Friday, September 21, 2007

From the FIT mailbag ...

9-19-07

Hello FIT,

I have a question that I thought you may be able to help me out with. Forgive me if this idea has been discussed before in the past, but here goes. I graduated from ND in '98 and naturally have accumulated and have been generously gifted many items which are labeled with "Notre Dame, ND, Fighting Irish.." and the various other symbols that represent our beloved university. Many of these items are sold by the book store and many of them are sold by other businesses. What probably began as mainly clothes that were labeled with Notre Dame symbols presently includes a large variety of objects ranging from pencils to carmats. Why not label everything that you use with the school that you love? But it occurred to me that these words, "Notre Dame" and the symbols which represent her or her school should probably be restricted to those material objects which we also respect. For example, I have Notre Dame carmats but should I be putting my feet onto carmats which have our lady's name? I have not seen Notre Dame diapers yet, but if I did I would think that this would be bad taste. Do you have any input here?


Thanks,
John McDonagh

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Dear John,

It's an intriguing question I've often thought about myself. I remember addressing it some ten years ago (when you were in school!). I wrote in a magazine article which tackled the state of faith at ND, and I wrote how negatively I was affected when I saw thousands of discarded souvenir pop cups (which that year featured a picture of Mary on the Dome) trampled on by un-concerned exiting fans. There's a huge difference between putting the leprechaun on a car mat, disposable cup or (heaven forbid!) a diaper vs. using the image of the Mother of God. I think the former is okay although in those cases I prefer the label "Fighting Irish" rather than "Notre Dame."

I would reserve Our Lady for items that are used/worn with some reverence. Personally, I would rather see a car mat of the Golden Dome on a wall than on the floor of a car. (You don't ever see an American flag car mat, do you?) but not all share my view. Of course, my thought, the struggle between success (i.e. wealth) vs. faith (what Notre Dame means, who She is) extends beyond just memorabilia (or sacramentals as the case may be). For example, does the large NBC logo embedded in the wall of the new stadium (an expansion which now blocks the once ever-present "Touchdown Jesus" from view to all but a stadium few) contradict the Marian mission of Notre Dame, a mission the team once embraced? Personally, I think the Notre Dame "success" stories, however altruistic they may be, have overshadowed its Catholic Christian mission (when's the last time you saw a Notre Dame commercial that mentioned what "Notre Dame" meant or talked about a university dedicated to the Mother of God?) But I see signs (such as Charlie Weis having the players sing "Notre Dame, Our Mother" to Our Lady on the Dome after every game) which, however small, I believe could be the start of something great. My blog is also one such small effort, but every time I get a faithful response such as yours, I am indeed encouraged! Thanks for writing, and keep fighting the good fight!

God's grace & Mary's prayers,
Tom

P.S. Please consider me as a speaker the next time your parish needs one. Also, John, I'd be curious to see what you think of my Suffering Irish idea when you get a chance.

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