January 20th is a significantly memorable day for the family of the Congregation of Holy Cross. On this day, the four Societies of the Family of Holy Cross throughout the world will celebrate the 145th anniversary of the death of Blessed Basile Anthony Mary Moreau, the founder of Holy Cross. As it is known to all that Pope Benedict XVI beatified and declared him “Blessed” on 15th September 2007. The Congregation has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of his beatification last year; now it awaits his canonization. Hopefully this will happen soon.
On this propitious occasion, let us pause for a moment and take into heart a few of Moreau’s beliefs about being a religious of Holy Cross that can inspire us to follow more passionately the noble path that he had traversed.
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The motto that Blessed Moreau adopted for Holy Cross is: O Crux Ave Spes Unica (O Holy Cross Our Only Hope). Sometimes, it may seem to many, how can cross be one’s only hope? The cross, although at times, is seen more as a suffering, but it should actually be seen as a sign of hope, for Christ himself died on the cross so that he might save all of humanity. Thus, the suffering for a specific motive – participating in the act of saving others – will become a source of hope for us as well as for all others that we serve.
Br. Joel Giallanza, CSC, in a reflection entitled Basile Moreau: A Passionate and Prophetic Life, describes seven values that Moreau lived every day. These values are: (1) Conformity with Jesus Christ; (2) Trust in Providence; (3) Zeal; (4) Relationship with Jesus through the Eucharist; (5) Union in community; (6) Cross as our only hope; (7) Our Lady of Sorrows as the patroness of Holy Cross.
Of these seven values, I have already highlighted Cross as our only hope. From among the other six, let me take only the first – Conformity with Jesus Christ. In Br. Giallanza’s reflection, it is found that for Moreau, reflection of Jesus’s example and teaching must be the highest priority in the life of all religious of Holy Cross.
Now, what are some of those examples and teachings of Jesus that we must reflect in our lives? Jesus lived a very simple life, took time for prayer, worked miracles, mingled with everyone, challenged misinterpretation of laws, sided with the marginalized, stood against injustices, suffered humiliations, forgave sins, and so on, to mention a few.
How are we doing with these examples and teachings of Jesus today as a congregation and as its members? It’s something that warrants deeper reflection on our part to find out. Moreau lived a simple life without any question. Sometimes I wonder whether in the name of durability we tend to build structures with highest quality materials forgetting the simplicity that we are to reflect. What about our food, clothing, travel, medical treatment, education, etc.? Are we not inclined for the best ignoring the examples and teachings of Jesus?
Pray for Blessed Moreau's intercession
Jesus was very faithful in taking time to converse with the father. How faithful are we? Many a times, we are busy "doing’ the work of building the Kingdom of God, but neglecting the most important ingredient ‘praying’. As for Moreau, “To become an apostle according to your vocation, begin by being a person of prayer” (1855 Exercises).
Jesus worked many miracles. As God and as human, he certainly had the power to work miracles. May be we do not have that power. But, do miracles have to be something not possible with human powers? When we gather together in prayer or in community, doesn’t anything miraculous happen? I think it does. For Jesus himself said, “Where two or three gather together in my name, there am I with them” (Mt 18:20). When Jesus is with us during anything that we do, it’s a miracle. There have been many miracles during Moreau’s life on earth and afterwards. That’s one of the reasons why Moreau has been declared a Blessed in the Church today. We can also make that happen in our lives as well.
Jesus challenged misinterpretation of laws many times during his life. Healing on Sabbath day (Mt 12:10), forgiving the sin of a penitent woman (Lk 7:36-50), and so on. So did Moreau, André and many of our members who have gone before us. What are we doing today? There are many occasions where we can and should challenge unjust practices that take place around us.
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Jesus took the side of the marginalized – the poor, the oppressed, the lepers, the blinds, and so on. Moreau sent members of the congregation to different parts of the world to serve the marginalized. They are still there and moving beyond to serve the marginalized. What am I doing? Does my mission take me to the people who need my services the most? Or, do I only look after those who are most convenient to reach?
There are many other examples and teachings of Jesus that we can and need to give importance to be a true religious of Holy Cross as Moreau did. Let us give ourselves some time today to reflect on at least a couple of those and try to follow our founder. Blessed Moreau is a unique example for all of us to follow in our lives as religious of Holy Cross. Above all, let us ask for Blessed Moreau’s intercession for some great things to happen in our own lives as well as in the lives of others that we come in touch with.
This reflection for the Feast Day of Blessed Basile Moreau was written by Br. Harold Bijoy Rodrigues, C.S.C., Superior of the St. Joseph Province, which is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Br. Rodrigues recently served on the Executive Committee for Pope Francis's visit to Bangladesh.