Notre Dame Football’s Catholic Tradition

Trent Beattie of National Catholic Register has an interesting article on Notre Dame football. Although the “Catholicity” of the college has been undermined by scandalously compromising presidents, such as Father Theodore Hesburgh (member of Council on Foreign Relations, past president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and the big gun behind the schismatic Land O’Lakes academic rebellion) and Obamaphile, Father John I. Jenkins, not to mention heretical “theologians” like Richard McBrien, apparently its football program is and always has been proud of its Catholic heritage.

Ara Parseghian for example 1964-1974 (Armenian Orthodox?), had the team move into Moreau Seminary the night before every home game: “I was pleased with this,” he said, “because the atmosphere of the seminary was so tranquil. It was very conducive to getting a good night‘s rest.”

But, according to linebacker Anthony Brannan (1996-2000), Lou Holtz (1986-1996) put it best before sending the team out from the locker room every game: “Gentlemen, remember who you’re playing for: Our Lady on the golden dome (there was a large statue of the Blessed Virgin atop the Main Building on campus) and Our Lord.” Coach Holtz also did a TV ad promoting the Catholic Come Home program in which he said:

“For victory in life, we’ve got to keep focused on the goal, and the goal is Heaven. The key to winning is choosing to do God’s will, and love others with all you’ve got. If you or your family haven’t been going to Mass every week, get back in the game. We’re saving your seat on the starting bench this Sunday.”

I don’t know anything about current coach Brian Kelly (no relation) but he seems to be keeping the Catholic tradition alive. Undefeated this year, and heading for the national championship game this Monday, Notre Dame could be number one, and Kelly, Coach of the Year. But, it’s not Coach Kelly who’s pulling strings behind the scenes, it’s the team chaplain, Father Paul Doyle. What a wonderful and childlike Catholic routine he puts the players through. Read “Notre Dame’s Holy Line” by Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Helliker. Here’s a chunk of the article:

“Before Monday night’s national championship game, a University of Notre Dame football captain will lead the team through a prayer called Litany of the Blessed Virgin. ‘Mother of our Savior,’ a captain will say. ‘Pray for us,’ the team will respond.

“It’s a ritual familiar to Catholics. But most players on the Notre Dame squad aren’t Catholic. So participation in that ritual is voluntary. And should any concern arise about praying to the Virgin Mary—a concept some non-Catholic Christians find objectionable—team chaplain Father Paul Doyle stands ready to respond. ‘We’re not praying to our blessed mother,’ he says. ‘We’re asking her to pray for us.’

“At the heart of Notre Dame’s legendary football program is a careworn balancing act. The team is unapologetically Catholic. Before every game, the Fighting Irish participate in a Mass overseen by one of the team’s two appointed Catholic priests, a tradition dating back to the 1920s. At the end of that ceremony, each player receives a priest-blessed medal devoted to a Catholic saint—a different saint every game for four years. Also during the pregame Mass, players can kiss a reliquary containing two splinters that Notre Dame believes came from the cross of Jesus. ‘Most of the non-Catholic players are Christian, so when you tell them these splinters came from the actual cross of Jesus they are humbled to reverence,’ Doyle says.”

That being said, I was disappointed to read (three hours after posting this) George Weigel’s sobering article in National Review, titled “Notre Dame Punts.” The university was given a free 30 second halftime slot to tell the TV viewing nation on January 7 just what Notre Dame stands for. And the powers-that-be did do just that. Weigel saw the piece and wrote that there was not a word in it about being Catholic. Not even a word about being pro-life so as to make some amends for the quisling award ceremony four years ago in honor of the new pro-abortion president, Obama.

NCR: The University of Notre Dame is second to none when it comes to rich football tradition. (Read full article here.)