February 27, 2021

Depression is a problem that plagues so many of us throughout the course of our lives.  There are certainly scientific explanations for this emotional phenomenon, but let us consider a theological perspective on the malady:  As physical bodies paired with rational souls, we human persons have the constant task of holding our sensory experiences in tension with our spiritual being – a full time job!  Two problems, however, can arise:  that we close the border between senses and spirit in a way that causes us to lose the natural symbiosis that makes a human person thrive, or we simply don’t bother to mediate the relationship between the senses and spirit allowing them to blend together in a way that causes us to feel like a blob that lacks definition and meaning.  The reason why Jesus, especially crucified, is the solution to this conundrum is because he is the true Mediator (1 Tim 2:5) and Great High Priest (Hebrews 8:6,9:15,12:24,6:17) who is capable of standing at that line where senses and spirit meet, confronting all of those things that want to pass through the sheepgate of our souls (Jn 10:11), keeping us both totally connected and absolutely safe.  Let’s overcome the depression cycle by inviting Jesus to be the captain of our ships as we try to navigate the choppy waters of being human.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother Peter Fitzpatrick (1807-1881)

The Engineer

John Fitzpatrick joined Holy Cross when he was 45 years old. He was born in Ireland and settled in Goshen, Indiana where he became a very prominent and successful business man.  When his entire family died—there is no indication of what happened—he disposed of his business and entered the Brothers of Holy Cross.  Brother Peter was a master of many arts: a merchant in his younger days; a gardener who laid out the quadrangle in front of the main building; an architect; a teacher of civil engineering and astronomy at Notre Dame; and an author of a series of articles on the stars and the planets that ran in newspapers through the nation. 

Brother Peter persuaded the university administration to remove the Manual Labor School to another site so he could plate out a formal garden in front of the administration building and the church.  The Scholastic reported in 1868 that “Brother Peter could be seen daily by his transit, calling out his orders to the men, who all believed in his good taste, and seemed very anxious to execute his directions as if their very happiness depended on making that little garden the ‘dearest spot on earth.’” Brother Peter and his surveying class laid out this garden in an attempt to transplant a bit of the French Renaissance tradition to northern Indiana.

Archival records detail the variety and extent of the activities, and the success that came with them, that were Brother Peter’s over 25 years at Notre Dame.  He was the postmaster and the storekeeper selling books to students and community members.  He laid out the avenues with mathematical precision that would wind through the newly constructed park.  He designed many plans for new buildings on the campus and for St. Joseph Church in South Bend.  He also designed and built many vertical sun-dials that where placed around Notre Dame’s campus. One of the eleven he built stood for many years in front of the science hall at St. Mary’s and in 1955 was considered the oldest piece of scientific equipment at the college.  He was also the guest master who led many tours through his marvelous gardens. By December of 1880, Brother Peter was dangerously ill and died in January of 1881.  The South Bend Tribune wrote about him: “There are only a few people who have visited Notre Dame within the past quarter century that had not seen the cheerful face of the venerable Brother Peter, who took such pleasure in chaperoning visitors.  He was a great favorite, not only with the faculty and students at the university, but also with those who frequently visited Notre Dame.  No one knew better how to conduct visitors about the extensive grounds and buildings, and his suave manners charmed everyone, while his earnest interest in the affairs of Notre Dame impressed all.”

February 20, 2021

We human beings really are designed to be Temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19), but because the evil one is cunning, baffling and powerful, we collapse, cave into ourselves, and self-destruct.  Indeed, just like the tragic events of 587 B.C., our temples become desecrated as we permit the profane to infect the sacred, that deepest part of ourselves, the innermost center of the temple, reserved for our one true Beloved.  This is when we ought to recall that the Temple in Jerusalem was set up in such a way that one had to pass through the Altar of Sacrifice in order to get to that intimate place, the Holy of Holies. We must simply learn to insist that all of the sensory experiences, ideas, relationships, etc. that want access to our deep selves be purified by Christ crucified who dwells within us and makes us safe by the constant sacrifice he offers on our behalf.  When will we finally believe that we are in fact Temples of the Holy Spirit?  When will we finally remember that we are made for intimacy with the Beloved?  When will we finally trust that the Cross is the sacrificial key to the door of our inner room (cf. Mt 6:6)?  When will we finally start living an authentic human life? Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

