Saturdays With the Saints: A foretaste of eternity on game day

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Statue of St. Thomas More on the west entrance to Biolchini Hall

As is true of any great festival, a University of Notre Dame home football game weekend is much more than its central event. The roughly 61,000 people who travel to the University’s campus for each home game can expect to attend a splendid and storied athletic contest, but they can also expect a unique experience that blends merry-making, feasting, community and even worship.

In addition to the pep rallies, the band and glee club concerts, the pom squad performances, the tailgate parties, the drum circles and the trumpets under the Dome, there are Masses, visits to the Grotto and samplings of the spiritual and intellectual atmosphere that has made Notre Dame’s fame so “golden.”

For six years, one of these peripheral game-day offerings, “Saturdays With the Saints,” has attracted increasing numbers of enthusiastic participants and now seems sure to become as indispensable a feature of a football weekend as the marching band’s pre-game departure from the steps of the Main Building.

“Saturdays With the Saints,” a series of brief talks given by prominent Notre Dame theologians on the saints and their place in Catholic tradition and life, is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, whose director, John C. Cavadini, likes their placement on the calendar.

“The series was inspired by the fact that Saturday has great significance in the Christian tradition,” Cavadini says. “Saturday was the ancient sabbath and is an image of eternity because it was on the seventh day that God rested, which makes our lecture series an image of eternity.”

In earthly time, the talks are given on home football game Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. in the Andrews Auditorium on the lower level of Geddes Hall.

Cavadini himself is one of this year’s lecturers, speaking on Saint Augustine prior to the Oct. 17 USC game. Other speakers in the 2015 program include Cyril O’Regan, Huisking Professor of Theology, on St. Thomas More; Mary Catherine Hilkert, O.P., professor of systematic theology, on St. Catherine of Siena; Lawrence S. Cunningham, O’Brien Professor of Theology emeritus, on Thomas Merton; Margaret Pfeil, associate professional specialist in theology and the Center for Social Concerns, on Blessed Oscar Romero; and Rev. Brian E. Daley, S.J., Huisking Professor of Theology, on St. Ignatius Loyola.

“Although they come out of the Church, the saints are not just for the Church, as the Church is not just for herself,” Cavadini says. “The saints are the ones who stretch our imaginations about what it means to be human in the world, and enlighten our understanding of God’s love for the world. They are ‘lights’ in a world which has sometimes forgotten how to hope.

“The Sabbath (Saturday) was an image of our eternally blessed rest in God. We will therefore be literally spending Saturdays with the Saints for all eternity. This lecture series is a foretaste of eternity then. Not many lecture series can claim that!”

Not many universities can offer that on home game days, either.

Except one.

Contact: Brett Robinson, 574-631-6109,