PN - November 11, 2021 » A Letter from Fr. Ashmore

A Letter from Fr. Ashmore

aBaseball is my favorite sport. There are many reasons for this: the sheer Americana, its meditative pace punctuated with pure performance, and its relaxing environment for a beverage and friends. Yet, one more reason I love baseball might come as a surprise. There’s no such thing as offense or defense in baseball.
Now, hear me out. Some people call fielding, ‘defense’ and batting, ‘offense’, but I just don’t buy it. In what other sport would the so-called defense in every play actively rocket the ball to the other team in an act of coordinated aggression? In what other sport would the offense continually be preventing the alacritous approach of a leather covered cork comet? No. In baseball, both sides are offensive; every player is constantly attacking and advancing.
In this way baseball is like life. Or it should be. Far too frequently people fall into the trap of thinking they are merely responding to the push and pulls of life, an act of defense against the whims and fancies of fate. This, however, removes our personal participation in the great adventure of our life. Perhaps at best we remove risk, but we never gain a great victory.
Life demands that we be active participants. God gave us freedom and from it we get responsibility.  From our responsibility, we gain our adventure. The more choices we make to use our freedom for the sake of the good, acting for the sake of others and curbing our self-interest, the more the story of our life becomes our own. The more we use freedom for the sake of responsibility, the more unique and exciting our life becomes.
As I’ve told the students many times, sin is boring. No matter how creative they are, they will probably not find a new way to sin (please don’t try it). Virtue, however, is the opposite. Every virtuous choice is a new moment of freedom expressed in the responsibilities of one’s particular life. Rather than just responding to the desire for pleasure, money, power, or glory, virtue takes these and transforms them into moments of victory. Rather than just defending themselves; the virtuous person uses all his desires, good and ill, to take charge of his life and direct it according to a new mission for truth, goodness, and beauty. The virtuous person, to put it simply, is always on offense.
So, you may not buy my argument about baseball. Still, my overall point stands. If we want our students to embrace intellectual and moral virtue, we have to teach them that this path does not inhibit their freedom but enables it. By avoiding a merely reactive and vice-filled path, our students can go on the offense and enter the great adventure of their life. This adventure is designed by God and shaped by their decisions. What’s more exciting than that?
In Christ,
Fr. Ashmore