February 5, 2022

“I thirst” (Jn 19:30).  With these words, Jesus reminds us that our fundamental human vocation in life is to need.  Indeed, while we may flirt with neediness and other forms of emotional immaturity, to really and truly need puts us in right relationship with God who created us for connection, ourselves because dependence is our natural existential state, and others who meet us with love in our vulnerability.  Even the natural world – like the wine-soaked sponge raised to Jesus’ lips – cooperates!  Thus, the next time we ourselves get thirsty, let’s pause and reflect before we reach for that bottle:  Where does my thirst come from?  What does it mean for me to be thirsty? What will my thirst be like in the next life?  Am I aware that others thirst too? We can then offer a simple prayer of gratitude: Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to participate in this vast and glorious system of interdependence. By being created with and for others, you have offered me a taste of your own life. I thirst with you from that eternal cross that stands at the end of time, and I need you. Amen. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

THE NOTRE DAME FIRE DEPARTMENT

STAFFED BY THE BROTHERS AND PRIESTS OF HOLY CROSS  

1846 – C1990

This photo was taken in 1902 and it features the Brothers of Holy Cross who staffed the Notre Dame Fire Company from 1846 through c.1990.  The last brother to hold the title of fire chief is Brother Borromeo (Thomas) Malley (1913-1994) who directed the department for nearly fifty years. 

The brothers’ names are listed to the right: each of them had many more careers than putting out campus fires. Some became legendary among the members of the community.

The first brother on the left, holding the ax, is Brother Peter Claver Hosinski who in 1910 became the founding principal of Holy Trinity High School in Chicago, IL. He would also serve as a Bengal missionary for many years.  Several members of his family joined Holy Cross: his sister, Sister Severina, and two of his brothers and an uncle became Holy Cross Priests. Father Ted Hesburgh’s personal secretary for over thirty years was Mrs. Helen Hosinski. 

To Hosinski’s left is Brother Bernard Gervais, an incredibly gifted man who held many positions of authority in the congregation.  Over a space of many years he created le Matricule, the membership register, listing the names of all of the men who joined the Congregation of Holy Cross – priests and brothers – beginning in 1820 with Abbé Dujarié as number 1. The detailed list ends with number 5,700, Frère Gabriel (Jean-August Rondel). Gervais worked on this list from 1936 through 1941.

The third member is Brother Raymond Ott peeking over Brother Bernard’s shoulder. He worked at the Ave Maria Press and was a canvasser – a salesman – of the Ave Maria for nearly thirty-five years.  The Fourth is Brother Walter Remlinger, who also became a Bengal missionary. He contracted a fatal form of malaria and was sent back to Notre Dame where he was celebrated as a very holy brother because of enduring such a “torturous death”.

Brother Maximum Czyzewski is the fifth man who went on to serve as a teacher at Holy Trinity High School for fifty-four years, and he was the fourth principal from 1917-1920.  Father James S. Ready, number six, would go on to be appointed in 1918, the vice president of Columbia University in Portland, OR, now the University of Portland.

Brother James, number seven, is the one of the “lost brothers” as there are no documents to be found about his years in Holy Cross.  So also, with Brother number nine. Under a magnifying glass his name appears to be Brother Assisi; however, there is no such name in le Matricule. There is a possibility that this is Brother Arsenius Luther, and he would be about the right age of the man pictured.

Number eight, Brother Stanislaus Kurowski, was an elementary teacher, accomplished organist and dramatist who worked at St. Hedwig’s Parish and School in South Bend. And the last, Brother Ernest Heller, number ten, was a teacher and the third Bengal missionary.

Yes, the early brothers and priests were jacks-of-all-trades, and, truly, the masters of most of them. Ave Crux Spes Unica.

January 29, 2022

If I were giving a commencement address to this year’s graduating class, I would say, “Make your life a solar flare!”  It’s so easy to live a lukewarm life, in front of the television, going through the motions, but we human beings are spiritual machines with energy constantly coursing through our veins.  When we do not recognize and honor that energy, it comes out in funny ways:  for some addiction to pornography, for others alcoholic drinking, for others obsessive thinking, or any other number of neurotic behaviors!  A solar flare might initially scare us because of our inability to control where it goes and how long it lasts.  Indeed, we might have tried to unleash our inner power in the past only to get burned in the process.  Nevertheless, we must go beyond repression and find creative ways to let our little light shine.  Maybe we take the risk of looking for a fun part time job, getting that tattoo we’ve always wanted, signing over our long-coveted stocks to a charity, picking up the phone and making amends to someone, or seeing what it’s like to take the bus to work.  Our inner solar flare is guaranteed to be beautiful – however it is manifested – so long as it springs forth from “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12) in whom “there is no darkness” (1 Jn 1:5).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

THE VERY REVEREND EDWARD SORIN, C.S.C. 

THE CELEBRATION OF HIS GOLDEN JUBILEE OF ORDINATION

September 9, 1888

This memorial photo of invited guests to the Golden Jubilee festivities was taken by A. McDonald of McDonald Studio, South Bend, Indiana. In the September 8, 1888 issue of the Scholastic (48), this “most pleasing memento” was being sold for $1.00.  

It is obvious from the prelates pictured with Fr. Sorin, that he was, if not revered by them, at the very least seen as a peer – a priest-founder – who during the previous four decades, successfully founded a university in honor of the Blessed Mother. Sorin relentlessly worked with other Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters to build upon the space situated on two lakes in northern Indiana, the finest Catholic University in the Country.  

Pictured with Sorin in the first row seated from the left are Bishop Gilmour of Cleveland, OH, Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati, OH, Fr. Sorin, Superior General, Cardinal Gibbons, Baltimore, MD, Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, MN, Bishop Dwenger of Fort Wayne, IN, Bishop Watterson of Columbus, OH and Bishop Phalen of Pittsburgh, PA.  Standing from the left are Bishop Ryan of Alton, IL, Bishop Janssens of Belleview, IL, Bishop Keane of Washington, D.C., Bishop Burke of Cheyenne, WY, Bishop Spaulding of Peoria, IL, Bishop Ryan of Buffalo, NY and Bishop Richter of Grand Rapids, MI.

January 22, 2022

Have you ever gotten in trouble because you “took the part for the whole”?  This is the essence of cancer – one cell trying to become the whole organ – and the first sin – our first parents wanting to become God.  We can spend years in the delusion that we have just not grasped onto the right college, the right career, the right spouse, the right neighborhood (or the right religion!), but we discover that our human thriving does not really begin until we have made the turn from grasping to integration.  Indeed, mature adulthood means that we are spiritually secure and spend our time not in a desperate search for the solution, but rather weaving our commitments, responsibilities, ideas, relationships and desires into that one deep truth that grounds every human heart.  This in fact is the pattern of our eternal life!  Lord, teach me to discern the difference between your boundless goodness and the many created goods that surround me.  Give me the courage to surrender the many things that point to you, but are not you.  Lead me to that humble place where I might become “all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22), and, with your Son, enjoy real connections that withstand the ages.  Help me to become conformed to the whole precisely by playing my part well.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica. 

