At first look, the intense focus and insistence on circumcision in the story of salvation may seem odd or even troubling given how good and loving our heavenly Father really is. St. Paul, however, invites us to see the spiritual meaning of this practice when he writes, “For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart” (Rom 2:28-29). Indeed, the act of cutting off the excesses in our life, which make our hearts “fat and gross” (Ps 119:70), frees us to be more in touch with the One whom our hearts have loved all along (Song 3:1), and it is the Cross that emerges as the proper instrument of this spiritual circumcision. Like the angel with the fiery sword posted at the entrance to the garden (Gen 3:30), the Cross stands at the door of our hearts confronting the world and bringing to an end (Jn 3:30) all those emotions, memories, attachments and desires that prevent the spiritual bird within us from taking off in flight (Ps 11:1). Let us therefore not be afraid to be marked with this ancient sign, for we will only share in Christ’s resurrection insofar as we are willing to accept, like him, these scars of the journey. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister Mariam Joseph Rauh, CSC (December 17, 1898-November 11, 1982)
She was born in Glandorf, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Francis Rauh and Mary Ann Priesdendorfer. She entered the Congregation on September 21, 1919, received the Habit, August 15, 1920, and made Final Profession August 15, 1925. She died at Saint Mary’s Convent, and is interred in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Miriam Joseph served as Chair of the English Department at Saint Mary’s College from 1947-1969 and was the author of Trivium, a textbook developed for her interdisciplinary course on literature, logic, and rhetoric. President William Hickey of St. Mary’s (1986-1997) described her “as perhaps the most distinguished scholar to be identified with the College in this century.” She wrote a text combining into one contemporary course the three arts of the trivium, by means of their interrelationship. Faculty opinion was divided on the questions of integrating the three subjects and of the way in which the term rhetoric was interpreted. Despite some turmoil (and supposed protests), the course was taught with both its values and limitations from 1935-1959. Alumnae still say that whatever else they have forgotten of their education, they will never forget the trivium.
There is no one among us who enjoys being labeled. Maybe while we were growing up we were called “the class clown” or “the middle child” or “the rebel” or “the loaner.” The folks who laid these judgments on us, our souls, our human dignity, likely did not mean to hurt us. They simply succumbed to the temptation of taking the small part for the whole. We should nevertheless not be too worried about how another person chooses to see us. Each and every one of us has the profound dignity of being this child of God. This kind of deep security is our bulwark and protection against the enemy who is always searching out instruments to disrupt the kingdom, the reality of peace and love within each of us. Let us therefore turn to the Cross and look upon the crucified one with that bold, unapologetic label hanging over his poor, naked body – “King of the Jews.” How his trust in his loving father destroys the power of that mockery! How his unwavering awareness and acceptance of his Abba, in the face of such psychological and physical brutality, prevails! Each of us should be very sensitive to the way that labels hurt our sisters and brothers, and each of us should not be afraid to enter more deeply into the depths of his love when we encounter such adversity along the way. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother John Chrysostom (Mark) Will, C.S.C. (April 25, 1839-May 16, 1919)
In a June 5, 1887 letter to Father Sorin, Brother John Chrysostom Will writes: “…on this day 24 years ago I was in the line of battle awaiting the charge. We were being shelled at the time, and I heard in a clear, distinct voice, ‘You will die today’. I knew it was no human voice, and I was perfectly conscious of the certainty of death. I prayed fervently as I had never prayed before to our sweet mother that if she would intercede for me and get me safely out that I would surely delay no longer in responding to the call that was continually urging me to apply to some religious community for admission. I had hardly concluded my prayer, when the same voice said, ‘You will only be hurt today’. And so it happened. I delayed three years after the war in fulfilling my promise when I enlisted under the banner of Holy Cross.”
Mark Will was born in 1839 in Chess Springs, PA and entered Holy Cross in 1867 taking final vows in 1869. He served throughout the Civil War in the 54th Pennsylvania Regiment, taking part in many of the fiercest battles. Soon after fire destroyed the Main Building at the University of Notre Dame, Brother John Chrysostom wrote to Father Sorin from Galveston, TX where he was superior: “I could hardly realize at first that my dear Alma Mater was a heap of unsightly ruins. My regret for the loss and my sympathy for you were so great that I felt it would be mockery on my part to attempt to give expression to my feelings unless I would send you something to repair the loss. …You must not think for a moment that the enclosed draft for $500 is to be the measure of that sympathy and my regret for the loss of those fine buildings.”
Upon his death in 1919, this short obituary was posted in Scholastic (52:494): “There passed away at Notre Dame on Friday, May 6th, at the age of 80, Brother John Chrysostom, former assistant Master of Novices at St. Joseph Novitiate and for many years commander of the Notre Dame Post of the G.A.R. As a young man the deceased did valiant services throughout the Civil War, at Gettysburg and many other fields, in behalf of the Union. At the end of the War he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame, and since that time has been intimately associated with the furtherance of the works of the Community.” He had two hobbies—bee keeping and researching the life and ministry of Russian prince Father Gallitzin who renounced his heritage and became a missionary in Pennsylvania. As bee-keeper, the novitiate was never without honey, and he contributed frequently to magazines about bee-culture. “By the many priests and Brothers who as novices under his direction knew him intimately he will long be remembered as an example of genuine spirituality and fervent loyalty to the interests of the Congregation.” (Scholastic, 1919)
If you have ever met someone who is autistic, you know how frustrating it is for him or her to be stuck-in-self (which is the literal meaning of “autism”) – the person is inside observing life but struggling to actually reach out, make contact and interact with others. There is a distinctly paschal character to this hidden drama: the feeling of being separated, the deep desire to connect, the spending of one’s self to transcend those inner limits, moments of real relationships, a kind of dying and rising that takes the breath away of those who accompany their autistic loved ones along the way. What if the Cross was the icon for this journey? What if the Cross’s definitive and bold ‘no-to-self’ is the antidote for these poor ones who are stuck-in-self? The Cross stands indeed as a sign of hope that it is possible to find the secret door (Jn 10:9), to pass over into open pastures (John 10:9) and to finally have life (Jn 14:6). May we be inspired by our autistic sisters and brothers who truly live the Cross day in and day out, modeling for us, who are all stuck-in-self in one way or another, how to undertake the slow process of transformation that leads to resurrected life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Stanislaus (John) Clark, C.S.C. (1838-1916)
Brother Stanislaus (John) Clarke, C.S.C. was born in Ireland and entered Holy Cross when he was 26 years old. He was a capable student and became a proponent of promoting the use of shorthand. He taught the system of “sound writing” at Notre Dame for many years and made many personal improvements to the system. Sir Isaac Pitman, who invented shorthand in 1837, considered Brother Stanislaus both a scholarly colleague and a good friend. Father Daniel Eldred Hudson, C.S.C., who was appointed the editor of the Ave Maria in 1875, considered Brother Stanislaus to be one of the early founders of the Press and the periodical. In 1865, Father Sorin proposed to the sisters that they publish a magazine “in honor of Our Blessed Mother.” The vote was unanimous and Mother Angela Gillespie and her sisters “pledged themselves to assist [Father Sorin] in this great work.” Father Sorin, the first publisher, was followed by Father Neal Gillespie, Mother Angela’s brother. In February of 1973, “the actual printing was turned over to the Sisters who received their first lessons from Brother Stanislaus.” In his 1916 obituary published in the Scholastic, it was said of Brother Stanislaus that “he was a model of every Christian and religious virtue [and] a man of varied talents, all of which he faithfully employed in the service of God for nearly a half century.”
A popular new phrase that people have been using to communicate genuineness is “the real deal” – this person is the real deal because he is true to his word, or, that person is the real deal because she never lets you down, etc. And while it is excellent that there is an expression out there that helps to identify integrity when we see it, we all know that there is one and only one “real deal” whose words and actions are always in harmony. This Jesus, who is the Word, is real in the sense that to encounter him is to encounter the truth. His deep meaning as a person is not mediated by an ideology, a persona, a bank account, or a title. Rather, being stripped down to his core, broken open on the Cross, and presented for all to see – as he is! – makes him the definitive “real deal.” There is no escape from his fundamental identity, no confusion about what his life means, no possibility of missing the point of his journey. The best way for us to conform ourselves to “the real deal” par excellence is to spend time with his “real presence” – in scripture, in the liturgy, with the community of believers, and most especially in the eucharist. By doing so, we too are guaranteed to become trusting children of the Father – the read deal in our own right. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Work of Resurrection has been posted for October. This monthly newsletter is written for Holy Cross Educators around the country and world.
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Rev. Robert T. Hesse, C.S.C. (December 15, 1926-February 3, 2007)
Father Hesse was born in Grand Rapids, MI and went to St. Thomas Parish Grade School and Catholic Central High School. He maintained a close relationship with his many Grand Rapids classmates throughout his life in Uganda. After obtaining an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, he entered Holy Cross in 1951. Ordained in 1958 he had his trunk packed to ship off to Bangladesh, but because of a last-minute reassignment, he was shifted to Uganda. He never looked back and spent his entire priestly life in that country dying in Kampala. His first assignment in Uganda was at Hoima Parish in the Bunyoro region where he was the curate in charge of schools. In 1961 he became secretary to Servant of God Bishop Vincent McCauley, C.S.C. in Fort Portal. In 1963 he was appointed pastor of Bukwali Parish, Kitagwenda, where he served for the next twenty-three years. He was widely known for his creative work with catechists and lay leadership, and also for his emphasis on education. In 1990 Fr. Bob generously responded to the community’s request that he move to Jinja as the founding pastor of Holy Cross Parish Bugembe. When he asked to retire as pastor, he continued to serve the people as an assistant to three succeeding Holy Cross pastors. Convinced of the importance of education for the development of Uganda’s people, he demonstrated a passion for the development of the facilities and quality of Bugembe’s schools.
