St. Rita and the Relief Pitcher

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted nothing more than to grow up and play college baseball.  Well, he grew up and he’s playing his second year of baseball for Lansing Community College and along the way he’s learned some great lessons and relied on some heavenly helpers.  God has blessed Dave and I with three really great kids and I give the credit to the Father who created them and lots of great people who have been a part of their lives.  People like teachers, coaches, Priests, neighbors and a small town full of eyes and ears who never hesitate to hold kids accountable. This post isn’t just about a proud mamma; it’s really about the power of strong witness, deep faith and the marks they can leave on a young man.

Jason was influenced by two faith-filled men early in his baseball career. One was an elementary teacher who used to play catch with him after school and share his knowledge, skill and love of the game.  The other was his JV coach who later became his Confirmation sponsor.  Both these men helped him become a better player and a better man; they weren’t afraid to live and share their faith and that made a difference.   Another strong influence was a teammate just one year older.  Jason and Brendon played together several times over the years and Brendon taught Jason to love the game and play it for the fun of it.  He always made him laugh and not take himself too seriously.  He taught some great lessons for baseball and for life.

Jason’s biggest baseball companion however is a girl!  Yup…you read that right…a girl.  Her name is Rita, St. Rita that is.  St. Rita is the patron saint of baseball and difficult circumstances; as a relief pitcher, Jason is no stranger to those and Rita has helped him through more than one tough inning.  For Jason’s Confirmation we gave him a St. Rita medal.  Unfortunately there was one rainy game and one crabby umpire that created a situation that didn’t end happily.  Jason was told by the umpire who saw something shiny tucked into Jason’s jersey that he had to remove the medal before he could throw another pitch.  The sad part of the story is the medal slipped out of his pocket, got lost in the mud somewhere on the field and never made its way home.  Some people have a lucky rabbit’s foot or a lucky coin but Jason has something bigger: a Saintly companion who reminds him that this game is all about using the talents God gave him to bring Glory back to the giver of the gift.  After he started being more mindful of his abilities and where they came from he started doing something interesting that happened so fast only a mamma would notice.  At the beginning of every inning he would bend down and scratch something in the dirt.  When I asked him what he was doing he smiled and said “one of two things, if I’m nervous or uptight I write BTN and if I’m worried or struggling I write P413.”  He went on to explain that BTN are the initials of his teammate Brendon who died in a car crash his senior year.  He said, “it helps me remember how to play like I love the game.  P413 or Philippians 4:13 reminds me that this game isn’t about me at all, it’s about doing what I can with the gifts God has given me.”

When you pray for the intercession of a Saint they become like a heavenly companion.  Jason was about to leave for his first college spring training in Florida and I had every intention of getting him a new St. Rita medal but I forgot.  The Saturday before the team was to take off, I was telling the story about Jason and St. Rita at a conference I was speaking at and I mentioned that I had forgotten to get a new medal.  Two days before Jason left, a package arrived from a city and person that were not familiar to me.  As I opened the package and read the letter, I was astonished at the words I was reading.  A lady who had been in the audience a few days earlier said she had purchased a St. Rita medal years ago and never gave it to the person she had intended to give it to.  She said that must have been because it was really supposed to be for Jason.  It was a beautiful medal.  We were touched, pleased, blessed and grateful.  Jason was touched by yet another beautiful soul willing to be a witness to faith and the power of God’s beautiful presence in our lives.

Jason and St. Rita will be making the trip to Florida for spring training this week.  It’s a fresh season; a perfect season so far and new beginnings are always exciting.  Who knows what the season holds…maybe a season that could land him a spot on a 4 year college team next year, only God knows that, so for now, it’s just Jason, St. Rita and the foundation of faith so many have had a hand in.  Either way it’s always a great day to play ball and use the gifts God gives you!

A Seed To Plant: Make it a point to make a connection with a child or teenager this week.  Take a minute to encourage or witness to them.  It may seem like it doesn’t matter but believe me…it does!  They grow to be men and women of faith by seeing what they look, act and sound like.

Blessings on your day!

Copyright 2015, Sheri Wohlfert

Image credit, Sheri Wohlfert. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to take a good look at the simple ways we can all find God doing joyful, blessed, amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.

3 Comments

  1. Shiver away Barb and then go witness to someone so the shiver train can keep on rollin! Evangelization doesn’t always look like a lesson from a book does it? Blessings on your day!

  2. Is this the same St. Rita whose is also the patron saint of the impossible; her feast day is May 22? She is one of my favorites. A great life story. If it is, how did she get to become the patron of baseball? If not, I have a new St. Rita to look up. Cool story!

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