THOMAS CARDINAL TIEN KEN-SIN (1890-1967)

Visits Notre Dame and Brothers’ Provincial Council, c. September, 1954

China’s first Roman Catholic cardinal (installed 1946) made a visit to the University of Notre Dame in 1954.  During this visit, he was photographed with the Provincial Council of the United States Province of Brothers and other brothers.  Picture with Cardinal Tien from left to right, first row are: Brothers Bonaventure Foley, Ephrem O’Dwyer (Provincial), Gerard Fitz (Superior of Columba Hall), Cardinal Tien, Ernest Ryan and Sabinas Herbert; in the second row are: Brothers Flavius Ellison, Reginald Juszczak, John Chrysostom Ryan and Kenan Judge.

In a letter to Brother Ernest Ryan from Miss Lida (sometimes Lyda) O’Neill, the niece of Brother Columba O’Neill, his younger brother Dennis’ daughter, dated October 3, 1954, she thanks Brother Sabinas Herbert for the two “special badges [Sacred Heart] blessed by Cardinal Tien”. Brother Sabinas was then the director of the Brother Columba Apostolate.

The Midwest Province Archives houses fifteen letters written by Brother Columba’s niece to him, beginning in 1913 and continuing through November 16, 1923 – Brother Columba died on November 20, 1923. 

She wrote another fifteen letters between 1923 and 1955 to Father O’Donnell (two letters in 1923 and 1924); Brother Alban Flaherty (one letter in 1926); Brother Ernest Ryan (five letters in 1933 and one in 1948); and Brother Sabinas Herbert (four letters in 1954 and one in 1955).

Brother Ernest was seeking information about Brother Columba’s early life that he might include in his biography These Two Hearts. Brother Sabinas was seeking information about “cures and favors received” through the intercession of Brother Columba to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

January 15, 2022

Profile of a spiritual person:  Little, simple, listening, attentive, responsive, open, trusting, graceful, honest, contemplative, transparent, humble, patient, consistent, authentic, uncomplicated, vulnerable, flexible, sensitive, sincere, gentle, supportive, slow, connected, peaceful, intentional, playful, engaged, integrated, genuine, courageous, risk-taking, mystery-oriented, boundary-conscious, decision-making, process-minded, often-smiling, freely-sharing, discretion-practicing, interior-gazing, solitude-cherishing, forgiveness-seeking, self-aware, self-reflective, self-disciplined, willing to waste time with others, takes things as they come, does not judge, lets go of things that get in the way, holds onto what is important, trustworthy in small matters, cares about the welfare of everyone, respects the dignity of all people, doesn’t take shortcuts, walks with purpose, doesn’t look back, stops to smell the flowers, serves the community, has a job, has a family, has friends, celebrates holidays, gets dressed in the morning, eats well, sleeps well, prays well, laughs, cries, hopes and dreams just like you and me. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

“The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and six Holy Cross brothers, all of them members of the recently established Congregation of Holy Cross, took possession of 524 snow-covered acres that the Bishop of Vincennes had given them in the Indiana mission fields.

A man of lively imagination, Father Sorin named his fledgling school in honor of Our Lady in his native tongue, L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac (The University of Our Lady of the Lake). On January 15, 1844, the University was thus officially chartered by the Indiana legislature” (www.nd.edu).

The six brothers who accompanied Sorin to South Bend were men who brought much-needed skills for the laying down of both literal and metaphoric roots á du Lac. Brother Vincent Pieau (1797-1890) was the elder and would prove to be Sorin’s most loyal colleague for over fifty years. He educated most of the young members of the fledgling congregation to embrace the “voice of Moreau.” Sorin was so in debt  to Brother Vincent that he once mused about being buried in the same grave. 

Next in age and a man of many talents was Brother Lawrence Manage (1816-1873), an astute business manager and a most able farmer.  The third oldest was Brother Francis Xavier Patois (1820-1896), the carpenter, the undertaker and the sacristan.  

The final three brothers were very young: Brother Joachim André (1809-1844), Brother Gaitan Monsimer (1826-1860), and Brother Anselm Caillot (1825-1845).  Each would contribute through brawn and become the first teachers in a few of the early elementary schools.  Brother Anselm who left France when he was just sixteen would drown in front of some of his students at age twenty.

Today, one will look in vain around Our Lady’s University for any recollection of these six brothers’ names. They are the men behind the king–“the six companions.” Yet Rev. Edward Sorin, if alive, would be the first to celebrate them as mes cher frères et mes collaborateurs.

January 8, 2022

The word sex literally means “having been cut off.”  Thus, from the onset of puberty, with the awareness of our biological differences, we search for that perfect person who will make us whole again and satisfy our deepest longing for completeness.  We know from life experience, however, that those feelings are short-lived and that our physical and emotional complementarity with another person symbolizes some deeper integrity to which we are called.  Indeed, God has created each of us “male and female” (Gen 1:27), and our relationships are therefore healthiest only when they go beyond the neediness of sex and, instead, provide supportive circumstances for each partner to do the work of self-understanding.  What we discover is our essential dignity, that we are whole and complete and perfect as we are!  Our singular and universal human vocation emerges:  to glory in our identity as children of God and to spend ourselves creating circumstances for others to come to this same awareness.  What, then, is sex for the integrated person?  It is synonymous with the Greatest Commandment:  to love and be loved by God, while at the same time partnering with every one of our neighbors so that they too might have life (Mk 12:29-31).  Let’s never again succumb to those feelings of being cut off by learning how to have the kind of sex that lasts.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

January 1, 2022

Let’s end transactional relationships in our lives once and for all!  What are we robots!?  Is there not some deeper meaning to our souls than an intellectual rubric that constantly keeps score and secretly tries to leverage relationships so that we might get what we want?  Indeed, let’s make the word “risk” the mantra for this new year:  the risk of putting ourselves out there, the risk of loving without counting the cost, the risk of making sacrifices, the risk of serving others without getting anything in return.  Risk is the language and logic of God and until we have the courage to step outside of our fear-based tendency to manipulate outcomes and use other people to our advantage, we will never discover our true dignity nor realize our authentic human vocations.  May this year be a time when we pause before we give that compliment, apply for that job, assist our neighbor with some task, or buy that new house:  Why am I doing this?  What is my intention?  What does God think about it?  In this way, our twisted and ugly interiors shall slowly be realigned as we begin to experience the purity of heart that allows us to remember what God is like (cf. Mt 5:8-9).  Let’s make 2022 the year when that age-old transaction game gets interrupted by the bold risk of love.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

December 25, 2021

The blood, the water, the flesh, the cries, the agony.  You might think it is the crucifixion, but it is instead an anonymous woman, giving birth, in a stable, with her husband, in an obscure village.  Mary’s passion stretches nine months from the moment she receives the Word in her womb through the high drama of bringing forth the living God into the world.  Let us ask ourselves whether we have received that same seed deeply in our our own hearts; whether we have protected that seed and cultivated its growth within us; and whether we shall be courageous enough to suffer through those same glorious labor pains in order to be, like Mary, an instrument of God’s revealing action in the world.  In the same way that biology ensures that no two children are the same, the fruits of each of our acts of faith will be unique:  some shall be prophets, others teachers, others healers, others helpers, others leaders (cf. 1 Cor 12:28-31).  Together, we shall become the Tota Mater, that is, the cosmic woman who spends eternity joyfully fondling the vulnerable God in our laps, sharing our offspring with each other, sanctifying the universe all the while.  On this Christmas Day, let’s choose to be like Mary, trusting that she will indeed make us like her Son.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