Since the Cross is the medicine that heals our wounds and offers us a new opportunity for life, it makes sense that Jesus would say, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). The Lord invites us to divest ourselves of false cures, neediness, and fear-based attachments that we mistakenly think will bring us health and healing. He wants us to “deny ourselves,” that is, to reject ego-driven behavior, so that our wound can be made available to the divine physician. And, when the Cross is in fact locked in place as the singular source of healing and protection in our lives, our hearts are freed to feel, our minds freed to wonder and our feet freed to walk, walk, walk, walk, walk in the open spaces of the kingdom (cf. Ps 119:45). Other people are not our cross, jobs are not our cross, politics is not our cross. These are simply circumstances that challenge us to perceive our wounds more clearly and to welcome the one, true Cross – blazing, glorious and powerful – into those places that we have masked and hidden from the light of day. Let us, therefore, take up this Cross and follow him. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Vincent Anthony Gross, C.S.C. (1938 -2020)
Vincent Gross was born in 1938 and entered Holy Cross in 1957 professing final vows in 1962. From 1960-63 he was on the maintenance staff at Archbishop Hoban High School, Akron, Ohio, then working at St. Patrick’s High School in Monrovia, Liberia from 1963-1965. Returning to the States in 1965, he served for three years as director of maintenance at Holy Cross High School, River Grove, Illinois. In 1968 he was assigned to the staff at St. John’s School, Sekondi, Ghana. Brother Vincent returned to the States in 1989 for a one-year medical leave, returning to Ghana in 1990 to spend the remaining 30 years serving as a maintenance director at Holy Cross District Center and as Director of the Institute for Continuing Formation from 1999-2013. When Vincent celebrated his 40th jubilee of religious profession, he commented that “Once I joined the Brothers, I never felt a real desire to turn back. It is a very satisfying life because I am in a situation where I am helping others.” From his earliest days in Holy Cross, his superiors found him to be an industrious, committed and earnest brother. Not being drawn to the academic life, Vincent demonstrated a natural affinity for using his intellect and his hands for the maintenance and care of all the places where he was assigned. He could be depended upon to carry out all assigned tasks with exactness. While at Holy Cross High School in the late sixties, he was known as “Brother Fix-It”. Upon going to Ghana, he knew that the maintenance equipment there would be primitive by US standards, and his goal was to set up a modern maintenance department at St. John’s School in Sekondi. With the assistance of the Holy Cross High School Mission Club a major manufacturing company gave Vincent $1,000 worth of shop equipment. For most of his remaining years in Ghana he begged and cajoled many Province schools and acquaintances for all manner of industrial and maintenance equipment. He recruited many brothers to bring him all manner of tools and machine parts to assist him in his work. In a homily given in Ghana by Brother Joe Tsiquaye at Vincent’s 40th jubilee celebration, he said, “The talents of Uncle Vince (Ghanaian term of respect) know no bounds. He was a spare school bus driver and an able mechanic. Uncle Vince can play too. He’s a skin diver, fisherman, card player, and keen competitor in chess. [He] came to Ghana in the era of the Holy Cross Giants. The students believed all Holy Cross Religious are geniuses and Uncle Vince was no exception. From his workshop in the basement of the old dining hall at St. John’s there was nothing Uncle Vince could not fix. It can truly be said of Uncle Vince that he was the master of all trades.” St. Paul writes to the Romans: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (12:3). Brother Vincent Gross was the ever-faithful man of sober judgment for all of his 60 years in Holy Cross.
We all have wounds in life – those damaged parts of our souls that have been battered through various experiences along the way. How easy it can be to allow these wounds to fester, as we sit angrily in denial. Or, how natural it may seem to travel the path of self-medication, that is, to grasp at anything to take away our pain. Our father, however, loves us dearly, and invites us to the deep place of security, the divine operating table, where those who are weary and worn will always find rest (Mt 11:28). It is upon this bed that he consummates his love for us by applying life-giving medicine to our wounds (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Cross, indeed, fits perfectly and universally in each and every one of our vulnerable places. The Cross prevents the enemy from entering and spreading infection. Out of the Cross flows soothing waters and sacrificial blood that nourishes and heals (Jn 19:34). Indeed, by his wounds are we healed (Is 53:5). Let us, therefore, not be ashamed to be wounded people! Let us instead welcome the healing touch of that one who constantly seeks to lay down his life for his beloved (Jn 15:13). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Check out the latest newsletter for Holy Cross Educators as they begin the new school year….Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali, CSC (August 13, 1974-June 4, 2020)
She called herself a pioneer. Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali was the first young woman from India to enter the international Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Sister lived fully her 21 years in Holy Cross, her formative years beginning and ending in Shillong as a daughter of the Church and spiritual mother to many. She died during the week of the feast of Pentecost in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, on June 4, 2020. Lucy’s father and mother were simple farmers in Lungtan, a small, remote, multi-ethnic village in Northeast India in the highlands of the Champhai district of Mizoram. John Rualpela and Carmeli Rokhumi Varte were devout Catholics and active parishioners in an enclave with a long history of Christian missionary activity and high literacy. Lucy, born in Lungtan on August 13, 1974, was the fifth child of four daughters and four sons. Her older brothers and sisters attended school, and her parents, despite some hardship, arranged to educate Lucy at the Holy Cross Brothers’ School in Champhai, where she also boarded and worked from 1988 to 1993. Eventually her parents settled in Khawzawl, where the Holy Cross priests had opened a parish. Lucy completed her higher secondary education in 1996 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Khawzawl Government College in 1999. For six years she had considered a religious vocation as she accompanied various clergy on their pastoral visits. However, she felt an obligation to her family first and helped support them while teaching. It was Father Simon Fernandez, CSC, and Father Harry D’Silva, CSC, who encouraged Lucy to enter the Sisters of the Holy Cross. With the encouragement of her parents, Lucy Lalsangzuali began her formation in Holy Cross in Shillong on May 24, 1999, as an aspirant, then as a postulant. On December 7, 2000, she began her novitiate in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She was the only Indian among her peers in Bangladesh. Ironically, her Indian passport was often questioned by her countrymen whenever she crossed the border back into India, since the Mizo people also have tribal and ethnic origins in western Burma and eastern Bangladesh. On November 29, 2002, Sister Lucy, taking first vows said, “I enjoyed the hospitality, equality, friendliness, freedom and openness of Holy Cross—traits very similar to and connected with the culture from which I had come.” She felt called to serve all people “in the plains and hills, over the mountains and across the ocean.” Sister Lucy subsequently completed her professional government teaching degree (equivalent to a Bachelor of Education degree) at the College of Teacher Education in Shillong in 2010 and earned a Master of Arts in sociology at Madurai Kamaraj University, Shillong, in 2011. During those years of study, she was simultaneously engaged in ministry. She was an enthusiastic teacher of youth and a social worker with women in her years of ministry from 2002 to 2017, teaching in Agartala, West Tripura, India, twice at Saint Andre High School and at Our Lady of Holy Cross School. When Sister Lucy lived in community in Bodhjungnagar, she found time to sing and plan activities for her neighbors, the orphans of Holy Cross Boys Town. She found great joy playing her guitar to help them settle down and focus. Sister Lucy’s last two missions were in Meghalaya, India, at St. John Bosco Secondary School in Nongstoin and St. Paul Higher Secondary School in Jatah village, East Khasi Hills District. From 2012 to 2014, Sister Lucy crossed several borders by participating in the Sisters of the Holy Cross Leadership Development Program, beginning in Ghana, West Africa. The hospitality and experience of the Ghanaian sisters made her realize that she was not the only pioneer in Holy Cross. Her administrative internship continued in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Holy Cross Ministries and at Saint Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Lourdes and J.E. Cosgriff Memorial schools. Sister Lucy’s leadership was affirmed when she was elected a delegate to the sisters’ General Chapter in May 2019. Later elected a counselor for the Area of Asia, she assumed office in November. A short time later, she took seriously ill and never fully recovered. When Sister Lucy made her perpetual profession of vows in Shillong on October 31, 2008, she committed her heart forever “to Jesus who died for me.” Responding to God’s love song, she likened herself to “a guitar in the hands of my Music Master.” A chorus of Alleluias is now being sung in the Mizo language in the heavens above, among those of every tribe and nation.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC with editing assistance by Edwin Donnelly
The pandemic has certainly been a crisis – confusing and unexpected circumstances which interrupt our typical way of living. There are employment and financial stresses, emotional burnout, family drama as well as the constant anxiety of contracting the virus. In times like this, it is important to remember that the word crisis literally means “to sift,” that is, to sort through all of the stuff in the whirlwind and to take ownership of what matters to us. Perhaps we do not need that cable package after all; perhaps we realize that social media does us more harm than good; perhaps we actually start to say “I love you” to the people whom we love. Whatever we choose to do during this time, whatever we discover to be our true priorities in life, we should never forget that we walk with the Lord. The Lord is the crucified one who knows what uncertainty is like. The Lord was forced to make decisions in the very epicenter of his most vulnerable time. Yet, he did so with trust, deep reverence and singularity of heart and mind – “Mother, here is your son,” “I thirst,” “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Let us, therefore, with the Lord, sift through it all and make decisions that lead to life, not despite, but precisely because of the storm. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Voice of Moreau will return in just a few short days! We invite you to enter into the rich spiritual tradition that has been a powerful lever for change in our society and a source of transformation for women and men around the world. And don’t forget to check out Daily Gospel Video Reflections and Monthly Newsletter for Holy Cross Educators. We look forward to journeying with you!
