That’s what was happening in South Bend: the care and feeding of missionaries. And where else but a university dedicated to the mother of God should we be reminded of the need to lovingly approach one another in all our wounds, confident that walking together we can expect so much more of ourselves and our society than leaving this life-and-death issue largely to politics. The debate about abortion in America today really needs to be about men and women looking at their fellow men and women in their communities, and being truly loving and attentive, truth-telling and receptive to their needs and pain. It’s about being mothers and fathers to a culture that has lost sight of what it means to be a mother and father.
Hope is in South Bend. Notre Dame may be known better as a football haven and a kind of Catholic Disneyland, which, whenever it makes non-sports headlines, seems to be a school in identity crisis. And in a way it is. It’s not the coherent rock it could be.
But there’s a sacramental nature to Notre Dame, a commitment to service, as evidenced in a beautiful way by its Catholic-school teacher-training programs. And, on campus right past a monument to Domers who gave their lives for our nation in the military, there is the lighthouse and intellectual powerhouse Solomon has built for a culture that, if it truly knew what it was doing, would be running into the arms of divine mercy and love.
The Vitae message is, in a properly ordered way, the campaign motto of the school’s controversial 2009 commencement speaker and honoree, the current president of the United States: “Yes we can.” It’s answering the call that a young woman named Mary heard, two millennia ago, to live a life of trusting service to Love. Our lives can be lived in service in the light of that bright star: Stunning. Captivating. Innocent. Humble.
When you think of the pro-life movement in America today, don’t think of a protest placard or a presidential debate. Think of Project Guadalupe. Sending forth and renewing. Transfixed on the transformational, to renew the face of the earth. The face of the pro-life movement is a mother with child. And when you truly think of it this way, and look to meet her and all her challenges and pain and gifts and loves, that changes everything.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. This column is available exclusively throughUnited Media.