December 18, 2021

Risk, O glorious risk!  You make it possible for me to transcend the narrow confines of my self-containment.  Risk, O glorious risk!  You provide a path out of my stifling logic and formulas.  Risk, O glorious risk!  You rescue me from the so-called safety that atrophies my spirit.  Risk, O glorious risk!  You challenge me.  You see through my defenses.  You expose my fear.  Oh how I desire to encounter the mystery of it all!  Oh how I long to be in union with the all!  Deliver me, therefore, from the instinct to grab, to take hold of, to clasp onto.  Interrupt that moment when the weight of clinging takes over.  Spread my arms wide.  Open my hands.  Make me generous in receptivity.  Indeed, you are not something to be mastered, but the master who teaches me something about life.  Silence is the language that you speak.  Courage is your favorite virtue.  Your way is wide open.  May we, thus, be partnered together on this journey.  May we walk together side by side into the great unknown.  May we have life together.  Risk, O glorious risk, you enlarge my heart forever.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica

December 11, 2021

“Hurt people hurt people” is a popular phrase in the world of psychology and in recovery circles.  It is nature’s law of spiritual inertia:  the momentum of our own pain in life naturally carries over into our relationships and behaviors – and we don’t even realize it!  It is thus no wonder that oftentimes perpetrators of sexual abuse are themselves the victims of sexual abuse.  In many ways such a phenomenon seems counterintuitive, as one would think that a person who has been damaged in a certain way would not want to impose such suffering on others, but the sad logic is that the pain which consumes us simply becomes normative for how we see the world and operate.  What breaks this cycle?  What frees us from being slaves to our past experiences?  What becomes the boundary-marker where our pain reaches an ending point that some new vision of life might arise?  It is of course Christ crucified and only Christ crucified.  Indeed, we must learn to beg for the intervention of the Word who comes to us in our poverty, enters into our mess, cleans us up, takes our place and invites us to experience the Father’s love first-hand.  A new glorious logic emerges, as by his wounds we are healed (Is 53:5), and we, like him, become hurt people who help people find their own way to the Father.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica

December 4, 2021

Look down at your feet.  There God has led you.  Look at your hands.  With them serve. This is a trustworthy recipe for the Christian life.  In a Church that has all sorts of Kingdom-building architects and worker bees, it can be easy to lose sight of the point.  The point is to enter into a trusting relationship with our heavenly Father – allowing our feet to constantly be led to new places (cf. Jn 21:18) – and to draw others into that same love all the while – with our very hands (cf. Lk 10:37). Let’s, therefore, do a real examination of our hearts this evening:  What prevents me from following where God is actually leading me?  What holds me back from reaching out to others in service?  Is it a lack of trust?  Is it fear?  Am I confused?  What must I do to move forward?!  We shall come to discover a deep logic in our lives, a pattern that ultimately looks like dancing where we, freed from the bondage of our own stuff, simply enter into an exciting and unceasing partnership with the One Whom Our Hearts Have Loved All Along (cf. Song 3:3).  The dancing goes on until everyone is dancing and then, together, we dance for all eternity!  What are we waiting for? Let’s get those hands and feet moving. Let’s boogie! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

November 27, 2021

What is the significance of both the Jewish religious leadership and Roman soldiers being complicit in the death of Jesus?  Perhaps the message is that no “camp” can rescue us from our fallen natures and distorted thinking.  Indeed, the Jews spent their days meditating on the revealed word and offering worship in the temple, while the Romans were bastions of order, the rule of law and justice, yet neither were able to see who Jesus was or hear what he was saying.  This tragic comedy of errors, however, should not just be relegated to the past.  Don’t we identify with our own camps?  I’m Catholic, I’m Christian, I’m American, I’m Democrat, I’m Republican.   What prevents us from just going with the flow?  What prevents us from conforming to the same collective and fuzzy logic of the masses?  In the great drama of life, there is only one trustworthy position:  to step out beyond political ideas and religious feelings to the Christ-place.  Here, in this act of trust, we will discover our true selves, naked and vulnerable before God, but we shall spend our lives rejoicing in the truth.  Let us therefore move past the false safety of being someone in the eyes of the world by making that definitive decision, with Jesus, to enter into the deep security of the Father’s love.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

November 20, 2021

I’m on a boat.  In the middle of choppy waters.  No land in sight.  I look to my feet.  Slowly rising waters.  How will I survive?  Worry, fear, anxiety, helplessness, paralysis, inactivity, silence.  I’m on a boat.  Perhaps, this describes the experience of being human with our many vulnerabilities and fragilities.  Perhaps this is how Jesus felt in the desert, in the garden and on the cross, attacked as he was from every side.  Perhaps this is why the Church, in her wisdom, invites us to pray these words as our salvation takes root on Good Friday:  “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps 69:1-3).  We should not be naïve about this journey, however, as, indeed, our boats will sink and we will be submerged.  But this is precisely where the Good News begins.  Jesus allows his boat, punctured and wounded as it was, to go under (cf. Jn 2:19-22), yet God’s love was more pervasive than the waters, more enduring than the holes and more powerful than the seemingly definitive death he experienced.  Ours is simply to permit Jesus to enter into our boats (cf. Lk 5:3) and trust in his resurrection.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica

November 13, 2021

What is being in a relationship with God like?  It’s like waking up in the morning, feeling our feet hit the floor, going through our morning routine, remembering what is on the schedule for the day, walking into the kitchen, sitting down to breakfast, putting the dishes in the sink, grabbing our bag, kissing our loved ones goodbye, getting into the car, backing out of the driveway…you get the idea!  To be in a relationship with God, as the “ing” ending suggests, is progressive, that is, it keeps on happening.  And what is more, to be in a relationship with God means that we allow our lives to move in a direction that we know at that deep level of intuition to be right, but which we are nevertheless unable to conceptualize or fully articulate.  Our role in this great drama of human life and faith is simply to cooperate.  We take ownership and enter fully into the system of God’s revealing action when we participate in the process, name the gifts, do the footwork, and become radically disposed to the divine direction.  This is our salvation, and there are no shortcuts, only a lifetime of fidelity and commitment to our one true Beloved, in the ordinariness of daily life, with the hope of finally being in a healthy relationship that lasts.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

November 6, 2021

Why do we lose the forest for the trees so often?  It’s probably because we rely on our own powers to navigate our way through life!  Indeed, the human mind, which a certain doctor of the church calls “an idol-making machine,” has us believing that every single thing that we encounter is the whole.  In an instant, our hearts become attached to a person or place or thing, and, without realizing it, we organize ourselves around some phenomenon that is not God.  It is like the story of the one monk who sees another monk staring up into the heavens in great awe one evening.  He inquires what he is looking at, only to get a finger pointing to the moon.  The first monk gets so enthralled by the finger that he never lifts his eyes to the moon and completely misses out on the spectacular sight.  If we cultivate a deep trust in the living God who has the power to save us from this dead-end behavior, we will slowly, but surely, be liberated from the many things that enslave us and be drawn back to the truth (cf. Rom 1:25).  We shall learn to walk blindly through the “dark wood of life,” to adopt the radical posture of the crucified Christ, and to receive all things as gift from the finger of the one who has ordained them from the beginning of time.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

