Posted on

“Come, Follow me”: The “Stability Stanza”

Today, I promised to write about Jesus’ invitation to “Come, Follow me,” the line that begins and ends the CSC Constitutions.  

So many of us have been graced by the accompaniment of the women and men of Holy Cross.  Does it surprise us that their community is rooted in this invitation to accompaniment of the Master?

And now that I am sitting to write about it, I figure that I really should have started with this theme.  It is in the context of this invitation, I think, that Our Lady of Sorrows and “The Cross, Our Only Hope” reflect the fullness of the CSC charism.

The Stability Stanza

Here is the story about how “Come, Follow me” worked its way into Sorin Starts a School.  

A cohort of formidable folks read early drafts and gave thoughtful feedback on the text.  Their insight made my writing far better than it would have been on its own.

I was very interested in the book feeling like Holy Cross, and so I gave it to as many CSC religious as would read it.  I begged perhaps more time than I ought to from their thoughtful, considerable talent.  And in this early round of feedback, “Come, Follow me” worked its way onto this page.  

Then, in the final stage of revision and in generosity I can never repay, the minds of Mary Ann and Ben Wilson sifted through the text over a number of weeks.  (We would often be working on the same Google doc, 1,500 miles apart, at night after children were asleep.  It was a delightful feeling of togetherness in a year that has been considerably isolating.)

During these weeks, in a stroke of genius, MA offered the idea of a “stability stanza,” a repeating, evolving set of lines that would structure the narrative.

I considered this insight for some days, and then wrote “Come, Follow me” into three more moments of the book, for a total of four.

First, with Sorin as a young man, first discerning God’s Call for himself. (See below.)

Second, as Sorin and companions set out on the American mission. (See ship picture a few paragraphs up.)

Third, with Sorin in desolation, praying for clarity of the call.

And on the final page of the book, in a turn toward the reader, welcoming them to listen for their own call.

Is this not how “Come, Follow me” operates, in evolution, throughout a life?  First, with clarity and single-minded passion.  Often, in community and graced consolation.  Sometimes without clarity, in loneliness or confusion.  Or in welcoming another to join us on the road. 

I am thrilled to share how the call operates in the book.  And no way would it have evolved as it did without the generous insight of the book’s feedback team.

One quick thought from the CSC Constitution 1.

There is a line that I find a bit haunting, in paragraph 8.  It is:

We wished to abandon all to follow Christ. We learned in time that we still had it within ourselves to hold back.


This is a theme I will pick up tomorrow, addressing the question of: Why a book about Edward Sorin?

Order Sorin Starts a School: The Foundation of Notre Dame today! All proceeds support the work of the Holy Cross in Bangladesh.

Excited about this project and want to work together to share it? We’d love to hear from you.