In this special year as we celebrate St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, this January 20th gives us pause to celebrate another foster father of ours: Blessed Basil Moreau. As members of the Family of Holy Cross, he has taken us in as his own. With tender affection, Moreau speaks of his very first circular letter as an “outpouring of a heart which burns with the desire to help.” He says, “I want you to write me whenever you have family troubles, dissatisfaction or discouragement in your work, or when you are faced with opposition from outsiders or even from your fellow-religious.”
That is even more true today than it was in 1835. For all of us in the Holy Cross family, religious, colleagues in ministry, students, and parishioners alike, he remains our constant father as he intercedes for us before the heavenly throne of our God. He longs for us to come to him in prayer in these trying times—to share with him our sorrow from the brothers and sisters we have lost, our woes from walking with people in great darkness, our pangs of loneliness and confinement, and our disappointment and fears from the present challenges in ministry and in community.
According to our Constitutions, we in the Holy Cross family strive to form the minds and hearts of those we serve. We attend not merely to academic advancement, but even more to matters of the heart as would a loving father or mother. Yet, we must first learn how to do so. We cannot give what we do not have. For that reason, we must first experience what it is like to be nurtured, strengthened, and guided by a faithful father or mother. What better person to go to than Blessed Basil Moreau who “burns” with the desire to be such a father for us—listening to us, encouraging us, guiding us, teaching us, and lifting up our names before our God.
This father of ours constantly calls us “to study and to piety” that our minds and hearts might be continually cultivated. If we wish to draw nearer to him, that same study and piety will be necessary. By coming to know him in his writings, his affectionate yet zealous words that speak to us still today will move us to genuine devotion to him. As we sit at his feet and let him speak to us with those perennial words, as we are moved to open our hearts to him in devoted prayer, we will become more and more like our foster father in Holy Cross. In that way, we might better fulfill our mission, forming minds and hearts as only an affectionate father or mother can. We might, too, become better brothers and fathers, sisters and mothers, to one another, forming one loving family in faith.
This reflection for the Feast Day of Blessed Basile Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by Fr. Zach Rathke, C.S.C. A member of the United States Province ordained on September 5, 2020, Fr. Rathke works as the Associate Pastor at St. Adalbert / St. Casimir Parishes in South Bend, Indiana.