October 30, 2021

Who lives in your house?  Is it another person?  An ideology?  A resentment?  A hope?  A feeling?  Whatever it happens to be, our hearts will be restless and our lives will be dissatisfied until God alone dwells in our house.  Indeed, what freedom and peace when the living God meets our deepest yearning for life!  Perhaps this is the reason the church values Mary so much, as the one who models how to be single-hearted with and faithful to the Word.  Unlike Eve, who let that sneaky serpent’s words into her garden (cf. Gen 3:6), Mary maintains a pure house that, with a closed door (cf. Lk 1:34), is a safe and secure dwelling place for the One Whom Her Heart Loves (Song 3:4).  We who are afraid of such deep intimacy have let all sorts of strange guests into our houses!  We tell ourselves that it is all in the name of love, but we cling and grasp in fear and desperation.  Let’s therefore take the risk of putting an end to all that does not belong in our inner sanctuary (cf. Jn 19:30).  Let’s trust that God can and will communicate with us through a closed and locked door (cf. Jn 20:19, Mt 6:6).  Let’s spend our eternity, with Mary, in the one house that lasts, giving birth to the Word forever (cf. Rev 21:22).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

October 23, 2021

Have you ever found yourself caught in the crossfires of a debate about abortion?  The rhetoric escalates extremely quickly and there is practically no room for real speaking and listening, as we are instead left with two opposing camps that think they share nothing in common.  Nevertheless, our Catholic faith, an unmistakably both-and tradition, invites us to consider how the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice positions actually do go together:  Is forcing a woman to give birth not a lapse in human dignity and thus a non-durable vision for any authentic society?  Isn’t a society that is built on freedom without recourse to an enduring point of reference, that is, the goodness of life, destined to cave into itself again and again?  Indeed, it should not surprise us that the same tradition that insists upon justice and mercy, law and prophets, spirit and flesh, human and divine rejects the notion that the truth could ever be contained in a single “camp” and instead directs us to the dazzling Word-made-flesh (cf. Jn 1:14, Mk 9:2-8) who sums up all things in his very person (cf. Jn 19:30), demanding that his disciples also be people of radical integrity (cf. 1 Cor 9:22).  Let’s therefore have the courage to stand with Jesus in that tight and narrow space that leads to life (cf. Mt 7:14), all the while rejecting easy versions of the truth.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

BROTHER ALOYSIUS (ERIC) SALGADA, CSC (1902-1989)

Totally Devoted to Bengal and Missionaries

Eric Fabian Salgada was born in Chittagong, Bengal, to an Anglo-Burmese family. He was educated by a group of Irish missionary sisters until the age of thirteen when he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross at St. Gilbert’s Novitiate in Tumilia. The year before he professed vows, in 1920, he was put in charge of a boarding school in Akyab, where he also made the second year of his novitiate. In 1927, at age 25, he was sent to Toomiliah to be the supervisor of all of the village primary schools of the Toomiliah-Rangamati parishes. He did not take well to teaching, but did what he was told to do because in the early days, there were few Brothers in the schools, and the demand for them was great and unrelenting among the parish priests.

In 1933, he left the classroom for good because he was appointed as the procurator providing everything needed by the missionaries to fulfill their ministries. Almost every morning for the next 50 years, he would hop into a rickshaw with a brown leather satchel in his lap and his day’s agenda laid out. He went from shops to offices, to the hospital and then onto the Archbishop’s house, checking off each of his daily tasks on a neatly scripted list. In the afternoons, he read all of the mail, answered the phone, attended to passports and visas, had photos printed, and filled the needs of anyone coming into the office.  Sisters often came to see him and a leper or two might drop by seeking pills. He kept a supply of medicines for the neighboring poor to provide some comfort for them from their aches and pains. For the last ten years of his life he suffered from heart problems and was completely blind.

A few days before he died, he was moved from Moreau House, where the Brothers felt they could no longer care for him and his heavy bronchial congestion, to the Gulshan Clinic. His death came silently as two Brothers prayed the rosary.  All manner of people flocked to his wake: Priests, Brothers, Sisters, the poor, the lame and the leper.  He was a brother to all, and like St. André Bessette, he personified pauper, servus et humilis.  He gave all that God had given him to his beloved of Bengal and the Holy Cross missionaries.

October 16, 2021

Learning a new language is hard.  Yes, there is the vocabulary, conjugations, declensions, constructions, tenses, moods, idioms and pronunciation, but what is more, is the risk of sharing our mental space with foreign ideas and concepts.  Indeed, to allow ourselves to think differently necessarily challenges our well-established neural pathways, which is where our opinions and attitudes dwell.  Slowly we learn to befriend these intellectual visitors and develop a whole new mental landscape that makes us more capable of communicating with others and sharing ourselves.  The language of an authentic human life is the Word, who similarly knocks on the doors of our souls and invites learning at the deepest of levels.  As we navigate the interior conversion of our spiritual pathways, where there can be all sorts of blocks and obstacles, we slowly learn to speak God’s language: seeing the poor among us, listening compassionately to others, forming our consciences before acting, practicing gratitude spontaneously, humbly asking for help, smiling generously, breathing deeply, and being present to each and every one of our sisters and brothers throughout a given day.  May we thus find the courage to confront the babel of our lives (cf. Gen 11:1-9), to share our personal spiritual space with the Word (cf. Jn 14:2-3), and begin speaking the Good News in all that we say, think and do (cf. Acts 17:28).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother Bede (Sylvester) Stadler, CSC (1911-1992)

Heroic Missionary

Brother Bede was born in Manawa, WI and attended schools there.  He worked in various jobs and joined the Brothers of Holy Cross in 1931 making first vows in 1933. 

Having taken the foreign mission vow, his first assignment was to Bengal for ten very devoted years. He was among the Holy Cross missionaries who were caught in India during World War II. As the headmaster of Holy Cross High School in Bandura, India, he went through the severe famine of 1943, the riots and demonstrations for freedom from British rule, and the threat of Japanese invasion.  During the famine Brother Bede helped government officials in distributing food.  Once he returned to the States, he seldom talked about these experiences, yet it was evident that he paid a heavy price. 

When he returned in 1948, he taught Latin at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, IN, and then spent the next eleven years in Monroe, MI at Catholic Central High School serving as librarian and assistant principal.  In 1962, he joined the faculty at Holy Cross High School in River Grove, IL teaching his Latin classes and developing one of the finest high school libraries in the Midwest Province. Upon retirement at Holy Cross, he continued to serve the community as a housekeeper and spent a great amount of his free time researching his family history and publishing an extensive genealogy of the Stadler family.  

