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How the Olympics can inspire us to become saints


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Philip Kosloski - published on 07/27/21

St. John Paul II believed the Olympics can be an inspiration for our spiritual life, encouraging us to aim for perfection.

Every few years the world becomes fascinated by the Olympics, watching in awe the physical perfection that each athlete has accomplished.

St. John Paul II was a big fan of the Olympics as well, and he saw great spiritual lessons to be learned.

In his sports message during the Jubilee Year of 2000, he pointed to the Olympics as an encouragement to all of us in our spiritual lives.

At the recent Olympic Games in Sydney we admired the feats of the great athletes, who sacrificed themselves for years, day after day, to achieve those results. This is the logic of sport, especially Olympic sports; it is also the logic of life:  without sacrifices, important results are not obtained, or even genuine satisfaction.

He then goes on to quote St. Paul, who similarly pointed to athletes as a model for the spiritual life.

Once again the Apostle Paul has reminded us of this:  “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9: 25). Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is, a faithful and courageous witness to his Gospel. But to succeed in this, he must persevere in prayer, be trained in virtue and follow the divine Master in everything.

When watching the Olympics and recognizing the athletes’ remarkable physical strength, may we look at our own lives and see how we can imitate their example, saying with St. Paul:

I have competed well
I have finished the race
I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

Pope John Paul IISports
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