All posts tagged: Notre Dame

The Problem of Experience

Many people keep a box of mementos from their childhood and fill it with things that help them recall fond memories or important moments from their youth. When young adults head off to college or start their first real job, a new phase of their life begins. At this point, nothing more is likely added to that box of memories and it is stored away as a new experience begins. Thus, this cycle often continues and each experience is compartmentalized until one’s life becomes a stack of metaphorical containers, separate and unique, but not wholly unified. How often do we hear the exclamation, “What a great experience”? The word “experience” is often used to refer to something that has occurred in the past or will conclude, something that can be summed up and added to a plethora of other experiences. But have we really considered how these experiences shape us as persons – as sons and daughters, as friends, as future spouses and perhaps fathers and mothers, etc. – or do we become so caught …

piano keys

Stories of Grace: Episode 7

“Like performing and articulating music, we are meant to develop our relationship with God so that we can perform mercy and articulate love to all of humanity.” Visit here to listen to Notre Dame junior Lacey Silvestri tell the story of being schooled in the grace of attentiveness through her impatience with playing piano. Subscribe to the free Stories of Grace podcast on iTunes U and receive automatic notifications when a new story is published. The full text of Lacey’s reflection is below. We all have bad habits. Nail biting, hair twirling, maybe midnight snacking… regardless of what your habit is, this isn’t a foreign concept. And like anyone else, I too have my own bad habit, and it’s being inattentive…especially in prayer. And if I could go back and pinpoint just where this bad habit started, I think it’s safe to say that it all began at my childhood piano lessons. Now I started taking piano lessons when I was three, and ten years later I finally convinced my parents to let me quit. As you can probably …

prayerful hands laying on head

Stories of Grace: Episode 6

“I cannot even begin to express how much that small bit of empathy meant to me. My idea of this monster I’ve been fighting for so long was beginning to be transformed by just five words.” Visit here to listen to Notre Dame junior Dani L’Heureux tell a story of the healing power of prayer, reflection and relationship. Subscribe to the free Stories of Grace podcast on iTunes U and receive automatic notifications when a new story is published. The full text of Dani’s reflection is below. Trichotillomania. Now, if you’re like most of this world, and me when I got diagnosed, you’re probably wondering what in the world just came out of my mouth, or if it is even in the English language, or if I just sneezed, or something. Unfortunately that wasn’t just a sneeze, and it is part of the English language, as it has been part of my everyday thoughts, outward appearance, and a cause of my heightened awareness and anxiety over how I look since I was 10 years old. This …

broken loaf of bread

Stories of Grace: Episode 5

“My dad’s suffering allowed him to recognize suffering—in its many clandestine and unwelcoming forms—in others, and his common humanity and humaneness brought the humanity of others to the surface. It was a grace, to be sure, and one he practiced receiving. And not just in his living but in his dying, as well.” Visit here to listen to Colleen Moore, director of the Echo: Faith Formation Leadership Program, tell a story about her father’s witness to life and death made more, not less, by God’s grace. Subscribe to the free Stories of Grace podcast on iTunes U and receive automatic notifications when a new story is published. The full text of Colleen’s reflection is below. I wanted to be common like bread: so when the struggle came she wouldn’t find me missing. These lines from Pablo Neruda’s poem “Nothing More” were etched on a plaque, as a tribute to my late father, Denny, by a close friend of his. It hung on the wall of their local watering hole where my dad had gathered often with …

Pilgrimage and Catechesis: Creating Space for Christ

Amid the honey-colored stone houses on a narrow street in the Mediterranean island of Malta, one building reveals a hidden gem.  At the back of the Dar il-Hanin Samaritan Conference Centre, the large reflection garden invites awe. Crisp, bright, and peaceful, the garden starkly contrasts its bustling, rocky surroundings. It contains prayer mazes, private reflection booths, and a fountain symbolizing Baptism that points to the architectural “cross” of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. I had the privilege of walking through this garden last week, as one of 19 pilgrims to Malta, at the invitation of the Society of Christian Doctrine (SDC). Walking slowly through this physical space, I could not help but be drawn from the ordinary rush of life – into a stillness, a deeper contemplation. The task of Catechesis is to create such spaces: space for prayer, space to encounter the person of Jesus Christ, space to linger with the Word of God. Pope St. John Paul II wrote that “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but …

