Voice of Moreau: St. Paul famously exclaims in Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” (2:20). This very powerful way of thinking about the Christian life has undoubtedly inspired countless souls to strive ever more ardently for transformation and self-realization. Nevertheless, it is the preceding line which contains the key to reaching this new life: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:19). We should not be surprised that the Greek word that Paul uses for “I” is literally ego. That object, idea, vision, dream or image that we hold deeply in our psyches must be brought to an end (Jn 19:29), or crucified with Christ. Though Jesus possessed the eternal “form of God,” he nevertheless “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” and subjected himself to “death on the cross” (Phil 2:6-8). We who are sinners, who blindly roam this earth, suffering from ego-delusion, must pay attention to this profound and humbling lesson. Only when the false self dies, does the risen Christ, in all of his resurrected glory, appear. Let us therefore roll up our sleeves and clean out our spiritual houses. The Beloved eagerly awaits a home in which to dwell! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: The psychology of C.J. Jung was very focused on archetypes, universal patterns that reveal deep truths about the human psyche. The primary four archetypes, found in each and every human soul, include: The Self, The Shadow, The Persona and The Anima/Animus. Because these dimensions of the subconscious together constitute the experience of being human, we should trust that the Cross embodies the entire drama therein. The naked body of our Lord, stretched out and laid open upon the wood of the Cross, is the image of the Self in all of its vulnerability. The wounds of Christ, in his hands, feet, head and side, are the mark of the Shadow who dwells within us and inexplicably seems to work against our own good. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” that is, the Messiah, can be likened to the Persona, or role that we each play in life. And while the Animus is the boldness with which Christ crucified proclaims the Good News, especially in the defiant way he confronts both Jewish and Roman authority, the passivity of the Son who hands over his spirit to his heavenly Father should remind us of the Anima. Let us, therefore, not be afraid to engage in the science of psychology to affirm the truth of the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father James Burns, C.S.C. (1867-1940)
Father Burns was born in Michigan City, Indiana in 1867. He entered Holy Cross in 1888 and was ordained in 1893, the year Father Sorin died. For a number of years, as superior of Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., he was instrumental not only in the development of that house of studies but in the early progress of the Catholic University, being recognized even in those years as an authority and champion of Catholic education in the United States. As the spirit of the missions began to take hold in the country, Father Burns recognized the importance of fostering this spirit in the Congregation of Holy Cross and gave every encouragement in his power toward the crystallization of that spirit in the foundation of the mission periodical, The Bengalese. In 1927 he was selected to act as Provincial in the United States, a position he held until his election as Assistant to the Superior General in the summer of 1938. Though the prospect of the journey to India and the difficulties of an official visitation of the mission were far from promising, Father Burns bravely faced the sacrifices involved and journeyed to India in the fall of 1935. While in India he visited personally all of the mission stations of the Dacca territory. With paternal patience he listened to the enthusiastic outline of opportunities as painted by the “zealous tongues” of the missionaries and he returned to the States visibly impressed with the foreign mission apostolate of Holy Cross in Bengal. The Mission Procurator and those associated with him in the apostolate of financing the mission acknowledged their heavy debt of gratitude to Father Burns for the careful consideration and seasoned guidance he offered all their plans for the furtherance of their work and the unlimited cooperation and encouragement he gave them in their work, not only by word, but especially by deed. The last months of Father Burns’ life were days of inexpressible pain. “In dying, as in life, Father Burns remained to the end an example to be aimed at in imitation by his religious brethren.” (Adapted from a memorial by Father Francis Goodall, C.S.C., October 1940, The Bengalese)
Voice of Moreau: Have you ever seen Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painting? While none of us is surprised when we see the Cross carrying souls upward to heaven on Christ’s right side, we should all marvel at the “crosses” which appear on Christ’s left. There is a heavy pillar that weighs souls down; there are literal crosses that seem to cause confusion among the damned; there are other objects, such as a knife, keys, arrows and a saw, which these souls cling to as they sink more and more deeply into the underworld. The artist undoubtedly wants to teach us a lesson about the Cross: It is a singular reality, shared by all disciples, raising souls up to their perfection, held only with an open hand, giving true life. If today, at this very moment, judgment were upon us, could we claim to stand with the saints who, “caught up in the clouds,” are prepared “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thes 4:17)? Have we taken up the true yoke that is easy and accepted the one burden that is light (Mt 11:30)? In a world of false hopes and empty promises, may each of us learn to prefer the Cross and thus float into the freedom of