By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - It was a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter that sealed the University of Notre Dame football team's Saturday victory over the University of Southern California – and earned the No. 1-ranked team a trip to the national championship game.
Leading the bruising Fighting Irish defense was senior linebacker Manti Te'o, whose play this season has earned him consideration for the Heisman Trophy and has helped lead a storied squad back to the top of college football after years of floundering.
But Te'o initially struggled with the decision over whether to attend Notre Dame. The Catholic school's star linebacker is a committed Mormon.
Te'o gave voice to that struggle in his announcement in 2009 that he'd attend the Indiana college, which was broadcast live on ESPN. “I’ve prayed hard about it and my family has thought hard and long about it," he said.
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Graduating from Punahou High School in Hawaii, Te'o had his choice of the best football programs in the country. His Mormon faith was a serious factor in the decision-making process, said his former high school coach, Kale Ane.
"A lot of that weighed on him," Ane, who coached Te'o for three years, told CNN. "The final weight was getting his message out on a broader scale. A Mormon at a Catholic school was a good way to say, 'You can keep your faith no matter where you go.' "
The University of Notre Dame's undergraduates are 83% Catholic, according to the admissions department.
"It hasn’t been an issue," said Notre Dame Athletics spokesman John Heisler, speaking of Te'o's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I think there was more an issue when he was being recruited to him having access to his religion in South Bend and here on campus."
“The emphasis here is that this is a place of faith and it really doesn’t matter what your faith is,” Heisler told CNN, noting that he himself is not Catholic. “Faith is really important to people here. Whether you’re a Catholic or a Mormon, it’s a place of great faith.”
Indeed, three other Notre Dame players are also Mormon, according to the local Mormon bishop.
Manti Te'o urges the crowd to cheer at the University of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame was founded by Edward F. Sorin, a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, in 1842. That Catholic ethos extends to the football team to this day.
A mural of Jesus with raised arms on the side of the college's library faces the football field and has been dubbed "Touchdown Jesus." Football fans visit the campus replica of France's Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes to light candles for the team before every game.
On Saturdays before home games, the football team is led in a Mass by Father Paul Doyle, 69, a 1965 graduate of the university. Another Catholic priest from the university travels with the team for away games.
"We have Mass in the big church on campus, in the Basilica," said Doyle, who has been the team chaplain for a decade. "I say the Mass, then the team gets something to eat. I’m with them throughout the game. When they come into the locker room after their warm-up, I'm standing there giving them a blessing."
Just before the team takes the field for the game, Doyle leads them in the Lord's Prayer.
"We used to say the Hail Mary in the locker room, but more than half of our players aren’t Catholic," Doyle said. " It’s odd for the non-Catholics to pray a specifically Catholic prayer."
Doyle said the team switched to the more ecumenical Lord's Prayer after then-Coach Bob Davie asked him to make the change nearly 10 years ago. The prayer is used in virtually every Christian tradition, though the LDS church does not routinely use it in worship.
Doyle is also a chaplain in the residence hall where Te'o has lived for three years. At one point, they lived across the hall from one another.
“Manti tells everybody he has found it helpful to not have to worry about telling people he’s a God-fearing person. People take that for granted around here,” Doyle said.
“Manti is a very religious guy. He seeks out his Mormon congregation and attends off-campus faithfully,” Doyle said.
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Te'o has been a member of the local Notre Dame Ward – the Mormons' rough equivalent of a Catholic parish – in Mishawaka, Indiana, for four years, according to ward Bishop Jim Carrier. The five counties in and around South Bend, Indiana, are home to about 2,000 Latter-day Saints, Carrier said.
A common practice in the LDS Church, which has no professional clergy, is having members give testimonies during Sunday worship services.
"I asked (Te'o) to talk about what influenced him to come to Notre Dame and how he used prayer in prompting him to make that decision," Carrier said.
Carrier said Te'o spoke about leaning toward attending the University of Southern California. But as he prayed about his decision, coaches from Notre Dame called to check in. “He said he just felt an overwhelming feeling it was where he needed to go," Carrier said. "He said, 'It was an answer to prayer for me.'"