The buildings of Malta at sunset

By Sea and By Air: The Journey of the Gospel

Traveling by sea as a prisoner en route to his martyrdom in Rome, St. Paul was brought to the rocky shores of a small Mediterranean island with the debris of the shipwrecked vessel that hurled him with his captors and fellow prisoners into uncertain squalls. One thousand, nine hundred, and fifty six (or so) years later, I hope to descend on the island much more softly alongside 18 other pilgrims from Notre Dame, hopefully with all luggage in tow and in tact. Then as now, the unpredictable sway of the Gospel draws wayfarers towards a small and seemingly obscure destination: Malta. The pilgrimage that we make to Malta today with the support of Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life is undertaken for two complementary reasons. First, Malta is a land that boasts of a rich Catholic culture—preserved, at least for a time, from the same pervasive secularizing currents with which much of the rest of Europe has moved. It is a land dotted with sites …

The Excellence of the Cross

The Feast of the Holy Cross is one of my favorite to celebrate each year. In the Office of Readings, we encounter St. Paul’s glorious praise of the Cross: As for me, the only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. It does not matter if a person is circumcised or not; what matters is for him to become an altogether new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, who form the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14–16) These words have particular meaning in the context of debates about Catholic higher education in the United States. Most Catholic institutions of higher learning have taken up the word “excellence” and run with it. We are to be “excellent” in undergraduate education. We are to be “excellent” in research. We are to be “excellent” in commitment to social renewal. We are to be excellent in all things that we can be excellent in. And in some of the …

Shakespeare’s Tempest and Love’s Conversion

Over the last several weeks, the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival put on a visually stimulating and highly comedic production of The Tempest. While the acrobatic feats of Ariel (who was hanging from a trapeze the entire production) captured the eye, it was the relationship between Prospero and Ariel that deserves our attention. The Tempest takes up themes found throughout Shakespeare’s corpus. Prospero, the erstwhile Duke of Milan, has been shipwrecked upon an island with his daughter Miranda through the plotting of his brother Antonio and the king of Naples, Alonso. Prospero, a student of the liberal arts, is also a powerful user of magic. Yet, his power is dependent on Ariel, a spirit who is enslaved to Prospero (after he has rescued Ariel from the power of the witch Sycorax). The action of The Tempest pertains to Prospero’s opportunity to avenge himself against both Antonio and Alonso. Prospero causes a tempest that results in the shipwreck of Antonio and Alonso’s boat (with a number of other characters in the mix), separating the traveling party from one another. After stopping …

The Science of Love

A girl is standing in front of the teacher, a girl rather small for her age. The round face is quite childlike, while the slight body already betrays the early maturity of this southern race. The girl is clad in a peasant smock. She wears wooden shoes. But everyone, not the children only, wear them here, except those very few who belong to the so-called better circles. The brown eyes of the girl are calm under the nun’s gaze. Their expression is uninhibited and dreamy and almost apathetic. There is something in that expression which troubles Sister Marie Therese. ‘So you really know nothing of the Holy Trinity, dear child?” The girl keeps her eyes on the teacher and answers unabashed in a high, clear voice: “No, sister, I know nothing about it.” “And you’ve never even heard of it?” The girl reflects at some length. “Maybe I’ve heard about it…” The nun closes her book with a little bang. Real pain shows on her features. “I’m puzzled my child. Are you pert or indifferent …

The Mass for Millennials: “Lord, I am not worthy. . .”

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to a far-off land, a land I had read about and imagined my whole life. “To Hogwarts you went?” some might ask. While Hogwarts would have been a magical experience, I went to a land that was home to a figure infinitely more awe-inspiring than that of Harry Potter. To the Holy Land I traveled, with my family and 40 parishioners from my hometown. I ventured on a pilgrimage through the cities where Jesus was born, grew up, ministered publicly, and died on the Cross. Through our visits to some of the holiest sites in the world, group reflections, and personal prayer, I grew closer to the Jesus who walked this Earth. As I journeyed from Jerusalem to Nazareth and from the Jordan River to the Sea of Galilee, I felt a consistent sense of unworthiness and gratitude for the blessing of this …