After nineteen years of devotion to the students and the Brothers at Holy Cross, Brother Bede moved to Dujarié House continuing to live a life of generosity.  He might best be memorialized by this scriptural approbation: “Show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect.” Titus 2:7

October 9, 2021

I used to go on very long hikes – thirty or forty miles at a time.  After a series of failures where I either did not make it to the destination or did so only hobbling and exhausted, I decided to get more serious about my preparation and my strategy: frequent stretching, plenty of rest, full hydration, carbo-loading, packing wisely, well-timed breaks, weather updates, etc.  The hikes became deeply gratifying experiences that allowed me to take ownership of the process as well as enjoy my full physical flourishing.  I have to think that this is what the journey of discipleship is like.  We have this exciting spiritual destination that our hearts absolutely long for, but the preparation and planning is complex and demands a multifaceted approach:  daily prayer, participation in the liturgy, spiritual friendships, sacramental reconciliation, faith-sharing, ministry commitments, acts of charity and so much more!  Each time we feel that we have failed or come away discouraged from our efforts to walk in faith, we can turn to Jesus who spent thirty years in preparation for his singular journey to Jerusalem which came to such a definitive ending (cf. Jn 19:30) that he exists at the end point of each of our individual journeys, rooting for us in love and grace along the way.  May we learn to hike on his glorious path of perfection (cf. Ps 119:1).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

October 2, 2021

Today is the feast of Guardian Angels, a celebration which may conjure up caricatures of spiritual beings in our mind’s eye.  Perhaps this was a day that was important to us as kids, when we could be assured that there was an invisible friend who was protecting us at all times.  Perhaps we prayed and talked to our guardian angel before going to bed.  Whatever the case, it is not unreasonable to believe, even as adults, that the living God who is pure spirit, has created spiritual beings to mediate our daily experiences so that we may be drawn ever closer to our salvation (cf. Jn 1:51).  While we may be tempted to speculate about the nature of angels or articulate their exact theological meaning – topics which were the basis of many medieval debates – we need only to trust that the God who is Love (1 Jn 4:8) enjoys finding creative ways to lead us homeward, and that God’s angels can indeed fill the gaps that sin has caused in our lives.  So the next time we make it to the gas station just in time, or we catch an important mistake before submitting a report, or have an unexpected change of attitude, or, like Jesus, experience deep consolation in the midst of a major trial (cf. Lk 22:34), let’s offer a prayer of gratitude for the angels who “guard us in all our ways” (Ps 91:11).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

September 25, 2021

The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has had devastating consequences on Christ’s mission.  Whereas the archetype of the priest is a symbol for how our earthly experiences must be mediated in order to be aligned to their ultimate and transcendent goal, the abuse and cover-ups have not only served as an obstacle to mediation for untold numbers of people, but, in fact, have actually damaged the ability of many people to even hold God as a credible point of reference for any aspect of their lives.  The victims of sex abuse, instead, are often plagued with doubt, deep-seated existential angst, a lack of self worth and a feeling of interior collapse.  You and I must therefore exercise our common priesthood in this religious milieu:  to create stable circumstances for others to feel the presence of the living God, to help others to reinterpret their experiences in light of the saving work of God, to teach others how to trust again, and to lead others to rediscover within themselves the untiring action of the Great High Priest who is constantly making a sacrificial offering on our behalf to God.  While it is unclear how the ministerial priesthood will develop over time, we can rest assured that the priesthood of Jesus is eternal and will make us safe forever.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica. 

BROTHER LAWRENCE (FREMONT) MILLER, C.S.C. (1913-2005)

A MARVELOUS MENTOR FOR YOUNG RELIGIOUS

Fremont Miller was born in St. Wendel, Indiana. He attended only one year of high school and then worked in a plywood company to help the family. 

In 1934, he entered the Sacred Heart Juniorate and finished high school. He went to the novitiate and pronounced his vows in 1940. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame in 1942 and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Chicago. 

In 1943 he was appointed field director at St. Charles Boys’ Home where he worked a total of sixteen years. After that, he became superior at Columba Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.  He was appointed Assistant Provincial from 1962 to 1968. 

In 1968, he returned to social work at Father Gibault School in Terra Haute, Indiana. In 1973, he moved to his home area of Evansville, Indiana and was involved in psychiatric care at a state hospital and retirement homes for eleven years. He moved back to Columba Hall in 1984 to assist in the archives for seven years, until his lung condition worsened.  He was an exceptionally intelligent, observant, and compassionate human being. His talents were in counseling troubled youth and helping senior citizens face the transition to the next life. Lawrence’s mentoring of younger religious served as a marvelous example — a true elder in all aspects.

September 18, 2021

What is your vocation?  To be a priest, a married person, a firefighter, a nun, a small business owner, a teacher, a single person?  The problem with answers like this is that they keep us at a safe distance from the living God who cannot be neatly packaged into an idea.  “To be called,” rather, suggests something deeper, more spiritual and much more personal.  We are called by a voice, which we all instinctively know at the level of the gut and which invites us out of the stifling patterns of our daily lives into the fresh air of a new day.  Yes, our vocation ends up looking like something – maybe it involves a uniform or a lifestyle or a profession or a relationship – but those things change.  The point is God, and God calls us through all sorts of experiences so that the barnacles might be scraped from our souls and we might draw ever closer to God.  Therefore, the next time someone asks us, “What is your vocation?” let’s respond honestly, “My vocation is to constantly take a risk on the Father, and the rest is details.”  Though we may be misunderstood or made to feel inadequate, like Jesus, our souls will nevertheless be at peace because we have spoken the truth, as indeed, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica. 

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows!

FATHER CORNELIUS HAGERTY, CSC (1885-1977)

LOYAL TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, HOLY CROSS AND HIS PRIESTHOOD

Father Hagerty was born in South Bend, IN, in 1885.  He attended St. Patrick parish grade school and Holy Cross Seminary, entering the novitiate in 1903. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1906, he did graduate work in theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, DC and was ordained in 1909 at Notre Dame. He then returned to Washington where he received his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University in 1911. He taught philosophy at Notre Dame from 1911 to 1921, then at the University of Portland for three years before returning to Notre Dame for the years 1924-1926.  After nine years of teaching at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, he once again returned to Notre Dame in 1935 where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life. He ministered as teacher and prefect, chaplain to the Holy Cross Brothers at both Dujarié Hall and Columba Hall, and, eventually, retiring at Holy Cross House.

Even in retirement, “Father Con” maintained his many interests, especially in apologetics and dogma and was the author of many articles and several books, notably a scholarly treatise on the Blessed Trinity and one on the problem of evil. For a good number of years, he sent as his Christmas greetings to relatives and friends his latest essay on some spiritual or intellectual subject.

All of his religious life, Father Hagerty was known for his vigorous, sometimes acerbic, defense and promulgation of his views on matters pertaining to doctrine and to Thomistic philosophy. His reputation as a debater and a possessor of a gift for repartee preceded and followed him. Not many came out victorious in a verbal confrontation with Con Hagerty. 

