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 studentsthat 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 makinga 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 liveoutside 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.