Remember the old E.F. Hutton commercials of the 1970's and 80's? You know, the ones where the announcer would say, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen."
Well, a national non-profit Catholic outreach group is hoping that former Notre Dame Football Coach, Lou Holtz, has the same effect on inactive or disenfranchised Catholics.
Catholics Come Home.Org, which last year launched, what it called, the largest television evangelization campaign to bring Catholics back to their faith, has purchased a 30 second ad, featuring Holtz, that will air during Monday night's BCS National Championship game, between the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide and the College Football Hall of Fame coach's former team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In the spot, which is set in a football locker room, and delivered like a pep talk on life, Holtz encourages Catholics to return to the faith and return to Mass.
He says, "For victory in life, we've got to keep focused on the goal; and the goal is Heaven. The key to winning is choosing to do God's Will and loving others with all you've got. Sacrifice, discipline and prayer are essential."
As he is speaking, images of the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio and a missionary helping a poor child pop up, before cutting back to the locker room scene, as Holtz continues, "We gain strength through God's Word. We receive grace from the Sacraments. And, when we fumble due to sin, and it's gonna happen, Confession puts us back on the field."
Again, images of the Bible, the Holy Eucharist and a man kneeling and praying are faded in and out of the screen, which ends with the coach on camera, "So, if you haven't been going to Mass weekly, get back in the game. We're saving a seat on the starting bench this Sunday."
The ESPN analyst, who is a life-long practicing Catholic, and is not shy about expressing his faith, agreed to doing the ad, or "evangomercial," as it is being called, after running into CCH President Tom Peterson, who conceived the idea, at an airport last July.
Considering that many Christians, including Catholics, have stopped practicing their faith, and, for some, faith has become more of a personal thing than an outward lifestyle, as Christ intended, the purpose of the ad is obvious.
Moreover, taking into account, that, as polls indicate, the largest Christian group, after Roman Catholics in the United States, is ex-Catholics, and the likelihood of a huge Catholic and former Catholic audience for the game is pretty high, it makes sense for Catholics Come Home to try to reach them.
In fact, I'm sure Peterson is hoping millions of them, like the people in the E.F. Hutton commercials, will stop and listen, when they see the legendary coach, who guided the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season in 1988, deliver his message.
Since I don't hold grudges against the Irish, like many other University of Miami fans, I'm hoping for another undefeated season for Notre Dame and for many Catholics to return to their faith as well...