Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sports & Spirituality at Notre Dame: #GiveJoy

I think curiosity is an underrated virtue. It is a true joy to teach a young person who is genuinely curious about faith, the Catholic Church, how the world works and what makes a person tick. At its best, curiosity can take us outside of ourselves, How's that? A curious person's perspective is less about "me" and more about "how" or "why." Keep a keen sense of curiosity, and life is one big adventure.

I mention this virtue because I absolutely love it when people ask me why I went to college in South Bend. Once they realize I grew up in the Bay Area and that I am the first in my family to go to Notre Dame, they ask "How did that happen?"
A recent video on the Notre Dame alumni homepage about to the importance of the Advent season offers a clue. Long before I wrote and taught about Sports and Spirituality, I was drawn to it. I have been living a symbiosis of these two powerful factors all of my life. 

At some point on the journey, I realized how important my Catholic faith was to me. It was passed on to me by my parents and cultivated in Catholic schools. What a gift. With a student body that is over 85% Catholic, I knew faith was a guiding force at Our Lady's University. The Grotto is just one of many sacred and prayerful places on campus. Spirituality is what separates ND from many but certainly not all places.
The very heart of campus—the Grotto
I also realized in middle school that athletics was ingrained in my identity. Maybe it was all of those Pac-10 football games I went to in order to watch my Uncle Jay referee a game. Or perhaps it was falling in love with the sport of tennis at the age of 12. I still remember my dad signing me up for a local tennis camp and hoping that I would love this "sport of a lifetime" too. I met a lot of athletes at Notre Dame. I played in a lot of Rec sports. I continue to attend Notre Dame games near and far. 

So how does this add up?

During Advent, we are called to be mindful of how we are preparing our minds and hearts for Christ. Spiritual disciplines help in this process. "Share the Joy" is one way the University of Notre Dame is helping the ND family prepare. 
I have to admit when I saw Corey Robinson as the face of the video, I was curious. I knew he was strong on the field. As written on the Notre Dame Football website "The sophomore wide receiver earned the distinction of being named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Football Team just last week." The son of David Robinson—one of my favorite basketball players— "is the first sophomore at an NCAA Division I institution to earn first-team Academic All-America honors since 2008. He also is just the fourth sophomore to attain first-team status since 2002." Great job Corey! I wondered What he might offer about his faith. What might Advent mean to him?

I was pleasantly surprised he was one of several respondents. Half are from the spiritual side e.g. Campus ministry and the others represent athletics e.g. a rower and a lacrosse player offer their thoughts. Ultimately they encourage us to #GiveJoy in a way that is more than a present under a tree. 
It could be something as simple as serving at a local non-profit, donating your favorite book, shoveling your neighbors’ driveway while they are not home. Or maybe it’s donating to a charity in someone else’s name, organizing Christmas carols at a local nursing home, or becoming “Kris Kringle” for a low-income family.
I'm curious about how others are preparing for Christmas....I know the "why"...more on "how...." Peace.

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