“EDUCATORS IN THE FAITH”
A “charism” is a gift of the Spirit that is given individually or collectively for the common good and the building up of the Church. Inherent in this gift is a particular perception of the image of Jesus Christ and of the Gospel. It is, therefore, a source of inspiration, a dynamic commitment, and a capacity for realization.
THE CHARISM OF HOLY CROSS
Basile Moreau was a man open to the world of his time, namely 19th -century France. He knew the effects of the revolutionary change and social upheaval of his century. He also experienced the often violent hostility towards religion and the Church, the growth of secularism, and widespread dechristianization. He wanted to be present to a society in search of itself. He felt called to work for the restoration of the Christian faith and through it for a regeneration of society. He was ready to undertake anything for the salvation of individuals, to lead them or bring them back to Jesus Christ. He participated in the work of Catholic renewal by his bold response to the wide range of needs both in the Church and in society. He asked his religious to “be ready to undertake anything … to suffer everything and to go wherever obedience calls in order to save souls and extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth” (Rule on Zeal). He even went so far as to say that if a postulant or a novice did not have that inner zeal to work for the salvation of souls, he was not fit for Holy Cross. However, Father Moreau did not want to confine himself merely to post-revolutionary French society; he also wanted to devote himself to announcing the Gospel in other cultures. His zeal knew no borders. The charism of Holy Cross is to renew the Christian faith, to regenerate society, to “bring about better times” by a constant response to the most pressing needs of the Church and society. The principal work that Basile Moreau advocated was education; he saw education as being explicitly a work of “resurrection,” of rebuilding. In everything he undertook, he did not just want to re-establish it; he wanted to renew it, to refashion it, to reconstruct it. He had no fear of a brand new undertaking. This charism, this mobilizing and efficacious strength of conviction, he drew from the perception of Jesus the savior, Jesus the liberator, and from the Gospel which leads humanity to fulfillment. “Once Jesus is known and loved in the world, everything will be renewed; the light of the Gospel will dissipate the darkness of the century; its morality will control customs and justice will reign” (Sermons, p. 455).
A professor of Holy Scripture, Father Moreau arrived at a just and essential vision of the Gospel: the Good News of the Kingdom of God, the building up of the kingdom that is already coming, the rebuilding of a world according to God’s heart. The Congregation’s charism is rooted in spirituality; it is expressed in mission and inspires community life. It is therefore made up of three elements: spirituality, notably a particular grasp of the mystery of Jesus Christ; mission, that is, its apostolic focus; and community life, in this case a unique style of community. The 2 spiritual and the apostolic direction received from the Founder is communicated to the members and influences the continuity and development of their works.
THE FOUR PILLARS OF HOLY CROSS SPIRITUALITY
Conformity to Christ
The charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross is rooted in an experience of Jesus Christ. The founder’s spirituality is fully centered on Jesus Christ, with access to his person notably in contemplation of the scriptures and the liturgy. Father Moreau believed that it is the essence of religious life to conform oneself to Christ, not only in his external conduct, but in his very being as a religious person. Father Moreau invites his religious to “re-enact the life of Jesus” and to make it “a faithful imitation”: “Our spirit of discipline will imitate His habitual conformity to the good pleasure of His Father, while our community spirit will reflect His life in the company of Our Blessed Lady, St. Joseph and His apostles. Our life of edification will reproduce His life of good example in the midst of the world, and our spirit of work will mirror His labors and His cross.” (CL 14). Father Moreau invites us to become “copies of the divine model” (CL 11). Jesus serves especially as a model for us by his life, his words and his actions. He moved ceaselessly among people of all conditions of life, particularly among the poor, and he was compassionate towards every form of suffering. How are we to imitate him? “Our savior announced only the great and glad tidings which he had brought into the world, and spoke unceasingly of the Kingdom of God” (CL 36), and “We must seek above all things the kingdom of heaven and its justice” (CL 20).
Trust in Divine Providence
Jesus Christ, our model, is both the revelation of God’s initiating love and the manifestation of human cooperation with it. Basile Moreau, convinced that Holy Cross is the work of God, demands of us “correspondence to the inspirations of grace and our fidelity in seconding the designs of Divine Providence” (CL 23). If we are to be faithful to this providential work of God in Holy Cross today, we must attend to God’s constant presence and activity, for God himself gives us the desire to further his will in all things.
The Cross, Our Only Hope
Basile Moreau invites each religious person to carry his cross: “it is necessary to know the mystery of the cross and draw from it the apostolic strength of those generous imitators of Jesus Christ whose life here below was a continuous martyrdom” (CL 11). This invitation extends to courage in trials and demands that we “become more and more conformed to the image of the divine Christ crucified” (CL 34). Christ crucified, who gave his life for the salvation of the world, was so important to Father Moreau that he gave as a motto to his congregation: The Cross, our only hope, and proposed as the patronal feast of the entire congregation, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, the title of Mary at the foot of the cross. This cross is a glorious cross. It is the love of the suffering Savior expressed in the cross which is glorious, not the instrument of torture or of pain. Jesus’ death takes all its meaning in the love with which he faithfully accomplished his mission in life, a 3 love that goes to the end of its commitments. The cross is the source of salvation and liberation, and it is our hope.
Spirit of Union
Basile Moreau also insists on a union among the members in imitation of the union that existed in the Holy Family and in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This union is based on each individual’s personal relationship with Jesus. Just as the members are organically connected to form a single body and as the branches are united with the vine and share the same life giving sap, so also must the faithful of Holy Cross be united with Jesus and with one another.