Basil Moreau – Spirituality
The Spirituality of Blessed Basil Moreau is expressed as follows: Hope in the Cross of Christ, Trust in Divine Providence, Emphasis on Unity and Communion, Conformity to Christ, and Zeal for Mission. These are the values that characterized Father Moreau’s Christian discipleship and shaped his apostolic priorities, his vision of community life, and his prayer.
Hope in the Cross of Christ
Father Moreau believed that the crosses we experience in life have the power to produce fruit, just as the Cross of Christ produced the greatest fruit of all: our redemption.
“Far from complaining of [crosses], we must learn to love them, for if we bear them as we should, they are worth their weight in gold. These nails and thorns will be changed later into the many precious stones that will make up the crown of glory reserved for those who have been faithful to the duties of their vocation and have worn lovingly, even to the end, their Savior’s crown of thorns. I know not what new crosses await us during the coming year. Whatever they may be, let us not forget that the heaviest crosses contribute most to the general good of our work and to the welfare of each one of us” (Circular Letter 23).
To hope in the Cross of Christ is to believe that the sufferings we endure have the power to bear fruit in our own lives and in the life of the world. It is to be courageous in the midst of trial. It is to trust that the darkness of night will be followed by resurrection’s dawn. It is to discover purpose in the truth that bearing one’s cross as Christ bore His has the power to conform us to him and to his way.
Conformity to Christ
Heeding the wisdom of Saint Gregory of Nyssa who said, “A Christian ought to be another Jesus Christ,” Blessed Basil Moreau desired to be conformed to Christ in all things. He sought to reproduce in himself Christ’s attitudes and virtues, annihilating all traces of self-interest, so that he might be God’s true and faithful servant.
“Happy, indeed, are we if we know how to profit by [trials] and to understand the unspeakable advantage of becoming more and more conformed to the image of the divine Christ crucified” (Circular Letter 34).
“When you die, you can claim the joys of paradise only to the extent that the divine justice finds you conformed to Jesus Christ” (Meditations).
Conforming oneself to Christ means seeking to imitate Christ in all things by avoiding sin, living virtuously, loving generously, and following the will of God instead of one’s own. To conform oneself to Christ is to discover true and lasting joy!
Trust in Divine Providence
As one of the most frequently recurring themes in his writings, Father Moreau saw all as guided by the hand of Providence. He trusted that our lives and our destinies rest securely in God’s keeping.
“If I could have foreseen the development of the Congregation of Holy Cross from the outset, I could then have regulated and coordinated everything in advance. If such were the case, however, this Congregation would have been a merely human combination and not the work of divine providence. The fact of the matter is that it began and developed in a manner so mysterious that I can claim for myself neither credit for its foundation nor merit for its progress. Therein lies the indubitable proof that God alone is the Founder of this Congregation” (Circular Letter 94).
To trust in Divine Providence is to face present and future challenges with the assurance that God is in control. Such confidence in God’s presence and love brings comfort and peace; and yet, trust in Divine Providence requires something of us as well. It requires that we cooperate with the benevolent hand that orders all things for the good, and that we avoid those things that stand in the way of its progress.
Unity and Communion
As Christ prayed that his disciples might be one, so Blessed Basil Moreau exhorted his religious of Holy Cross to be one for the sake of mission. To encourage his religious in their exercise of the bonds of unity and charity, Father Moreau chose the Holy Family of Nazareth to serve as the model for his family of Sainte-Croix.
“Our union with one another is a powerful lever with which we can move, direct, and sanctify the whole world” (Circular Letter 14).
“Our Association is…a visible imitation of the Holy Family wherein Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, notwithstanding their difference in dignity, were one at heart by their unity of thought and uniformity of conduct” (Circular Letter 14).
Promoting a spirit of unity and communion is the call of all Christian disciples. In the practice of humility, in the exercise of patience toward others, and in the performance of charity and service, we cultivate that family spirit that reigns in the Body of Christ, the Church. We also strengthen the bonds of fellowship, which, in turn, serves as a sign of the Kingdom.
Zeal for Mission
Blessed Basil Moreau was committed to the glory of God and the sanctification of souls. This occupied his thoughts and inspired his deeds. He burned with the desire to accomplish the work of God. This was his zeal.
“Zeal is the great desire to make God known, loved, and served, and thus to bring knowledge of salvation to others” (Christian Education).
“Teachers who possess [the virtue of zeal] fulfill the duties of their profession with enthusiasm, love, courage, and perseverance. When they see young people who lack knowledge and Christian values, they experience what Saint Paul felt when he wrote to those he had evangelized: “My children for whom I labor again and again until Christ is within you” (Gal 4:19).
To be zealous for mission according to the example of Father Moreau is to burn with love for Christ and His Church. It is to place the good of others before one’s own. It is the way of self-sacrifice and of holy desire.