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Prayer, faith and love

| Monday, November 16, 2015

As a member of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, I had the privilege of singing at Thursday night’s memorial mass for Jake Scanlan. I have sung from the choir loft in the Basilica for countless masses over the past four years, yet I have never before experienced such a witness to God’s grace.

I was texting my mom early in the day and somewhat exasperatedly expressed that I don’t understand how anyone deals with “this” — I couldn’t even find a word to properly articulate the loss that Jake’s friends, family and the Notre Dame community are feeling. Being the devout Catholic and ever-wise woman she is, my mom responded simply: “The Holy Spirit.” Several minutes later she added, “Prayer and faith are all that hold us together.” These words were not particularly comforting when I first received them, but they began to ring true during the liturgy.

From the loft, we see the top/back of everyone’s head. The faces behind the altar are often too far away to distinguish. The view is odd and creates a strange illusion of the congregation standing, sitting, kneeling and praying as one body. This unity in prayer became particularly poignant during the Our Father. As the final doxology began (“For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours … ”), hundreds of clasped hands rose into the air, perfectly in unison unlike I have ever seen before. The beauty of the moment took my breath away. Literally. I had to stop singing.

Immediately following this powerful display of solidarity came possibly the most disorderly part of any mass — the sign of peace. From up above, we watched embrace after embrace. Some students left their pews to offer the sign of peace to people across the Basilica. While there was a lot of movement, a sense of reverence still remained.

Lyrics from “You Are Mine,” a prelude to the mass, echoed in my ears. “I am the peace the world cannot give.” Finding understanding or reason in an unexpected death is almost impossible. But peace — peace we can find in Christ and at the Eucharistic table. The Basilica filled with whispers of “Peace be with you,” and I prayed that in time, we may all find peace following this tragedy.

I could share many many more instances of beauty and grace during the memorial mass — from Fr. Pete’s homily to the Scanlan family’s word of thanks – but I will end with just one. The singing of Notre Dame, Our Mother. Again, the loft gave us an unusual view, but one with which we are all familiar. We gazed upon a sea of Notre Dame faithful gently swaying and proudly praising Our Lady and Her University.

This week I have been especially proud to attend Notre Dame and to be a member of the Notre Dame family. My mom said “prayer and faith are all that hold us together.” I want to amend her statement. Prayer, faith, and the love of the Notre Dame family are what hold us together and will continue to hold us together.

To Jake’s family and friends, my continued prayers go with you.

“Coming to the house of Lord Jesus, we will find an open door there, we will find an open door.” – “We Shall Rise Again” by Jeremy Young

Megan Schilling


Nov. 13

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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