August 17, 2019

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!

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