Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 25 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Herman “the Cripple”
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

7 Olympic athletes teaching us spiritual lessons


Erin Kamprath - published on 02/23/18

Two other figure skaters, Chris and Alexa Knierim, call to mind more specifically as husband and wife how all Christian spouses areeach other’s primary partners on this path, for better or worse. Both Olympic pairs helped Team U.S.A. take bronze, and both show us how anatural bond not only strengthens two companions in the fight for victory, but is itself strengthened by the shared struggle.


Read more:
Meet the family and their friends that gave the Church at least a dozen saints

Read more:
Saints Timothy and Maura, newlyweds martyred together

Finally, Simon Kreuger can remind us that great sin in the beginning does not preclude great sanctity at the end. The Norwegian cross-country skier, after crashing just 200 yards into the 30 kilometer race, worked his way back to the front of the pack and ended up finishing first! In this astounding turnaround, Krueger resembles St. Augustine of Hippo. Both fell early and impressively: Krueger went down in a tumble of poles and rival Russian skiers; Augustine in a tumble of fleshpots and Manicheans. Both could lament their delayed starts, although St. Augustine more eloquently (“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new …”). And both in the end, with astonishing perseverance to recover from their past failings, achieved the highest honors. Indeed, this is the type of road to sanctity that St. Paul himself took too.


Read more:
5 Scandalous events from the life of St. Augustine, the original “bad boy”

Now none of this should be taken too seriously. To do so would be a gross irreverence. Obviously, the saints to whom I have compared these Olympic athletes sacrificed far more and achieved something far greater, infinitely greater, than winning medals in PyeongChang. As St. Paul would say, the saints have won imperishable rather than perishable crowns. That is what we ought to aim for too. For what is bronze, silver, or even gold compared to eternal life and perfect happiness in union with Almighty God? We ought to lay up our treasures in heaven, not on earth.   

But still, all creation glorifies God. These athletes can remind us of the spiritual battle by placing an image of it before our eyes. This image, however dim next to the original, moves our spirits nonetheless. And at this time of year especially, all of us could benefit from any additional inspiration to the athletic practice that St. Paul highlights in his First Letter to the Corinthians — bodily mortification.

So this Lent, let us pray that we may have the grace to imitate the Olympic athletes in this one aspect at least — to “pummel” and “subdue” our bodies, that we may gain an everlasting reward.


Read more:
Blessed Virgin Mary of Everybody: Do you know that apparition?

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.