In the Voice of Moreau: It is a simple fact of metaphysics that the end of a thing dictates the form of that thing. For instance, since the end of a pen is written communication, the pen is designed to dispense a precise flow of ink in a way that permits letters and words to be produced. If the end of a journey is the beach, then that journey will include the literal road to the beach, a stop at the store for sunscreen, and listening to the weather report. In the Christian life, since our Lord has declared to us that the way is the Cross, we can logically conclude that our end must be the Cross. Most of us get caught in the trap of thinking that the Cross is a punishment and burden which we struggle under in this lifetime so that we can enjoy the luxuries and comforts of the kingdom, but this is absolutely not the case! Our end is the cosmic Cross which stands at the end of time, constantly inviting us to be conformed to Love. If the supposed “crosses” that we carry in this world are making us resentful, angry and frustrated, it is a sign that we are going in the wrong direction! Let us have the courage to drop the false crosses that we have imposed on ourselves. Let us worship our one true end, the Cross, with our lives. Let us indeed become the Cross! Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: Suffering is meaningless unless you decide otherwise. Blessed Moreau writes in “Circular Letter 54”, June 19, 1848: “Let us not allow ourselves to be discouraged by trials no matter how numerous or bitter they may be”. Old Testament Job struggled with what seemed insurmountable crosses. He was God’s pawn as the Lord responded to Satan’s dare to “try” Job. The Lord deemed Job to be the best–a man “blameless and upright”. So Job was not selected for the game because he was sinful. He was selected because was the best. Satan provokes God to take away all of Job’s blessings and sneers that if God does this, Job will curse Him. God is so confident in Job’s faith that he allows Satan to test him far beyond what most people will have to tolerate. And Job remains faithful throughout all of it. At the end with head shaved, covered in ashes, Job sits upon a heap of dung. With a last gasp he cries out to his Savior: the Lord gives and the Lord takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord. The best remains the best because he decided to. Blessed Moreau continues his reflection upon crosses in “Circular Letter 54”. “ Afflictions, reverses, loss of friends, privations of every kind, sickness, even death itself, ‘the evil of each day,’ and the suffering of each hour—all these are but so many relics of the sacred wood of the true cross….” CSC educators can and must assist their students to ponder beyond the pain of the mundane crosses to focus upon this worldly journey’s end—the cosmic Cross. Teachers have a myriad of opportunities to assist students and themselves to regulate their minds about the cares and woes of this life. Christ Our Lord climbed upon His cross as the greatest act of love ever. If we decide so, we, too, can transform the suffering of our minds and bodies into the transformative love of the Savior for each other. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Our Lord says the words “This is my body” at the Last Supper, but he does not reveal the meaning of those words until the Cross. The master has been stripped bare and nailed to two beams of wood. Unlike our first parents, he makes no move to hide in fear and shame. Rather, he presents his whole self, in trust and love, to his heavenly father. The Eucharistic sharing at the Last Supper anticipates this saving moment and invites us into the mystery and intimacy of authentic human living. How often do we long for this kind of intimacy in our own lives? Think of all of the pitfalls of romantic relationships and the awkwardness of two people trying to honestly give themselves to one another. How much more difficult it is to present our souls to the one true God! We subconsciously place obstacles between ourselves and that One. We find ways to mask our hearts and minds so as to keep a safe distance from the one whom our hearts truly love. We rationalize by calling this fear-based withdrawal “a boundary” or “self care.” Yet, experience teaches us that we will remain restless until we have consented to this encounter once and for all. Let us therefore become vulnerable to our Lover who knocks on the door of our hearts. Let us permit the crucified form to grow in us day after day. Let us, with our master, become Beloved of the Lord. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: St. Augustine writes in the Confessions that “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” Resting in the Lord happens when one becomes totally transparent. All barriers that deny an honest look at and embrace of the unveiled self are destroyed. Most of us fear exposure that leaves us openly vulnerable to scrutiny, and so it is rarely achieved in human relationships. We can easily convince ourselves that those we want to love us will find our naked humanity grotesque. We believe that our Mr. Hyde will be seen as so malignant that the beloved will run shrieking into the darkness. Perhaps that is true with human objects of love, but never with the Lord. Complete vulnerability to our Savior guarantees that we will be with Him in paradise. CSC educators can assist their students with owning lives of authenticity through modeling it in the classroom. When students witness our raw edges, the experience can be mutually therapeutic. A healthy and grace-filled teaching moment occurs whenever we own up to our sins, ask for forgiveness and pledge not to let it happen again. Students rarely encounter adult authority figures who humbly admit wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness and a second chance. Teachers in Holy Cross schools have many opportunities to become the open arms of the Savior. We must knock on the doors of our students’ hearts so they may become Christ the Lover for each other. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: If you have ever been with a person who is dying, you know that “to die” is a mysterious thing. Death is not simply something that happens to you, as if the grim reaper goes around kidnapping people from the face of the earth. At the same time, death is not something that a person can simply will, as if one could separate soul from body at any given moment. Rather, “to die” is the paradoxical state of letting go of the here and now while at the same time confronting the unknown. The fact that the Latin verb morari (“to die”) has a passive form but an active meaning attests to the unique phenomenon of human dying. When we look upon the Cross, do we see this glorious tension? Do we see the patience of our Lord as he bids farewell to this world paired with his eagerness to commend his spirit to his heavenly father? Perhaps we think of ourselves as having an assertive and dominant personality type, but do we see our Lord’s vulnerability on the Cross? Maybe we think of ourselves as having a meek and reserved personality type, but do we see his courage on the Cross? Whatever the case may be, let us enter into the mystery of death with our whole hearts. Let us realize our deepest human identity in this paschal way of life. Let us die daily and set this valley of tears on fire! Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: What is the happy medium between graceful acceptance and prideful denial? I suggest that it is in a healthy renunciation of the self-imposed rigor of living up to a secular, consumer-driven society’s standards. God reminds the prophet Samuel that “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” For Christians the attempt to measure up to external templates sets us in constant flux as we repeatedly engage in the battle to die to self aggrandizement. CSC educators need to be concerned about their students and frequently encourage them to take up arms against the daily onslaught of the false prophets of physical beauty, intellectual promise and dog-eat-dog promiscuity. All disciplines of academic study can so easily become oriented to promote living to the max, that too much is not enough, that excess is the access to fulfillment. Educators must look for moments during lectures and student application exercises to insert the truth of the Cross. Our deepest human identity is not defined by external manifestations of the acceptable but by the moderating influence of a heart that has been formed in love unto the death of self need for the betterment of God’s people. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Executive functioning is all the rage in psychology circles today. It refers to the ability of a person to gather data, analyze and prioritize that data, form a judgment about it and then make a decision. There are tests to assess one’s executive skills, online brain games to improve those skills, as well as therapies to help people understand their particular style of this process. I would like to suggest that while our society hits upon a core truth of the human person here, it blindly goes about training souls to think and choose well. Moreover, I would like to suggest that the one and only program that produces truly effective executive functioning is the Cross. Look upon our Lord, the Logos, the eternal Word and Wisdom of God. He has been analyzed and stripped; he has been exposed and inspected; in an instant, he is literally executed or finished. And the result? The light of the resurrection, the glory of the truth, shining forth into the life of the world. The Lord did not deserve the rigors of the Cross, but he did humble himself to the point of death in order to demonstrate this pattern of authentic human functioning. Dying and rising is what right thinking and right choosing look like. Indeed, the paschal mystery is the icon of true executive functioning, the self-help program that psychology has been searching for all along. Look to the Cross! Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: Executive functioning is at the heart of what it means to be human. In fact, there is a large body of prenatal research that indicates that a fetus gathers information from the mother’s sensual experiences. For example, if a mother listens to classical music during her pregnancy, the assumption is that the baby “feels” something that is somehow imprinted upon the conscious mind. Our senses are designed to gather the information we need to flourish and to reproduce. When serious followers of Christ travel with Him on the Way of the Cross through countless birth/death scenarios, the hoped for result of data collection, analysis and decisions is to possess Heaven. For CSC educators Blessed Basil’s words about educating students for two worlds must ring clearly as we prepare classes and then interact with students. On October 31, the Congregation of Holy Cross recalled the 125th anniversary of the death of the Very Rev. Edward Sorin in 1893 at the University of Notre Dame. At the time of his death, he had spent 49 years in South Bend, Indiana building the University of Notre Dame du Lac. He did not do this without the assistance of priests, sisters, brothers and laypersons, who flawed as they were, reached beyond their weakness to achieve a collective goal. They desired to create a space where all would work as good citizens of this world and become worthy citizens of Heaven. While all university campuses run on executive functioning, the University of Notre Dame and every Holy Cross school shine forth with the unique and splendid glory of paschal life. Ave Crux Spes Unica!