salvation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: “Learning to love the cross as a sign of real hope was the spiritual core of [Blessed] Moreau’s theology. Learning entailed practice, and walking the way of the cross meant recognizing three things for Moreau: that Christ represents the only possible reconciliation between interior dispositions and exterior actions, that union with Christ means union not only with his life but also his death, and that those who learn the mystery of Christ are also learning his resurrection” (Grove and Garwrych, Basil Moreau: Essential Writings, 2014, 45). As students are preparing to return for another year of school, teachers, too, are preparing to accept them into their classrooms. How will teachers educate their students to love the cross as the source of their hope for this world and the next? Certainly, this task begins before the students arrive as teachers are gathered in meetings prior to the first day of classes. As individuals and a corporate entity, teachers must conscientiously plan each class, each week, each semester around that education which forms and nourishes the heart as well as filling the mind with facts. Begin each class a prayer that focuses the mind and instructs the heart to regulate the application of the knowledge for the day. Let the last thing you say to your class be a reminder to walk in the shoes of those around them. A prayer that assists students and teachers to be aware of the many possibilities for taking up the cross throughout the day allows for the practice of the corporal works of mercy that are needed today. In the words of St. James we need to “declare [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another, that [we] may find healing” (James 5:16) and thus to become the compassionate heart of the crucified Lord. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Brother Urban (Andrew) McKeon, C.S.C. (1835-1912)
“Brother Urban, one of the oldest educators of the Holy Cross order, died at Notre Dame university Friday morning at 4 o’clock. He was porter at the university for several years and during that time had many friends” (South Bend Tribune). When Brother Urban died in 1912, he was a much-revered member of the Congregation as described in 1908 in this Scholastic article. “There is probably no city or important town in the United States which does not hold warm friends of the devoted Brother whose courtesy has committed him to the respect of all who have met him. Not in vain was he named Urban, for urbanity was his characteristic. No hour too late, and no hour too early for him to serve the chance visitor or to dispense to the public the hospitality of the famous University” (42:26). In another Scholastic article he is described as “…refined and gentle [of] manner, the reflection of a beautiful soul” (42:319. 1908). In 1912, Brother Gilbert (James) Horton is quoted in the Notre Dame Alumnus. “No man ever met Brother Urban who could ever forget him. Nature and grace combined to create in him a subtle and unusual charm. Invested with a natural dignity of attractive personal appearance, he went his way through the world, offending none, serving all, and leaving golden memories in the hearts of those who met him.” Brother Urban was born in Ireland and entered the Brothers of Holy Cross when he was 26. He taught in schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois. He was appointed the first principal of St. Columbkille school in Chicago in 1886 when Edward Hoban, future Archbishop of Cleveland, enrolled in the 4th grade. Brother Urban was considered to be a fine teacher and a very organized and dedicated school administrator.
Father James J. French, C.S.C. (1859-1941)
Father French was the vice-president of the University of Notre Dame from 1893-1905. And he was assistant superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross for 20 years until 1926. He came to Notre Dame from Cincinnati, Ohio and entered the novitiate in 1878. In 1879 he witnessed the disastrous fire which completely destroyed the young University, and many hours he devoted to clearing bricks for the reconstruction of the new Main Building. He spent his first years in the Congregation at St. Joseph College in Cincinnati where he taught all day and studied theology with Father Peter J. Hurth – who would become an archbishop – at night. Ordained in 1883, he was appointed superior of St. Joseph College for the next five years. He was then appointed the superior of the preparatory seminary at Notre Dame. In 1893, he was appointed the Vice-President and Director of Studies at the University of Notre Dame and became known as a fine orator. In 1905, he returned to St. Joseph College as its President for one year. In 1906, he was appointed assistant superior general and, for the second time, the superior at the preparatory seminary. It is during this time that he became known as a champion of the foreign mission apostolate. It was the General Chapter that appointed him Mission Promoter. The earliest predecessor of The Bengalese, under the name of the Bengal Witness, was published by him. In 1912, the Mission Band of Holy Cross was reorganized to preach missions and retreats throughout the United States. Father French was selected to establish, develop and direct the new effort. He tirelessly labored in this ministry for the next 18 years. Because of failing health, he left the Mission Band and served as chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend from 1931-1939 where he was beloved by thousands of the city’s sick because of his ministrations at all hours of the day and night. Prior to his death, he resided at the community house on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. (Complied from information in “The Golden Jubilee of a Friend” The Bengalese, June 1933 [no author] and an obituary in the South Bend Tribune, March 1941)
