I don't exactly know why these words resound in my head when I thik of Notre Dame. Maybe because I meant to bring that particular work of Graham Greene's on the trip. (Forgot it, unfortunately). But I can think of no more fitting title for a post about a university so unparalleled in its Catholic tradition and grandeur.
The feeling this place evokes awakens as soon as you step on campus. It doesn't originate in the traditional tips of the fingers or toes. It starts in the heart, a deep and warm glow that envelopes the entire experience. Not often can you walk across a place and know that every one you pass by feels as you do, and the students are possesed of a passionate loyalty unlike most collegiate emotions. I believe that its mystique arises not so much from the stunning architecture and grounds as from the fact that, whatever negative publicity it has received, it is and will always be specially loved and blessed by God and His mother.
There are a lot of memories for just three days. The surreal: staring at the Golden Dome, or the steeple, or the Grotto at night, or out the old wooden windows of the classrooms, and thinking every time, "Hey! I'm at Notre Dame!" The thrills: going to a class taught by Alistair Macintyre, going to the Navy v. Notre Dame game (which really is a post unto itself). Fun times (watching Hairspray, watching New England beat Indianapolis) and hilarious times (discovering that the Alma Mater played by bells is horribly creepy at night...discovering that there is not only Touchdown Jesus, but also First Down Moses, Fair Catch Corby, and Draw Play Jesus...some athletes actually can consume an entire bunch bananas in one sitting...).
Put simply, it's huge. Huge campus, number of applicants, number of opportunities, number of choices in the dining hall; huge experience. There is emotional pull toward here that the other colleges in the running lack. I had been trying not to think about it too much because it is unlikely that I would be picked out of 17,000 applications to be accepted. But the game last Saturday against Duke changed something. With it being the last Senior game at home the win was glorious of course. And I was practically screaming when Zbikowski went in at quarterback. It really hit, though, when they played the Alma Mater. Before it's always just been a pretty tune I didn't know the words to. This time there were tears in my eyes and chills down my spine, and I thought "I want this to be home. I don't want to love Notre Dame by extension anymore". Provided I am even accepted, I want to go with all my heart. Which means I have to pray even harder to follow God's will and not my own.