Mother Rose Elizabeth (Elizabeth Rose) Havican, C.S.C. (1893-1964)

Superior General 1943-1955

Earning an M.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1924, she did additional graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University.  After serving on the faculty of Saint Mary’s College for eleven years, in 1931 she was appointed superior and principal of Saint Paul’s Academy in Washington, DC.  And in 1935 she became superior of the Academy of Holy Cross also in Washington. Aware of the need for a liberal arts college for women in Washington, D.C., Sister Rose Elizabeth founded Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in 1935 on the property of the Academy of Holy Cross and became its first president.  

In 1939 Mother Rose Elizabeth was elected provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.  During her term she built Moreau Hall on the campus of Dunbarton College, and she purchased the property for St. Angela Hall at Rockville, MD which would serve as the provincialate.  At the General Chapter of 1943, Mother Rose was elected superior general and held the position for two terms.  During her administration, she visited some 200 schools, colleges and hospitals conducted by the sisters in the United States and East Pakistan (Bangladesh).  In 1947 she established the Holy Cross mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with an elementary and a secondary school and a catechetical center. She was also very supportive of Holy Cross College, the only women’s college in East Pakistan.

In 1947 she was awarded a Doctor of Letters, HONORIS CAUSA, from the University of Notre Dame, and in 1949 served as a witness to the sanctity of Blessed Basil Moreau when his cause was introduced in Rome.

Upon completion of her second term as superior general until her death in 1964, Mother Rose Elizabeth continued to serve in a variety of ministries: teaching in the department of education at Dunbarton; serving on the provincial council of the Eastern Province; as an advisor to the foundation of the Sister Formation Conference, being elected in 1955 as the first chairperson of the Eastern Region of the Conference. In 1956 she organized the first symposium of the Conference “Holiness is Wholeness” in Washington, and in 1958 she was elected National Vice Chairperson of the Conference.  Throughout her ten years with the conference she spoke at and delivered many significant papers.  During the August prior to her death, she delivered two important papers at the annual meeting for local superiors at Stonehill College in North Easton, MA.  

A truly remarkable woman, Mother Rose Elizabeth is emblematic of the many Sisters of the Holy Cross who have labored in the United States from the late 1840s as collaborators with the priests and brothers of Holy Cross to cement the educational vision of Blessed Basil Moreau first at Notre Dame and then throughout the world. 

February 13, 2021

It is funny how so much of our human experience is based on concepts.  The world that we see is mediated by certain ideas that have been introduced to us and planted in our minds since we were born.  We don’t just see a cell phone, a car, or a fellow human being, we see an iPhone, a Lexus, and a CEO.  And because all of that stuff and all of those labels obscure what actually is, it is as if we are constantly walking around with scales over our eyes (Acts 9:18) never really seeing the truth of things.  The Cross, upon which hangs the eternal Word, however, is literally a concept-ending machine (cf. Jn 19:30) which has the power to strip away the non-essentials and thus cure us of our pharisaic blindness (Mt 23:16,17,19,24,26). When the interior mechanism of the Cross indeed becomes the singular lens through which we encounter the world around us, purifying fires stream forth from our minds and objects begin appear to us in their naked beauty. We shall thus come to know things as they are as we look forward to spending our eternity exclaiming “Now I see!” (Jn 9:25) with all the saints forever.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother Philip Neri (Robert) Kunze, C.S.C. (1844-1926)

The Landscaper

Brother Philip Neri was born in Silesia, Germany and came to the United States when he was 16 and, the following year, he received the habit of a Brother of Holy Cross.  As a young brother he was the professor of penmanship and German in the Commercial course of the Preparatory Department at Notre Dame.  He wrote a beautiful hand fully deserving the name calligraphy.  His copy books on German and English script were bought and published by Fred Puster of New York and Cincinnati.  In these copy books he introduced a system peculiarly his own, and in the case of his eight German penmanship books, critics regarded them as the finest and most complete of any others then in existence in German.

