Perfectly in time for Christmas, the amazing opening prayer for the Army-Navy football game is something that may well stand the test of time. This gem may be shared and enjoyed for many years to come.
Chaplain Col. Matthew Pawlikowski of the United States Military Academy gave the opening prayer for the game. And it was something to behold.
The military chaplain’s prayer before the Army Navy game:
“In this game every player on the field is willing to die for every person watching.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) December 8, 2018
He began, “God of Wonders, some wonder why we pray for a football game. So I tell them, in this game, every player on the field is willing to die for every person watching.”
“And there is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for what’s truly good. And so, God, I do pray for these players, on this field, and all the good they represent.”
“Their fellow cadets and midshipmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, police, and countless others who lay down their lives daily in our defense. Because in your eyes, Oh God, it’s not the critic who counts, but those who actually step into the arena.”
“And so, Almighty God, we who are willing to die for others, we salute you. Let this game begin. Amen,” Pawlikowski concluded.
When the prayer ended, the crowd erupted in cheers. Such a touching tribute to those on the field, as well as the countless other men and women who serve to protect the lives of others, went over well with those in attendance.
At this time of year, the birth of Jesus is celebrated. He is the ultimate example of laying down one’s life for others.
So the timing of such a beautiful prayer could not have been better. The example the men and women of the military set of following Christ’s selfless example could not be missed.
But beyond the beauty of his words, comes beauty in the backstory. Information about the man who gave such a powerful prayer only adds to its beauty.
Pawlikowski’s prayer follows a pattern of his desire for the protection of those on the field, which also took notice in 2016. He was spotted praying the rosary on the sidelines of the game.
Fr. Matthew Pawlikowski, chaplain of the Academy at West Point, just gave the invocation at #ArmyNavyGame. From the 2016 archives of @cnalive, a brief write-up after he was spotted praying the rosary on the field. 🙏 https://t.co/lAMDtdcNio
— lesser spambot (@spambot3049) December 8, 2018
According to the Catholic News Agency, when asked why he did it, he offered this simple explanation: “I always pray for both our teams, for no serious injury on either team. And I pray for the kids on both teams, and just for their holiness and their salvation.”
A chaplain of United States Military Academy at West Point, he also added, ”And then I ask for Army’s victory.” He does pray for the Navy, too, as he admitted after that year’s game.
“I was glad that we won, but I did pray for Navy, and especially for their seniors, their ‘Firsties.’ They wanted to win just as much as we do.”
“So what if they’ve won 14 years in a row? That senior class, it’s important to them to beat Army.”
He also shared his love of his job and the service he does for the military. “I love being a priest. And I love being a priest for soldiers.”
“It is a great life. It’s a manly life. It’s satisfying.”
While his service is not life and death, he has put aside his life to serve. And what better thing for those who lay down their lives for others than to be so lovingly served by someone who has put aside his life to do so.
So, in that context, we have a story of a man whose life is about service, not only honoring the life-and-death-risking service given by those on the field, but pleading for them, and others like them, in prayer.
We have a man making a poignant point to the critics and naysayers about the tremendous sacrifice given by those on the field, who are so much more than football players. And that man used his moment on the field, not to kneel in protest against those who serve, but to proudly proclaim their goodness.
And that ties in with other messages of Christmas. Goodness, joy, hope, sacrifice, kindness.
It was a powerful prayer and a beautiful moment. It was something other televised football events could learn from.
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