Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Spirituality of Volleyball

Reflections by the MAS Volleyball Team
Photos by Carlos Orozco

This year Mount Angel Seminary started a men's volleyball team, and while the coach and players have worked hard at the logistics of scheduling games, printing programs, and providing hospitality for off-hill guests, they have dedicated some time to reflecting on the spirituality of their sport as well.

Frank Villaneuva: Coach and Setter

"The Lord is my Shepherd." - Psalm 23:1

In this year of faith, we are called to dedicate ourselves to deepening our understanding of a particular aspect of our faith.  One aspect of faith that I have dedicated myself to this year is now I can better integrate my love for volleyball while building up the Body of Christ.  In an interview with fellow seminarian Daniel Miller for an article he wrote for the Catholic Sentinel, I shared with him how "volleyball helps to enhance the opportunities to grow in community.  Volleyball also offers seminarians the opportunity to escape the everyday challenges of seminary life and allows them to express these challenges in a healthy way."

This form of brotherhood recharges the seminarian, allowing the other pillars of their formation to flourish in a loving and healthy way, thus building up the Body of Christ.  In this post the players will share with you their favorite Bible verse and you will hear how volleyball has helped them deepen their relationships with others and with God.  I hope their stories inspire you to deepen your relationships as well.

Michael Nguyen: Setter

"Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." - Matthew 5:16

In volleyball, every individual excels at a particular aspect of the game.  In order for the team to be successful, rather than faulting the people for their weakness, we embrace their strengths.  Every player is placed at the position that will allow them to succeed and perform to the best of their abilities.  In this regard, I have reflected on the uniqueness of every individual because God has made them all perfect.  For this reason, instead of judging people and dwelling on their shortcomings, I try my best to embrace the goodness and blessings of each individual.  Volleyball has provided me an opportunity to help people conquer their weaknesses and compliment their strengths.

Stephen Cieslak: Middle Blocker

"Be Not Afraid."

In playing volleyball, I can be my true self.  Spending time with my fellow seminarians in healthy competition helps me to thrive, physically, socially, mentally.  Here, I can maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote community and grow in relationship with both my brother seminarians and others around me and Christ.  The hard work and perseverance it takes to play and stick with a sport at a seminary speaks volumes about one's character.  Since I am trying to build mine, I know that volleyball is a good start.

Carl Sisolak: Defense Specialist

"Do you love me?"  And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."  Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." - John 21:17

Being part of the volleyball team helps me to find a venue for building camaraderie with my teammates/brothers.  It helps make it easier for me to have the opportunity for fellowship more at a time when I and my teammates are more at ease.  Removal of some of that tension allows growth of relationship and in turn, with the reflection of God found in each one of us.

Chase Shepherd: Defense Specialist

"So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1st Corinthians 13:13

The way in which volleyball has helped deepen my relationship with others and God is that it has helped to strengthen my bond with my fellow teammates, and it has helped deepen my relationship with God by giving me the strength needed to persevere through the challenges and to continue to grow in the areas in which I need improvement in.

Fredy Preciado: Outside Hitter

"He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' " - Luke 15:31-32

Playing volleyball has helped me to deepen my relationship with my brother seminarians.  So, in having  this deepened relationship with them, I have also deepened my relationship with God.  Being human, created by God, we are asked to proclaim the Gospel as the apostles did.  Volleyball  helps me to carry on this mission.

Kasiano Sivia: Middle Hitter

"I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Volleyball has allowed me to become closer to my seminarian brothers.  It has brought me closer to the brothers I have known for the last four years and has allowed me to make a bond with my new brothers.  Volleyball has also allowed me to exercise my mind through the skill of volleyball which gives me the opportunity to escape the normal, day-to-day life here in the seminary.  In doing so, I have been able to reflect and more prayerfully connect with my already existing relationship with God.

Alexander DePaulis: Outside Hitter

"Peace be with you."

I enjoy playing volleyball because of the brotherhood that develops with the team.  We learn to play with each other, to depend on each other, to back each other up.  It helps develop trust.  I trust that my team has my back, even if I can't see them behind me, to bump a ball that gets past the blockers on the net.  No one player can shine without the rest of the team.  In some way, this trust with the brothers carries over to my relationship with God where I can trust that he has my back even if I don't see him in the present moment.

Huong Dinh: Right Side Hitter

"For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give is life as a ransom for many." - Mark 10:45

Volleyball helped me to have a deeper brotherhood with seminarians.  Volleyball helps me to get away from my school work so that I may enjoy the company of my fellow brothers.  The friendships we have are a reflection on the friendship I have with Jesus Christ.

Quoc Vo: Defense Specialist

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." 
- Psalm 119:105

The sport of volleyball can be very difficult and can bring about many challenges.  The support I have for and from my brothers helps me to overcome these challenges.  In many ways volleyball has made me realize that sometimes my faith journey can be somewhat difficult and it too brings about some challenges.  The Lord is always there to guide my feet into the right paths in life.  The connection between my faith journey and volleyball helps to deepen my understanding between me and my relationship with God.

Daniel Miller: Libero

"And Jesus wept." - John 11:35

Competition, collaboration, success, failure, virtue, vice: The athletic arena brings about great drama and growth in the human person.  Sport reflects life.  At a glance, volleyball is about hitting a ball back and forth over the net, about bump-set-spike, about serving with swerve and hitting with power, but commingled in the process of perfecting these skills, teamwork arises, perseverance is cultivated, and faithfulness is rewarded.  I feed off the process of improvement in volleyball, constantly striving but never satisfied.  Such is the daily grind of our life as seminarians also: Living in community, studying to be priests, devoting ourselves to prayer, growing in holiness, yet always aware that our Catholic faith isn't about the destination in this life but rather the journey.  And we approach that journey, in our church and in our gym, as one body.  May God bless our endeavors!

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