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Posted July 1, 2013

Book: Holy Goals for Body and Soul: 8 Steps to connect sports with God and Faith
Author: Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2013. Pp. 145

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Hockey-playing Catholic bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, IL has a message for teens and young adults; athletics and fitness training are a daily way to connect with God and faith. In Holy Goals for Body and Soul, Bishop Paprocki weaves his unique personal story with eight steps commonly associated with participation in athletics, personal fitness, and team play and connects them with a path to wholeness and holiness.

An Excerpt from the Book:


There are a lot more losers than winners in sports. How do we deal with failure?

"Did you win the race?"

The question took me by surprise. Dumbfounded, I simply asked, "What?"

A priest at a conference I was attending was the person asking the question. I didn't know him very well. I had been the Bishop of Springfield in Illinois less than two years at the time, and we only saw each other at diocesan gatherings such as these. He apparently didn't know a lot about me, either, but he had heard that I had recently run a marathon, so he repeated the question, "Did you win the race?"

"No," I answered, trying to figure out how to explain to a non-marathon runner that I don't ever expect to "win" marathons I terms of being the first runner to cross the finish line. I wanted to explain to him that I run marathons, not to win, but rather I am competing against myself, and victory comes in achieving my goal. For some runners, that goal may be just to finish the race. For others, it's getting a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon or setting a personal record. The more I talked the more spurious and futile my explanations seemed to be.

This man couldn't get past the idea that "winning" means more than just "finishing first." It reminded me of one of the classic Seinfeld episodes when the characters gathered to witness the New York Marathon and George Costanza remarked, "A couple of runners from Kenya and 25,000 losers." I guess from that point of view I have failed to win all eighteen marathons that I've run up to this point. I have never come close to that kind of winning, and I know I never will.

The definition of winning or success in the sport of baseball might be equally hard to explain to a novice. Growing up, my brothers and I played baseball whenever and wherever we could (that's if we weren't playing hockey, of course).

We played baseball in the laundry room (with a plastic Wiffle ball and plastic bats).

We played on the sidewalk in front of our house.

We played in the alley behind our house.

. . .When we got older we finally played with regular hardballs. We imitated all of our favorite players . . .

Despite our dreams and fantasies of becoming big-league ballplayers ourselves someday, my brothers and I quickly learned on of the toughest lessons about baseball: It is a game of failure.

Consider this: Ted Williams, called by many "the greatest hitter who ever lived," is the last player to have a .400 batting average for one season. He hit .406 with the 1941 Boston Red Sox. The more typical standard for batting excellence is a .300 average. This means the best hitters get a hit only 30 percent of the time. Ted once remarked that batters who fail only seven times out of ten attempts will go down as the greatest in their sport!

Table of Contents:


1. Fear

2. Frustration

3. Failure

4. Fortitude

5. Faith

6. Family

7. Friendship

8. Fun