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How Companionship Inspires | KFP Articles
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Saturday, 22 September 2012 10:51

The one thought that kept passing through my mind is "how can Manti Te'o play after the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother?"  He should be devastated by the loss of someone so young and another person so important as his grandmother.  But as I learned when reading Fr. Julian Carron's Spiritual Exercises that its the companionship, with Christ and one's friends, that's so important.  Where else would he be but where he finds that Companionship.  Thanks to Tom O'Toole we have better access to how the Faith tradition at Notre Dame affects that University and its sports.  Here's the inspirational story:

There’s nobody,” Brian Kelly said when asked if he’d ever had someone like Te’o over his twenty-two years of coaching. “He’s so strong for everybody that when he was in a [tough] time, everybody wanted to help him out, and I’ve never seen that dynamic amongst a team and a group of players. It’s a pretty close locker room.”

Te’o's presence was so overwhelming that not only did almost every player on both teams shake his hand, but when he went over to the stands after the playing of “Notre Dame, Our Mother,” both the Irish and the Spartan fans gave him a standing ovation, something not seen in an opponent’s stadium since the days of Rockne and Gipp.

“My family and my girlfriend’s family have received so much love and support from the Notre Dame family,” Te’o said. “Michigan State fans showed some love. And it goes to show that people understand that football is just a game, and it’s a game that we play, and we have fun doing it.” But then Te’o paused, thought about what was missing, and it was no longer fun and games.

“I [wish I] could call my girlfriend right now and talk about the game. But [now] I’ve just got to get on my knees, say a prayer and talk to her that way.”

Last week, some of my Catholic friends wondered how Saturday’s feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows would play out during Saturday’s game, and now it is all quite clear. In playing through the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother, Te’o became the “man of sorrows,” and in doing so inspired the Irish to actually play for Our Lady for the first time in many a year. And not just Her; but in honoring his girlfriend and grandmother, he had the team playing (and being prayed for) by not one but three holy women, a very formidable formula indeed. And for at least one night, the oft-repeated refrain that “Michigan State vs Notre Dame is more than just a game” was no longer a cliché, but the Truth.

I woke up today tired from a late night, out til 4:00 am at work, feeling a little unmotivated.  Thanks to Manti I realize how important it is to keep pushing and seek out that Companionship.

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