Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why the Notre Dame/Obama Scandal Matters

My husband and I met at Notre Dame on the third day after we arrived on our respective campuses. After four years of dating while at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, and two years of engagement wherein I received a Master’s of Education at Boston College, and my then fiancĂ©e attended NYU law school, we were married by the Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, Bishop Bernard Ganter in 1990. Nine children and no small number of Notre Dame T-shirts and sojourns out for games or to visit friends later, we find ourselves looking at a school we no longer recognize as the place that helped preserve our pure spirits, that helped keep youthful desires in check with such quaint restrictions as visiting hours.

Where we once argued against Mario Cuomo and were not scoffed at, now we see a school that seems both hard headed and in part, hard hearted. We do not understand this beautiful place that no longer recognizes the source of its fundamental beauty. When people of good character and deep faith ask how this school (which they know we love), can authentically represent Catholicism, (indeed, Mary in all her glory), if we cannot recognize life at its beginning as being sacred to those who do not believe it, I have no answer.

We will be praying the rosary. We are praying the rosary. We pray for the President to have the scales fall from his eyes and for this most anti-life of all presidents in the history of our country to become like Saint Paul. We pray for Fr. Jenkins and those who stand fast with him on this point. We pray for their hearts to be softened by the weeping and anguish of the faithful who see this as a far more egregious assault on Catholic sensibilities than the erotic pseudo intellectual musings of an artistically contrived lesbian play. The later is self absorbed mental porn packaged as art, the former is a rejection of everything our Lady stands for and everything her life means, for the sake of a photo-op and the bragging rights amongst Universities for hosting the current President of the United States.

The rejection of the timeless for the transitory, of the prayerful for the powerful injures more than just those graduates and families and alumni who may not be entirely thrilled with President Jenkin’s choice. Those who never loved Notre Dame but love the policies of the current President of the United States, seem to find almost perverse glee that the faithful, (who cannot be anything but pro-life), agonize over this once crown jewel of Catholicism falling so far from her truly once upon a time deserving heights. Being the body of Christ, all of the Church, all of us that make up the countless unknown laity that line up for the Eucharist on a weekly basis or more, we suffer each time a Catholic in a position of leadership denies Mary, denies Christ, or denies the authentic reality of each person, by their policies and actions and words.

The University of Notre Dame should mean something. It should embody the beauty of Mary, the humility of Mary, the obedience of Mary, the purity of Mary, the whole dedication to Christ of Mary. It should be a place that creates people of steel and fire, people who know how precious life is, and how important it is to be obedient to God in all things. The University should radiate the essence of Mary in all its policies and in all of its classes, and in every bit of ground.

No one who contemplates this Queen of heaven with a sincere heart, cannot be softened by her witness, by her love, by her life and her instruction. “Do whatever He tells you to do.” This should be the great lesson that all students come to master as a result of their experience at this campus, whether in physics or art or sociology or economics.

The purpose of a Catholic University is not to win accolades or host world leaders or build the largest endowment in the history of man or have the greatest number of federal dollars in grants for its research purposes. The purpose of a Catholic University is to via the craft and art of instruction, through the sense of place and the beauty of minds and persons represented in the faculty and staff, to turn souls towards God while putting before the students, the richest banquet possible of all the best thoughts, practices and experiences available. The purpose of a Catholic University is to pursue the Truth in all things. Modern sensibilities would parse Truth and reduce it to being merely a religious tenet, and that only scholarly truth should be so ruthlessly sought in the academic world.

But Christ tells us clearly, “I am the way and the Truth and the Life.” If we would be Catholic, if Notre Dame would be Catholic, it must know Truth, it must love Truth, and it must pursue Truth over politics, over power, over prestige. And the Truth in this circumstance is humble and small and achingly real in the person of Mary.

Notre Dame Our Mother, Pray for us. And Our Hearts forever, Love Thee Notre Dame.


MightyMom said...

terrible though it is I must say it has unified the Catholic community better than anything else I've ever seen or heard of. What ELSE have this many (I've lost track of the current number) Bishops all spoken out in unity against??

Lee Ann said...


Anonymous said...

Sherry-fix the first paragraph. the then (twice) are awkward. Loved the article- hugs and prayers, your editor Mom

jacobusmaximus said...

i was saddened when i attended a play at st john's college high school in DC this past weekend (little shop of horrors---my nephew was in it). this is a "christen" school-- not catholic but christens believe in the sanctity of God's name too....one character said "God da__" not once, but twice. It was very sad that they chose to have a student break a commandant. There were lots of other cursing through the play and oddly--each night, the audience would gasp out loud, not when "God da__" was spoken, but when a character "flipped off" another character---not with the finger which would be shocking but with the whole forearm instead. When i asked my nephew about it, he said, "we curse every day, all day so they let us in the play. No big deal." He was more curious about the reaction to the flipping off and was surprised I even brought up the God curse. Another way to belittle our faith and our attempt to help our children grow in a healthy environment.

Anonymous said...


If you are referring to the St. John's College High School on Military Road, it is indeed a Catholic institution.

jacobusmaximus said...

my nephew attends school there (sorry I didn't spell christian properly in last log) and has said repeatedly that they speak of themselves as a "christian" school--the teachers that is. i take it they aren't affiliated with the archdiocese and that may be why he feels it isn't catholic? now, i've had the "its a catholic school" debate with him several times, he goes there and i do not. he is a kid still so i can't take all he says as fact--he may be misinterpreting something--- but he continues to say its not "catholic" and i think he feels this way bc he says his religion teacher told him they go out of their way to avoid "catholic" prayers to be inclusive of others (who may be offended by the "catholic prayers" in case they didn't know it was a catholic school either?)--their website says it is catholic. i called it a christian school bc he is adamant to me about this. i am doing it to respect the kid. i'm his godmother. i've tried.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...very interesting. I will have to check with a family member, as well, as I do not have a child of my own there. Seems like something is missing.

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