Te'o's faith has spurred speculation about whether he will serve on a two-year Mormon mission, as the church encourages male members between 18 and 25 to do.
Carrier said that Te'o has decided to forgo his mission, a move not uncommon among the growing ranks of high-profile Mormon athletes.
"Young men are encouraged to serve as missionaries if they are able," said LDS church spokesman Michael Purdy. "However, each individual must decide whether or not to serve a full-time mission.”
Former Brigham Young University quarterback Steve Young opted not to participate in a Mormon mission. Instead he jumped to the NFL, eventually leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl victory and earning a place in football's Hall of Fame.
“It’s a tough position to be in," said Ane, Te'o's high school coach. "I think he has such a small window to compete and get his message out. I think (Te'o's) thinking he wants to do as much as he can in this mission as opposed to a mission in another country.”
Carrier said Te'o's decision to skip a mission was a difficult one.
"He felt like he could do more staying playing football than going out and serving a mission," the bishop said.“He understands his role and the pressure put on him of being such a good role model, and he understands that’s part of his responsibility.”
Te'o has been vocal about the role his faith plays in his life and how he leaned on it earlier this year after both his grandmother and girlfriend died in the span of less than two days during football season. His girlfriend died after battling leukemia. Te'o stayed with the team throughout the ordeal, playing one of the best games of his career the following Saturday.
Editor's note: Since this story was first published, Notre Dame officials and Manti Te'o have called the story of the death of his girlfriend a hoax.
"Four years ago I made the decision to come here and I didn't really know why," Te'o told a pep rally before that game. "It's times like these I know why. I love each and every one of you, and I can't thank you enough."
"I know one thing for sure – I will see them again," he said of his grandmother and girlfriend after their deaths. "I have faith and have peace knowing I will spend the rest of life after this with the people whom I love."
The lines spoke to the Mormon emphasis on families that are bonded for eternity. But then Te'o returned to a mode more familiar to Notre Dame. "I love you guys," he told the crowd. "Go Irish!"
This is my experience... Thank you.
MY personal testimony.
A thought to consider without an ego response
I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
The world denounces truth....
Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.
Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.
The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.
Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.
We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .
Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
See the truth...
do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..
Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .
Trancsend the temporal world.
Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .
Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.
Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.
Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....
Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.
You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.
Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.
I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.
once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it
You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.
This is my ego response.
Religious freak. Using emotional arguments ... pathetic as always.
Too long, too boring....
Look at the pure crap.. in the words:
–> onward to perfection
–> Evidence follows faith
Don't you freaks ever get tired of the rose colored glass vision that you paint for yourself?
You keep posting that crap. Can't you write something original ?
There are no logical reasons to believe in any god. Only emotional reasons.
Don't you know that in your faith are evidence of your faith? Mormon believe that through grace and grace alone they are saved after all they can do. If you really believe all I have to say "i believe" or " I have faith" then whats the point of you guys talking about a heaven or a hell. Because any person with a talking mouth could then say that to be saved.
ooh ooh a Mormon in the news. Let's run him for President. Oh wait....
Prayer changes things
I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
What if I don't want things changed?
[reposted out of bordom]
The Demise of lionlylamb
His bloodied hands were a grotesque reminder that he had said more than enough. He had been asked to leave.
I did not know where this gate led, but if it were away from this place it would be fine. If it were the very sea of fire in Hell, it would be better. I crossed through the gate, catching a glimpse of the chipping black paint and patches of gooey tack left by an injured shoulder or bloodied face.
The darkness penetrated my body but I felt safer. Away from the glare of the blog that had witnessed my cruel act, I could neither see the crowd, my victim, nor myself. I reached out, almost falling as an unexpected lunge escaped my body. Panic.
My hand found cold keyboard just as lionlylamb's words penetrated my every sense, leaving me with naught but a sour pang of dread.
Hesitating, I balanced myself gingerly on the chair. My mind filled with a torrent of visions. Some black and foreboding, others blinding but no less terrifying. What was lionlylamb meant to do here in this dark place? What unholy message was seeping through that wound?
My hands worked the keyboard without instruction from my failing mind. The sickening sound of typing as rifle retorts in my fading consciences. F U C …..
