The Sportsman’s Mass


One of the great difficulties for the church in recent years has been competing with  sports clubs on Sunday mornings. So many children now take part in sports at the exact time the principle service takes place in most churches. It presents quite the conundrum for Christian parents; how to ensure children appreciate that worship is a first priority activity without making them miss out on what they love? Causing resentment in the young does not encourage them to delight in being church.

It isn’t a new problem. When I was growing up in the 1980’s my father struck a sensible compromise. Being raised an Evangelical Anglican there was a simple solution; I could play rugby Sunday morning so long as I promised to go to church on Sunday evening. Large evangelical parishes tend to cater to young adults by holding their principle services of an evening, so it was a no-brainer.

But for Catholics the problem is not so easily solved. Sunday is of obligation and the Mass, not Evensong or Benediction, demands our presence. Of course many parishes hold a Saturday evening Vigil Mass for this purpose. But that isn’t a solution in my household, or many others, because Saturday is when the big boys (aka men) play sports. What then can be done for sporty Catholics? It is something I have pondered on and off for quite some time.


This week my eldest son, Benny, received his first taste of rugby at a boot camp run at the local club by some enormous gentlemen from New Zealand. This afternoon, during the presentation bbq, he will conduct the Haka alongside his coaches! It is fabulous witnessing how much enjoyment he has had. And how good that his holiday is being spent outdoors and not sat idle on a silver screen. But… this taster has whetted his appetite and he is desperate to sign up to the under 7s! Hurrah says one part of me – oh no cries the other! That thorny issue concerning Sunday mornings is upon me as a father and as a father- if you take my meaning.

The answer is that I am going to start offering an additional Dawn Mass at St. Anselm’s on Sundays. And I want the word put out around the deanery that it is aimed at helping Catholic parents fulfil their obligation if involved in sport throughout the weekend. The ‘sportsman’s Mass’ will begin this autumn. See bulletin for further details.

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4 thoughts on “The Sportsman’s Mass

  1. The church in Laodicea had locked Jesus outside, yet they were going through all their religious services. They had locked him outside the door of their hearts and the invitation from him was to come and sit down at his table and share his meal. The message from the King sitting at his table is to eat with him. But if you put ambition at the head of the table, or anything else that puts Christ 2nd place, then He will not sit down and eat with you. He can’t be just a by product of your life. You either love Him with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your heart or you don’t. You can’t serve two masters. Just fitting the Lord into your schedule an hour here or an hour there is what keeps him standing outside the door of our hearts. Surely making Sunday Mass as an obligation is going back under law? The Sabbath was never meant to be a religious day, it was a day for rest as God rested on the 7th day. In farming terms you can plant for 6 years then let the land recover on the 7th year. When we say it is a ‘holy day’ doesn’t that mean a day set apart from working, a day for resting. Pagans worship days so it’s not just a Sunday that we should be setting apart to worship God, we are meant to be worshippers coming together Worship should be a lifestyle because Jesus said that ‘true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth’. He doesn’t want us to come to our meetings so that we can start to praise and worship him, he wants us to be a people who are already praising and worshipping him as a normal part of our life, not just when we get to Church. Jesus does not want us to come to Church so that we can worship him; he wants us to be worshippers coming to Church so that he can dwell in the praises of his people.

  2. Am I allowed to comment? I live in Texas USA where Sunday a.m. is still usually saved for church. However, my Catholic Church, Margaret Mary does have a Sat. 5p.m. Mass, Sun. 8:30 & 11:30 a.m. Mass. Spanish language Mass at 12:30, no reason anyone can’t go, and a 5:00 p.m. Sun. evening mass that is basically for young people, their music etc. (I noticed this happening in Sioux Falls S.D. too.) But maybe that is asking too much of you. We only have 2 priests – but 5 deacons.
    Peace in Jesus

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