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Father Muench Says...

Living an Olympian-style faith

Feb. 21, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I love the Olympics!
Four years ago, during the last winter Olympics in Sochi, I was living in Saranac Lake.  At that time, I had the opportunity to meet several Olympic athletes from the Adirondacks who were competing that year. That was rather special; I certainly felt more interested in the events that year knowing some Olympians.

During the past week, I have enjoyed this year’s Olympic events, watching as many as I could.

There is a certain fascination in the Olympics.  I remember the 1980 Olympics, held in Lake Placid.  In those days, being much younger, I enjoyed skiing.  I thought it was rather neat that I was able to ski on those Olympic slopes at Whiteface.  Now I admit, I skied them very, very much slower than those Olympians.

I think the television coverage this year has been good and I have been most interested in hearing the background information and the bios of the athletes from all the different countries.  It is fascinating to learn how these men and women started on the road to becoming an Olympian.  I enjoy knowing what gave them the dedication and determination to put in all the hard work and training to make the team. 

I also wonder about the many athletes who worked hard and trained but did not make the Olympic team.  They also had determination and dedication – but only a precious few athletes finally make the team.  I know that these were rather sensational people and very talented athletes who came so close to making the Olympics.  I am certain that this adventure and journey did make them even better individuals though they fell short of their goal.  I know that their lives were filled with many successes because they made those efforts to become an Olympian.

Now I mention all of this because I am certain these Olympic athletes seem to me to be wonderful examples of the dedication a Catholic should have in living out their faith.  I would like to believe that our Catholic Church could be known as a people with the kind of dedication to live well and make the world a better place – with the kind of determination as an Olympian.  The only difference would be that all will be gold medalists.  Maybe that would be a good definition of a saint.

Each Catholic has a story.  What gets us, Catholics, started on our journey to a faith filled life?  The Olympian was started by enthusiastic parents, certainly by a perceptive coach and many, often small, things that happened along the way – and probably a few surprises. 

I like to think, we, Catholics, have had many wonderful people who said the right things to us, who guided us and showed us the way.  And I am certain it was also so many small things that keep our faith alive – little things that God placed into our lives.  And, yes, many surprises.

I remember this story well.  This gentleman stopped to see me at the rectory one Saturday morning.  He began by telling me he wanted to become a Catholic.  So, we sat down to talk about it.  I asked how he ever got the idea to becoming a Catholic.  His first answer was to tell me about a fellow he worked near at the plant.  This fellow was a Catholic.  My visitor went on to describe how impressed he was by him and was also impressed by the way he lived his Catholic faith and how much it meant to him.

I knew this fellow he was talking about. I am certain that if I had gone over and visited him and tell him how he had led someone to become a Catholic he would be very surprised and humbled.  I would describe him as a very good, but ordinary Catholic.  You never know what an impression you make on others by living your Catholic life as well as you can, by trying to say the right things, by doing things well especially those little things that are such a part of our life.  And – yes – the surprises – we could often become a surprise of the Lord.

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