My fingers stopped moving, as a spider extends and then retracts cautious legs, so did my fingers recoil suddenly. What spectre cast invisible lines to my dock? What dusty corner of my mind was being swept now, as hazy memories rose to become an impenetrable fog?
Aching muscles complained as my mind sent messages to disobedient arms and legs. I will not give in to this crushing boredom. I will blog again. I must.
lionlylamb, what have you done?
And so the one known as lionlylamb was found to be supercilious. In the waning days of this dark repressive journey to unfortunate discovery, the painful folly of God’s Oldest Dreamer was made known to all who came to see.
Grave were those final steps, as one suctioned in viscous adobe. Each arresting footfall met with friction as the earth spit forth its disapproval.
Then, as quickly as a hare vanishes into her warren at dawn, he was gone. The astringent stench of night soil soon gave way to the intoxicating redolence of civility.
If only lionlylamb had a thesaurus.
boredom, sorry TT.
It really doesn't matter where he went to school. Clearly he has bargained with the devil. To suggest that his "success" was won on his own is naive. There is always a Yang, and Satan is very powerful on this Earth of ours.
Morons are a cult. 'nuff said.
er. mormons not morons
One mans cult is another mans religion, personally I think they are all cults.
Mormons are people.
Mormonism is a cult.
You mean filling *in* tom tom? isnt that what you really want to do?
Mitt Romney is like yeah finally headed to the final play off so easy you can etched a sketch the victory with football vouchers with $6,000 deductible through bain sports book capital football college player Roth Ira magic under shirt stocks.
Wonder if he got the magic unner wear on?
It is a magic jock-strap.
Does he get confused sometimes when his teammates do funky hand shakes? Accidently mistake a Catholic for a Mormon?
Never cross the streams, Ray. That would be bad.
Is this an attempt to ruin his heisman campaign?
hate to break it to you, but he's not winning the heisman.
Good, I would vote for Johnny Football.
Let me guess – when he wins he praises his god. When he loses will he curse god like Conan or be a puppet?
Manti is the polar opposite of Tebow. He is does not shove his religion in everyone's face. When asked about his success, he credits his family and his teammates.
Derp – The polar opposite of Tebow would be an atheist who does no showboating when he scores. This guy's just another facet of the same prism.
"Te'o has been vocal about the role his faith plays in his life..."
So what if his faith plays a vital role in his life.
Nothing except he's wearing it on his sleeve. Not sure why the article isn't about his prowess as a player rather than how Catholics and Mormons can get along thanks to the magic of sport.
Not sure why the article isn't about his prowess as a player
You'll find that articel in the Sports section. This is not the sports section.
Human helps other humans do something. Love how religion has to be the focus of this story.
Or is it that Mormons and Catholics can get along if they disregard their religions and get on with living?
Football is the unifying religion in this article.
Interesting – both football and chrisitanity and mormanism want fans, want fans to pay and want to make money off the deal. Good analogy.
Only football doesn't have any gods that I know of.
Ditka vs. God? Trick question Ditka is God.
"Human helps other humans do something." This usually MUST to be about religion. Humanists are to busy getting little crosses and prayers removed from public places to be concerned about their fellow humans. As far as humanism goes "We ain't seen nothin' yet." Absolutely nothing.
Reasonably, do you have any concept of how pathetic your attacks on faith make you look? Grow up.
He prayed about it and felt like the Lord wanted him to go to Notre Dame over USC or BYU. Based on USC's and BYU's performance this year compared to Notre Dame's, looks like the Lord was right. Glad Manti listened. A great young man who will be great in the NFL.
Because with all the strife going on in the world your lord cares about some guy who plays a game. Sounds like your lord is a nutter.
There are no lords in America sweety, this is a republic.
Funny, it's amazing how many articles I've seen about Mormons since Mitt Romney ran for President. Almost all of them seem to be an attempt to "mainstream" Mormonism. At the same time there is a deafening silence about the arcane beliefs of the religion. Six months ago Billy Graham removed his declaration that Mormonism was a cult. The message I get is that for the religious right politics trumps religious principle. For CNN the message I get is that truth is determined by holding a damp finger into the wind.