In accord with Father Hagerty’s wishes, there was only one celebrant at his funeral Mass, which was offered at Moreau Seminary by Bishop Leo Pursley: the Mass and hymns were in Latin—according to one observer, “The participants sang in Latin as if they had been singing it for years.” In the homily by Bishop Pursley, he quoted a passage from the Book of Wisdom which appropriately summed Hagerty’s life: “My course grows longer and the river of my days draws nearer to the sea. Therefore, will I now make true doctrine shine forth to all, and enlighten all who hope in the Lord. …Behold, I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek the truth.” (Adapted from Province Review, October 7, 1977)

September 11, 2021

Did you know that the word positive literally means “that which has been placed” before you?  That positive thinking is really the willingness to accept all that is given to us?  So while we might scour the shelves of our local library for the perfect self-help book or tune in daily to our favorite TV therapist in order to find the key to positive living, we must go beyond techniques and learn how to be spiritual people who are constantly receptive to the gift of life.  The irony is that we need to be negative in this process.  We need to learn “to say no” to all of that which is not gift, all of that which is fear-based clinging, all of that which comes from the evil one.  Trying to be positive without this negative move just does not work.  In such a circumstance everything blends together and we stand for nothing.  It is thus no wonder that the Christic pattern of our salvation is dying and rising.  The radical positivity of resurrectional life – a state of eternally accepting the truth – is only ever made possible through the radical negativity of Christ’s cross – an unceasing commitment to self-denial.  May our hearts thus become tables which are capable of receiving all that is presented to us precisely because they are already altars of sacrifice.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica

September 4, 2021

“You’re as sick as your secrets” is a phrase that you may have heard in counseling or in the world of self-help.  It is a powerful reminder that our interior lives are like icebergs – we are only aware of a fraction of the truth of ourselves, yet our decisions are largely dictated by the subconscious mass beneath the surface.  The discipline of the spiritual life is the primary lever for bringing shame, fear, and general darkness into the light of a new day.  Indeed, a regular prayer life, a schedule of worship, frequent spiritual direction, ascetic practices, sacramental confession, journaling, and working with a professional can all be helpful ways of getting in touch with and befriending our deep self.  Such a risk transforms our so-called secrets into memories, learning experiences, times when we missed the mark, and wisdom to be shared with others.  Spiritual sickness is gradually replaced by spiritual health as God comes to dwell again in that newly uncluttered place within.  Let’s be disciples of Jesus who tell the truth with our lives.  Let’s experience the freedom of returning to a state of childlike simplicity and authenticity.  Let’s never confuse secrets for intimacy again.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.  

BROTHER MAXIMUS (ALBINAS) CZYZEWSKI, CSC (1881-1963)

Faithfully for the Sake of the Lord

Brother Maximus was born in Talkuny, Lithuania. He came to the United States when he was fifteen to meet his uncle Father Czyzewski, CSC, the pastor of St. Hedwig Church in South Bend, IN.  He entered Holy Cross in 1897.  He taught at St. Hedwig School and worked in the Notre Dame bookstore until 1905.  He was assigned to teach at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, WI for one year and then for another year at Cathedral High School in Fort Wayne.  In 1907, Maximus was sent to Holy Trinity Grammar School in Chicago, IL.  

After three years he began teaching at Holy Trinity High School and remained there for the next fifty-four years. He was principal of the school from 1917-1920.  He studied nights at both Loyola and DePaul Universities and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1924. The new high school building was opened in 1928, and Brother Maximus was once again appointed principal until 1934.  

He faithfully taught his courses in Polish and Latin and wrote a history of the Polish-American settlement in South Bend, IN.  Retiring in 1961, he went to Columba Hall where he edified all by doing menial tasks such as dusting and cleaning the dining room.  His was a total life of service, as for him all work was a sacred prayer.

August 28, 2021

What we call “setting goals” is often an exercise in psychological projection.  From a young age we are taught to pour our desires out onto our mental canvas, and then keep that image or idea in our mind’s eye as we progress through life until we finally achieve what we want.  Nevertheless, at some point we grow weary of this game as we find ourselves stuck in a stifling cycle of chasing after things that we have imposed on ourselves!  The spiritual life truly begins when our desire no longer gets attached to people, places or things, but is instead oriented unambiguously to the infinite and eternal God.  When God is our singular object – which both Jesus (Mt 22:37-38) and the First Commandment (Ex 20:2-3) insist upon – we are drawn into a life of mystery, risk and truth (cf. Jn 21:18).  Indeed, we go from the anxious and fearful fist that clings (cf. Gen 3:6) to the open hand that receives in gratitude (cf. Mt 26:26).  The psychological space that once housed our precious goals now becomes the net (Mt 13:37-50) that simply catches the graces revealed to us.  Let’s make the decision this very day to set God as the unique goal of our lives and in doing so adopt his Cross as the unique way of ending (Jn 19:30) goals that compete.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

SISTER EHRENTRUDE (MARY MAGDALEN) CZYZEWSKI, CSC (1901-1987)

A Hero of the Cross Born in Russia

Sister M. Ehrentrude was born in 1901 in Crimea (Sudak) Russia.  Her father, Anthony Czyzewski, was an officer in the army, and her mother, Helen Carol Kotkas, was a housewife.  Mary grew up in South Bend, Indiana.  The family was a member of Saint Hedwig Parish, and Mary attended the parish school. 

Mary Magdalen entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1918 and received the Holy Habit on August 4, taking the religious name Sister M. Ehrentrude.  She pronounced her first vows on August 15, 1920 and her final vows on August 15, 1923. The Czyzewski family of South Bend, Indiana contributed many sons and a daughter to the Congregations of Holy Cross. 

In 1924, she graduated from Saint Mary’s Academy, Notre Dame, Indiana and then attended two years of college at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, receiving a two-year Normal Certificate in 1926.

Sister Ehrentrude was assigned to be an elementary school teacher and was an excellent teacher for twenty years.   She taught in Catholic parish schools in South Bend, Indiana; Los Angeles and Fresno, California; Boise, Idaho and East Chicago, Indiana.  All of these schools benefitted from her presence.   Her ill health prevented her from continuing as a teacher, so she served as portress at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and Saint Theodore’s in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1945, Sister Ehrentrude became a citizen of the United States.   She retired to Saint Mary’s Convent in 1964 and served in many capacities until her death September 8,1987.  

August 21, 2021

What is God like?  God is like when your grandmother holds you as a child and feeds you.  God is like when you find a twenty dollar bill in your coat pocket at the beginning of a new winter.  God is like when your sports team loses the game but you are so proud of the way they played.  God is like when you decide to jump off the diving board for the very first time.  God is like when you reach for the apple slices instead of the bag of potato chips. God is like when you go for a very long walk.  God is like when you are talking to a person and understand exactly what they mean.  God is like when you get up from your desk to go play with your friends.  God is like when you take a break during a very stressful day.  God is like when you harvest vegetables from your garden.  God is like when your head hits the pillow at night.  God is like when you smile at a stranger.  God is like when you realize that you are breathing.  May the great AVE CRUX SPES UNICA be locked into place in our minds and hearts so that we might never experience another “when” in this life without feeling absolutely close to the God who saves.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.  

Brother Simeon (Thomas) Costello, C.S.C. (1901-1956)

He Always Had a smile, Never a Complaint

Simeon was born in Fort Wayne, IN, the older brother (by one year) of Brother Jude. He attended Cathedral High in Fort Wayne and worked as a mechanical and electrical apprentice for a number of years. He decided to become a Brother and joined Holy Cross in 1926. He went to the juniorate in Watertown, then the novitiate at Notre Dame, and made his first vows in 1928. He was assigned to work at St. Charles Boys’ Home in Milwaukee, WI where he served for eighteen years. He was the first athletic director and was instrumental in arranging for medical care for the students, besides looking after their health. He was a stocky, little Brother with a unique sense of humor that made him popular with the boys. In 1948, he was assigned to Sacred Heart Juniorate to look after the farm. 

