Disce Quasi Semper Victurus Vive Quasi Cras Moriturus"
("Study like you will live forever; live like you will die tomorrow".)
Starting in the late 1870's, this rather intimidating phrase was the Scholastic Magazine credo. Ironically, the Scholastic proved to be the vehicle which has allowed the daily experiences of Notre Dame students during the past 150 years to truly "live forever". Scholastics are a virtual gold mine of Notre Dame history, and more importantly, of insight into the daily lives of its students. These first hand reports of campus life, written by student reporters, give a candid and personal view of important (and trivial) events on the Notre Dame campus. Joe Madonia, an '82 alum and partner in the Chicago law firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, will edit a monthly column of excerpts from his rare and wonderful collection of original Scholastic Magazines spanning the period from 1869 - 1931.
Semper Victurus - A tribute to Rockne from the funeral eulogy given by Notre Dame president Rev. Charles O'Donnell. >From an article in the March 1957 Scholastic.
One of the most well known eulogies ever given occurred on the sad occasion of Knute Rockne's untimely death. Memorable because of its sincere emotion and the simple artistry of its delivery, it also has been interpreted as a fascinating window to a much different world at a much different time. Rockne's death was an event which literally shook the entire nation, not unlike an unexpected death of a political leader or beloved movie star. Could a college football coach touch so many lives today, though, as Rockne did in the 20s? Could a university athletic director occupy center stage on the national or world scene? Did the nation weep for Bear Bryant? Will the world mourn the passing of Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden? It seems doubtful. Maybe it was because the 20s was a decade prone to hero worship (especially for sports stars). If life was more simple then, maybe it took less to make a lasting impression upon the public psyche. Perhaps, however, today's world is not so different than it was in 1931. Perhaps the unprecendented impact of Knute Rockne's passing was simply proof that there never has been, and never will be, another coach like Knute.
The following is a tribute to Rockne, a great coach, and a great Catholic gentleman. It is a eulogy delivered as the sermon of the funeral Mass by Rev. Charles l. O'Donnell, C.S.C., the President of the University.
"Lord, thou hast proved me and known me : thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.
"Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off : my path and my direction thou hast searclted out.
"And thou hast foreseen all my ways...
"Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old: thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me.
"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face?
"If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present.
"If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:
"Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.
"And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me: and night shall be my light in my pleasures.
"But darkness shall not be dark to thee, and night shall be light as the day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to thee.
"For thou hast possessed my reins : thou hast protected me from my mother's womb.
"I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well.
"My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.
"Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written."- Psalm 138.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me: Write: Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow them.-Apoc. xiv, 13.
In this holy week of Christ's passion and death there has occurred a tragic event which accounts for our presence here today. Knute Rockne is dead. And who was he? Ask the President of the United States, who dispatched a personal message of tribute to his memory and comfort to his bereaved family. Ask the King of Norway, who sends a special delegation as his personal representatives to this solemn service. Ask the several State legislatures, now sitting, that have passed resolutions of sympathy and condolence. Ask the university senates, the civic bodies and societies without number; ask the bishops, the clergy, the Religious orders, that have sent assurances of sympathy and prayers; ask the thousands of newspaper men, whose labor of love in his memory has stirred a reading public of 125,000,000 Americans; ask men and women from every walk of life; ask the children, the boys of America, ask any and all of these, who was this man whose death has struck the nation with dismay and has everywhere bowed heads in grief.
Was he perhaps a martyr who died for some great cause, a patriot who laid down his life for his country, a states- man, a soldier, an admiral of the fleet, some heaven-born artist, an inventor, a captain of industry or finance? No, he was Knute Rockhe, director of athletics and football coach of Notre Dame. He was a man of the people, a husband and father, a citizen of South Bend, Indiana. Yet, had he been anyone of these personages that have been mentioned, the tributes of admiration and affection which he has received could not be more universal or more sincere.
How is this fact to be accounted for? What was the secret of his irresistible appeal to all sorts and conditions of men? Who shall pluck out the heart of his mystery and lay bare the inner source of the power he had? When we say simply, he was a great American, we shall go far towards satisfying many, for all of us recognize and love the at tributes of the true American character. When we say that he was an inspirer of young men in the direction of high ideals that were conspicuously exemplified in his own life, we have covered much that unquestionably was true of him. When we link his name with the intrinsic chivalry and romance of a great college game, which he, perhaps, more than any other one man, had made finer and cleaner in itself and larger in its popular appeal, here, too, we touch upon a vital point. But no one of these things, nor all of them together can quite sum up this man whose tragic death at the early age of 43 has left the country aghast. Certainly, the circumstances of his death do not furnish the answer.
I do not know the answer. I would not dare the irreverence of guessing. But I find myself in this hour of piteous loss and pained bewilderment recalling the words of Christ: "Thy shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto this: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." I think, supremely he loved his neighbor, his fellowman, with genuine, deep love. In an age that has stamped itself as the era of "go-getter" -a horrible word for what is all too often a ruthless thing - he was a "go-giver"-a not much better word, but it means a divine thing. He made use of all the proper machinery and the legitimate methods of modern activity to be essentially not modern at all: to be quite elementarily human and Christian, giving himself, spending himself like water, not for himself, but for others. And once again, in his case, most illustriously is verified the Christian paradox - he cast away to keep, he has lost his life to find it. This is not death but immortality.
We who are here are but a handful of his friends, come to pay our last tribute of devotion to his mortal remains, to give some token of our affection that so his dear ones, his loving wife and children, his venerable mother and his sisters, may in their sorrow be a little comforted by our sympathy and the knowledge that we too loved him. Of necessity, we are few in number in this hallowed place, though thousands are without the doors. But we represent millions of men and women like ourselves who are here in spirit, in the very spirit of these solemn services, and listening allover America to these holy rites.
It is fitting he should be brought here to his beloved Notre Dame and that his body should rest a little while in this church where the light of Faith broke upon his happy soul, where the waters of Baptism were poured on his brow, where he made his first confession, received his first Holy Communion, and was confirmed by the same consecrated hand that today is raised in blessing above his coffin. He might have gone to any university in the land and been gladly received and forever cherished there. But he chose Our Lady's school, Notre Dame. He honored her in his life as a student, he honored her in the monogram he earned and wore, he honored her in the principles he inculcated and the ideals he set up in the lives of the young men under his care. He was her own true son.
To her we turn in this hour of anguish and of broken hopes and hearts laid waste. She is the Mother of Sorrows and the Comforter of the Afflicted. O Mother of God, and Mother of God's men, we give him into thy keeping. Mary, Gate of Heaven, we come to thee, open to receive him. Mary, Morning Star, shine upon his sea. Mary of Notre Dame, take him into thy House of Gold. Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope, we lay him in thy bosom.
Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.