The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has had devastating consequences on Christ’s mission. Whereas the archetype of the priest is a symbol for how our earthly experiences must be mediated in order to be aligned to their ultimate and transcendent goal, the abuse and cover-ups have not only served as an obstacle to mediation for untold numbers of people, but, in fact, have actually damaged the ability of many people to even hold God as a credible point of reference for any aspect of their lives. The victims of sex abuse, instead, are often plagued with doubt, deep-seated existential angst, a lack of self worth and a feeling of interior collapse. You and I must therefore exercise our common priesthood in this religious milieu: to create stable circumstances for others to feel the presence of the living God, to help others to reinterpret their experiences in light of the saving work of God, to teach others how to trust again, and to lead others to rediscover within themselves the untiring action of the Great High Priest who is constantly making a sacrificial offering on our behalf to God. While it is unclear how the ministerial priesthood will develop over time, we can rest assured that the priesthood of Jesus is eternal and will make us safe forever. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER LAWRENCE (FREMONT) MILLER, C.S.C. (1913-2005)
A MARVELOUS MENTOR FOR YOUNG RELIGIOUS
Fremont Miller was born in St. Wendel, Indiana. He attended only one year of high school and then worked in a plywood company to help the family.
In 1934, he entered the Sacred Heart Juniorate and finished high school. He went to the novitiate and pronounced his vows in 1940. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame in 1942 and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Chicago.
In 1943 he was appointed field director at St. Charles Boys’ Home where he worked a total of sixteen years. After that, he became superior at Columba Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. He was appointed Assistant Provincial from 1962 to 1968.
In 1968, he returned to social work at Father Gibault School in Terra Haute, Indiana. In 1973, he moved to his home area of Evansville, Indiana and was involved in psychiatric care at a state hospital and retirement homes for eleven years. He moved back to Columba Hall in 1984 to assist in the archives for seven years, until his lung condition worsened. He was an exceptionally intelligent, observant, and compassionate human being. His talents were in counseling troubled youth and helping senior citizens face the transition to the next life. Lawrence’s mentoring of younger religious served as a marvelous example — a true elder in all aspects.
What is your vocation? To be a priest, a married person, a firefighter, a nun, a small business owner, a teacher, a single person? The problem with answers like this is that they keep us at a safe distance from the living God who cannot be neatly packaged into an idea. “To be called,” rather, suggests something deeper, more spiritual and much more personal. We are called by a voice, which we all instinctively know at the level of the gut and which invites us out of the stifling patterns of our daily lives into the fresh air of a new day. Yes, our vocation ends up looking like something – maybe it involves a uniform or a lifestyle or a profession or a relationship – but those things change. The point is God, and God calls us through all sorts of experiences so that the barnacles might be scraped from our souls and we might draw ever closer to God. Therefore, the next time someone asks us, “What is your vocation?” let’s respond honestly, “My vocation is to constantly take a risk on the Father, and the rest is details.” Though we may be misunderstood or made to feel inadequate, like Jesus, our souls will nevertheless be at peace because we have spoken the truth, as indeed, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37). Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
FATHER CORNELIUS HAGERTY, CSC (1885-1977)
LOYAL TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, HOLY CROSS AND HIS PRIESTHOOD
Father Hagerty was born in South Bend, IN, in 1885. He attended St. Patrick parish grade school and Holy Cross Seminary, entering the novitiate in 1903. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1906, he did graduate work in theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, DC and was ordained in 1909 at Notre Dame. He then returned to Washington where he received his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University in 1911. He taught philosophy at Notre Dame from 1911 to 1921, then at the University of Portland for three years before returning to Notre Dame for the years 1924-1926. After nine years of teaching at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, he once again returned to Notre Dame in 1935 where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. He ministered as teacher and prefect, chaplain to the Holy Cross Brothers at both Dujarié Hall and Columba Hall, and, eventually, retiring at Holy Cross House.
Even in retirement, “Father Con” maintained his many interests, especially in apologetics and dogma and was the author of many articles and several books, notably a scholarly treatise on the Blessed Trinity and one on the problem of evil. For a good number of years, he sent as his Christmas greetings to relatives and friends his latest essay on some spiritual or intellectual subject.
