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Observer Viewpoint | Sunday, September 11, 2005

I don’t read The Observer’s Viewpoint section often, and Friday’s disappointing presentation reminded me why. I am saddened to learn that The Observer’s editorial staff and some students have become so pretentious and self-aggrandizing that they were “insulted” by Notre Dame’s “Candle” television Spot.

Although the ad doesn’t strike me as particularly brilliant, I think it does a fair job of demonstrating that Notre Dame is a school that recognizes that we are not self-made. It seems the editorial staff is too preoccupied with proving to their friends in the Ivies that Notre Dame isn’t just a “football school” and, unfortunately for them, all that religious stuff doesn’t come off as impressive either.

It’s too bad that Mr. Kearns and his friends in the theology department spend their time laughing at the simple piety of us “candle lighting” Catholics, but the Notre Dame I love recognizes that there is profound theology at work in a simple “candle.” Maybe he should take a few classes with Professor Cavadini or Father Daley, I’m sure they at least can help him stop that nasty laughing habit, if not also helping him to see that theology is more than smarty pants sniggering.

The “Candle” ad may not show everything about Notre Dame. It was not meant to. I think it does show one thing brilliantly however, and that is that at Notre Dame we recognize more than just the academic and athletic success of our students, alumni and faculty. We recognize more than the rankings and statistics. We recognize more than the avant-garde academic (and theological) posturing. We recognize that all of reality, even getting into Notre Dame, is a sign of the Mystery who became a man continuing his saving presence in history.

I am grateful for students like the young woman in New Jersey. I hope that her four years of study at Notre Dame strengthen this awareness. And I think there is still hope for Mr. Kearns and the editorial staff of The Observer. The Mystery is waiting to encounter them too.

Stephen Sanchez

alumnus

Class of 2001

Sept. 10