Why does hockey have so many rules? Do we still need to have penalty boxes? Can’t we get rid of offside? And why is practice so important? What’s the big deal with the Commissioner? And coaches? And referees?

A New Perspective Can Be Good

Why can’t they just let us play? Anyone involved in hockey – players, parents, fans – would never take any of these questions seriously. Without the rules, there would be no hockey. And without the drills, there would be no thrills. And yet Catholics ask similar questions about the Church all the time. Why does the Church have so many rules? Why do we have to go to Confession? Why do we need priests? And what’s the big deal with the Pope? Why does the faith have to be so difficult? Can’t we just play? If you have ever needed help explaining the faith to your children, your friends, and family, or even your foes, this is your new playbook.

The Catechism of Hockey is one of the most unlikely, yet incredibly effective Catholic resources for you, a woman in the New Evangelization. Hockey as an analogy for the Catholic faith? Only author Alyssa Bormes could not only make that work but absolutely kill it! Which makes announcing The Catechism of Hockey as the 2019 WINE Summer Book Club even more exciting!

Realizing not everyone loves hockey, and therefore, may not think this book would bless their group – let us offer some powerful, and we believe, persuasive examples from The Catechism of Hockey. This book covers many interesting Catholic topics such as Confession, fostering vocations to the Priesthood, venial and mortal sin, relics, the Deposit of Faith, redemptive suffering, and so much more!

On the the power (and sometimes fear) of the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

“Imagine if, for even one day, we as the Church played at full strength! If each of Her members were in a state of grace, the world would be transformed.

There is no shame in the box. You are not at your worst when you are in the box. You are at your worst when you are sinning. One might even say that you are at your best when you are in the box. You come humbly before Christ. You tell the Divine Referee your transgressions and you are met with Mercy Himself. If you have time to do in the box, do your time in the box.

Don’t make the team play shorthanded because you are afraid of the box. The box is just a part of hockey, and it is just a part of the Church. Go, do your time in the box.” ‘The Church is at full strength.” “She always was!”

The Catechism of Hockey by Alyssa Bormes, p.33.

How about the need for priestly vocations, what are you doing to foster them at home, your parish, or in the world? Consider this analogy about the crucial role of the goalie in being able to engage in a game of hockey, and the Churches’ need for priests to continue to offer the Mass.

“Only the most generous families provide a goalie— especially a second string goalie. The expense can be overwhelming. But it’s not hard to imagine that a child who shows promise as a goalie can be supported; the family and even the community will contribute. Perhaps the family will have to make greater sacrifices; Grandma and Grandpa may even chip in. The community may rally to get used equipment and to reduce expenses, like sharing a room at the next out of town tournament.

The community understands the need for goalies. They know that providing a goalie is an exceptional gift of generosity. They realize that if a child is called to be a goalie, then that child should be given the opportunity. The community does what it can to support the vocation of goalie. It knows what hockey can’t be hockey without a goalie. And that one goalie is not enough; there must be two.

Once I witnessed a particular youth hockey game where there was a goalie shortage; due to the illness, the opposing team didn’t have a goalie. For the time for the game to take place, our team had to loan a goalie to the other. Without the loan, the opposing team would have to forfeit, sending our team forward in the tournament. But our skaters, aware that there is no glory in a forfeit, came to play; better to loan the goalie and take the chance of losing, then to leave the ice with a hollow victory. I have no recollection of who won that game, but I do remember the second string goalie fought with all his heart for the other team, and spectators sitting in the bleachers witnessed an amazing act of sportsmanship.”

The Catechism of Hockey by Alyssa Bormes, 62.

Do your children complain of boredom during Mass? Have you ever complained of being bored during the Liturgy? How much of what is happening at the altar do we understand? Every bell, smell, and genuflection has a glorious purpose. When we know the miraculous transpiring before us, there is no room for boredom — only wonder and awe. Alyssa explains it best in this excerpt from Chapter Sixteen.

“A hockey mom once pointed out a “universal truth” of hockey when she said, “but Alyssa, the difference between hockey and the Mass is … hockey is fun.” Ah, How beautiful! She was so good to point this out to me. And she was right, wasn’t she?

Yes, you are so right, hockey is fun … but not if you don’t know what’s going on. Then it’s just a hard bench in a cold place, and you find yourself looking at your watch, wondering how much longer this can go on.

Think about Grandma, who doesn’t know the first thing about hockey. She is there in obligation to her grandchild. To her, hockey is a cold hard metal bench in a cold place. It’s the same thing over and over, all the time. There are a lot of skaters doing a lot of running around for seemingly nothing. There are a couple of guys in odd outfits making funny movements with their arms, and the arm positions are supposed to mean something. In order to watch Suzy, Grandma has been told to watch # 8. Just when she thinks she has her eye on #8, she can no longer find #8. No one told her about the line changes. Okay, Grandma, just follow the puck. “I can’t see the puck—it goes too fast and it’s too small. Why don’t they make it bigger and a brighter color?

And what about all the sitting and standing? All of a sudden everyone is standing and cheering. When Grandma finally stands up and is able to get someone’s attention to ask what just happened, everyone sits down again … Hockey means nothing to Grandma if she has never been catechized. Instead, it is just an obligation she must fulfill “for the kids.” It seems that she is stuck and some odd time warp where the clock never moves.

Perhaps G.K. Chesterton was speaking directly to Grandma when he said that it’s all meaningless… unless you know what it means. Hockey is fun … just not if you haven’t been catechized in it.”

The Catechism of Hockey, Alyssa Bormes, p.101.

Our Summer Perspective

Alyssa’s book consists of 29 short chapters; WINE has cleverly grouped them to facilitate discussion and reflection of the book. Weekly discussions in the Virtual Vineyard (online and on social media) will use The Catechism of Hockey Companion Journal and Study Guide as our playbook. The journal, named for all the wonderful space provided for recording and organizing your thoughts, will also include new Adalee Hude original coloring pages (*see above). The book club sessions include:

The Catechism of WINE H.O.C.K.E.Y.:
Session 1: How to Begin
Session 2: Overcoming Obstacles
Session 3: Choosing to Follow
Session 4: Keepsakes Along the Way
Session 5: Eternal Goals
Session 6: You and Others

The Catechism of Hockey may not be what WINE readers typically expect from a Read Between the WINEs book club selection; we guarantee it will definitely become one of your favorite WINE book club selections!

About the Author:

Alyssa Bormes is an educator, author, speaker, and retreat leader. She currently teaches at the Chesterton Academy in Edina, Minnesota, writes for the Catholic Spirit, and the W.I.N.E blog, is the host of a weekly show,“Christian Witnesses in the Church,” on Radio Maria US, and is the author of The Catechism of Hockey. You can find her at alyssabormes.com.