His entire 65 years in the congregation were spent at Notre Dame giving him ample time to plan and expand the University grounds.  The beautifying of the main quadrangle was Brother Philip’s fancy. He lived to see the trees which he had “blessed” and planted as saplings grow to towering giants.  In his latter years he walked the shaded avenues of Notre Dame, stopping now and then to admire his harvest of years in spreading boughs and flowering shrubs. They were his protégés, carefully nurtured over a lifetime.  Many of his trees are still growing on the campus. Rarely, perhaps, was so much accomplished with a budget necessarily so meager.  In his arboretum he introduced fifty-three species of trees because he believed that man does not plant trees for himself but for posterity.  Along with his friend, Brother Peter Fitzpatrick the engineer, they wanted to bring a bit of renaissance France to the banks of the Saint Joseph River. Together they more than accomplished their goal.

February 6, 2021

A quick review of Christian anthropology reminds us that a human person is the marriage of intellect and will within a physical body.  Our intellects process sensory experiences through our bodiliness, while our wills take our bodies to the next right place.  The goal of the Christian life, thus, is to at last present our bodies, fully and unreservedly, to our Father in heaven, exclaiming with the Son, “This is my body!” (Mt 26:26).  Nevertheless, we know all too well how, when the reality of sin enters into the picture and gums up the works, our intellects and wills break down and our bodies do not end up where they are supposed to be, and instead we either become stuck or get into trouble.  Let us therefore be people who make the commitment to live like Jesus, people who spend time in prayer with the Father, who aren’t afraid to be led into the desert, who speak the truth, who see others through the eyes of compassion, who suffer for what is just, who accept the many trials and crosses that the Lord offers to us.  In this way, indeed, our thinking and choosing will function as a finely-tuned machine, and our bodies will arrive at last in the heavenly Jerusalem where we will make an offering of our whole selves to the Father forever.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother Basil Kruse, C.S.C. (1893-1951)

Joseph Kruse (von Zelewski) was born in Berlin, Germany and came to the United States in 1907 and entered Holy Cross in September of that year.  He took final vows in 1918.  In 1919 he taught music and singing at Notre Dame and then was sent to Holy Cross School, New Orleans where he was a teacher of all grades and a dormitory prefect.  Returning to Notre Dame for one year, he was sent to Bengal in 1927.  He was an expert photographer and took and developed many of the photos that appeared in the mission’s magazine The Bengalese.  After 11 years as a missionary, he returned to New Orleans in 1934 where he lived and worked until his death in 1951.  

Perhaps Brother Basil’s life as a teacher and missionary is not as remarkable as many priests, brothers and sister of Holy Cross, but there was a memorable year for him.  Sometime during his years at Holy Cross School, he wrote on Holy Cross School letterhead an undated letter to Brother Columba O’Neil, the hailed healer and miracle man of Notre Dame. 

My dear Brother Columba,

I wish to thank you for your devoted efforts in asking the help of the Sacred Heart for my mother.  She has fully recovered [from Spanish Flu], although her case was very serious and her physicians gave her up.  May the Sacred Heart increase still more favors upon you.

Through your kindness I owe you also the cure of my father, who was pronounced incurable [from Spanish Flu] by several physicians.  The only acknowledgement I can show you for your kindness is to pray for you often.

I have spoken about you to some of my boys up here and you must probably have received some letters from them asking you for your help.

Another request I wish to make to you is that you remember Brother Augustine [Alderidge] who is very badly paralyzed.  He suffers intensely and I hope Almighty God may come to his help. Also, Brother Alfred [?] is not in a favorable condition.  His heart is weak and it is making him almost unfit for work.

Thanking you again for your good will.  I am yours devotedly in Jesus Christ.