Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Catholic Athletes

In looking for a lay organization for Catholic amateur/recreational athletes, I came across this site. The organization was formed "in response to Pope John Paul II's call to evangelize the world of sports". Prominent Catholic athletes involved in this organization witness their faith in Jesus Christ to others through their lives, actions, and speaking engagements.

I think one of the things we must remind ourselves, especially in a culture that tells us that our bodies have to be perfect (whatever that means, I don't know) is that our bodies are a gift from God -- miraculous, uniquely ours, and mysterious in so many ways we have yet to even discover! Seeing that gift elevated to awe-inspiring use by athletes of any level or ability is a great reminder of God's power and love for us. Special Olympics athletes are particularly inspirational examples of determination and give the rest of us sloths no excuse whatsoever to slack off!

Engaging your own body in a sport or activity is a glory to God and an active use and extension of his creativity. Caring for your body with proper nourishment and rest are thanksgiving to God for our breath, our movement, and our very self and being. Feeding your spirit with prayer attends to the health of your soul and mind.

When I am cycling, especially on a lengthy ride, one of my habits is to stop at a Catholic church along the way, step inside for a couple of minutes, and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I usually put a little holy water on myself, then carry a little out of the church on my fingers. I use the latter to bless my bike, usually making the sign of the cross on my bike's top tube. Then I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for my body and physical abilities, request my safety, and pray for the safety of other cyclists.

Afterwards, I feel refreshed, both physically (which is always needed at about mile 75 of a century!) as well as spiritually. For the rest of the ride, every time I look down at my bike's top tube, it's almost as if I can see the cross I made with the holy water, which reassures, refreshes, and strengthens me.

My Simple Cycling Prayer
Father, thank you for for my body, my movement, the life you gave me, and my physical abilities. Thank you for the example of determination and perseverance you gave the world in your son Jesus Christ. Please send the protection of your Holy Spirit to continue to keep me and other bicyclists safe as we ride today.
+ In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

Rev Johannes said...

I really like your prayer. I came across the prayer and your blog through a "google search" that someone did for "cycling prayer".

I'm not Catholic myself but I am a minister. For the past 14 years, I've been criss-crossing the United States by bicycle with my ministry called "Pedal Prayers" (www.pedalprayers.org).

Since 2-19-93, I've cycled over 177,000 miles and made 14 ocean-to-ocean crossings of the USA.