Commencement Day Was Mother’s Day at Notre Dame

During his commencement address at Notre Dame University on Pentecost Sunday, Cardinal Dolan reminded Notre Dame of its best: It’s Notre Dame.

In his commencement address yesterday, he said:

Here at Notre Dame we do not strive to be like Harvard or Oxford, but like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana, Calvary, and the Upper Room at Pentecost . . .with Mary, as the “Word becomes flesh” in the one who called Himself “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Here our goal is not just a career, but a call; not just a degree, but discipleship; not just what we’ve gotten but what we’re giving; not just the now but eternity; not just the “I” but the “we”; not just the grades but the gospel.

At Notre Dame’s grotto, he said:

there’s a touch of the transcendent, a hint of the beyond, a whisper of the sacred, that reminds us that we’re not just minds and bodies, but hearts and immortal souls, called not to a “crap shoot” called life but an adventure in fidelity that beckons us to cast out to the deep, and, yes, even walk on water toward Him, the Son of God, the Son of Mary; she’d remind us that He has a plan for us, that these years of college have been a part of it, and that we’re happiest when our plans are consonant with His.

“It all comes down to this,” he said:

she – - Miriam, Mary, Notre Dame, our Lady – - humbly, selflessly, generously, with trust, placed her life in God’s hands, allowing her life to unfold according to His plan. She gave God’s son a human nature; she gave the Eternal Word – - God the Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity – - flesh. That’s called the Incarnation. God became one of us.

(Cardinal Dolan has talked about the power of a fiat of a mother and a father recently.)

Mary, he said, is the “secret of Notre Dame.” Dolan pointed out to the graduates — and the rest of us:

you are asked the same pivotal question the Archangel Gabriel once posed to her: will you let God take flesh in you? Will you give God a human nature? Will He be reborn in you? Will the Incarnation continue in and through you?

“Let God take flesh in your lives,” he urged.

Given this is the same venue where Barack Obama infamously spoke during his first year as president, some might have expected a more targeted, even somewhat political speech. But this is how we make our politics, and universities, and lives what they ought to be: We live sacramental lives. We let God make Himself known through how we love one another with the sacrificial love of Christ. We don’t compartmentalize our faith. We don’t give it lip service. We don’t relegate it to Sundays and weddings and funerals. We let God take flesh in our lives.

That’s what the Green family of the Hobby Lobby stores try to do. That’s the integrated life of faith, that Randy Hain writes books about, layman to layman. It’s The Way. That is the great gift to the Church of the new movements Pope Francis embraced and encouraged yesterday in Rome, as we try to help one another do this.

If we set out to do that — let God take flesh in our lives — the world will once again see the beauty of faith and family (see Mary Eberstadt) and the greatest freedom of surrendering to God’s will for us.

More thoughts here.


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