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Celebrating 150th Feast of Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau

posted in: Feast Days, Saint Mary's

The Sisters of the Holy Cross celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Feast of Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, their founder, on January 20, 2023, with a Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana.

Sister Mary Tiernan, CSC, of the Congregation’s General Council, shared the following Reflection After the Word. Her message was based on Scripture readings Isaiah 52:7-10 and John 15:9-17.

Today, we celebrate the life and continuing legacy of Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, now 150 years since his death.

We are given such meaningful readings from Isaiah and John that would have been strength for Father Moreau and continue as strength and consolation in today’s world.

Remember Janet Sullivan Whitaker’s song: “In every age, O God, you have been our refuge, In every age, O God, you have been our hope.”

And it is true.

We recall that Isaiah raised up hope while God’s chosen people were still captives, were slaves in a foreign land.

In Moreau’s youth, the French Revolution had destroyed spaces of Christian values and education and of daily life. Beyond France he came to know of places in the world that did not have access to the Good News of Jesus’ love and its power to change hearts and minds.

In these times, there is an attempt to make truth trivial by leaders in various nations; something to be ignored or created according to self-centered interests. There are pandemics worldwide, in people and in livestock … 40 million chickens had to be slaughtered in the United States alone this year due to bird flu. Similar events are experienced worldwide. Human trafficking attacks our very being as persons created in God’s image, both in victims and in those who perpetuate these markets.

All these things could leave us feeling paralyzed or hopeless. It is in these times that we need to let the message of these readings penetrate our hearts and minds.

Isaiah and John remind us that God’s salvation is realized through God’s chosen and beloved servants, whom Jesus calls “friends.”

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him and her who bring glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, making their home in God’s life, announcing salvation-wholeness.”

It is in persons you know, persons in our midst, with feet that have walked the walk. It is in hearts that have been open and vulnerable to listen deeply, look lovingly to experience the pain and injustice inflicted on God’s children and adults. It is in voices, carrying faith and hope from the heart, that our God, their God, will guide them and the world to restored life.

Can you not hear Jesus and Father Moreau saying to us: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you?

When I was a novice, a monk, Father Wulstan Mork, OSB, taught us about Father Moreau’s spirituality. Moreau prayed to be able to see as Jesus sees, to hear what Jesus hears, to feel what Jesus is feeling. It is this communion with Jesus, abiding in his love, that Basil Moreau found love of family and confreres and parishioners, zeal in Jesus’ mission, and a deeper experience of the Paschal Mystery.

As a novice, I began asking Jesus for that same gift.

Twenty years later, while present in a Good Friday service as an exile, in the back of a crowded church in Brazil—from which our community had just been unjustly expelled after 10 years of giving our all—I heard a voice say, “You asked to share my life … I am sharing it with you.” What a profound experience of consolation Jesus’ presence offered in that space.

So, in this 150th observance of Father Moreau’s feast, may we embrace the depth of the grace and power of our Congregation’s charism: Ave Crux, spes unica, “Hail the Cross, our only hope.” We are called Sisters of the Holy Cross, called to find and reveal the grace of being present in the mystery of the cross in our life and in the world; to stand as Mary, Jesus’ compassionate mother, standing together, living through the cross that others carry.

In the mystery of God’s love and choosing us, we are called to bear fruit in these spaces. May we, as Father Moreau, be witness to the experience of living the whole Paschal Mystery in our lives, and standing together, at home in Jesus’ love, with persons, with a world that is so in need of hope.

Thank you, dear Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, for leaving us this legacy.