"At the same time there is a deafening silence about the arcane beliefs of the religion [Mormonism]"
The univeerse popping into existence 6,000 years ago. The earth created "in the beginning". Visible light before any photon sources. Days and nights before tthere was sun. Liquid water and vegetation on earth before there was a sun. Birds appearing before terrestrial animals. All humans descending from 1 breeding pair. A global flood that kills everyone and everything on earth not on the boat. A man living 3 days in the belly of a fish.
I guess these make perfect sense?
So, Primewonk, what you seem to be saying is that since other beliefs are strange, Mormonism is not strange?
Just because other faiths have oddities in their belief structure doesn't make your oddities any more normal.
Mormonism is the product of a 19th century con man perpetuated by a 21st century real estate corporate "church."
Christianity is the work of a first century con man, so what is your point. The Mormons may have a few extra delusional beliefs than Christians, but in the end both are still delusional.
@ Justine – no. What I mean is that it is ridiculous for one brand of religious nutters to claim another brand of religious nutters believe in arcane bullshit, when the bullshit they believe in is every bit as stupid and idiotic.
I just cannot stop laughing at christards when they start making fun of the Mormon church and it's beliefs. They are just one book crazier than the christards, muznuts and jews.
One crazy cult, calling another crazy cult, a crazy cult.
Mormonism is the product of a 19th century con man perpetuated by a 21st century real estate corporate "church."
And Christianity is a product of con men known as the Council of Nicea. Christianity is just an older con
Maybe Graham is just expanding his mind and is turning away from bigotry. Maybe you folks should do the same.
Bright, tough and fast on the field but off the field he suffers from a significant case of the Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion. Actually, the entire Notre Dame team to include the coaches suffer from the same disease.
But there is an safe, fast and easy cure as we put the kibosh on all religions in less than ten seconds:
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Added details available upon written request.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.
Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
Oops, make that:
"But there is a safe, fast and easy cure as we put the kibosh on all religions in less than ten seconds:"
You keep posting this as if it were your scripture; you're not convincing anyone to change his/her beliefs.
Football is not a game but a religion, a metaphysical island of fundamental truth in a highly verbalized, disguised society, a throwback of 30,000 generations of anthropological time. ~Arnold Mandell
"Football is not a game but a religion..." Yes, and it teaches tribal loyalty, unquestioning obedience to authority, and that force is the way to deal with other groups. That's why, especially in conservative religious districts, academics are inferior to sports in high school.
"Football is not a game but a religion, a metaphysical island of fundamental truth in a highly verbalized, disguised society, a throwback of 30,000 generations of anthropological time. ~Arnold Mandell"
And a fine excuse for sedentary people to believe they are being athletic
"He felt like he could do more staying playing football than going out and serving a mission,"
This is a cop-out. If he serves a mission elsewhere, like he should, football will still be around when he gets back.
the quote should read:
"He felt like he could make a lot more money playing football than going out and serving a mission, and at the end of the day it’s all about the green!"
When they say it's not about the money, it is about the money.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Mormons had to serve a mission. Is that not true?
The only thing better than a mormon serving their mission is a mormon becoming a millionaire and "giving back".
They are strongly encouraged to go on a mission, but it is not required.
I guesshe doesnt wear his magic under roos during the game.
I wonder if he has his own top hat and seer stones?
Doea Maroni have his back?
The Angel Moroni ( /mɒˈroʊnaɪ/) is, in Mormonism, an angel that visited Joseph Smith, Jr. on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel was the guardian of the golden plates, which Latter Day Saints believe were the source material for the Book of Mormon, buried in a hill near Smith's home in western New York. Moroni is an important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, and is featured prominently in Mormon architecture and art. Three Witnesses besides Joseph Smith also reported that they saw Moroni in visions in 1829, as did several other witnesses who each said they had their own vision.
Reading your posts is concrete evidence that bigots should just keep their fingers off the keyboard.
I'd like to kick your ass!!
He could be a top five pick. I hope he’s available when my team selects.
Who is your team Bill? Panthers? Cleveland? Kansas City?
But, I highly doubt he's there when we pick.
Nope, I don't think you will have a shot. I bet he goes to the Jags or KC.
Touchdown Jesus. Amen.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.