My Own Notre Dame

March 3, 2011 | 3 Comments

I went to a school run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross School. The brothers there are part of that same Congregation still affiliated with Notre Dame. We even had the same fight song, the euphonium part to which goes through my mind any time I hear the tune mentioned, so often did I play it. It is because of this background, by the way, that I took the name I did in religion, after Saint André Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother from Montreal, Canada.

There are parallels between ND then-and-now and HC then-and-now. The high school that I went to, founded in 1879, was highly regarded in the city. It was respected, and had turned many boys from rough neighborhoods into responsible men who lived by our school code, “The Holy Cross Man.” The Brothers were legendary. My father and my uncle, who graduated there in the 50s would regale me with memories of these manly and strict religious, who were great teachers and master psychologists (practical ones), who knew how to form boys into men.

‘Tween the time my Father went and I did, things had changed. For one, there were women on the faculty of this still all-male school. Why? Before, there were enough brothers to run the institution. The post-Vatican-II vocations slump created the need to hire lay teachers, and women could afford to work for the lower salaries that the school could pay at the time. The vocations slump being only one part of the ecclesial rot wrought by liberalism’s embrace, we had other problems, too. I love my alma mater, but I have to say the religious instruction was generally miserable. Case in point: for freshman year, our teacher was a Catholic (an HC graduate, in fact), who had fallen for some form of Protestantism. His personal defection was bad enough, but that such a bad example can be placed in front of a religion class in a Catholic school beggars belief — or should, but we’ve all grown too cynical for that now. I have to say that Mr. Non-Denominational was not as bad as a former religious sister we had back in seventh grade. She was a feminist, of the I-wanna-be-a-priest variety, and best friends with Sister Helen Prejean, the famed death-penalty foe. She was a very nice lady, and seemed to believe in sacraments and other things Catholic, but I was not surprised when, several years after my graduation, I saw a picture of her, priestess-like vested, leading a neo-pagan rite of purification asking Gaia (or someone like that) to purify the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

My real religious instruction was at home, where, at the supper table, the family would discuss the day just ending over meat and drink. As my older brothers went away to college, these conversations became more intimate, and my religious education, such as it was, became a frequent topic. Dad was not impressed. I got an earful, even with references to the Summa Theologica, which, unshy as I was, I would quote back to my teachers the next day, much to their consternation.

The problem, dear readers, was a multi-headed demon: indifferentism, modernism, liberalism, and Americanism. They all infected Catholic schools, even in my father’s generation, but especially in mine. And today, it is worse.

That President Pro-Abort was honored by the ND leadership did not shake down the thunder from the skies for me. It makes complete sense. Father Hesburgh, Father McBrien… need I say more? Having long ago embraced a new religion, they could not reasonably be expected to act differently.

I hope better days are soon to come. When they do, Holy Cross students will truly learn to live up to our beautiful school code, written by Brother Fisher Iwasko, C.S.C.:

The Holy Cross Man is a refined gentleman who lives by Faith. Devoted to his soul’s welfare, he reflects often on God. His daily actions are sanctified by prayer, the practice of virtue and manly piety. Since sanctity is his goal, he has a deep devotion to Our Lord, to Our Lady and to St. Joseph, patron of his school.

The Holy Cross Man is studious. He regards learning as a duty; intellectual perfection as an honor. He knows that his school is his training ground where he must mold himself into a useful man.

The Holy Cross Man is loyal to God and Country. Devotion to his school and his teachers is demonstrated by his cooperation, zeal and spirit. He is a friend of all because he is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In a word, he is a man of faith and honesty, of strength of character through self-mastery, of respect for the Christian family and lawful authority, of leadership in the pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful — that is the Holy Cross Man.


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