Good Fridays w/Padre: Courage!

“By the waters of Miami, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Notre Dame.”

This is why, in our wisdom, we make you all take philosophy and theology, whether you like it or not.  This is why you have to know a little something about what’s written in the Good Book, in order to be given a diploma written by our University.  Read the above quotation – obviously it’s derived from Psalm 137 (even the Freshmen recognized that, right?).  But there are some important differences: first, Miami is substituted for Babylon, though I detected very few dissimilarities between the original den of sin and iniquity in Mesopotamia and the bordello on South Beach; second, after a hard day of tailgating in the southern sun, our fans passed out more than sat down; and third, we were lamenting the first and only loss of the entire season, not the utter destruction of Notre Dame and the enslavement of all our students.

HLS EFS CSC Babylon

 

You have to be a philosopher about these things, not a tragedian.  One of the two teams was going to walk away from that game with a loss (ever since they did away with that fascinating conundrum, the tie).  The defeat we were handed was heavy; but be philosophical – it could have been much worse.  You only have to look at Alabama’s previous victim opponent in a championship game to see that we scored two touchdowns more than the zero achieved by Louisiana State.

The strength of Alabama in recent years has given rise to much popular discussion of a “dynasty.”  Dynasties are for Pharaohs, not football teams.  Alabama just happens to be particularly strong when other opponents (but not Texas A&M) are relatively weak.  Unlike pharaonic dynasties that lasted hundreds of years, Alabama is more like the Germans – powerful bullies who rise up occasionally and roll over everyone in sight, until they’re resoundingly beaten again and subside into a decade-or-so of sulky weakness.

Looking at our 12 victories from our undefeated regular season (an activity in which Alabama cannot indulge),  a mystic might be inclined to say we saved up all of our opponents’ scoring for one devastating game, in effect taking 12 small wins in exchange for one big loss.  That may sooth wounded pride, and if Buddha had played football that might be called karma. We have mystics in Catholicism, but not samsara – each game is won or lost in its own 60 minutes, and fortune or disaster are not traded fluidly among present and future events.  Of course, being Catholic, our mystics asks what sins we committed so badly to be given a 42-14 penance.  But look, you self-flagellating mystics, those 12 victories are still there and aren’t going anywhere.

If you want to blame any supervening force for a January loss, then join with me in my manic hatred for the witchery that is the BCS (in my opinion, properly written without the “C”).  Under the old bowl system, Alabama and Notre Dame could very well have played different opponents.  If both won, the matter of #1 would be left up to the voters in the polls.  Of course, Notre Dame would remain the only undefeated team, and Alabama would still have a suppurating wound named Aggie.  The polls could have been unanimous or split.  Crimson Tide fans could fantasize about what it would have been like had they gotten at shot at the Fighting Irish (whilst all the time claiming their 37th national title).  Notre Dame would argue that we deal in reality, not fever dreams, and the lively debate would rage.  Those days were so much more exciting!  And isn’t debate what we do in universities?  Aren’t theories what we develop and argue with passion?  Those who lack creativity or mental vigor are much happier with this dry and definitive system the BCS claims to provide, having taken the matter out of the hands of fickle voters.  Except for the fact that getting to their glorious final game is entirely dependent on voters who adamantly refused to rank Notre Dame #1 until there was no other alternative.

HLS EFS CSC Freemasons

Yet, it is of no value to blame the BCS – why not blame the Freemasons (it’s the same group, after all…literally).  The weak, the spoiled, the self-indulgent, and the slaves to rage all want to blame someone.  So we look to the Old Testament, which is a series of books about blame.  Moses would blame the people for worshiping a golden calf – or in the case of our fans, an aluminum can.  Joshua would blame lack of preparation, though we had ample time and the band provided plenty of trumpets.  David would blame himself for his infidelity…oh, let’s not discuss unfaithful, straying leaders at just this moment.  So we turn to the New Testament: Matthew would blame the Pharisees, Mark would blame the Scribes, Paul would blame Peter, Peter would blame the cock, everyone would blame the Romans, and John the Divine was just batshi crazy.

But what everyone in the New Testament can agree on is that until the Second Coming, we live in a fallen world where we all sin and bad things happen to good people and nothing has any business being perfect.  And so what do I say about an unblemished season ending in an unsightly bowl bruise – “If it were all gone, I should not give up!  I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady.  But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make the point.  So, tomorrow as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it bigger and better than ever!”

Well, the bricks have cooled now.  It’s time to start rebuilding.

Besides,  I blame the Jesuits.

HLS EFS CSC Main Building Fire

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About Father Sorin

University Founder
Son, in 199 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm pretty tight with Him.

Now I’m going to tell you a whole lot of things I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew me. I was along before your time, but you all know what a tradition I am at Notre Dame. And one of the most important things I ever said was, “Friends, sometime when my University is up against it and the breaks are beating the students, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win at everything for Padre. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be then, friends,” I said, “but I’ll be looking right over your shoulder.”

Read all posts by Father Sorin


  • Mark G.

