Grapevine, Texas, Mar 30, 2013 (CNA) - Faith has always played a significant role in many NFL players lives. In this era, New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is famous for displaying his faith on the field by kneeling and praying.
But did you know that many NFL players spend a significant amount of time praying and worshiping God?
Maury Buford, owner of Buford Roofing in North Texas, is one example.
Buford was a punter in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers, the Chicago Bears, and the New York Giants and was a member of the famous 1985 Super Bowl-winning Bears squad.
Buford said his Catholic faith played a significant role in his football career.
He grew up in a small town east of Dallas called Mount Pleasant, Texas, and was the fifth of seven children. The population of Mount Pleasant at that time was 9,000 people.
He attended Saint Michael’s Catholic Church there.
“I used to walk to church, which was right in our backyard, and was an altar boy from seven years old to my middle teens,” Buford said.
His father was a convert to the Catholic faith and his mother was a cradle Catholic.
Back then, there were few Catholics in Mount Pleasant.
“I had an incredible experience growing up and was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan,” he said. “My routine was to go to Mass on Sundays and we would come home to watch the noon ballgame or later game. We scheduled Mass times around football games.”
Buford said one of his older siblings inspired him to start playing football.
“I had an older brother named Lee who was a field goal kicker of the local high school team and I would shag the football for him,” Buford said. “He wanted me to catch the football for him but I was too young to throw it to home and didn’t want to place it back on the tee so I would punt it back to him. This was something I always enjoyed.
“In high school I played quarterback and also did some special teams, just as a punter,” he said. “Back then it was whoever wanted to do it. Lee got me inspired. In my brother’s senior year in high school, he was in a state championship football game. Football became a passion to me and those guys were my heroes.”
Buford said football in Texas in a small town was the life for many people.
“When we would travel, football was a way of life,” Buford said. “In my junior year at Mount Pleasant, college scouts would come scout players and they happened to watch me, and Texas Tech became very interested in me.”
Texas Tech eventually offered Buford a scholarship to play for them.
“Texas Tech is a great location even though a lot of people would not agree with me,” he said. “I was a member of the parish there on campus so my faith life was very important in college as well.”
Buford started all four years as a punter in college and led the nation as a punter his freshman season.
“I was selected All-Southwest Conference team three of my years there,” he said. “My proudest achievements were to be chosen on the Academic All-American team also. That was my job to do well in school since Tech was paying for me to go to school and the least I could do was go to class, show up and give my best effort. That’s what I tell my children, that their job is to make good grades. College life is all about time management. I wanted to give my best job in the classroom.”
Buford said prayer was a major part of his spiritual life.
“I would always pray before a ballgame and during the week,” he said. “I would never pray to win or be the best player out on field. I think God has more important things to deal with than a sporting game or to see who wins or loses a ballgame. I would pray to keep my teammates safe and to pray for them to be free of any injuries. I would also pray that I go out there and give my best efforts and thank God for giving me talents and the drive to play and win. I thank God for giving me the passion to play as well.”
Buford said many athletes take their gifts for granted.
“A lot of athletes have talent but they don’t use it,” he said. “You have to have drive also and I thank God because he gave me both of those. A lot of athletes take their talents for granted. They just think they have to show up, but it takes more than that. As a team we would gather around and say the Lord’s prayer before kickoff.”
Buford graduated from Texas Tech in 1982 and was drafted in the eighth round by the San Diego Chargers. He played three years with them and then was traded to Chicago.
“The first thing I thought after being traded to the Chicago Bears was how am I going to stay warm,” Buford said. “At that time, I thought it was worst thing that happened to me, being traded, but it turns out it was the greatest thing that happened to me. In my first season we won the Super Bowl. It just goes to show you that God has his ways that are better than our ways. We have to trust Him. Professionally, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
“It was a blessing to be on that 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl,” he said.
In 1987 he was cut in training camp and played for the New York Giants for awhile before returning to the Bears again.
“From a money standpoint, we made good money but not like now,” he said. “People always ask me today if I am envious of the money players make today. I am not at all envious because all football players are just one injury away from losing their careers.”
Buford said prayer played an important role for many NFL players.
“During home games, we had a team priest whose name was Father Nick,” he said. “Father Nick would come down and say Mass for the team. Coach Mike Ditka was a Catholic and would go to daily Mass. The Catholics were well represented on the Bears squad. Even our owners at the time were Catholics. When our team would play on the road, we had a designated player find a church and a priest to say Mass for the team.”
Buford said every time he would play, he would pray.
“Every time I would run out on the field, I would say Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us,” he said. “I never miss a game. I respect players like Tim Tebow and see nothing wrong with his display of prayer on the field. You see kids now who dance in the end zones and say ‘look at me look at me.’ So there is nothing wrong with what Tim Tebow does. This is not our world, we are not meant to stay here, and our home is in heaven.”
Posted with permission from the Catholic Sports Association, an organization dedicated to highlighting Catholic sports professionals and enriching junior high and high school student-athletes with Catholic sports articles, conferences, a Web series, and other programs.
Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Italians are known for their food, and at Easter time one Roman baker is putting his craft on display by making cakes to commemorate Saint Peter’s Basilica and remind people of the Holy Spirit.
“We call it ‘Cupolone’ (dome) to recall Catholicism and the Holy Spirit,” said Angelo Colapicchioni, an Italian baker who grew up next to the Vatican.
The big sweet cakes have a similar texture to bread but with a faint taste of orange and are topped with almonds and thick grains of flaky sugar.