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Voice of Moreau is returning on September 15th! Join us for weekly meditations, inspirational stories, reflections, comments and fellowship. And don’t forget to check out Daily Gospel Video Reflections and Monthly Newsletter for Holy Cross Educators. We look forward to journeying with you!
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the one year anniversary of the Voice of Moreau blog! Thank you to the many Holy Cross educators, sisters, priests, brothers and associates who have participated in this spiritual conversation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: The Cross is the key to our salvation. The Cross is the true altar of sacrifice. The Cross is a pulpit. The Cross is the Bridegroom’s wedding chamber and bed. The Cross is the way to eternal life. The Cross is the palm at the end of the mind. The Cross is the darkness that makes illumination possible. The Cross is medicine for wounded souls. The Cross is the source of life-giving waters that wash us. The Cross is the Tree of Life that feeds and nourishes us. The Cross is the beginning of the Resurrection. The Cross is the seed of mature faith. The Cross is “the image of the invisible God.” The Cross is a stumbling block and scandal to the world. The Cross is the icon of authentic humanity. The Cross is a spiritual blindfold that makes our steps certain. The Cross is the pattern at the heart of the universe. The Cross is the false self broken open. The Cross is our truest and deepest identity. The Cross is a most faithful friend. The Cross is the Beloved for whom our hearts have always longed. The Cross is vulnerability, trust and love. The Cross is our only hope. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: While the Cross may seem like an extrinsic reality that is laid upon our shoulders, it is actually intrinsic to the human person. Indeed, because we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:28), we cannot help but to contain the eternal cruci-form in our souls. When we enter into one of life’s many trials or encounter some hardship, yet choose to walk through, the experience assists in clearing away that “stuff” that has come to cover up the Cross within. New age spiritual philosophies might call this awareness or awakening, but this is a bedrock truth of the Christian life, which is why there is so much emphasis on finding in the Gospels: the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, the Finding of the Christ Child, the Treasure in the Field, the Pearl of Great Value, and so on. By walking through the gauntlet, all of the clothes that society has hung on the interior Cross and all of the baggage we have accumulated along the way slowly decrease so that the Lord within may increase (Jn 3:30). Let us therefore look forward to the day when, having discovered that precious treasure within, we will exclaim “Voilà!” and “Eureka!” with all of the saints who have walked this path before us. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Voice of Moreau: The immigration crisis is really just the story of salvation in disguise. The poor and the oppressed have been beaten up by governments and gangs and extreme weather. They risk everything, their fortunes and homes and even their families, in order to have a fresh start somewhere else. They journey through countless trials and make countless sacrifices, hoping to literally “cross” over the border into the freedom and joy of new life. The drama of immigration thus points unmistakably to our crucified Lord. He is inviting us to join him as he passes over from the dark forces of this world to the Sabbath rest of the next. Let us therefore be careful to not engage in the political and ideological debates surrounding immigration that miss its deeper spiritual implications. Let us constantly be on the lookout for strangers in the midst of our daily lives and assist them in “crossing” thresholds that will lead to life. Let us acknowledge our own interior immigration crisis as we ourselves struggle to live in the light: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: “Let us constantly be on the lookout for strangers in the midst of our daily lives and assist them in ‘crossing’ thresholds that will lead to life.” These words will resonate with anyone who works in a school where there are many students who are immigrating into the new world of school no matter the level. For many young people entering the “new” school causes them to feel like strangers in a strange land for quite some time. In all Holy Cross schools there are orientation days and programs to assist the new kids on the block to begin to feel more and more at home with each passing day. In Christian Education, Blessed Moreau writes a very detailed essay on “Students’ Relationships with Teachers” where he describes those students in our classrooms who are poor and oppressed: “spoiled, unintelligent, self-centered, opinionated, insolent, envious, without integrity, immature, lazy, or in poor health.” It is the responsibility of the teacher to invite these children to become fully enfranchised citizens of, let’s say, Algebra 1 or English 10. Because each classroom is a world unto itself, the teacher/leader, must see to it that all members of the class learn to treat all other members with respect so that all may cross the various thresholds that bespeak the education of both the mind and the heart. It is the teacher who demonstrates the love of the “stranger,” so that students can model Christ the Healer for each other. This is not an easy task for leaders of the many countries of the world, and it is not an easy job in a classroom with a population of 25 or 30. Yet it is the job description for all Catholic school teachers and those of us who teach in Holy Cross schools. Let no child feel alienated nor be allowed to alienate others. There are so many opportunities to educate hearts in our classrooms. May we have the competence to see and the courage to act so that strangers are strangers no longer because they have been welcomed with the love of the crucified Christ. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: In the spiritual life, we learn that we must keep our foot on the accelerator at all times. The moment we think that we’ve got it figured out and stop is the moment that the evil one enters into the nooks and crannies of our minds, leading us off track, subverting the whole operation. See the intensity with which Jesus travels to Jerusalem. See how he does not settle for temporal comforts nor “a place to lay his head” (Mt 8:20). See how he scolds Peter for being a stumbling block along the way: “You have set your mind on earthly things and not on divine things” (Mt 16:23). Are we really going anywhere on our journeys? Can we be honest and admit the times when we’ve gotten stuck or have abandoned the project of spiritual progress altogether? Do we spend ourselves so that we might finally arrive, with our Lord, at our ultimate destination? Let us therefore put our souls in gear, take up the triumphant Cross, and not stop following the path that leads to life. Half-way-there, close, five minutes away, down the street are not enough. We must finish (Jn 19:30) the race! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: Blessed Moreau writes, “If you want to attain the glory of paradise, imitate Jesus Christ insofar as it depends on you. Let yourself be deeply permeated not only with the good intentions of reaching that end but also of putting that imitation of Christ into practice” (Basil Moreau, Essential Writings, 205). Good intentions mean little without practical application. It has been said frequently this last year in these responses, that educators in Holy Cross schools must be called to the vocation of teaching. If one is called, then it does not matter what one teaches in a classroom or in a lab or on the athletic field. The vocation is a call to formation along with education. The very nature of bringing students to completion, demands the application of all knowledge for the building up of the Body of Christ. Teachers and students alike must take every opportunity to assess if they are on the pathway of charity toward all. The human journey has but one end: love of God and neighbor until the last breath. For those for whom this lifestyle is desired and practiced, it is easy to know when we get off track because our conscience will provoke us to sadness that we have strayed from taking up the Cross. Practically, getting back on the pathway requires but repentance and the reaffirmation to love God and neighbor again, and again, and so on. Whether we be a tortoise or a hare, we can finish the race if we have the humility to admit our weaknesses and rise above them each day. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: Why the Cross? Why not some other form of executing our Lord? Human beings have come up with thousands of other, many more creative, ways to kill their kinspeople! Yet, the Cross specifically has been revealed as the most fitting way that God should die. It is the Roman impulse, the need for power and control, to impose one’s self on the other, which the crucified Christ is trying to redeem us from. Exposing a person and making them radically vulnerable, as they are hoisted up and spread out on two beams of wood, is mysteriously transformed into a grace-filled moment of trust and love. As if he is giving his last lecture with the Cross as his podium, this Master Teacher demonstrates that “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9), that the true power of a human person is the capacity to believe in God, precisely in the face of suffering and all the way through the extremities of one’s being. The Roman thirst for blood, thus, pales in comparison to the holy victim who thirsts (Jn 19:28) but gives his own blood in return (Jn 19:34). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: “[T]he true power of a human person is the capacity to believe in God, precisely in the face of suffering and all the way through the extremities of one’s being.” The daily news graphically reports one atrocious event of human suffering after another. When it would seem that events could not get more horrendous, they do. These reports about suffering humanity are perpetuated each day–often with a sense of hopelessness. Because the very nature of electronic media can desensitize us to this suffering, how do we remain aware of our duty to make a response other than that of shocked disbelief? What form for us does the love of God take as we watch or listen in the detachment of our homes? As followers of the crucified Christ, we are the outstretched merciful hand of our Savior to those who suffer. If one cannot physically respond, then one prays and prays again for merciful interventions by and from those who can actively respond. When we can physically respond, we pray and pray for “the courage to act,” so we become the outstretched hand of the Lord. Parents and teachers, process with your children and students the suffering that is global, and more importantly, that is proximate. Make plans to act and this action support with prayer. Let my actions be your actions, O Lord. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: What we do with our bodies is who we become. We, for instance, become married to another person by giving our bodies over to that person in friendship and love. We become learned by showing up to class, going to the library and picking up books. We become alcoholic by taking our bodies to the bar night after night to drink. If our ultimate vocation, however, is to become children of God, what should we ultimately be doing with our bodies? Look to the Cross – our Lord offers his body to his Father in a child-like act of simplicity and trust. And though, very few, if any, of us will ever have the opportunity to present our physical bodies to God in such an explicit and literal act of martyrdom, we must, nevertheless, seek out occasions to put our bodies as closley as possible to the invisible God in the daily circumstances of our lives. This means stopping on the side of the road to minister to those in need, standing up for the dignity of the poor, and taking the risk of embracing the outcast. We become beloved of God, indeed, when we make the decision to physically be in these places, making a gift of ourselves to the One who identifies with “the least” (Mt 25:40). