After four consecutive years of painful loss, Nashotah House’s flag football team, the Black Monks, victoriously reclaimed the St. Lawrence Cup trophy on Sunday, October 27th. The Monks were hosted by St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin, taking to the field at 1:30 p.m. Testosterone ran wild as masculine grunting, hooting, and chest-bumping fueled the team’s fierce, but strategized, playing. Never since the 16th century has such tension risen between citizens of England and Rome (or their representative seminaries).
Preceding the game, the Rev. Thomas Buchan, clad in regal black and gold cope, officiated a most sacred litany. The football was blessed with holy water and incense, and these sacred words of prayer were chanted:
“Bless, O Lord, this ball to be a sign of arbitrarily assigned value moved at great effort and human expense hither and yon on a field demarcated at regular intervals of measurement, not to endless, but certainly to great delight, and let it be for us a token of thanksgiving for an afternoon in which to enjoy the bounties of thy creation. Amen.”
And so the game began. Words were exchanged, flags violently ripped apart, and a multitude of minor injuries were suffered. Only two touchdowns were scored during the game’s two halves – one by each team – necessitating an intense overtime match. Both teams were given four downs at the ten yard line. Nashotah’s human skyscraper, Tyler Whatley, gracefully snagged a pass in the end zone from QB Christian Wood, bringing the score to 12-6. Wood then rushed the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion. In an attempt to reassert their sole power and authority over the enormous chalice trophy, the Catholics also landed a touchdown during overtime. Unfortunately for the Romans, any chance at a two-point conversion was thwarted by the ever decent and orderly defense tactics of the Anglicans, leaving the final score at 14-12, Black Monks. As the referee’s whistle sounded, ending the game, the frustrated but powerless papists left the field and the reformers triumphantly sprayed one another with champagne and flaunted their reclaimed chalice for all onlookers to see. No divorces were sanctioned.
The Black Monks’ victory, much akin to the Act in Restraint of Appeals, did not entirely impede a common fellowship amongst Anglican and Catholic brethren afterward. Immediately following the game, the hospitable St. Francis seminary hosted the opponent team for an Evening Prayer service. No Eucharistic gestures were offered. However, the Anglican company was cordially served a hearty feast of hamburgers and hot dogs. The two teams plan to continue their competition on the field over the years to come and hope to further relationships in an ecumenical dialogue of “tossing the pigskin around”.