Voice of Moreau: The word “anxiety” comes from the Latin word angustia which means “narrow straits.” To suffer from anxiety is like walking down a long, dark tunnel that seems to have no end. As a society, we think of anxiety as an enemy. There are drugs out there to remove that feeling of narrowness and relax our minds, as well as talk therapy to help people alleviate the emotional heaviness that plagues us. Nevertheless, the experience of anxiety is a unique spiritual opportunity to trust God. Jesus’ mind must have been obscured by a thick fog on the Cross: Why do I have to go through this? How can anything good come out of my death? Where are all of my family and friends? Why have you abandoned me? Yet, he said yes. Truly, the joy of the resurrection is reserved for those who are willing to walk the way of salvation, though they do not understand: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mt 7:13-14). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: St. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells them that “[t]he sufferings of present are nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us” (8:18). We live in a world that is wedded to many forms of promiscuity. It is so easy to be convinced that a pill can readily provide a cure for any ache or pain. That the application of this or that salve will stave off the effects of aging. That the purchase of this or that gadget will make living increasingly more effortless. And so we give in to these enticements only to find out that our anxieties about living are not alleviated but exacerbated because we have been duped yet again. To see our personal suffering as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed is not easy. It takes more than a one-time yes to God. It is a daily yes–an hourly yes for most of us. What comfort can a Holy Cross educator provide? Make a daily commitment to be zealously faithful to teaching the truth about this life’s journey toward heavenly citizenship. The road is hard because the flesh is weak. If there is a curative for all that ails us, it is compassionate mercy. Do not increase the suffering of the via dolorosa. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Brother Borromeo (Thomas) Malley, C.S.C. (1913-1994)
Born in 1913 in Chicago, Thomas Malley entered the Holy Cross Brothers in 1931 making final vows in 1936. His first assignment was to take care of the power plant at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, Wisconsin. Two years later, he went to the University of Portland where he took on the role of purchasing agent. In 1937 he was assigned to the University of Notre Dame as director of utilities for 41 years, and for nearly 50 years he was chief of the Notre Dame fire department. Father (now Bishop) Daniel Jenky gave the eulogy at his funeral mass. Here are parts of what he said: “A ‘patriarch,’ according to the dictionary definition, could be described as ‘a venerable old man’ or ‘a revered senior member of a community’ or ‘a respected elder.’ Well, in our Holy Cross family here at Notre Dame, Brother Borromeo rather aptly and completely fulfilled this role…. He was immensely proud that he was Fire Chief for so many years. If for 41 years Brother efficiently kept the fires burning at Notre Dame, he was equally adept for nearly 50 years in putting them out anywhere else on campus. He was given his job in 1939, and by 1940 he had built, from the chassis up, Notre Dame’s first completely motorized fire apparatus…. Brother Borromeo was a wonderful person, a good and faithful brother, a man of religious poverty, and a great friend to an awful lot of people. Borromeo without a lot of fuss or dramatics, lived a life entirely for God and neighbor. He expressed his love and devotion to Our Lady by caring so well and so long for her school.” Father Edmund Joyce, C.S.C. gave the homily. Here is an excerpt: “My first official contact with Brother occurred in 1951 soon after I was named vice president of business affairs. Foreseeing the building boom which would soon be on, Brother Borromeo strongly urged that we utilize our excess steam capacity to generate our own electricity. While this required a large capital expense to get started, we did indeed save millions of dollars by generating our own electrical power…. I had hundreds of business contacts with Brother Borromeo over the next three decades and was continually impressed with his common sense, his rare ability to deal with architects, engineers, contractors, fire chiefs and other professionals on a friendly but business-like basis.” In an article printed in “It’s Notre Dame Fact…” by Phil Loranger, he wrote: “[Brother Borromeo] became only the third man since 1870 to hold the title of director of utilities, a post that made him manager of the tiny, ill-equipped university rail system [ND & W Railroad]. In his nearly 60 years as head of the line, Borromeo never missed the opportunity to improve the track, cars or equipment. The 65-ton, 400-horsepower diesel engine No. 5332, still resplendent in its blue and gold colors, was his proudest contribution…. [T]here was a time when the ND & W had tracks that led to the old ice house and the university stock pens where hogs and steers were unloaded. During World War II, military trains were a common sight on the tracks and until 1962, when the last passenger trains brought Fighting Irish fans to the campus for drop off, as many as five trains would be birthed on the tracks. It was Borromeo and his staff who would lay out more than 5,000 yards of hose to provide water and fuel for the steam and diesel engines while the passengers watched the Irish football team play in the stadium.” “For all of his consummate professionalism in his duties at the university what Brother Borromeo will be remembered for by most of us was that he was first and foremost a true religious—faithful to his God and his vows” (Father Joyce).