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator Response: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). Being a parent and being a teacher are sacred vocations that require a “manner of living.” The Church teaches that parents, those who are authentic persons of faith, are the first educators of their children as they form the identity of the child as a member of the nuclear family, a member of the local and universal Church, and a citizen of the secular world. As Mary and Joseph did for Jesus, so too, parents construct a strong foundation built upon the teachings of the faith and the secular facts pertaining to survival “in this valley of tears.” When the child is still quite young, parents must make a serious, conscientious, and well thought out plan as they select the professional co-educators who will direct many years of the child’s institutional education. Then parents and teachers, together called to this vocation, do the work of education. Through consistent modeling of the behaviors of engaged life-long learning and scholarship, teachers and parents periodically call upon these children/students to die and to re-blossom as ever more proficient followers of Jesus Christ. This means that the adults create many opportunities for children to become self-gift. All Holy Cross schools assure that students have ample opportunities to give of their time, treasure and talent for God’s suffering people in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Parents and teachers alike must remind children of the many daily opportunities there are to “decrease so that others might increase” (Jn 3:30). This is a living martyrdom of offering our all for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Have you ever fallen in love before? It is a powerful and emotional experience. We invite our beloved into our home, our psyche. There, we enjoy the comfort and consolation of having someone who is with us wherever we go. We keep that one “in mind” at all times and our beloved in turn brings peace and a feeling of security in our hearts. What is it like to fall in love with God? God is not an object that can be kept “in mind.” God is an infinite, pure and simple Spirit, but nevertheless constantly wants to be close to our souls and bring us a deep and infinite peace that does not go away. And so he invites us to welcome the crucified Christ into our homes. As a kind of placeholder in the psyche, the Cross, which truly is the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), unmistakably and unceasingly points us in the direction of the one, true God. Let us learn to recognize our Beloved in the shape of the Cross and in so doing enter into passionate union with the One whom our hearts have loved all along (Song 3:1). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator Response: We all “fall in love” many times. Differentiating among those persons deserving of an everlasting love from those momentary infatuations can be difficult especially for young children and teenagers. There is so much that entices us, that mesmerizes us for periods of time. This is a natural part of growing up and learning to make appropriate choices among so many “adorable” things and persons is ongoing. Certainly, one aspect of heart formation for CSC educators is assisting students to understand the difference between so many infatuations and the persons that demand a perpetual loving commitment. Learning to recognize the Lord in the shape of the Cross is really not that difficult. Each day, the news is filled with stories about people who are Christ crucified. The alien, the outcast, the destitute, the suffering child, the old, the infirm and the ignored are among the many who are crucified because of the human condition. Reflect upon the Beatitudes and you will identify those who suffer and yet are blessed. Bringing students “to completeness” is to provide them with many opportunities to reflect upon suffering humanity, the blessed ones. In Blessed Moreau’s words: “We must provide our students with the competence to see and, then, the courage to act.” One cannot fall in love with the crucified Savior unless one, first, falls in love with suffering humanity. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: You are what you eat! We know this from the many conversations we have had with our doctor, the times we’ve stood marveling at the number on the scale, or the many moments we have spent reading the nutritional facts on a candy wrapper. We have learned that when we eat the easy foods, the low-lying fruit, we gain weight, but when we make the effort to eat hearty and nutritious foods, our bodies become lean and healthy and fit. It is the same with our spiritual lives. Do we play it safe? Do we take the easy way out? Do we consume the convenient ideas, experiences and relationships? Or, do we choose the Cross? The Cross will make us strong! Our minds will become focused on God, our souls will become open to God. While the sinner’s heart is “gross and fat” (Ps 119:70), blessed indeed are the pure of heart (Mt. 5:8) who have made the decision to follow Jesus. Let us therefore take our place at the Lord’s Table. Let us feast on the food that he gives and drink from the chalice of salvation. Choose the Cross! You are what you eat! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: What is the most nourishing diet for one who desires the energy and stamina to travel along the Royal Road of the Cross? What food provides the fuel to go the extra mile as either teacher or student? One hymn proclaims “Eat this bread, drink this cup, come to me and never be hungry.” Another tells us that “wheat and grape contain the meaning: food and drink he is to all.” Simply, we must fortify ourselves with the the bread-body and wine-blood of the Lord each day, if we can. The Eucharist is that food. If you cannot receive physical communion but once a week, you can make a spiritual communion each morning. Teachers, you can do this as part of the prayer that you say with your students at the beginning of each class. Let your students set the table, so to speak, with food that demands the extra mile. Activity that demands some discipline: I intend to get to each class on time and to participate actively especially when I am not inclined to do so. I intend to be a good role model today to students both younger and older than me. These personal food offerings bring intentionality to the actions of the day for students. And teachers, what food do you bring to the table? I intend to create lesson plans that are pertinent to survival in this world and created to assist my students to get to heaven. I want to form the hearts of my students today. I will return all evaluated student work promptly. I will be the first to enter the classroom and the last to leave. I will greet my students with a smile and will maintain a positive attitude beginning first period and continuing throughout the day. For all of us, these intentions are the food that sustains us as we choose and rechoose the Cross each day, throughout the day and for all days. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Jesus teaches us that the Christian life hinges upon The Greatest Commandment (Mt 22:37-38). But how exactly does a person Love God? By detaching from things, surrendering and being totally receptive to the infinite, immense, purely spiritual One. And how does a person Love Neighbor? By caring for, paying attention to, thinking about, standing up for, making sacrifices for and reaching out in service to others. With our fallen human nature, however, it can be easy to confuse these two distinct loves – surrendering totally to other people or things (idolatry) or merely thinking about God as if he were just another thing among a myriad of things (heresy). We must therefore return to the Cross. See how our Lord is completely opened up to the Other in his crucified form. See how his commitments to the poor, the voiceless, the sick and the marginalized have literally affixed his body to two wooden beams. This symbiotic relationship between Love God and Love Neighbor gives rise to the drama of authentic humanity, a narrow way that mediates created and uncreated reality, a place of true glory and deep peace. Obey our Lord’s commandment by allowing your life to become the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Blessed Moreau continuingly reminds the priests, brothers and sisters that the work of Holy Cross is God’s work, not theirs. The best prayer to begin a day of ministry is “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.” Praying to the Spirit, to the God of wisdom, and then being as responsive as one can be to acts of love, better guarantees a balance between love of God and love of neighbor. The commandment is to love God first, and then love one’s neighbor as one loves the self. St. Paul singles out charity as the way to the Way. Perhaps, it is best that the ordinary Christian man and woman who desires heaven not get too tied up in worries about idolatry and heresy. Better to be focused upon doing acts of love for the least of God’s children. Best, too, for CSC educators to couple all secular knowledge to love of God and neighbor. In our pursuit of the good life, Kempis advises that “a good life makes a [person] wise according to God and gives [that person] experience in many things, for the more humble [one] is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace [one] will be in all things.” If a person cannot love the flawed self by attempting to rise above it each day, then it follows that that person does not have the capacity to love others. And if we do not love our brothers and sisters whom we can see, then how can we say that we love God whom we cannot see? Authentic humanity is owning up to our sinful nature and crucifying it to the Lord’s redeeming Cross. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: How do we know the way in life? In a world with so many apparent options and with souls that have so many various desires, it can very difficult to say that we know anything! Yet, there is a trustworthy method of discernment, classically called the “apophatic way” or the “via negativa:” We learn to close the doors to those apparent and various options, all of them, and we gradually arrive where we are supposed to be, a place of total security and peace where we finally feel like children of God. The trade-off, however, is that we must surrender control and become comfortable with walking in the dark. We unlearn our old ways, and knowing turns into a kind of not-knowing. This is the certainty of the Cross! Our Lord spent years preparing for his mission in Nazareth. Once that door was closed, he traveled throughout Galilee in his public ministry. Once that door was closed, he entered Jerusalem and then to Golgotha and then, when every door had been shut, including the stone on the tomb, true life was revealed. The Cross is the doorway par excellence, and the crucified one is the Way. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: All educators open doors to countless opportunities for students. The most essential of these doors for CSC educators is that which leads to the Way, the Truth, the Life! Today, there is so much uncertainty when it comes to finding one’s way. Although there has never been a time when personal success is guaranteed if one travels this way or that, today, young people feel much stress when it comes to college choices that will lead to a satisfying and prosperous future. College majors are changed sometimes three times prior to graduation. Once a job is secured, a person can be moved hither and yon many times prior to the age of 40. Setting down strong roots is not easy today. Have I chosen the right way for myself and family? Perhaps, for this secular world, the best advice that a teacher can give to the young is adapt or die. For the next world, however, the best advice for all of us is to focus outward by doing many acts of service for the many who suffer “the slings and arrows” of poverty, physical, psychological and spiritual deprivation. As doors are closed upon this and that, keep the doorway par excellence open, responding to Jesus’ words: whenever you do anything for the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done such for me. Through daily sacrifices, small and great, we each crucify ourselves with golden nails to our Lord’s Cross. All students, everyone, no matter the age, need to hear this message frequently. