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Experience something sacred

Allison D'Ambrosia | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

 “So … what did you do once you got on the football field?”
I had no response to my friend’s 8-year-old sister, Maeve. What was there to do once we stormed the field at the end of the overtime game against Stanford?
With the rain teeming down, we had one of the largest and wettest dance parties. (Taylor Swift is jealous she missed it.) Sinking into the mud, jumping up and down and cheering “We Are ND” is what we did. There was no planned event once everyone got on the field – as Maeve thought – but that was not the point. The point of going on the field was to experience something sacred.
It is not sacrilegious to say that Notre Dame fans associate the football program with the University’s religious backbone. The mural of Jesus and His disciples is referred to as “Touchdown Jesus.” We sing the alma mater at the end of every home football game, as well at the end of every mass during football weekends. The players run onto the field and the first thing they do is kneel in the end zone.
So as a freshman, stepping onto the field for the first time is like receiving First Communion. It’s a new experience that is backed with tradition, faith, history, love and excitement. When you were in second grade, weren’t you excited to finally join your parents in line and actually take the host? I was. I wanted to be included in the glory that is the Eucharist.
Last Saturday was analogous. We wanted to be a part of the glory of the undefeated Irish. We wanted to stand where legends have stood, where celebrities watch from the sidelines, and to experience a spirituality that is Notre Dame’s football field.
The grass, the mud, the paint and the rain: all very earthly things. Yet, in an instant they become otherworldly. There was not one person I talked to that didn’t mention the chills they felt walking through the tunnel, looking toward Touchdown Jesus lit up in the night, freshly gleaming in the rain.
We rushed onto the field for a reason; some may say excitement, others may say support, but I say community in God. We were all united on the field, understanding that we were experiencing something that is very rare to Notre Dame Stadium.
“For the safety of the ushers, players, and fans please do not go onto the field after the game has ended.” But we did.
So Maeve, what did we do? We basked in the unity of God, Country, Notre Dame.