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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Losing the Rose Bowl, Winning God
What I have learned over the last few years is that I have left nothing and received everything.

Matthew Reinhardt
Matthew Reinhardt

Your Kingdom Come!

Matthew Reinhardt Vocational Testimony

I lived what I would call a normal childhood.  I went to a Catholic grade school and a Catholic middle school.  There was neither ECYD (the young person’s version of Regnum Christi) nor Regnum Christi in Littleton, Colorado, but I feel God inspired in me a personal type of ECYD program.  As a youngster I read the Bible, went to Mass and said nightly prayers.  I even occasionally prayed the Rosary.  I was almost living the life of an ECYD member without even knowing it.

In a public high school the priorities of my life soon fanned out.  Sports, study and the desire to become “a star” filled my life.  I saw these goals becoming reality going into my senior year: a 3.5 grade point average, captain of the football, basketball and track teams and a scholarship to an up-and-coming major college football team.  A tough schedule ran roughshod over my devout childhood habits and I fell into the trap of, “I do not have time for God.” The truth is I didn’t have time to get into a lot of trouble either.  It seemed like somehow I always missed the ‘greatest’ parties.  “I have a track meet tomorrow, I can’t go out.  Basketball practice tonight, sorry guys.  I really need to rest for the big game this weekend, maybe next time”  My active life and God’s grace somehow kept me away from so many “good times”.

In March of 1993 I was filled with joy as I accepted a full ride scholarship to play football for the University of Oregon, the Fighting Ducks.  My childhood dreams were becoming a reality.  I remember very well the first Sunday in Eugene, Oregon.  Far from home for the first time, a new city, no parents, no brothers or sisters, I was free!  I woke up with nothing to do when suddenly I remembered, “Today is Sunday, and my parents are not here to tell me to go to Mass.  I don’t really feel like going to Mass.”  As my head hit the pillow again I suddenly saw my life flash before my eyes and thought,  “If I don’t go to Mass today, the first Sunday I am on my own, little by little I will fall away from the Church and loose my faith.”  So I got out the yellow pages and my fingers did the walking.  I found a nearby Catholic Church and walked to Mass that morning.  I can now see this as a first big step to my vocation.  But don’t think that was all: this first step upward was followed by continuous falls and stumbles.  God was fighting to keep me Catholic, to keep me faithful and to keep me childlike, but the pressures and temptations of university life were slowly distancing my relations with Him.  Soon I was living in an off campus apartment, and somehow I fit into my schedule all the parties I couldn’t’ fit in during high school.  The Oregon football team was at an all-time high.  As only a sophomore I played in every game.  One victory after another.  Hopes of winning the PAC 10 championship became a reality after a late season victory of the University of Washington.  A PAC 10 championship meant a date with Penn State in the “Granddaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl.

January 2nd, 1995: I will never forget the emotion of running onto the field and seeing a green and yellow ocean of Oregon Duck fans. 105,000 screaming supporters packed the southern California stadium and the idea of millions more watching on TV swept me off my feet.  Playing in the Rose Bowl, what else could a college football player ask for?  Maybe winning the Rose Bowl.  We won… second place.  Truly I had everything the world could offer at my fingertips.  But even then, having everything, somehow I felt empty. After the games and parties ended I would lay on my bed and thing, “Is this it? Is this all there is to life? I have everything, I should be happy,” but I wasn’t. Something was mission.

During my football years at Oregon, I came in contact with a guy… a member of Regnum Christi.  He encouraged me to get involved in Church activities, to do some apostolic work and give Christ the first place in my life.  Though at certain moments I felt on top of the world, little by little I realized that the successes of this life do not last long.  So I started going to Mass a few times during the week, to Confession and I started participating in the activities at the Neumann Center on campus.  Little by little my interest in Regnum Christi grew and I heard of the great hope the Church and the Holy Father have in the Movement.  God was battling for my love and when I felt the call to consecrate myself to Christ I decided to give Him the long awaited first place in my life.  So I gave away my bike, my beloved fishing pole, the off campus house and the Saturday afternoon games for a life of dedication to the Church and the Movement.

What I have learned over the last few years is that I have left nothing and received everything.


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