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Online Exhibits > Father Edward Sorin and the Founding of Notre Dame


Excerpt from Sorin's Additions or Reminiscences (1880)

Page One

While reading over again the foregoing pages nearly forty years since they were commenced, I was not only interested in this faithful record of so many proofs of the visible and constant attention and tender solicitude of divine Providence, but I sincerely regretted they were so poorly related, and even some, at least, totally overlooked. But who could say all divine Providence has done, since 1841, for the children of the Holy Cross in this New World? Every day from the first to the last should have its chapter, and each one, as the work went on, developing itself and increasing the number of its devoted laborers, should multiply its pages, in order to show the real and true cause of the growth of such a small and insignificant seed into a tree the shade of which already protects so many innocent souls and pure hearts.

Indeed if there is a man upon earth, who can account for the steady progress and unceasing development of the work of the Holy Cross in America, it should be the one who came first to commence it and who to this hour ever remained its principal Director. But he more than anyone else feels absolutely convinced that whatever the devotedness of his associates and co-workers may have been, it would have . . .


Page Two

. . . amounted to and resulted in a complete failure, if God had not blessed their puny exertions in the undeniable manner he did, making of us so many living witnesses to the truth of his apostle's solemn declaration, that the weakness of God is stronger than men; that the foolish things of the world God hath chosen that he may confound the wise; that he hath chosen the weak things to confound the strong; and the base things and the things that are contemptible hath God chosen, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his sight -- I Cor., 1, 27-29. This precious and most consoling text is familiar to all missionaries. I learned it by heart, or rather took it to my heart long since. God alone knows how well it has served me.

Hence I repeat without a particle of shame, but with a readiness equalled only by an absolute conviction, that if there is anything praiseworthy in the rapid growth of the mustard seed brought over from the old world and planted by us in this new one, it is to the abundant dew, the incessant and ever increasing blessing from above that it is due. Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini . . .


Page Three

. . . tuo da gloriam.

Our share in what the world may perhaps admire, what is it? Simply and honestly, to have checked and opposed the workings of divine grace instead of cooperating faithfully with it. Ah! if we had all and every one of us duly responded to the advances of the divine Master, what glorious results would new rejoice the guardian angels of this New World! But alas! the more forcibly we feel obliged to confess our infidelities, the more evidently do we prove that what little good has been done must be wholly credited to the protection of Heaven.

One thing, perhaps, will appear evident more than any other, viz: that the Blessed Virgin has taken this mission of the Holy Cross in America under her special protection from its very incipiency throughout. To me the evidences of the fact /if I can use the only expression I know to convey my conviction/ are such, so numerous and palpable, that, when I think of them, Notre Dame and what has sprung from it stands beyond doubt the work of our glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mother.