Olympic Catholicism

Tom Hoopes over at has put together a list of Catholic athletes competing in the London Olympic Games this year. Some of these athletes have been very open to talking about the role of faith and God in their lives. In fact, it seems that daily Mass attendance in the athletes' village is higher than the attendance of any other religious services.

What seems to be lesser known, however, is that their are young people from 21 nations in London, not competing in the games, but rather spreading the Gospel. They've pitched tents nearby at St. Bonaventure's Catholic high school, and every day they socialize with sports fans from all over the globe. What's incredible about this is twofold: 1) They're doing this as a response to a call by Pope Benedict XVI one year ago and reiterated by his August intention: "that young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the end of the earth," and 2) that these young people are living out that radical response to God's call that I mentioned in my last post. The former point, that they are responding to the Pope's call, shows a deep filial trust in the Pope and our Mother the Church. It shows a deep love for Christ and a desire to share Him and His message with others. The second point, that this is a radical response, shows a willingness to rely on God. It speaks in many ways more profoundly than any conversation they may be having with sports fans. 

There are hundreds of young people in attendance at the "Joshua Camp," as it's called. Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood reminded these young people in the opening Mass in London of the motto of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Cor ad Cor Loquitur." Bishop McMahon said, "I want you to look into your own heart and ask yourself: 'What kind of person do I want to be?'" It isn't about getting others to be great, but by being great ourselves and allowing our lives to influence them and do the preaching. 

On a side note, a Spanish athlete Carlos Ballve, who plays defense for Spain's field hockey team, is planning on entering the seminary when he finishes these games. And if you think that people just don't respond radically to Christ's call, just look at the seminaries. The number of young men in US seminaries is low but on the rise, which gives hope. Entering priestly formation is in itself an expression of an openness to live a life of radical commitment to God. That numbers are rising, only gives evidence that more people are willing to bear witness to the Gospel with their lives. In fact, check out Oprah's nuns, the Ann Arbor Dominican Sisters, ten of whom just professed first vows. Or how about the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Valparaiso, NE, who will be starting another foundation in Oakland, CA soon.

There's a lot of hope for our Church because there are a lot of young people who are willing to leave their secular lives behind for a life of radical commitment to Christ and His Church. 

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