In the Voice of Moreau: The Cross is pure trust. There is no bank account, Plan B, or exit route in case it does not work. It is an unconditional, blind act of faith in the living God. Close your eyes and put yourself in the place of our Lord: a quiet life in Nazareth, the Jordan River, the desert, the Galilean countrysides, the formidable city of Jerusalem, the Temple courtyard, the Upper Room, the Garden, Mt. Calvary, the empty tomb. While our society heaps praise upon people who make bold and daring decisions like a marriage proposal or a career move or taking a political stand, the journey of trust is slow, quiet and steady. To get to the point of the simplicity of the Cross, one must make the decision, here and now in the solitude of one’s own heart, to trust God, then again in the evening, and again the next morning, throughout the day and so on. Slowly but surely, reliance on all things that are not God die and pure hearts longing for the peace of his Kingdom emerge. Let us learn to be little like the Christ and entrust our salvation to his most holy Cross. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Just as the Cross is pure trust so, too, is the relationship between teachers and students. Researchers at Scots College, Sydney, Australia conclude that a teacher builds trust by providing structure, teaching with enthusiasm and passion, displaying a positive attitude, making learning fun, showing interest in students’ lives outside the classroom, treating students with respect and creating a safe environment in the classroom. Veteran educators realize that creating such classroom environments involves steady—daily commitment. CSC educators who are known in their schools to be masters of their respective disciplines foster trusting relationships because they have also embraced the virtue of gentleness. Blessed Moreau teaches that “Teachers who have drawn such gentleness from Jesus Christ will be blessed and happy. They will truly be the important people in their school, and they will cause Jesus Christ to be the important person there. Loved by their students and respected by the parents, who will be so happy to have found such excellent teachers for their children, they will be rewarded with blessings from the entire school community and will go through life ‘doing good works.’ Their memory will remain engraved upon the hearts of those students whom they have brought to the fullness of Christianity, and they will be a model to imitate and an example to follow” (Christian Education). These educators, knowingly and unknowingly, frequently encourage their students to embrace crosses and the most holy Cross. Through the pattern of their lives and practices, these educators transform students’ lives. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: The word “symbol” comes from two Greek words, “throw” and “together.” A symbol has meaning precisely because the concrete image has been thrown together with an abstract reality. When we see the symbol we are put in touch with the reality in some way. While some symbols, like an arrow, are functional, some, like a heart, are meant to arouse emotion, and others, like a dove, carry deep spiritual and religious meaning. The Cross, however, is a symbol that belongs in its own unique category. A Roman instrument of execution paired with the glorious body of our Lord does not point to a vague abstraction, but instead confounds the mind right where it is. Should I be seeing death or life? Should I be seeing darkness or hope? Should I be seeing shame or bold confidence? The truth is that we are witnessing both happening at one and the same time! Such a symbol demands humility and great effort to truly understand, but those who persevere will be handsomely rewarded with nothing less than the transformation of their souls. Let us therefore never avert our eyes from the Cross and in so doing become, ourselves, a symbol of Life for the world. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Educators in Holy Cross schools are mandated to assist students to become living symbols of Life for the world. To that end teachers must instruct students to become virtuous scientists and mathematicians; lawyers and social scientists; artists and athletes. Leaders in every domain who are transformative motivators for Life. Science teachers such as Dr. Dominic Chaloner at the University of Notre Dame desire to develop the intellectual virtues and character dispositions that contribute to human flourishing or well-being, and include such things as intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, and open-mindedness in their instruction. Dr. Chaloner’s focus is on “salmon research to understand the ecological consequences of migrating salmon, especially when they spawn in Southeast Alaska streams and Upper Great Lakes tributaries. Most recently, [he has] been interested in salmon as biotransporters of contaminants, including persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.” Mathematics educators also must become convinced that their discipline “is not merely about teaching students a list of theorems, but is about teaching them how to do mathematics and how to be mathematicians. [T]hese aims involve the cultivation of certain mathematical virtues, like inventiveness, perseverance and open-mindedness.” The study of mathematical virtues provides valuable guidance for mathematical educators, and the wider process of inducting students into mathematical practices as valuable contributors. Blessed Moreau stresses that education “is the art of helping young people to completeness.” Living symbols of Life are persons who have appropriately integrated intellectual pursuits tempered by the promptings of the heart. Living symbols of Life build up the Body of Christ. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: The mind must not be educated at the expense of the heart. In other words, the intellectual and emotional rigor of learning has a point! Look to the Cross. The crown of thorns signifies the trials that the mind must endure in order that a person may be led to a deeper place. Once that process is complete (Our Lord says “It is finished”), the human heart is literally opened up by the legionnaire’s lance. Here blood and water, the glory of God, burst forth into the life of the world. In the postmodern era of deconstructing ideas and truth, the crown of thorns is the default intellectual approach of nearly all academics and sophisticates. Without the hope of a literally deeper meaning, however, all of that hard work is for naught! It is all vanity! Let us therefore never ever separate the crown of thorns from the legionnaire’s lance. Let us never fall into the trap of meaningless thought patterns or get stuck in esoteric musings. Let us never allow a prideful mind to blind us from a heart longing to be redeemed. The mind must not be educated at the expense of the heart! Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: A redeemed humble heart arises out of the ashes of the trials of a mind imprisoned in a world of prideful living that only causes anxiety. This redemption only happens to the heart that has been educated to temper the intellect. Thomas á Kempis writes in Chapter 7 of The Imitation of the Cross: “Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ. …Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends if they are powerful…do not boast of personal stature or physical beauty. Do not take pride in your talent or ability. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you remain humble. The humble live in continuous grace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.” CSC educators can easily assist students to temper the prideful mind with intentional lesson planning. Educators must consciously see all aspects of intellectual advancement through the lens of the Holy Cross Core Values: reliance upon Divine Providence, excellence, cultivation of the heart as well as the mind, inclusiveness, discipline, option for the poor, hope, family, integrity and zeal. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Jerusalem is the center of the universe in the first century Jewish mind. It is the city of David and home of the Temple which tens of thousands of Jewish men and women died trying to defend. When creation is finally brought to its perfection, it is believed that the “new Jerusalem” will emerge as the eternal reality upon which all of life will be ordered and enjoy peace forever. Yet, our Lord’s crucifixion takes place specifically outside of the walls of Jerusalem. Could our Lord be telling us that we must not get hung up on worldly signs, such as the literal city of Jerusalem, which merely point to the Kingdom? Could he be telling us that we must look beyond any concept or image of our salvation, such as the literal city of Jerusalem, which prevents our hearts from truly experiencing the embrace of the living God? Could he be telling us that the mind and its knowledge, such as the literal city of Jerusalem, bear no proportion to the actual encounter of our loving Father? Let us therefore be honest about the literal things that rival the one true God in our lives. Perhaps they are goods and legitimately point to our eternal destiny, but we absolutely cannot be satisfied with them alone! Indeed, our hearts, with the Master’s, must constantly be taken to that dark and lonely place, beyond the confines of our thinking, where Life awaits us. Ave Crux Spes Unica!