In 1949, he went to St. Joseph’s Farm, an obedience he loved. The photo is of the Holy Cross farm personnel in the early 1920s. He always had a smile, never a complaint, said his colleagues. He contracted a type of cancer that slowed his work. When he was in hospitals for treatment, he longed to go back to the St. Joseph Farm to be of help. Brother Jude Costello returned from Bengal to visit and pray with his brother at the Mayo Clinic. Simeon passed away to his eternal reward three months later.

“Serve the Lord gladly, come with songs of joy.” (Psalm 100:2)

August 14, 2021

Grieving is the quintessential human experience that lays bare just how spiritual we really are underneath it all.  Indeed, our tendency to reach out, grasp onto something and not let go is only rivaled by our glorious and miraculous ability to surrender that same thing in an act of trust and acceptance of some new reality.  While this Christic pattern – of dying and rising – is unique to our species, no two people grieve in the same way:  for some it is a very gradual process, for others it is practically instantaneous, and still for others the path is dark and confusing.  The only tragedy in all of this is when a person avoids loving so as to escape the drama of grief.  Such a fear-based posture in life stunts our spiritual growth and represses our human flourishing.  Are we able to articulate the people, places and things that we are grieving?  Are we willing to see grief as life-giving and good?  Are we ready to accept a lifetime of grieving as a real dimension of our human vocation?  May the tears and pain of our constantly awkward attempts at love in this life give rise to a transformed spirit receptive to the kind of love that “sets the world on fire” (Lk 12:49).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother David (Sylvester) Martin, CSC (1901-1986)

A Given Life: Entwined with Learning

Brother David Martin, C.S.C., arrived on the Bluff [University of Portland] in 1928. With no college degree at the time, he was immediately named the librarian. The irony became sort of an inspiration. He was to hold the office of library director until 1966.

Faced with many challenges, Br. David worked in stages; waiting, proposing, pushing toward the possible and making progress. First, having charge of a limited collection of books, he created a dedicated reading-room for student study by moving the library from West (now Waldschmidt) Hall to Christie Hall where there was space for reading tables.  Next, or perhaps already within that first vision, he began to plan for a library building, an impossible ambition in those days when there was only a single dedicated classroom building (Science Hall, 1937). But Br. David was patient and persistent. And prepared not only the design of a modern college library but also himself through the years of waiting. When the library was built in 1958 — in no small part through his own efforts as promoter and chief fund-raiser — Br. David had, in the meantime, picked up four advanced degrees, founded the Library Summer School, and earned the rank of Dean of the School of Library Science. 

But, he wasn’t finished. Coincident with his retirement as Dean of the Library, the University Archives was established with Br. David as the first University Archivist (June 1, 1966). Collating, arranging, and indexing historical files accumulated through more than sixty years of university life was to be the work, but his first order of business was again creating space and access– once again moving resources out from closet filing cabinets in West (Waldschmidt) Hall across campus to the library, and eventually to Shipstad Hall.

His fifty-five years of service (retiring from the Archives in 1983!) is a life-time of contributions to the growth and maturity of the University of Portland. The two developed together, Br. David and the university he loved. Br. David was ever learning and put his curiosity and knowledge into the hands of students and the university community. 

(https://sites.up.edu/museum/category/people/a-given-life/)

August 7, 2021

If you are looking for a way to become more sensitive to the subtle spiritual movements of God throughout your day, consider the habit of praying Psalm 119.  By far the longest chapter of the entire Bible, Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem that covers the whole Hebrew alphabet.  Each of the twenty-two stanzas employs the same vocabulary again and again – ways, words, teachings, commandments, statutes, ordinances, laws and precepts – in order to communicate how very pervasive God’s will is in our lives, whether we know it or not.  The refined style of this Psalm – as it makes no specific mention of Israel’s dramatic history – is an invitation to the reader to consider how simple the life of discipleship really is beneath the outward show and fancy contours.  Indeed, if we really examined ourselves and the meaning of our own personal stories, we would discover that it is not more complicated than Psalm 119, “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps 119:1).  Let’s therefore open our hearts to the living God and allow our lives themselves to become alphabets that constantly form words of consolation for others on this  journey and sound forth ceaseless words of praise to the God who saves.   Ave Crux, Spes Unica

July 31, 2021

“Listen, my child, with the ear of your heart….” is the famous opening line of the original monastic rule and a trustworthy foundation for any person serious about the spiritual life.  While an ear is a kind of openness, a receptive space that invites sound, it is not mere passivity.  An ear has a form, engineered over millions of years, that is meant to confront the noise of the world, and it is this specific shape that makes hearing and understanding possible.  The same is true for our souls:  We have the capacity to receive all sorts of energy, sensory data and spiritual phenomena in the course of our daily lives, but what is any of that noise worth if it is not confronted with a well-designed internal apparatus that allows us to hear and understand what it all means?  This apparatus is the crucified Christ in whose very image we have been created (cf. Gen 1:27 and Col 1:15), but who has nevertheless been obscured and deformed as the difficult journey of our lives has unfolded.  If we want to live authentically, if we want to truly be human, if we want to recover our soul’s ear, we have only to look to the cross, that interior Christic architecture which enables us to listen to the music of life that has been playing all along.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

July 24, 2021

Mountaintops are a common biblical setting for encountering God.  Abraham’s great act of trust took place with his son upon an altar atop Mt. Moriah (Ex 22:3-18); Moses (Ex 19:3) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13) each communed with the Lord in a particularly powerful way in the solitude of their respective rocky peaks; the psalmist speaks of the spiritual delights of high altitudes (e.g. Ps 11:1, Ps 104:8, Ps 125:1-2); sacrificial offerings and official worship were performed in the Temple atop Mt. Zion; while Jesus prayed earnestly on the Mount of Olives and offered the total gift of himself to his heavenly Father on Mt. Calvary.  The decision to ascend whatever mountain the Lord has placed on our path is a choice for the same kind of intimacy.  Yes, we have to bid farewell to those whose company we enjoy at the base, yes it is hard work, and yes we often ascend blindly without being able to see the summit along the way.  Nevertheless, our souls will be purified by the trust demanded in such a risk, and we shall become unthinkably close to the God who leads us to the top.  Let’s therefore not be afraid to go to the heights. Let’s find ways to climb the interior mountain. Let’s bring that constant privileged encounter with the living God within to those we meet in the ordinary circumstances of our lives.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Sister M. Lourdes (Anna May) Kelly, CSC (1910-2019)

She Could Stop Traffic!

“It is usually a high compliment when a person is described as someone who had such personality that she could stop traffic. Not in the case of Sister M. Lourdes (Kelly). Her independence and determination caused concern. Well into her nineties, Sister’s daily prayer included a trip from the Saint Mary’s motherhouse over to the Grotto on the University of Notre Dame campus. If her ride did not show up promptly, Sister Lourdes headed out alone. Just as impatiently, she started across the highway with her rosary, not waiting for cars to slow down on the highway at the main entrance to Saint Mary’s. She brushed off those who would protect her by saying, ‘Don’t worry about the traffic, they will stop.’

