We at Notre Dame value a lot of things. We value tradition, family, faith, loyalty, quality education, spiritual formation, football. But we also value prestige, honour, funding, growth, novelty, and...football. We love our status as the touchstone football program in the NCAA Division 1, even when other teams have continually better records than we do. We love our status as THE Catholic University in America, even though that name technically belongs to another school. We love the honour of being seen next to Harvard and Yale as premiere institutions of research. We love the money that pours in from alumni that rightfully love this place.
But, lest we forget, the reason we are even in a position to vie with Harvard and Yale is because of the work of Fr. Sorin and the subsequent generations who did not allow sickness, poverty, or the modern thirst for power and money to stop them from being something that was totally different from anything else in America. Fr. Sorin trusted that God would see them through the winter, through the lack of funds and through all the other trials they encountered because he had dedicated the work to Our Lady and made that his starting point in all progress. Notre Dame was a mere boys' liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere Indiana, and it has now become the premiere Catholic University in the United States.
Notre Dame is faced once again with the choice between letting the world's demands guide our actions or our principles founded on the ideals of Fr. Sorin under the blessing of the Virgin. We know that the HHS Mandate commands that we provide contraception in our insurance plans for employees. We also know that to directly and knowingly pay money for contraception is against God's law and against our principles. To prove this, we have sued the federal government for relief from the Mandate.
However, since January 1st, when the Mandate went into effect, the University has chosen to comply with the mandate and provide in its health care plans insurance for these drugs which act against life at its earliest stages. We claim to be pro-life, bringing hundreds of students to the March for Life, providing services for pregnant students, and other life initiatives, but at the same time, we are complying with a law that goes against this very culture of life we claim to promote.
This can not go on. If we are to have any credibility in court, if we are to be believed that we care about these issues, if we wish to maintain our identity as the sons and daughters of Fr. Sorin, we will resist the temptation to give in to the pressures of prestige and money.
We will have to pay millions of dollars in fines every day, perhaps. This may mean we won't be able to build new dorms. It may mean we won't be able to admit as many new students next year. It may mean that we will have to cut programs, cut down options in the dining hall, let employees go. It may mean we will not be able to afford to keep the grounds as beautiful as we keep them currently. It may mean our image to the world will once again again be the "Fighting Irish" who can't be kept quiet.
Even if it means that, it will show that we are serious about our convictions and it will keep our conscience clean. If Notre Dame is forced to shrink, to lay off employees, and to lose prestige in the world all because of the government forcing us to pay for something it doesn't even force many large businesses to pay, that will send a message once again to the world that Notre Dame is something special, a school with a principled administration and a student body willing to sacrifice comforts for a higher cause.
We must be willing, though to sacrifice our prestige and comfort, our national name, our television contracts. We must be willing to be infamous as opposed to famous. We must be willing to accept the pressures of tyranny as the children of God and the followers of His Son, Jesus Christ. We must be willing to suffer taunts and risk humiliation just as our Patroness did when she accepted Christ into Her womb.
In short, we must be willing to bring Christ to the world by our witness to the truth. And we do not do that by complying with the oppressive mandates of a government with a corrupt vision. We are "God's subject[s] first."
St. Thomas More, Pray for us.
Notre Dame du Lac, Pray for us.