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Do you ever pray on your knees at night before going to bed? Perhaps we might think that this is how children pray, but isn’t this what our Lord did in the garden on the night before he died (Luke 22:41)? The posture of kneeling is not only a longstanding spiritual tradition that expresses humility in the face of the Almighty, literally grounded in the earth (humus), but it is also an experience of self-emptying as we orient ourselves to the One who calls us to Himself. So it makes sense that Jesus accepted the Cross as his destiny on his knees! Indeed, the Cross, which leads us into the dark night of our final rest, is also anchored in the earth and is a bold act of trust and dependence on the invisible God. Beware of new age spiritualities that do not measure up to this powerful standard! Beware of the evil one who will try to make us believe that a half-hearted prayer the moment before we go to bed is sufficient! Our salvation is too important to not kneel down and imitate the one whose Cross is the way to eternal life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: The posture that one takes before the Lord is a physical sign of adoration and love. Of more importance, perhaps, is the posture of one’s heart in response to Christ crucified. As educators in the tradition of Blessed Moreau, teachers instruct and form: minds are filled, hopefully, with pertinent information for survival, and hearts are formed to guarantee that the data is used for the building up of the Body of Christ. Providing students with many opportunities for service allows the heart to kneel before the Lord at all times. Certainly, there comes a time in the life of all the Lord’s followers when physical knees can no longer bend; when being seated before the Lord is the only way to be physically present. For the old and the infirm who have devoted their lives to service, a heart that is constantly kneeling before the Lord exists because one has been both physically and spiritually kneeling from an early age. Through example and deliberate instruction parents and teachers encourage children to kneel before the Lord and travel the royal road of the Cross. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: You may know of a popular country music song called, “Live Like You Were Dying.” What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness? Would your mind really go to skydiving and bull riding and mountain climbing? Would your heart really settle for loving deeper and speaking sweeter, as the song suggests? No way! You would instead become intensely and authentically human. With our crucified Lord, you would experience real vulnerability, confessing your great dependence on others, “I thirst.” You would be emotionally honest with your God, “Why have you forsaken me?” You would finally see the logic of mercy, “Forgive them, Father.” You would realize that life only begins with a definitive act of surrender and trust, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Don’t we realize that life is constantly moving toward that end point? Let us therefore not get lost in the emotions of this pop theology! Let us adopt the Cross as the rhythm of the song of our whole lives. Let us turn these lyrics upside down by dying daily to self and thus experiencing, here and now, a taste of true life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: If CSC educators heed Blessed Moreau’s declaration that the goal of a Catholic education is to bring students to completion in Christ crucified, then the real end is to assist young people to become intensely and authentically human. It is as a participating member of the Body of Christ, that Christians respond to the words of Paul to the Corinthians. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.’” No matter what we teach in the classroom, all our work needs to be oriented to our enmeshment in the Body of Christ. Authentic humans come to understand that complete vulnerability to another person is a life-long work in progress. Moreover, complete vulnerability to our authentic Lord is found through daily denial of self for others. It is the work of educators to present students with many opportunities to step outside of “I need” and step forward to “Will you let me be your servant; let me be as Christ for you.” Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Obsessive thinking is a major obstacle for certain personality types. We have a negative experience and we cannot stop thinking about it. We make a mistake and our minds become absorbed with guilt and self-reproach. When we discover that the word “obsession” literally means “something that sits upon you,” we begin to understand that the Cross indeed is our hope. We shall not be enslaved to this idol which has somehow penetrated the walls of our psyche; we shall not permit our lives to be controlled by the unwelcome guest who wants to rent space in our mind; we shall not invest all of our attention in this squatter. No! We shall instead bind this thought or idea or memory to the vertical and horizontal beams of Truth. We shall test its worth by spreading it out on the form of the Cross. We shall witness its death, trusting that any good will be resurrected and revealed in our souls in some new way. Let us therefore learn to be obsessed with the Cross. Let us be sure that it is the Christ and only the Christ who sits in the throne of our mind. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Today, it is rare to see a person of any age or cultural background whose hand is not attached to a device–specifically a smartphone. This gadget immediately connects us to anything, be it good or bad for us. So easy it is to become obsessed with the ability to be connected to literally any desired knowledge. Most children and teens are obsessed with but one thing–am I known by others and what do they think of me. Too many times young people fall prey to cyber bullying that provides them with obsessive thinking. In this time of media explosion and instantaneous being in-the-know, CSC educators need to be concerned for the welfare of their students. If we heed Blessed Moreau’s mandate that our educational vocation is to bring our students to completeness, then we must wholeheartedly fight against that which fractures their spiritual and psychological balance. We must assist them to stand firm in the love of the crucified Lord and take their cares to the Lord, not to the Internet. Thomas a Kempis cautions that the person “who does not keep his heart within him, and who does not have God before his eyes is easily moved by a word of disparagement.” We are all pulled mercilessly between two poles: self-centeredness and reliance upon Christ crucified. This tension can lead us to despair because addiction to carnal nourishment is so powerfully alluring. Teachers: pray for your students and yourselves that they and you have the desire and then the power to overwhelm any negative thinking that drives you away from God. This needs to be more than a daily prayer. Let the mantra be Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: There is an implicit tension in the life of any disciple of Jesus. Our Lord says both: “Follow me” (Mt 16:24) and “Remain with me” (Jn 15:4). It is easy to run around following our own impulses. It is easy to remain in the safe haven of our comfort zones. The true key to discipleship, however, is to be both an active and a contemplative at one and the same time. The Cross is the common denominator which links these two spiritual postures. In order to go somewhere, we must stay somewhere; that is, the only way for the crucified Christ to be oriented to the infinite horizon is for him to be firmly and absolutely grounded in the here and now. Like a mighty tree that soars up to the heavens, with all of the splendor of its foliage and the dizzying heights of its branches, we too must learn to grow deep roots and anchor our souls in the rich soil of the present moment. Let us, therefore, have the humility to surrender to this paradox of life. Let us remain with our Lord by constantly following him to the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Brother Joseph Schmidt, F. S. C. wrote a book called Praying Our Experiences. Its thesis is simple: the only place where we meet God is in our own experiences. It is the practice of reflecting on and entering honestly into the day-to-day events of our lives to become aware of God’s word in them and to offer ourselves to God through these events. Every moment of one’s day can be prayer – grace – if we have the correct mindset. I place all the moments of the day as adoration and an oblation to Christ crucified. Thomas á Kempis suggests that “true comfort is to be sought in God alone,” and that “the devout [person] carries [the] Consoler, Jesus, everywhere.” Blessed Moreau would agree and encouraged his Holy Cross educators to assist students to completeness in Christ crucified by teaching them daily routines that ground them in the faith. Frequently, remind and recall for your students that they can sanctify each moment of the day if they desire to do so. All activity grounded in love of neighbor is an act of contemplation. Use the lives of holy persons as examples of active contemplation: St. André Bessette, CSC, Blessed Mother Leonie Paradis, MSC, Brother Columba O’Neill, CSC, Servant of God Brother Flavian La Plante, CSC, Father Thomas Barrosse, CSC and Mother Augusta Anderson, CSC. Each of these men and women of Holy Cross are mighty trees whose roots are embedded in Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: The Cross is medicine for our wounded souls. While it burns and stings when first applied, we know that it purges the toxins lest other parts of our souls become infected. Gradually, we do experience relief and our health is restored. This is true medicine that we have access to at all times. It is not received through the senses per se, but in an act of trust in the Good Samaritan to whom we cry out from our destitute posture, laying on the side of the road. He is the only one who will respond to our needs. We must simply have the courage and the humility to call his name. When he comes to us, we do nothing but allow ourselves to become receptive to his Cross, the wine and oil of salvation (Lk 10:25-37). Our scars, like his, remind us of the power of sin and teach us to “walk in the way of perfection” (Ps 101:6) so that our hearts might not be so easily allured to the dangers that lurk off the beaten path. May we never neglect to take our medicine. May we never be ashamed of the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Thomas á Kempis writes: “God knows when and how to deliver you; therefore, place yourselves in His hands, for it is a divine prerogative to help men, and free them from all distress” (The Imitation of Christ). Blessed Basil Moreau took every opportunity to remind his educators that their particular goal was “the sanctification of youth”. This work of resurrection for our students requires that we present to them daily, indeed multiple opportunities during each day, to heal their spirits. These doses of heavenly medicine come whenever we connect the information of the class to the promptings of the heart: to make all things whole in Christ crucified by forming our student into Christians “conformed to Jesus Christ.” Conscientiously design all courses and classes with at least one dose of the medicine of the Cross. Connect all information with the need to heal a broken world. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us that the Christ is our eternal and final end who stands at the edge of time, calling us into eternity, nourishing us all the while with life-giving blood and purifying waters. Yet, I ask, are our lives actually oriented to that One? Can we honestly say with Isaiah that we in fact “drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom” (66:11)? Are we really disposed toward receiving the goodness that She has to offer us from Her abundant breasts? We must learn to constantly put our bodies in Her direction. We must learn to trust Her and only Her, to be fed by Her and only Her, to cling to Her and only Her. How often we stray from this cosmic vision of life and nurse instead from the things of this world. Putting our physical lips to beer bottles, our emotional lips to pornography, our spiritual lips to the latest false gospel or self-help program, we become like infants who never receive proper nutrition – we wither, fade and die. Let us therefore become children of God by affixing our whole mind, body, heart, lips and self to Her. