Imagine kneeling in a room with eleven-thousand college students. The lights are dim, and the spotlights follow the priest holding a Monstrance, walking through the aisles. The choir is singing the verse, “I give myself to you, Lord,” over and over again. People are moved to tears, while others are in awe of the experience. Everything stops. An overwhelming amount of peace is flooding the air. The Holy Spirit is alive and active in the hearts of everyone there.
The spotlights continue to follow the altar servers and priest holding the Monstrance. Everyone is on their knees in admiration for the One true King. It’s not a piece of bread in there. There is no way that a piece of bread could move thousands of people to tears. There is no way it could be just a symbol. It has to be a person. It turns out that the little piece of bread is a Person. That Person is the One who died on the cross for the whole world. The Person, in that tiny little Host, is truly Jesus Christ.
Soon, the priest holding the Monstrance is right next to you. The spotlight is hitting directly at the Monstrance with incense moving all around it. An overabundant amount of love floods your heart. Love that you have never experienced before. True and authentic love. Love that only the Creator can give you.
This is an experience that I had during my junior year of college at SLS18 (a conference that the Fellowship of Catholic University Students used to put on). It truly changed my life forever. It was the moment that I knew I was loved. It was the moment that I knew I wanted to give God everything. It was the moment that I came to life.
Fast forward one year, I was on the track for the Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championships. It was three minutes before the gun went off for the 800-meter race. I finished my strides, and was on the line, doing little jumps before it was “go time.”
I remember the Varsity Catholic missionaries sitting in the bleachers. I thought it was so special that they took time out of their day to watch me run for a little over two minutes. Not only that, but they also rallied other students from the Newman Center to watch. I felt so loved, so known, and so seen.
I made the sign of the cross and started my prayer. Once again, everything stopped. There were hundreds of people in the stands and around the track. The air was still. The announcer was introducing everyone racing. The women next to me on the line were finishing up their strides. My coach gave me a look of good luck, and I gave him the final head nod.
There it was again: that peace; that love. The same love that I experienced at SLS18. God is everywhere. He is all around me. He is dwelling in my heart. He is with me. He is here.
It wasn’t about my coaches anymore. It wasn’t about my teammates. It wasn’t about my parents. It wasn’t about the people next to me. It was only about God. He gave me a gift and I wanted to use it to glorify Him. I wanted to give my all for Him. I wanted to compete as hard as I could for Him. I didn’t want this gift to go to waste.
I turned around to wish the other athletes good luck. I caught the eye of a girl from another school. She remembered me from SLS18 and thought it was inspiring that I was a practicing Catholic. I said, “Good luck.” She responded with, “God is here. He is with us.” I replied, “Yes, He is. I’m praying for you.”
A few moments later, the gun went off. I was free. I was so free. I was free from so many attachments, pressures, and expectations. I was only running for God. I felt so loved by Him. I was only with Him throughout that whole race. He was with me in every stride. He was in the people all around me. He was cheering me on through my teammates. He was with me. It, once again, was a moment I didn’t want to end.
I ran one of the best races of my career that day.
Having Varsity Catholic missionaries with FOCUS at South Dakota State University was one of the greatest gifts of all time. They helped me tremendously with living out my faith to the fullest, especially with facing the pressures of teammates. They entered into my life with great joy and conviction. It was attractive and made me want to pursue God with everything I had.
I will forever be grateful.
I am now in my third year as a Varsity Catholic missionary with FOCUS. Walking with athletes, and helping them pursue God with their whole hearts, has been one of the greatest blessings of all time. My goal is to help college athletes grow in their relationship with God, equip them to do the same with their teammates, and to go all-in with their sport to glorify God with the gift He has given them. I have met the most amazing athletes as a missionary. I am so excited to see what God has in store for all of the athletes I will be walking with this next year in mission.
About The Author:
Krista Steele is a full-time Varsity Catholic missionary, so her primary focus is college athletes. She loves sports, and considers it a joy to run [spiritually & literally] alongside collegiate athletes who strive for Heaven. Learn more about Krista HERE!