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Notre Dame, Country, God

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, October 4, 2005

I went on the very first retreat of my life this weekend, an experience I postponed until now because I was convinced I should not attend one unless I actually felt the timing was right.

After a spending my summer in a Catholic worker house, I felt the need to have an encounter with Christ.

NDE #87 provided me with the opportunity to have such an encounter. However, I almost did not turn in my application because I was reluctant to take the weekend off and leave homework behind. I stopped rationalizing every action, though, and decided to just go and worry about studying later.

The retreat proved to be one of the most reflective weekends of my life. I’m happy to have met such wonderfully blessed young people. I don’t mean to preach, but one of the things I kept thinking of was how often I put other things ahead of my spiritual growth.

I’ve come to enjoy daily Mass, but if I have too much homework due or if I’m distracted doing something else, I forget about it. It just slips my mind.

This is an upsetting thought because no matter what I’m doing, I never forget to watch the fabulous Kiefer Sutherland Monday nights on “24.”

Similarly, Notre Dame students tend to place academics above all else. There isn’t a single candle that is not lit in the Grotto during the week of final exams, but what about the rest of the year?

By no means am I the girl in the candle spot, but I do remember praying really hard to God, asking that it please be His Will that I get accepted into Notre Dame. I thought ND – with its strong sense of Catholicism – would inspire me to become a better Christian.

Yet upon arrival, I prayed at the Grotto only once during my freshman year – and this was an exceptional occasion. The Pope was dying.

Overall, my faith did not grow in the least and I did not thank the Lord every night, as I had promised, for granting my wish to attend my dream college.

NDE #87 was a hiatus from my routine, a time to stop and reflect on what my priorities should be. I strongly recommend all students to take that break from their lives, too.

I know I should be in Mass right now, but I am not. I’m trying not to condemn myself too much, though. After all, the road to Christ is a lifelong journey, and today I am at a better place in my life than I was last week.

It is hard to keep the first commandment. To love God above everything else, to put Him before everything else – before tests, friends and Notre Dame football – is truly a challenge. I realized this weekend that NDE retreats are scheduled in a way they will not interfere with home games. Now isn’t that something to think about?