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the multiplication of colleges and parochial schools, offshoots of Notre Dame; of the foundation of St. Mary's Academy (now a college as well), a worthy and noble sister of the University; or of the scores of other educational and charitable institutions presided over by the zealous Sisters of Holy Cross, religious daughters who ever found in Father Sorin the wisest of counsellors and the staunchest of friends. Nor need special reference be made to any of these events in the career of our Knight of Mary. The remarkable fecundity of his labors, as evidenced in the development of Notre Dame, was equally a characteristic of every enterprise that he undertook; and a very important factor in that fecundity was assuredly his unhesitating reliance upon the aid of Her for whom, under God, he lived and worked.
How thoroughly convinced was Father Sorin himself that the major part of his success was directly due to the auspicious favor of the Blessed Virgin need be told to none who ever conversed with him for fifteen minutes. Frankly and loyally, with no lurking reserve of complacent egoism or overweening self-conceit, his heart and lips gave to the Mother of God the glory of his triumphs; and to his own shortcomings he frequently attributed the fact that such triumphs were not a hundredfold greater. Did space allow, personal reminiscences by the score, and extracts from his letters by the hundred, could be cited in confirmation of all that has been written of his love of Mary, his unlimited confidence in her power and graciousness, and his boundless gratitude for the signal
favors which she accorded him. Lying before us as we write is a printed volume of his Circular Letters, every page of which gives eloquent evidence on each of these points. Of only a very few of the passages which we have marked for quotation can we now avail ourself, but even these few will suffice for our purpose and fully justify the title of this chapter.
Writing to his community sixty-six years ago, at the completion of Notre Dame's first decade, he refers to his arrival in the district ten years before, and relates this incident of his first hour in the snow-clad wilderness: "With my five Brothers and myself, I presented to the Blessed Virgin all those generous souls whom Heaven should be pleased to call around me on this spot, or who should come after me." That the offering was forthwith accepted, and blest to the giver, may be judged from the statement made in the sentence immediately following that which we have quoted: "From that moment I remember not a single instance of a serious doubt in my mind as to the final results of our exertions." Having enumerated a variety of occasions, "of which, I say it with a sentiment of deep gratitude, our Blessed Mother has invariably availed herself to show us her tender and powerful assistance," he gives in the following lines the keynote of his character, and the secret which makes his whole career intelligible: "Hence it has become a second nature for us to recur freely to the Blessed Virgin, and to tell her with a childlike simplicity our fears, our hopes, our sorrows, our joys, our wants and desires, our gratitude and
our love." Referring, further on in the same letter, to the manifold benefits which the community had already received from Heaven, he adds: "I would you were all prompted by a lively sense of justice, of humility, and of gratitude, often to repeat in the depths of your hearts: 'After God, we owe all this to the Blessed Virgin Mary.'
In a letter written twenty years later, in 1872, occurs this remark: "An experience of thirty years has taught me that even in this life God blesses human efforts surprisingly when the cause of His Holy Mother is interested in them." In 1880 he declares: "Indifference towards our Blessed Mother would mean complete idiocy in me, or something worse than idiocy. She has marked too many days of my life with the indelible imprints of Her maternal love ever to leave me insensible." And such is the tenor of numberless paragraphs scattered through thousands of official and personal letters written by this steadfastly loyal son of Mary, from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in 1841, when he said his first Mass in the land of his adoption, to the vigil of All Saints, 1893, when he passed away to the land of his love, the heavenly country which he ever deemed his only true home because therein his Mother dwelt.
The use of that phrase, "the land of his adoption," suggests a word or two about one of Father Sorin's qualities to which brief reference has already been made, his sturdy Americanism. It was foreshadowed by his first act upon landing in New York: he fell on his knees, and, as an earnest of unswerving fealty to the country of his choice,
devoutly kissed the soil. In a similar spirit he concluded his first letter to his religious superior with the words: "Here is the adoption of my inheritance; here will I dwell all the days of my life." No middle-aged reader of these pages needs to be told that a characteristic of the average foreign priest who came to this country in the early nineteenth century, and more especially of the foreign priesteducator, was a reverential and almost a sacred regard for the manners and methods, the rules and regulations, both pedagogic and disciplinary, which obtained in the land of his birth. Changes suggested by the novel conditions of a new country and the different mentality of a democratic people were either rejected entirely or adopted, if adopted at all, only after long decades of deliberation. Father Sorin was a conspicuous exception to this general rule. He seemed to imbibe at once the spirit of the country and the age, so far as that spirit was favorable to the interests of God and his Church; and both class-rooms and recreation grounds at Notre Dame soon gave evidence that it was an American college, not a transplanted French one.
At this late day it will scarcely be considered an indiscretion to narrate an incident that serves as a concrete illustration of this phase of our hero's character. One member of his faculty in the early years was a brilliant young French priest, his own nephew, whose otherwise estimable personality was slightly tainted with chauvinism, with an exaggerated devotion to his native France and a corresponding disparagement of the United States.
Repeated admonitions having failed to remedy this defect, Father Sorin sent for him one day and said to him: "My dear Father, your sentiments are admirably suited to a French environment, but this is America. I have accordingly secured your passage on the next transatlantic steamer, and you will sail for Paris this coming Saturday."
No words of our own, however, could so adequately or so eloquently treat this portion of our theme as does the following page from a sermon already mentioned, that of Archbishop Ireland on the occasion of Father Sorin's fiftieth anniversary as a priest. We offer no apology for quoting at some length, for much of the passage is as timely in 1918 as it was in 1888:
I will be permitted, before I conclude, to note in Father Sorin's life a characteristic that proves his high-mindedness and has contributed in no small degrees to his success. It is his sincere and thorough Americanism. From the moment he landed on our shores he ceased to be a foreigner. At once he was an American, heart and soul, as one to the manner born. The Republic of the United States never protected a more loyal and more devoted citizen. He understood and appreciated our liberal institutions; there was in his heart no fondness for old régimes or worn-out legitimism. For him the government chosen by the people was, as Leo XIII repeatedly teaches, the legitimate government, and to his mind the people had well chosen when they resolved to govern themselves. He understood and appreciated the qualities of mind and heart of the American people, and, becoming one of them, spoke to them and labored for them from their