide him, give him
perspective on his training. Are we going to practice our faith? Will you be a practicing Catholic? Because if you do, you will save yourself, and all those
with you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Cardinals!