In the Voice of Moreau: Our lives should never be complacent. We should never think that we have “got it right,” as if we might arrive one day at some celestial couch on which to rest eternally – no! We human beings are instead built for the drama of death and new life. Unique among all species, we have that constant capacity to let go, to become willing, to trust and on the other side to change, to be transformed, and to become a new person. This is the pattern of our salvation and the essence of the Kingdom of God. Isn’t this what the Lord was revealing to us at his baptism? He was sinless, yet chose to be baptized, stooping down from the river banks to enter into the rushing waters, only to rise again in the presence of the life-giving spirit and his heavenly father. Indeed his whole life testifies to the reality of this pattern from his humble birth to his public ministry, from the countryside to Jerusalem, from the cross to the empty tomb, from poverty to glory. When will our hearts stop searching for that one “thing” that we falsely believe will unlock our happiness? When then will we take the plunge with our Lord into this glorious and cosmic dance? Let us therefore, right here and now, make the decision to abandon all those empty visions and dreams that simply serve to derail our restless hearts on this journey of salvation. Let us resolve to walk with our Lord on this path no matter what! Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: “We human beings are built for the drama of death and new life”—to be transformed into new persons. Certainly, this phenomenon occurs countless times in the life of a Christian who progressively becomes a facet of the multifaceted Face of God. For the CSC educator, the essence of the interaction between teacher and student is the consistent practice of informing intellects and forming hearts unto the transformation of souls. To transform anything is to rebuild it, to reconstitute it, to cause its death so to blossom once again. Recall that Blessed Moreau teaches that one must possess the call to teach, the vocation to desire to engage in the cosmic dance. Initially, it is the teacher who encourages and facilitates students to learn the moves of the dance—to learn how to dance school. Through consistent modeling of the behaviors of engaged learning and scholarship, the teacher’s intent is for the student to periodically die and re-blossom as an ever more proficient master of the dance . Blessed Moreau counsels young teachers, and master teachers too, that they “must not come to believe that it is age, body size, tone of voice, or threats that give teachers authority and inspire respect.” No, rather “[it is] a character that is fair, firm, and modest, one that is consistent at all times and that never acts without reason or through outbursts.” (Christian Education) The reasonable CSC dance master orchestrates the many moves of the many dances along the journey with the Lord. Let each educator heed the invitation of the old Shaker hymn. “Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said He. And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be, And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said He.” Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: An honest appraisal of the human condition reveals that addiction is the primary sickness of our souls. Literally meaning, “to give assent to,” we become slaves to other people, emotions, ideas, substances, ideologies and the like. We organize our lives around these things, often subtly, and start to worship these false idols with our minds, our hearts and even our bodies. Blinded by pride and the perceived need for control and power, we dismiss the Cross as an archaic and masochistic symbol of a religious tradition that is no longer relevant. All the while, in our unhappiness, we search frantically for a solution to our misery and wretchedness. It is here that we finally realize that the Cross is our one and only hope. In a non-clinging, anti-addiction posture, the Cross transforms our souls and paradoxically enables us to experience a life of pure addiction to God. Open, trusting, exposed, vulnerable, the Cross offers us a taste of authentic humanity – we become children again of the living God, our father on whom we depend for dignity and life. The Lord speaks to us from this throne: Do not be afraid! I am with you! It is finished! When will we exit the cycle of addiction? When will we open our hearts to the living God? When will we give assent to our heavenly father? Let us therefore proclaim Christ crucified to a world that is hurting and desperately seeking after the medicine that leads to life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: The verb to be addicted is a pejorative and should ring a fearful pause in anyone before acting upon a desire. For committed Christians, however, living purely and consistently enmeshed in the divine must be the modus operandi for all activities. This is especially so for CSC educators who are to proclaim Christ crucified to their students. These persons need to develop the habit, the disposition for and attitude of always seeking to increase their knowledge. The second of Moreau’s specific virtues for being called to teach in Holy Cross schools, knowledge—to be learned—obviously is essential if the mind is to be informed and of greater importance if the heart is to be formed. CSC educators must zealously cultivate the desire for self-improvement, developing and utilizing effective methods of instruction along with clearly presenting their lessons. These traits must imbue all classroom interaction. Certainly, they must be “convictions of the heart translated into activity”. Authentic classroom instruction is the result of embracing the courage to journey toward authentic personhood: “being open, trusting, exposed and vulnerable” proclaiming Christ crucified. Ave Crux Spes Unica.
In the Voice of Moreau: The Cross is our truly unique hope. It is not just another thing among a myriad of things to put one’s hope in, but instead it is an altogether different project. Think about it – there is a difference between putting our hope in a football team, a politician, a career or even a spouse and putting our hope in the crucified Christ. The football team wins and loses, the politician rises and falls, a career comes and goes, a spouse is not always faithful, but the Cross does not change! The Cross cannot change! The Christ who has been stripped of everything cannot win or lose, rise or fall, come or go, or be unfaithful – he has made the decision to hide nothing, to leave nothing to the imagination. We can trust the Cross precisely because we know what we are getting! Perhaps we are secretly attached to the drama and suspense of false hopes. We like to be in the darkness as it were, the feeling of not knowing and leaving things up to fate. We feel special when things go our way and we are “blessed” with what we want. The Cross is an emphatic No! to all of this. The Cross is instead an orientation, a posture, a way of relating to the other, a true act of trust that is guaranteed to put us in touch with what is – no matter what! Let us therefore make the decision, here and now, to take the risk of the Cross with our master, our absolutely unique hope that cannot but give us life. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: Blessed Basil Moreau believes that “effective teach[ing]” is the result of a call from God. It is more than a vocation: it is “an orientation, a posture, a way of relating”. How do teachers and administrators in Holy Cross schools assess whether or not they are truly called to teach, to lead? In Christian Education, Part One “Teachers and Students” (Moreau, 1856) Moreau lists nine virtues that Holy Cross educators need to cultivate: faithfulness, knowledge, zeal, vigilance, seriousness, gentleness, patience, prudence and firmness. For the teacher in a Holy Cross school, faithfulness is far more than showing up each day ready to present the lesson. “It is the virtue that draws us to fulfill faithfully our duties to God”. It is the virtue that develops Christians not just scholars. It is the foundation upon which the essence of the mission is provided: “the development of the heart and the soul on which good values depend”. Truly reverent teachers consider their students as gifts from God, “and they consider them adopted children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit”. Moreover, “[t]hey do not cease reminding students of Christian commitments, the works of God, and the effects of the sacraments”. Moreau concludes that teachers imbued with faithfulness “’will shine like the stars of the heavens for eternity’” (Book of Daniel 12, 3). Ave Crux Spes Unica!