‘Use your body for the glory of God,’ archbishop tells Olympians

By David Kerr

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Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, visits Olympic Park. Credit: Mazur-catholicnews.org.uk.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster reminded Olympians this afternoon that the deepest meaning of sporting achievement is giving “glory to their maker.”

“We will see many fine sports men and women use their bodies, their minds and their spirits in the quest for glory. But the message of the Gospel goes deeper. It reminds us, vividly, that our bodies are for the glory of God,” Archbishop Nichols said at a July 28 Mass to give thanks for the London Olympics.

“Indeed our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. This does not detract from that physical achievement of sport, with its beauty, symmetry, harnessing of speed, finesse and power. Rather it enhances those achievements and gives them their deepest purpose – that of giving glory to their Maker,” he said.

The special Mass at London’s Westminster Cathedral came less than 24 hours after the official opening of the 30th Olympiad in the city’s east end. During the next two weeks the English capital will play host to over 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries.

Archbishop Nichols praised the Olympic Games for holding up “high ideals of fairness in competition, of friendship between adversaries, of individual achievement and national pride.” He hoped these ideals would be achieved during the London event, despite the “huge pressures of world attention, corporate investment and political prestige.”

Over the past months the Catholic Church in England & Wales has launched various initiatives related to the Olympic Games.

The 100 Days for Peace project campaigned for an “Olympic truce” between warring nations for the duration of the games. It also encouraged schoolchildren “to train for peace,” just as athletes train for events.

“The classic virtues of temperance, fortitude, justice and courage were explored as the foundation of true human achievement, whether in citizenship or sport,” Archbishop Nichols said of the project.

Meanwhile, the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his 2010 visit to London, has been attempting to “build spiritual character through excellence in sporting skills and fitness.”

Archbishop Nichols said this would be the key project “through which our Catholic community can help our society build a legacy worthy of these Games.”

He concluded by asking God to bless all those participating and attending the Olympic Games. “Bless all who take part in them. Keep us safe. Bless alike our joys and our disappointments,” he said.

“Teach us, in these weeks ahead, to thank you for all your gifts and to give a generous welcome to all, especially those most in need. Then, indeed, we know you, the one true God, in the glory of all your creation.”

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