Two weeks ago, you could say St. Patrick got the short shrift, for because March 17 fell on a Lenten Sunday, the patron saint of Ireland was not celebrated in church, at least not liturgically. Of course, while some priests did in fact mention Patrick (the wise ones, that is) I doubt on this greatest Christian feast of the year, that few will even think about the "feast" of that other great (Fighting) Irish icon, Knute Rockne.
For as 3-31-31 (the day Rockne died) flips around to 3-31-13, Christ's triumph over death and evil certainly trumps over Rockne's victories over 'Tech or the Trojans. Yet as Easter signifies Jesus' perfect love for us and each year symbolizes new life for the Christian, Rockne's life, which once symbolized all that was right with sports, now comes to signify all that is (still) right with Notre Dame. As Catholics have hope with a new pope, Irish fans have reason to believe again after an undefeated regular season.
Of course, whereas some Catholics would say Pope Francis is also a cause for concern (although washing women's feet on Holy Thursday is a topic for another day) many die-hard Domers would point out that a 42-14 BCS loss to Alabama is a far cry from a National Championship. But here we must remember that Rockne's model for making Notre Dame the nation's "flagship" Catholic university was not from the top (administration and faculty) down, but from the bottom (players and fans) up. Similarly, if Francis' style is to succeed, it may be from the laity inspiring the clergy instead of the other way around.
So while I urge you to spend the day remembering the great feat Christ performed for the faithful, take a few moments (perhaps during a commercial of the day's many sporting events) to recall what the Fighting Irish's most famous convert did for Notre Dame (and the sports and faith apostolate) too. For how often do you get a chance to sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" and "The Notre Dame Fight Song" on the same day?