Normally I write on the last day of the week, and I title my article “Good Fridays w/Padre.” For religious reasons, this is the one week of the year during which I simply cannot write that column. I also consider Maundy Thursday off limits because of the whole Last Supper thing. That left me with Palm Sunday, which was otherwise occupied by watching the basketball lads defeating a giant leprechaun and his Texan team (and I must applaud the cheerleaders’ intensity during that Pom Sunday game); Fig Monday, named for when Jesus cursed a fig tree, which I totally get because I just don’t like figs and accordingly didn’t want to write about them (and I wouldn’t mind it if the groundskeepers would somehow curse those trees that smell profoundly like body odor in Spring); and Spy Wednesday. So here we are. Today is named after Judas, the spy in the midst of the Apostles, who betrayed Jesus. However, I’m not writing about betrayal, though joining the Big Ten – even if only for Hockey – does feel like a staggering slap in the face.
I think it would have been better to call this day Wine Wednesday, because obviously the Apostles* had to stock up for the Last Supper. But, then again, an Irish-Catholic college campus never needs an excuse like Wine Wednesday (and neither does this Frenchman). With a Wednesday like that, we might as well have a Sauce Saturday.
In 33AD, this was a pretty big week for the Apostles; and this week is pretty big for the basketball lads, since they have a Sweet Sixteen game on Friday. But I can’t write about comparisons between the basketball team and The Twelve, because there are 14 members of the team (and I can’t add Matthias to the count because he was subbed in for Judas). Still, I’m rather fascinated by the possibility of bringing the Apostles and the basketball lads together in some form, because how much cooler would Catholic school names sound if we had a Saint Bonzie or a Saint Rex. And how fierce would our team be if we had a player named Simon the Zealot, or a pair of brothers nicknamed “The Sons of Thunder.”
I can’t write about the Biblical significance of the number 16 because there isn’t any. Sure, there are four 16-letter words in the King James Bible, but they don’t really give any inspiration. I don’t want the Fighting Irish to play the Badgers with lovingkindness. It may sound intimidating to say that we compete with evilfavouredness, but when you think about it, that’s neither a good thing nor a compliment. And when it comes to unprofitableness and covenantbreakers, I don’t have the basketball team in mind, but I am shooting the stink-eye right at you, whoever you are in the Athletic Department that decided it would be a good idea to crawl into bed with the Whore of Babylon…I mean the Big Ten.
Though I can’t write on Good Friday, we are playing basketball on that day. I have no problem with this, so long as the team and fans pray from Noon to 3:00 and don’t eat meat. In fact, I strongly encourage everyone to eat ample amounts of grilled cheese, symbolically devouring Wisconsin. Winning against the Badgers will send us on to play North Carolina or Indiana on Easter Sunday. There was a famous Olympic track star who refused to compete on a Sunday because of his devout Christian beliefs. But he was a Scottish Congregationalist, and they’re just really no fun. Easter is the day of greatest celebration for us, so as long as the team, students, alumni, and fans all participate in the holy celebration of the Mass in the morning, I think it’s fine to celebrate a basketball game later. Besides, we can be assured God approves, since the Holy Trinity shoots a mean three.
These aren’t just considerations for students-athletes and fans of Our Lady’s University. I’m sure there are good Catholics on the Wisconsin team who must balance loyalty to their school with the requirements of their faith . Had we played Xavier, things like holy days and religion don’t much concern the Jesuits.
Thus, as we like to do at Notre Dame, this Holy Week we combine Church and Sports, our two favorite devotions. And just for Friday, let’s change Pflueger’s name to Rex Iudaeorum
*Jesus sent John and Peter to get supplies for the Last Supper. Since John is always pictured as beardless, we must assume he was underage. Hence, John would have bought the bread, while Peter went on a wine run. Let that be an instructive and cautionary exegesis for all Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors.
Padre’s book Father Sorin Says: The Founder Comments on Today’s Notre Dame is available from the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore and from Amazon. It is a perfect addition to any Easter basket, and can be used to convert others to the One True Faith.
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.”