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: “To drink deeply with delight” does not come naturally to a person. Mentors (parents, teachers: the Church) must initiate the young into the fundament of the Faith and guide them to trust more and more that Christ is the final end of the quest for the “cosmic vision of life”. For teachers something as simple as beginning each class with a prayer can have lasting impressions upon students. “St. Augustine said that those who know how to pray well also know how to conduct themselves” (Moreau, Christian Education). As the teacher who designs lessons that focus upon forming hearts that temper the application of the world’s knowledge, allow students to take the time at the beginning of each class to focus on a daily act of love, and act of adoration and making a petition for the grace to trust the Lord always. Guide this prayer because many students, those who are churched as well as unchurched, need to be taught to pray and why to pray. Blessed Moreau says that “…if there are so few children living as good Christians upon leaving school, it is certainly that they have not been formed in prayer”. Before one can drink deeply, one must learn to sip and to savor. It is daily classroom prayer that can enable students to yearn for more and more of the body and blood of the Lord. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Professionals often use the phrase,“think outside the box,” as a way to spur on creativity or promote innovation in their clients, students and employees. Is this not resurrectional language? Aren’t all of us constantly seeking to transcend the bounds of our own social, cultural, familial, intellectual and spiritual tombs? During those moments when our vision does align in a way that offers us a glimpse of life outside the box, our hearts sing with great joy and our souls are electrified by the prospect of new life. This Hallelujah moment, however, is only temporary and we descend back into our caves and fall asleep once more. As disciples of Jesus, we must not settle for just “thinking outside the box,” but must instead seek to live outside the box. Let us not delay in taking up this “work of resurrection.” Let us not be satisfied until the cage of the self has been emptied out by the Cross. Let us hope and pray that through the labor pains of the crucified Christ we may be born out of this tomb once and for all to share in the glory of eternal life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: For Blessed Basil Moreau life is an imitation of Christ. An authentic imitation of the Royal Road of the Cross is achieved through the renunciation of pride, disobedience, inordinate ambition, greed and carnal desire. To move outside our self-designed boxes of “I am all there is” is to embrace humility and love of God and neighbor—to become living imitations of Christ crucified. Each Christian’s authentic goal is to achieve total and selfless union with Jesus Christ. In one of Blessed Moreau’s sermons, he declared, “How admirable the transformation that will take place in you through your union with Jesus Christ, and how wonderful the characteristics of this union. Total union in being, intelligence, will, body—an intimate union, since it goes as far as living the life of Jesus Christ; an effective union, since it restores to us all we have lost in Adam and through it we become the same moral person with Jesus Christ; a glorious union, giving supernatural merit to our actions and the right to eternal glory.” Each Holy Cross educator should be preoccupied with introducing students to the knowledge that arms them with the ability to live in “this world and the next.” Students need to be presented with daily opportunities to think outside the box. The innovation that we teachers offer to our students is to look for and embrace opportunities to become others-oriented. Living outside the box of self-centeredness is a daily struggle because it goes against the natural urge for self preservation. Our students must be acculturated to lean into the supernatural urge to rise again and again from the entombment of the self. As educators our own outside-the-box thinking allows us to become moments of grace for our students. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: We live in a world that is functionally amoral. What is the Good? For most people it is what serves them. If it is good for me, it is good! This childish way of life is a dead end that leaves many “mourning and weeping in a valley of tears” as they cave into themselves again and again and again. The Church, however, offers a different vision for life. She pronounces that the Good is an objective reality, a standard beyond us that we must abandon all utilitarian thinking to reach. Indeed, she teaches us that only God is good (Mk 10:18), that the Samaritan was good because he stepped outside of himself to serve his neighbor (Lk 10:25-37), and that the thief may be called “good” because of his dependence on the Lord (Lk 23:40-42). She goes so far as to celebrate a Good Friday, on which she invites us to affix our lips to the Cross, that glorious point of reference that delivers us from the idiotic pattern of self-centeredness into a life of true morality. Let us therefore worship the Cross with both our lips and our lives and in so doing become good. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Because we live in a world of functional amorality, as educators we must consistently direct our students to move farer and farer away from the ego needs of “I” toward the altruism of “You”. Each lesson plan should include information and functional opportunities for students to become Good Samaritans and Good Thieves. Blessed Moreau clearly believes that the role of all teachers in Holy Cross Schools is “to make them [youth] Christians conformed to Jesus Christ; such is the principal goal of our mission among the young. To what end would it serve the students to know how to read, write, calculate, and draw, or to possess some notions of history, geography, geometry, physics, and chemistry, if they were ignorant of their duties to God, to themselves, and to society, or if, while knowing them, they did not conform their conduct to that knowledge.” Blessed Moreau concludes that: “It is by this that you contribute to preparing the world for better times than ours” (Christian Education, Part Three). In the early 1980s public schools began requiring students to look for opportunities to contribute service to the community. William Bennett, Secretary of Education during the Reagan years, believed that a purely secular education was not and could not address the moral decline of the Nation. He said, “ For children to take morality seriously they must be in the presence of adults who take morality seriously. And with their own eyes they must see adults take morality seriously.” A Holy Cross education is designed around ten beliefs (the Core Values). That God is present and active in our world. That teachers will empower students to become lifelong learners. That positive values must influence knowledge and its application. That we value each person and welcome one another. That teachers challenge each student in mind, spirit and body. That our students hold responsibility for the future. That we hope for a world where justice and love prevail. That teachers are guides and companions on the journey of learning and becoming. That true education fosters the formation of hearts. That the convictions of our hearts are translated into the actions of our hands. If each educator believes these convictions and acts upon them each day, then Good Samaritans and Good Thieves will populate the world. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: “My one companion is darkness” (Ps 88:18). With these words, the psalmist perfectly describes the bittersweet phenomenon of the Cross: Only when all of the people, things and ideas in our lives are stilled and put to rest does a trustworthy guide for our spiritual journey emerge. The world wants us to think that it has all of the answers; our so-called best friends want us to follow their advice; our passions seem to change daily and lead us in circles; but a shadow is utterly consistent and dependable. The darkness of the Cross has an unmistakable object, the living God. We need this darkness! We need its clarity! We need the Cross! Without a systematic taming of our mental circus, the night is never born and our lives remain confusing, fragmented and directionless. Let us therefore literally “break bread with” the best companion we could ever have. Let us realize that the whole universe is bound together in this one single friend who has existed from the beginning of time (Gen 1:1) and who is our destiny (Rev 21:23). Let us indeed marry ourselves to that dark night and live. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: In Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord consoles: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (11:28-30). All Holy Cross schools operate out of a set of core values with a preferential option for the poor. Blessed Moreau counsels his educators: “If at times you show preference for any young people, they should be the poor, those who have no one else to show them preference, those who have the least knowledge, those who lack skills and talent, and those who are not Catholic or Christian. If you show them greater care and concern, it must be because their needs are greater and because it is only just to give more to those who have less…[seeing]…in all only the image of God imprinted within them like a sacred seal you prefer at all cost” (Christian Education). Notice that Moreau says nothing about the material poor. His concern is for the poverty of lack of love, of lack of emotional and spiritual balance, of lack of moral awareness, of lack of knowledge. These are the pupils to whom “preference” must be given. These are all of the students we find in our classrooms. This compassion is predicated upon the fact that teachers have the competence to identify these forms of poverty and the courage to embrace them. Moreau further cautions “Never forget that all teaching lies in the best approach to an individual student.” As educators and formators we become the redeeming Lord when we labor for students who are weary and overburdened. For students whose minds roil with attempting to measure up to so many hedonistic templates that are truly “confusing, fragmented and directionless”. To “marry ourselves to that dark night and live” is the only guaranteed method through which we become Christ the Light, Christ the Consoler, Christ the Redeemer for our students. Ave Crux Spes Unica.
In the Voice of Moreau: The Cross is not front page news or a ticker tape parade, but a slow, dark descent into the unknown. The moment we become special or important in the eyes of the world is precisely the moment that we awaken those power structures in our brains which take us away from the hidden and humble truth of our Lord. How difficult it is to overcome this ego delusion! How those worldly tentacles, as with ancient Israel’s idolatrous history, pull us back into the drama again and again and again. In the #blessed era, well-meaning religious people preach a self-serving, utilitarian, prosperity Cross. Do not be deceived! There is one true Cross and it is marked by a self-effacing way of life where we spend ourselves to become little, unimportant and forgotten. Slowly and systematically, we escape the jungle of ourselves. Learning to tame venomous serpents, put ferocious beasts to sleep and step over sleeping giants, we quietly make our way toward the One whom our heart has loved all along. Why not make this commitment right here and now? Why not consummate our relationship with the Beloved? Why not take the risk of the Cross? Ave Crux Spes Unica.