“We make them with flour, fresh eggs, butter, candied orange and citrus peels, and almonds from Sicily,” said Colapicchioni.
They are traditionally made each year at Easter time in Italy and are better known as “Colomba,” or doves, since they come in the shape of a dove.
“We are particularly tied to this area (the Vatican) with affection,” he told CNA on March 27.
The 77-year-old Roman grew up on Borgo Pio, a street that ends at one the entrances to the Vatican, and he used to see Pope John XXIII walking in the area.
The baker compared him to Pope Francis, whom he described as “very human” and someone that “breathes trust.”
“Like John Paul II, they are people who are very loved by the people because they are close to the people,” said Colapicchioni.
His father opened the Colapicchioni bakery in 1934 and the business now has two stores with around 23 employees. The original location is on Via Tacito near Castel Sant’Angelo and it specializes in local artisan products like jams and wine from the Lazio region.
The second store, on Via Properzio near the Vatican Museums, is where six bakers dedicate themselves to creating the delicious Italian cakes and desserts that are traditionally eaten at Easter time.
His bakery, which is known simply as “Colapicchioni,” is nearly 80 years-old and sells hundreds of the handmade cakes each Easter.
Romans also eat “pastiera” during Easter, a cheese cake traditionally made in Naples.
“But we use ricotta cheese from Roman sheep and some flavoring but it’s very delicious because it’s a very delicate sweet,” Colapicchioni said.
“The ‘pizza romana’ is another Easter sweet that we make as well as the ‘casatiello’ and Easter chocolate eggs,” he added.
The casatiello is a dish eaten on Easter morning and is composed of cold cuts topped with eggs inside their shells.
“Italians remain tied to certain traditions because even in times of crisis they may eat less, but they still buy these typical Easter products,” said Colapicchioni.
They also buy “pizza di Pasqua” – a salty yellow bread with cheese – and “salami di felino,” a specific type of salami from the Parma region.
“They may buy less but they are never missing on Italian tables on Easter day,” he added.
According to the baker, Italians used to go out on picnics on the Monday after Easter.
“But we are losing this tradition because now there are people who go to the taverns or stay home,” said Colapicchioni.
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis called on Christians to let the risen Jesus enter their lives and to welcome him with trust as a friend during the Church's most holy night of the year.
“If up until now you have kept him at a distance, step forward...he will receive you with open arms,” Pope Francis said at Saint Peter's Basilica during the Easter Vigil Mass.
“If you have been indifferent, take a risk, you won’t be disappointed,” he told thousands gathered at the Vatican on March 30.
At the opening of the liturgy – which Pope Francis concelebrated with numerous cardinals – candles were lit among the faithful and passed in complete silence, illuminating the church as the Easter candle procession reached the altar.
Pope Francis also baptized four people during the service, including a 17-year-old U.S. Citizen of Vietnamese descent, a 30-year-old Albanian, a 30-year-old Russian and a 23-year-old Italian.
After the baptisms, a white cloth was placed over each of the four and a flame from the main Easter candle was shared with smaller candles which were given to them to hold. Pope Francis then confirmed them as Catholics, making the sign of the cross on their forehead with oil and kissing them each on the cheek. The four also received their first Holy Communion during the Mass.
During his homily, the new Pope said that if following Christ seems difficult, “don’t be afraid.”
“Trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”
If people remember what God has done for them, he noted, they will not fear what lies in store for their lives.
“To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have traveled is what opens our hearts to hope for the future,” he said.
The Pope observed that “newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us.”
“We are afraid of God’s surprises...he always surprises us!” he exclaimed. However, “Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up.”
Pope Francis reflected on the resurrection narrative from the Gospel reading where the women were sad and afraid to find the tomb of Jesus opened and empty after his death.
“Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future, he is the everlasting 'today' of God,” he emphasized.
Because of this, Pope Francis explained, sadness is the wrong place to look for life. “How often does Love have to tell us 'why do you look for the living among the dead?'” he asked.
“Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness,” Pope Francis noted. That “is where death is” and “is not the place to look for the one who is alive.”
“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!”
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In response to controversy, the Vatican's spokesman has praised Pope Francis' “simple” act of love for including two women among a group of young prisoners whose feet he washed on Holy Thursday.
In a March 29 statement provided to the media, Father Federico Lombardi called the Pope's move a “very beautiful and simple gesture of a father who desired to embrace those who were on the fringes of society; those who were not refined experts of liturgical rules.”
Pope Francis made headlines recently after deciding to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass on March 28 at Casal del Marmo youth detention center in Rome, instead of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.
During his leadership of the Buenos Aires archdiocese, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was known to preside over the Holy Thursday liturgy in a prison, a hospital or a hospice for the poor and marginalized people.
Among the twelve young inmates whose feet he washed on Thursday were two women, one of Serbian-Muslim tradition.
Following significant media attention as well as backlash from some within the Church, Fr. Lombardi said that to “have excluded the young women from the ritual washing of feet on Holy Thursday night in this Roman prison, would have detracted our attention from the essence of the Holy Thursday Gospel.”
“One can easily understand that in a great celebration, men would be chosen for the foot washing because Jesus, himself washing the feet of the twelve apostles who were male,” he said.
“However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening...took place in a particular, small community that included young women.”
“When Jesus washed the feet of those who were with him on the first Holy Thursday, he desired to teach all a lesson about the meaning of service, using a gesture that included all members of the community,” the spokesman emphasized in his statement.
“That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.”