Father Michael A. Mathis, C.S.C. (1885-1960)
Born in South Bend, Michael Mathis entered Holy Cross in 1901 and was ordained in 1921. In 1920, he received a doctorate in Holy Scripture form Catholic University. It was about this time that he became interested in the Holy Cross foreign missions and began his plans for a new seminary in Washington, D.C. which would train men especially for India. In 1924, he became the first superior of the Foreign Mission Seminary, and he also inaugurated The Bengalese, a magazine specially interested in promoting Holy Cross foreign mission. Simultaneously, he became a co-founder, together with Dr. Anna Dengle, of women’s religious organization, the Medical Missionaries, whose object was to spread the Catholic religion among the poor and sick women of India. In 1939, he became a faculty member at Notre Dame, and two years was appointed chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital until retirement in 1959. He was considered by all to be a wonderful chaplain.
Sister M. Agatha Ann (Mary Agatha) Farrell, C.S.C. 1923-2019
Three days before her 21st birthday, Mary Agatha Farrell applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She was a civil service secretary working for the War Department in Los Angeles, California, in the last year of World War II. In response to a question about her motivation “for leaving the world,” she replied only, “I feel I have a vocation.” In 2001, she was less cryptic filling out another form, this time explaining why she wanted to apply for a sabbatical for spiritual renewal: “After 56 years as a Sister of the Holy Cross, having worked every year in a school, hospital, or parish, this opportunity would be a ‘first.’” As Sister M. Agatha Ann, she began her ministry in 1947 in elementary education in Catholic parochial schools throughout California and Utah, moving from the classroom to the principal’s office. From 1970 to 1975, while serving as principal, she earned her California license to direct day care-nursery schools. From 1975 to 1977, Sister Agatha Ann was director of personnel in the Department of Education for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. During those years she also worked in special education in public schools in the Daly City School District. Anyone who saw her doing business over the phone would have thought it all looked easy as she spoke with a broad smile. She had wonderful organizational skills, enjoyed being with people and was a good listener. It’s no wonder that Sister Agatha Ann transitioned to pastoral care in 1977 at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah. Though she was there only a year, she returned to pastoral care and chaplaincy from 1991 to 1999 at Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center, North Hollywood, California. In the intervening years, from 1978 to 1990, Sister Agatha Ann ministered in several parishes working with the elderly in Southern California and in the Seattle area. Sister Agatha Ann was also a religious superior in her Congregation but was unpretentious in the role, whether as a local convent superior, a postulant formation assistant or regional councilor. Many times, she was also filling other positions beyond the local convent. At the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1987, she was asked by a reporter in Tenino, Washington, about priestly ordination for women. She was never known as a firebrand, but with a shrug, she reluctantly offered the following viewpoint to The Olympian: “Here at St. Peter’s Mission, we minister as best we can as a group of women in the church. We can do that in so many ways. I would have no objection to women being ordained nor would I have any objection to a married clergy.” Sister retired first to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California in 2002, moving in 2011 to Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, where she died. Her older sister, Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), survives her at Saint Mary’s. Their fine Catholic parents, Louisa Hutson and Jeremiah Farrell, raised seven children in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Parish, where they were taught by Holy Cross sisters. (Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC.)
Voice of Moreau: Taking up the Cross is not some clean and sterile process. Those who think that they have taken up the Lord’s Cross by a single stroke of the pen or by a single decision are mistaken. The work of dying to self, rather, is a lifelong journey – messy, emotional, confusing, uncertain, but most importantly good. Like falling in love, we discover that if we truly desire to be with our Beloved for the long-term, we must learn how to dance instead of cling, how to hold with an open hand, how to say “thank you,” and how to get up when we fall. By doing so, our lives weave a magnificent image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) which reveals the texture and beauty of the scars of the risen Christ. Let us therefore not be afraid to put out into the deep and risk everything (Luke 5:4), trusting that our Father is already waiting for us in the mess (Gen 1:2). Blessed indeed is the God who walks with us through the fiery furnaces of life (Dan 3:24) and whose own Cross bears witness to the glory and salvation reserved for those who are simply willing to jump in. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: Taking up the Cross is definitely not done at a specific time as a once-and-for-all-time event. Travelling the road of the Cross–“through the fiery furnaces of life”–takes a recommitment each day, and several times during a single day. The poet Langston Hughes writes that “life ain’t no crystal stair”; definitely life is a steep staircase that each of us must climb if we are to realize citizenship in Heaven. The obvious task for Holy Cross educators is to support students along this arduous climb. Assist students to realize that the woes of this life are only made more bearable if each of us does not add to them. Use this message from St. Paul as your prayer for the beginning of this new school year: “Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. Be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:29-32). At the beginning of each class, ask your students to jump in for the long haul. No one needs to look far away from home and the school for opportunities to become the healing love of the crucified Christ. Ave Crux Spes Unica!