Sports & Religious Life: Following Christ
February 28, 2011
“Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Put on the new self, created in God’s way in holiness and in truth.” (Eph 4.22-24)
When one enters religious life, the tradition in our Province is to take a religious name. My baptismal name is John and I took the religious name “Benedict.” While I am still John to my family and friends from my hometown, my new name as a Dominican is “Fr. John Benedict Croell OP,” though I go by Fr. Benedict OP. In some real sense when I entered, John died and now Benedict lives in Christ! Fr. Gabriel Gillen OP, shown in the video above, has the baptismal name, “Kevin” and took the religious name, “Gabriel.”
Taking a religious name when a young man enters religious life is part of the tradition of the Order of Preachers that goes back to the time of St. Dominic. Certainly there are some things in our previous lives that we no longer do as Dominicans – as St. Paul speaks in the passage from Ephesians (above). But there are other things that we may have done in the past which continue to be a part of our life as friars preachers, though in a moderated way. For Fr. Gabriel, well… it is surfing! For other friars it might be playing basketball or tennis, running, lifting weights, playing musical instruments, bicycling, etc. (Click here for a video of the friars playing a little Mumford & Sons!)
Sporting & other activities in moderation are helpful as religious men because they provide us with a balance in the life of prayer, study & preaching. Some of these activities which exercise the body can even have a theological context (cf. Dr. Peter Kreeft’s writing on Surfing).
Kindly Light Media, a project of our Dominicans, is working on a new surfing documentary called: “I Surf, Therefore I Am.”
The video at the top of this post shows Fr. Gabriel when he was home visiting his mother in Florida. While Fr. Gabriel does not have the opportunity to surf as much as he did before entering the Order, he nevertheless continues to keep up this sport when the opportunity presents itself for the proper balance of body and soul!
Below you will see the world record for the largest wave surfed by navigating a 90-foot wall of water by Garrett McNamara in Portugal that we posted on our provincial YouTube page that has “gone viral!” Say a prayer for all those surfers who will see it, that the Lord will help them to know the awesome glory of God!
“And His voice was like the sound of many waters.”