“Sister Lourdes often engaged visitors in conversation at the Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. She introduced herself to one visitor when she was ninety-three, explaining that she had hoped to receive the name Brigid, patroness of her native Ireland, at the time of her reception of the Holy Habit in 1936. ‘But my, how I was delighted to be named after the Blessed Virgin!’ Her genuine interaction and humanity touched those she encountered. More than one person remembers Sister’s promise of prayer.  ‘It is all in the hands of God and the Blessed Mother. Give your life completely….’

“Sister Lourdes never lost her Irish brogue, having been born in Dublin, Ireland in 1910. Her father, James Kelly, was a railroad engineer. He had already died of pneumonia at 72 by the time of her initial profession as a Sister of the Holy Cross at age 28 in August 1938. Her mother, Frances Phelan Kelly, was 71 when her daughter Anna May Kelly professed her vows. She was the youngest of eleven children, all of whom predeceased her. The music for her Mass of Resurrection was the same as that for her sister Frances Kelly. Her sister Elizabeth, Sister Mary Martha (Kelly), CSC, did not think Anna May had a religious vocation but agreed to take her with her back to the United States to become a Sister of the Holy Cross. Sister Martha died in 1987. Sister Lourdes, after years of bureaucratic mix-ups, finally became a citizen of the United States in 1948 at age thirty-seven.

The young Anna May Kelly had only wanted to be a sister, assuming she would be a housekeeper like the Blessed Mother. As Sister Lourdes, she was shocked to be assigned as an elementary school teacher, beginning at St. Joseph School, South Bend, IN, in 1938, where there was a large Irish population.  The children were thrilled to have her as a teacher. She was a successful teacher in parish schools throughout Indiana and Illinois. In 1973, she continued in Catholic education as a tutor for students who needed support, serving at Holy Redeemer School, Flint, Michigan, and at St. Paul’s School, Valparaiso, Indiana, in each for three years. In 1980, Sister Lourdes retired to Saint Mary’s Convent but continued in various ministries of prayer, including visits to the Grotto at Notre Dame, stopping traffic.

Sister Lourdes planned ahead—as did her sister Frances, who had arranged for thirty masses to be celebrated for Sister Lourdes upon her death. Sister wrote in December 1993 that she was ‘looking ahead to that great day.’ She wanted no memento at the vigil service, only a rosary recited for the repose of her soul. Sister Lourdes died at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, IN, at the age of 109, having entered Holy Cross after leaving Dublin in the same month 84 years earlier. Her citizenship is now in heaven.” (Written by ​Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC.)

July 17, 2021

What is the number one rule of boxing?  DON’T GET HIT!  While it is easy to fixate on the haymakers, straights and hooks that make television ratings soar and fans go wild, we forget that the boxer who goes untouched in a given match by dodging and bobbing cannot lose.  How frequently, in the ring of life, however, we become falsely convinced that we need to go on the offensive, yet time and again we come away feeling tired, empty and dry.  Perhaps Jesus was the greatest boxer of all time because he never had to resort to such measures.  Like another who called himself “the greatest,” Jesus focused first on his footwork – constantly attentive to his mission, he journeyed, with perfect timing, from Galilee to Samaria to Judea and finally to Jerusalem as his opponents kept missing him.  Then, when he had reached Golgotha, seemingly trapped but still unwilling to unleash violence on others, a new version of the rule emerged:  “Don’t get hit, but when you do, make it eucharistic.”  Indeed, the world’s blows are destined, in Christ, to be transformed into moments of grace where weary, angry and fear-ridden souls are nourished by our deep confidence in the Father’s love: by our wounds, which are Christ’s wounds, others will be healed.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

BROTHER DANIEL (MARTIN) SCHOTT, CSC  (1875-1943)

FIRST PRINCIPAL OF REITZ MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL

“In the fall of 1937, a noted Russian basso died suddenly, and Brother Daniel asked a curious question: ‘I wonder if God will ask Chaliapin to sing in heaven?’ The question was both thoughtful and provocative. On July 18 of this year [1943] Brother Daniel died, and one of his associates wondered sincerely if God would ask Brother ‘Dan’ about that ‘old blue coat.’ Brother Dan was very fond of this coat; in fact, he never felt better dressed than when he wore it.  ‘It’s a good one,’ he would say. ‘Brother Marcellinus [Kinsella] only had it a short time when he gave it to me.’ But people who never concern themselves with anniversaries could never appreciate the fact that Brother Marcellinus had been dead now for more than a quarter of a century.  Brother Daniel would take the coat off, puff a little, and enumerate the people he had met on his way back from town.  But there was never a mention of the street car tokens that he had never had occasion to use even after his rheumatism and he had become friends of long standing.  It was other people that Brother Daniel liked to speak about.  No one, he thought, was interested in what concerned himself.  And this caused his superiors a little inconvenience the day that his obituary was to be written: no one knew for certain the name of the city in Germany where he was born. Then, from the tomb of oblivion, came the guess that the city was Hanover. Well, the year was 1875; the date October 29.

“Poverty, humility, and two hours a day before the Blessed Sacrament are only a partial portrait of Brother ‘Dan.’ Justice and prudence complete the picture.  Twenty years ago, when he was getting ready to die of a kidney infection, he summoned the steward of the house to his ‘deathbed’ and bade him bring the unpaid bills and the checkbook.  In vain the steward persuaded him to composure as befitted the last moments of a good Christian. But Brother ‘Dan’ was adamant: ‘The butcher and the grocer have their rent to pay,’ he said; ‘besides, if we want the usual discount, we must get these checks into the mail before the 10th of the month.’

“Teachers no longer glory in the honorable title of schoolmaster, but Brother Daniel was, and remained, a schoolmaster until the day of his death.  His death marked the passing of another one of those exceptional teachers who possess genuine and rare characteristics, intense knowledge and love of the studies they teach [Latin], deep interest in and understanding of youth, a compelling force which cannot tolerate mediocre accomplishment, and an inspirational drive which induces high school students to make efforts when the subject matter seemingly has no significance. 


“He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1889 and his first teaching assignment was at St. Joseph’s College, Cincinnati.  Later, he was assigned to Central Catholic H.S. in Fort Wayne, IN first as a teacher and later as principal.  He was transferred to Reitz Memorial H.S. in Evansville, IN in 1925, where he served as [the first] principal, vice principal or teacher until the time of his death.” (The Association of St. Joseph, 1943, no author.)

July 10, 2021

We have all experienced the fight or flight response that anthropologists say is a remnant of our lizard brains.  In a moment of fear – faced with a tiger in the jungle, a bully on the playground, or some memory of trauma – we instinctively fall into the destructive cycle of lashing out against the other then hiding ourselves in shame, but that is no way to live!  Jesus, who came to bring life and who instructs us to not succumb to fear, offers us an alternative vision for how we might approach such situations.  Instead of putting up our fists to fight,  he invites us to “take up the cross” in a posture of vulnerability and openness.  Instead of running away in flight, he invites us to “follow him” steadily and confidently into a real future filled with hope.  Such a pattern of “take up your cross and follow me,” therefore, cannot but be a healing balm for a twisted and bipolar version of our humanity.  Indeed, we shall learn to dance gracefully through the most complicated and seemingly dire situations in life.  We shall bear witness to the transforming power of God through our own inner conversion.  We shall reveal a Christic truth that is more primordial and cuts more deeply than our lizard brains.  We shall give glory to God in every encounter.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.