    In 1972 Notre Dame lost to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl 42-6, playing against a running back (Johnny Rogers) that Notre Dame simply could not tacke, in a complete and what at the time appeared to be demoralizing drubbing.

    In 1973 Notre Dame came back to win the MNC.

    Just saying. This team can be rebuilt bigger and better (and faster and stronger would not hurt) than ever.

  • Anthony

    Amen Father, Amen. Let’s rebuild. Stronger, faster and better than ever. God, country, Notre Dame.

  • http://Zahm Dan

    please let kelly stay

    • Father Sorin

      I was no stranger to blazing disputes at Notre Dame. In fact, I even left once and moved to St. Mary’s, refusing to come home. Of course, with a vow of poverty, money was never the issue. But control was. Perhaps Mr. Kelly wants the same degree of authority over the entire football program that other coaches enjoy. I myself do not appreciate garish uniforms, but Kelly has said his players like them and he is all in favor. The Stadium music is not to my taste, but he certainly pushed hard for it. Perhaps the heart of the matter for Kelly is whose word is supreme in matters pertaining to the football program: his own, or that of men who graduated decades ago? Perhaps Kelly doesn’t want more money poured in his pocket, but does want more money poured into Stadium enhancements.
      By the way, the argument that got me packing my bags was with my administrative council. They refused to spend the money needed to gild the dome for the first time. Guess who won that one.

  • Terry

    Mark G – Yours is a good point but why not include the January 1988 shellacking we got from Texas A&M (when Tim Brown’s towel was stolen during an altercation and they were laughing at us) and what followed the next season?

    • Father Sorin

      Ne Plus Ultra. Going all the way to the absolutely final game, against the defending champion, is an achievement only one team can claim. This season was far superior to that of 1993, with its ignominious senior game loss to an unranked opponent. That prevented us from even being considered for a championship, despite the fact the the ultimate champion had lost to us. This season was superior even to that of 1964, which was all victories except for the very last contest against the despicable USC. Or take 1953, when a late November tie prevented Professor Leahy from winning his fifth championship.
      2012 was joy heaped upon joy, until the final effort fell short. Let us view that not as a disaster, but as a challenge to inspire us in the future.

      • tlndma

        Padon me Padre but, the game against the wanna bees from Beantown in 93. They were ranked #16. It was painful enough. I can’t bear to think it was an even bigger upset.

  • jmichael

    Your article deserves a comment: a literary breath of fresh air with a touch of myrrh.

  • ND Bonecrusher

    Loved your article, Father. Makes me miss the January-till-May permacloud a little more right now, and hopeful that at least one of my kids will make it their personal mission to get into ND, as my wife and I did.
    I too have utter disdain for the BCS and the knuckleheads who say that this whole season was a waste. Like the janitor said in Rudy, “Waste? Don’t be wastin’ my time.”
    Bless me Father, for I have sinned. If I have one regret about this season it’s that I didn’t enjoy the ride enough. We went 12-0. 12-0!!! Why didn’t I savor each of those wins a little more? Anyway, your ending was spot on. Let’s rub some dirt in it, take a lap, and start thinking about August 31st.

    • Father Sorin

      Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy an entire season, not a final game. The first requirement of a glorious season is being undefeated at home; our Stadium should be a formidable arena into which all opponents fear to come. The second requirement is savaging all our ancient rivals. The third is surrendering no shameful losses to lesser teams. By all these criteria, this was a wondrous season.
      Hence, it is deplorable that such grand acheivements are eclipsed by one defeat. And hence, I despise the headlong rush to make the bowl games “definitive.” This misguided course only serves to cheapen every other game. A bowl game is a treat, a reward for a successful season. We didn’t even participate for decades because 1) Final exams were after Christmas break, and 2) Bowl games were superfluous to winning a national championship. Soon they are set to become more important than defending your own home field.
      God only knows which is truly and unquestionably the very best team in any given football season. And is should stay that way.

  • Bob

    Bonecrusher, I too wish that I had enjoyed the season more. I still don’t know how though as the next game always seems to be the biggest. I found it fairly easy to accept the Alabama loss. In my opinion they were clearly the better team and therefore deserved the title. This Brian Kelly matter on the other hand has been very disheartening. Until now, I could take solace in the fact that we were getting better and the future was bright. The thought of going through the same coaching rumor mill only to settle on our fourth best option, while at the same time seeing our prized recruits fall off 1 by 1, exhausts me.

  • John F. Ganey

    Very good composed Email—Was Fr Sorin that good in modern conversational isms ? I really enjoyed the article !!!

  • KyNDfan

    Having the good fortune of attending the Miami game at Soldier Field and the Pitt game, I enjoyed every win this season. The agony that was the 1st 3 quarters of the Pitt game was erased when that kick sailed just far enough to the right. When our boys pulled it out, complete strangers were hugging and hi-fiving in the stands. Wins don’t come easy, so enjoy every one of them. If all goes as planned, I’ll be in the stadium next season(MSU game tentatively) cheering our boys on to victory. Will BK take this team to glory? I hope so. Either way, I’ll be cheering hard and enjoying the moment.