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: As Catholic, Holy Cross educators we need to work with our students to put a bit and bridal upon our appetitive natures to reign in what William Golding identified as the Beast in his dystopic novel Lord of the Flies. “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are.” In order for the prophet Isaiah to proclaim that “[t]he wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them,” our need to gobble up anything that nourishes ME must constantly be regulated toward a dying to self. This transformation happens through a penetrating formation of the heart. Which of us can know the mind of our Creator when we reflect upon the power of the Beast within? The on-going battle with the ferocity of serpents and the raging of giants is the burden each of us bears because of our flawed human nature. Yet once these enemies are identified for what they are, a one way ticket to hell, this avariciousness for ME, ME, ME can be caged, restrained, tamed, but never eliminated. It is a daily, perhaps an hourly, discipline to lean upon the crucified Lord and not upon the burden of ME. We are reminded by Job that “The life of man upon the earth is a warfare” (1:7). Encouragingly, Thomas á Kempis counsels us about our relentless temptations to turn away from God’s commandments: “Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways” (Chapter 13). And Blessed Moreau advises that all of us must heed the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians. “Having therefore such enemies to vanquish, take unto yourself the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand to all things perfect” ( 6:11). Teachers let your students know that you, too, work to clothe yourself with the armor of God while fighting the good fight. Always inform your students with “all [they] need to know” and with the desire to empower that knowledge with integrity to make all things perfect. Focus on the hope of the Cross. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Everywhere I look I see the consequences of postmodern philosophy. The burger joint’s slogan is “Have It Your Way.” Trendy athletic gear is stamped with an emphatic “I Will.” Medicines advertised on television nonchalantly report “thoughts of suicide” as a potential side effect. The financial planning company exhorts you to “not outlast your money.” Does life have any enduring meaning? Is there a point to it all? Does anyone care? This intellectual disease has successfully deconstructed Western thinking, but offers no alternative vision for life. People are instead left to wallow in the mess of their own emotions, desires and insecurities. Postmodernism is a crucifixion that has no hope of new life – just a complicated and frustrating darkness that has no exit. The Cross is the antidote that cures us of this cunning illness. Our crucified Lord does not fear deconstruction, but in fact welcomes the probing eyes of postmoderns as a way to reveal the undeniable truth of the Resurrection. Let us stare this phantom in the eye, proclaiming with the prophet Isaiah, “I have set my face like flint against a stone, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (50:7). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the character Polonius gives this advice to his son Laertes prior to his son’s departure for school in Paris: “This above all: to thine own self be true”. On the surface this might appear to be good advice, and, today, it is often interpreted to be such. But it is not good advice because Shakespeare is being sarcastic when he has these words coming from the bumptious and bombastic Polonius. The proper interpretation of the lines is to look out only for yourself without regard for others. Look inward for your own created truth rather than focus outside yourself for the truth of the Cross. Being “true to you” only works if that truth aligns with God’s will. Blessed Moreau asserts: “This is what you can and should do for your students, if you are really zealous for their salvation. [T]ake up this work of resurrection, never forgetting the special end of [your vocation], to sanctify youth. It is by this that you will contribute to preparing the world for better times than ours; for these students who attend your school are the parents of the future, the parents of future generations. Influence them, then, by all the means of instruction and sanctification. Then and only then, can you hope to attain the end of your vocation by the renewal of the Christian faith and piety. May it be so! May it be so!” (Christian Education, Part Three. 1854). In another of Shakespeare’s plays Henry V, the playwright borrows from Psalm 119:105 when King Henry declares that “Henry will to himself / Protector be, and God shall be my hope, / My stay, my guide, and lantern to my feet.” The psalmist’s actual words are “Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet and Light Unto My Path.” Holy Cross educators as co-parents need to give this advice to their students rather than the anemic and false advice from Polonius. Just another moment when we can relate information to Christian formation. Such moments occur throughout all of the academic disciplines. We teachers need to be alert to the many times that we can debunk postmodernist fatalism. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: We live in a world where information and sensory stimulation are a constant reality. In the age of technology, from morning to night, our minds have to be open for business – we are constantly on the spot as it were. Yet, this is a recipe for spiritual catastrophe. What mechanisms do we have in place to prevent the devil, the world and the flesh from accessing our deepest and truest selves? I tell you that we must learn to shut the door of the mind, allow the Cross to descend into the keyhole and dare anything that does not measure up to the standard of our crucified Lord to pass over into our hearts. How often we play with that door! How we let in all sorts of company! Do we not know that the evil one wears disguises? He will do anything to steal us from God. Therefore, I implore you, sisters and brothers, to learn to live in these modern times with a closed door. What our Lord wishes us to know, taste, feel or experience, he will deliver to us through a closed and locked door (Jn 20:19). Trust the Cross! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: The passion for esteem and honor is the source of all our mistakes and evils. We are all proximate to being irreparably infected with the disease of information bombardment. The relentless flood of media information does not move us toward God. It causes us to be completely focused inward, on our flawed nature, for love and fulfillment. Parents and educators need to be on alert, first, to protect themselves from looking for solace and fulfillment through the pull of instantaneous world-wide information. We must don the armor of faith that is woven from the Cross as our hope. This restraint is an everyday struggle. Yet the more we look to God and less to self, the stronger that armor becomes. If we energetically engage is this struggle, then we can assist our children and students to work toward the exercise of disciplined restraint from attempting to satiate all their needs for recognition and love through their devices. This is a difficult task, yet a critical obligation. The survival of the soul is at stake. In a sermon on “Community Spirit” Blessed Moreau talks about the consequence for our first parents falling prey to Satan’s promise of everlasting bliss. His explanation of the dilemma of Adam and Eve becomes relevant today if we replace their names with ours and Satan’s apple for the internet. “Pride is a vain and deceitful thing. It spoke its first lying words in the Garden of Eden, ‘You shall be gods’. In his state of innocence, the first human was united to God, by complete dependence, and he drew from this union the clear light of his intelligence, the firm rule of his will, the spiritual life of his soul, his absolute empire over his body, his sovereign authority over creatures, and the immortality that allowed him to aspire to eternal glory. All this because our first parent saw himself in God, who was always with him as the source of all his happiness to his perfect submission to the divine will. But that permanent regard of humanity toward its Creator—humanity in whom God mirrored himself, so to speak—which referred all humanity to God was suddenly lost through the deviation of the human mind turned away from God and upon itself.” It is natural to want to be loved. It is unnatural to seek love through the door of the internet. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
In the Voice of Moreau: Perhaps you have seen the famous icon of our Lady holding the boy Jesus in her arms. She cradles him lovingly as he is confronted by two angels: one has a stick of hyssop with a vinegar-soaked sponge on it, while the other bears a cross. If you look closely at the icon, you will see one of the Lord’s sandals falling off of his foot, as if he has just run into his mother’s arms for comfort and consolation. Our heavenly Father is patient with us, his daughters and sons, as we too make the journey to Jerusalem. Yes, he requires us to pass through the trial of the Cross, but he is a loving Father whose mercy is enduring. Thus he has given us a mother, the Church, to be our protector and nurturer until we are ready to face that reality. She is the local Church, the universal Church, the domestic Church and the institutional Church. She surrounds us with tender, loving care, teaching us the ways that lead to life and the patterns of salvation. When the time is right, we will step forth from her arms and, with our Lord, embrace our glorious destiny. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Parents and CSC teachers are co-educators in the “ways that lead to life”. Parents who are persons of faith are the first educators of their children as they establish the identity of their child as a member of the nuclear family, the local and universal Church and the secular world. As Mary did for Jesus, parents construct a strong foundation upon the initial teachings of faith and facts. When the child is still quite young, parents must make a serious, conscious and well thought out plan as they select the professional co-educators who will direct many years of the child’s institutional education. Blessed Moreau says about Mary, the Mother of Sorrows: “While Jesus Christ offered himself to his father for our salvation, Mary offered him also for the same end, and we were then so much the sole object of the thoughts of the son and the mother that the Savior, turning upon her his dying eyes still filled with love, addressed her a last word which was not of himself or of her, but us. Enfolding us all in the person of St. John, he presented us to Mary, saying, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ It was as if he said to her: ‘ New Eve, here is your family. You are henceforth, alone the true mother of all the living. You have born all these children in your sorrow, and I wish you to love them even as you loved me’” (Sermon, The Love of Mary’s Heart. Date?) Blessed Moreau teaches that parents and teachers emulate the love of Mary for children when they take upon “the attitude of priest and minister before the altar on which was consummated the sacrifice of our redemption. Truly did she fulfill to the final measure her part in the work of Christ, to ‘fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in her flesh, for his body, which is the Church’” (Col. 1:24). Children entrusted into the mutual care of parents and teachers can only assist them to face the reality of the Cross if they, too, journey toward Jerusalem. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: The Cross is the icon of authentic priesthood. Transcending the geographic bounds of the Temple, our crucified Lord’s sacrifice on Mt. Calvary is first and foremost a missionary act that is meant to be proclaimed through all nations, cultures, races and historical periods. His altar is the instrument of execution that has been thrust upon him. His offering is his very own body. His prayers are the simple words of honest human emotion: Why have you abandoned me? Into your hands, I commend my spirit. And the key which harmonizes these elements and makes this Mass perfect? A pure intention, a Sacred Heart. You and I are called to be priests too. At this moment, exactly where our feet stand, we are invited to concelebrate, with our Master, the cruciform liturgy that gives Life. Let our desks, kitchen tables and computer screens be the places where we decide daily to make an offering of ourselves to our heavenly Father. Let our hearts be converted to the pattern of taking up our daily tasks, dedicating them to the most holy God, and literally executing them for the salvation of the world. Let us indeed be priests forever. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: As Holy Cross educators (sisters, priests, brothers and lay collaborators) we are members of the authentic priesthood. Let’s dedicate our vocation as educators as our first Eucharistic concelebration. Our offering to God is the students entrusted to our care for their intellectual and moral formation. Each lesson plan is Eucharist for our students guaranteeing that our priesthood is a genuine oblation–a sacrament. At the beginning of each day, each class, and each prep period, make the prayerful intention to design and implement all as a celebration of the liturgy that gives life. Let us assist our students to know that they, too, are priests: that they are Eucharist for each other. Let us create classrooms that are Church built around an altar where all gather in adoration and prayer for a world desperately in need of Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Let us conscientiously take on the role of priest and raise the cup and the plate with the wine and bread of adverbs and adjectives, protons and neutrons, theories and dictums, reading and writing, minds and hearts. May we be imbued with a single desire: to be transubstantiated because we “ are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light” ( 1 Peter 2:9).