All of his religious life, Father Hagerty was known for his vigorous, sometimes acerbic, defense and promulgation of his views on matters pertaining to doctrine and to Thomistic philosophy. His reputation as a debater and a possessor of a gift for repartee preceded and followed him. Not many came out victorious in a verbal confrontation with Con Hagerty.
In accord with Father Hagerty’s wishes, there was only one celebrant at his funeral Mass, which was offered at Moreau Seminary by Bishop Leo Pursley: the Mass and hymns were in Latin—according to one observer, “The participants sang in Latin as if they had been singing it for years.” In the homily by Bishop Pursley, he quoted a passage from the Book of Wisdom which appropriately summed Hagerty’s life: “My course grows longer and the river of my days draws nearer to the sea. Therefore, will I now make true doctrine shine forth to all, and enlighten all who hope in the Lord. …Behold, I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek the truth.” (Adapted from Province Review, October 7, 1977)
Did you know that the word positive literally means “that which has been placed” before you? That positive thinking is really the willingness to accept all that is given to us? So while we might scour the shelves of our local library for the perfect self-help book or tune in daily to our favorite TV therapist in order to find the key to positive living, we must go beyond techniques and learn how to be spiritual people who are constantly receptive to the gift of life. The irony is that we need to be negative in this process. We need to learn “to say no” to all of that which is not gift, all of that which is fear-based clinging, all of that which comes from the evil one. Trying to be positive without this negative move just does not work. In such a circumstance everything blends together and we stand for nothing. It is thus no wonder that the Christic pattern of our salvation is dying and rising. The radical positivity of resurrectional life – a state of eternally accepting the truth – is only ever made possible through the radical negativity of Christ’s cross – an unceasing commitment to self-denial. May our hearts thus become tables which are capable of receiving all that is presented to us precisely because they are already altars of sacrifice. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
“You’re as sick as your secrets” is a phrase that you may have heard in counseling or in the world of self-help. It is a powerful reminder that our interior lives are like icebergs – we are only aware of a fraction of the truth of ourselves, yet our decisions are largely dictated by the subconscious mass beneath the surface. The discipline of the spiritual life is the primary lever for bringing shame, fear, and general darkness into the light of a new day. Indeed, a regular prayer life, a schedule of worship, frequent spiritual direction, ascetic practices, sacramental confession, journaling, and working with a professional can all be helpful ways of getting in touch with and befriending our deep self. Such a risk transforms our so-called secrets into memories, learning experiences, times when we missed the mark, and wisdom to be shared with others. Spiritual sickness is gradually replaced by spiritual health as God comes to dwell again in that newly uncluttered place within. Let’s be disciples of Jesus who tell the truth with our lives. Let’s experience the freedom of returning to a state of childlike simplicity and authenticity. Let’s never confuse secrets for intimacy again. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
BROTHER MAXIMUS (ALBINAS) CZYZEWSKI, CSC (1881-1963)
Faithfully for the Sake of the Lord
Brother Maximus was born in Talkuny, Lithuania. He came to the United States when he was fifteen to meet his uncle Father Czyzewski, CSC, the pastor of St. Hedwig Church in South Bend, IN. He entered Holy Cross in 1897. He taught at St. Hedwig School and worked in the Notre Dame bookstore until 1905. He was assigned to teach at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, WI for one year and then for another year at Cathedral High School in Fort Wayne. In 1907, Maximus was sent to Holy Trinity Grammar School in Chicago, IL.
After three years he began teaching at Holy Trinity High School and remained there for the next fifty-four years. He was principal of the school from 1917-1920. He studied nights at both Loyola and DePaul Universities and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1924. The new high school building was opened in 1928, and Brother Maximus was once again appointed principal until 1934.
He faithfully taught his courses in Polish and Latin and wrote a history of the Polish-American settlement in South Bend, IN. Retiring in 1961, he went to Columba Hall where he edified all by doing menial tasks such as dusting and cleaning the dining room. His was a total life of service, as for him all work was a sacred prayer.