In the Voice of Moreau: We use the word “crucial” to describe the most important part of a story or a lesson or an explanation, but do we realize that this word literally means “like the Cross.” In the same way that “crucial” things are the point, we can say that the Cross is the ultimate point of life – a horizontal and a vertical beam, symbolically encapsulating all of reality, converging in a single point where our Lord’s Sacred Heart pumps blood for the life of the world. Beyond the historical crucifixion of Jesus, the Cross continues to be the point in a mystical form that we catch glimpses of during peak spiritual and emotional moments in our lives. See how people from all sorts of religious traditions and cultural backgrounds are naturally attracted to the Cross. They marvel at it, wondering what it could mean, but at the same time their gaze and attention reveal the correspondence of this “crucial” symbol with something deep in their souls. The Cross is the point of it all, and our hearts will be restless until they are joined with our Lord’s. Let us therefore meet him at this “crucial” juncture and find peace. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: The most essential time, the crux, the crucial moment of each class period for CSC educators is placing Christ crucified somewhere within the minutes of instruction. It takes conscientious commitment to think Ave Crux Spes Unica as each class is designed. For veteran educators as well as newbies, this methodology needs to be preceded by a time of prayerful reflection. What is the focal point of this lesson on poetic scansion or chemical reaction or discussion of an economic theory? When is the opportune time to suggest to students that their educational life is made up of more than well placed semicolons, memorized algorithms and theorems, the correct declension of verbs, or the accurate identification of cells? Among the countless factoids that might guarantee success in living a civil citizenship, where does the CSC educator create the peak spiritual moment and how? Starting each class with a prayer that invokes Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, is a great beginning. Christ Redeemer, grant us eyes of insight and a courageous heart to bring together our human struggle tempered by your desire to love us unconditionally. Amen. The class is now focused to work with the reality of reading and writing or math and science or historical investigation and so forth. The teacher’s role is to inform minds and to frequently refocus students upon the crucial truth. Christ crucified is the only way to heaven because all reality is crucified with Him. Embrace the Cross and be loved into eternal life. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: You have heard it said that zeal is the burning flame of desire to make God known, loved and served. I tell you that the Cross is that burning flame of desire. In a moment of sheer grace, the Cross descends into our souls from on high. It is the glorious and mystical theophany that Moses encountered while tending his flock, “Oh how you burn, but are not consumed!” (Ex 3:2). As disciples of Jesus, we too are called to interiorize the burning bush, the tree of life, the resurrectional Cross of Christ, into our hearts and minds. See how Moses, now beaming with desire for God’s will, traded his safe and peaceful lifestyle in the countryside for a showdown with the pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world. When we have given our consent to this raging fire, our souls become animated by powerful waves of zeal and the world around us is set ablaze with divine love. Our Lord exhorts us: Do not be afraid! Indeed, let us take up his Cross and make the one true God known, loved and served by the dazzling and glorious light of our spiritual conversions. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: “True zeal must be fostered and constantly refined in humble, faithful imitation of Christ crucified, seeking to second the design of divine providence, and striving for greater union in the Body of Christ” (Grove and Gawrych. Basil Moreau: Essential Writings, 2014: 53). For CSC educators it is the virtue of zeal that powers the ardent desire to impart the knowledge of salvation to students. This desire drives the design of every component of the school’s curriculum and each class syllabus. Blessed Moreau emphasizes that “Teachers animated by such a spirit [by zeal] do not simply follow what is generally accepted in the profession but have a thousand little ways to encourage progress in even the weakest and least-talented students and challenge all students to their highest performance” (Christian Education). For many years Moreau scholars have stressed that the founder was an insightful and progressive early 19th century educational thinker. If the above quote is read in the light of current educational thinking, Moreau is promoting differentiated instruction. This mode of instruction has been gaining more and more devotees since the early 1950s. Zealous teachers embrace it because of the skills-diversity that exists within a classroom of 25 students. Educators who either deny or cannot see that such a learning community exists within the individual classroom, do this to the detriment of their students and their families. Parents who pay tuition and taxes for a Catholic education that guarantees differentiated instruction are not receiving the services paid for if educators are not zealous. Blessed Moreau clearly and in strong terms asserts what can happen in a school when teachers do not possess the insight nor the courage to zealously address skills-diversity. “Without this virtue of zeal among teachers in a school, everything changes. Everything falls apart. There is ignorance, disorder, bad conduct, and the true corruption of young people—these are what families experience through faint-heartedness and indifference of teachers without zeal. They [teachers] are put in the midst of young people and cause the ruin of a great number of them. Thus, the virtue of zeal is necessary for a Christian teacher” (Christian Education). Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: Anyone who has ever lived knows the dangers of a codependent relationship. As human beings we find such consolation and comfort in the presence of the other – a boyfriend or girlfriend, a best friend, a spouse, a religious superior, a parent, a boss – but how easy it is to become emotionally and spiritually lost in that person at the expense of our first and truest identity as children of God. The moment we choose to lean on the other is the moment that, albeit inadvertently, we reject the Lord. Look therefore to the Cross. Notice how our Mother and the Beloved Disciple stand specifically at the foot of the crucified Christ as the icon of authentic human relationships. Yes they are together, and yes they have become partners, but only because the Cross serves as the principle of their shared life! They offer themselves together with Jesus to our Father who art in heaven. Let us therefore put an end to these fear-based, codependent behaviors and tendencies that society has normalized. Let us instead cultivate relationships that actually endure the test of time. Let us finally meet our beloved at the foot of the Beloved. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: Blessed Moreau is very clear about detailing the pitfalls when teachers build codependent relationships with students. “Relationships with young people are always difficult. Sometimes those who deal with young people attach themselves too closely to the young and end up giving themselves over strictly to human affections. Finding among their students young people who are frank and open, who are moving towards accomplishing good things, who respond well to the care they are providing, some teachers forget the place of God in the relationship between teacher and student. Learning this often surprises teachers, since it is easily hidden by enthusiasm, kindness, and even duty. Teachers who experience close relationships with their students become totally occupied with them: every place they go the students come to mind; no matter what they do, they think of the students. Teachers like these often enter into unhealthy relationships of all kinds with their students, often without realizing what is happening. Christian educators really need a call from God in order to deal with what they face in working with young people” (Christian Education). CSC educators need to pray for and cultivate the virtue of vigilance. Moreau writes that “[v]igilant teachers forget nothing of what they ought to do and do not become distracted from what they ought to be thinking about, seeing, hearing, or doing. Let your watchfulness and attention be calm, without over-concern, without agitation or trouble, without greater constraint or affectation. But also avoid the opposite, which involves carelessness, distraction, unwillingness to act, and tardiness….” (Christian Education). Ave Crux Spes Unica!
In the Voice of Moreau: “Stay in your lane!” is a phrase that has been gaining popularity over the past few weeks and months. It is something that one person says to another who is trying to pry into their affairs or meddle in their business. While you and I might feel offended if a close friend or a spouse spoke these words to us, they would take on a deep spiritual meaning if we imagined them sounding forth from the lips of our Lord, beckoning us from his most holy Cross. The world, the flesh and the evil one looking for ways to lead us off track and the Christ sternly warning us to say “No!” – this is the drama that is constantly unfolding in our souls whether we know it or not! How easy it is to get confused in a culture that has become a web of social media posts, political ideologies and violent confrontations. How quick the senses are to be drawn to the shiny bait that is being set before us on a daily basis. May our hearts never, ever veer from the voice of the Lord. Let us have the courage to stay in the one and only lane which leads to Life. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Response: With a sense of urgency, Blessed Moreau encourages his educators: “Hurry then; take up this work of resurrection, never forgetting that the special end of [education] is before all, to sanctify youth. It is by this that you will contribute to prepare the world for better times than ours; for these students who now attend…school are the parents of the future, the parents of future generations, each one of whom bears within themself [sic] a family” (Christian Education). The work of resurrection for CSC educators is assisting students not only to avoid the pitfalls of the “shiny bait” that is alluring for all citizens of this world. It is preparing parents as the first teachers of their children for each successive generation. Thomas á Kempis speaks as Christ when he commands: “Follow me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no Living”. Both Moreau and Kempis affirm that the works and events of secular citizenship must be viewed through the lens of the resurrectional Cross of Christ. Responsible educators know that students travel two lanes as they work their way toward eternal happiness. An authentic CSC education is imbued with Hope. Hope that enduring the travails of this life leads to the bliss of heavenly citizenship. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
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!