All Souls Day (Nov. 2) is a day when we as members of the living Church can pray for our loved ones and faithful departed. Throughout the month of November, the priests and brothers of Holy Cross will also pray for and commemorate through the Sacrifice of the Mass the deceased family and friends of their benefactors, along with their dearly departed sisters and brothers in Holy Cross.
The U.S. Province is inviting donors to send in the names of loved ones, which once received will be placed in the Chapel at Moreau Seminary. The Moreau Seminary community will embrace the names of those that have passed on in their daily Masses and prayers throughout the month of November.
On All Souls Day, Holy Cross communities all across the country, and around the world, will gather to pray for and honor deceased Holy Cross religious. Among the U.S. Province, members of the Community at the University of Notre Dame will commemorate their past brothers with the Sacrifice of the Mass and a solemn procession to the Holy Cross Community cemetery while invoking the intercession of the saints.
A common burial ground will guard the ashes of the various members of the association. It is there that we shall await together, under the protection of the cross, the hour of the final awakening. For us who have the gift of faith, the cemetery, which in our language means the sleeping place, is truly the spot for that rest which is a little longer than an ordinary night, and which will end with the radiant dawn of eternity. (Blessed Basil Moreau, CL 40)
To find out more about the feast of All Soul’s Day in the Congregation of Holy Cross, see a story on the Holy Cross Vocations blog by Dan Ponisciak, C.S.C., or read the reflection below by Rev. John DeRiso, C.S.C., Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, Ind.
A Community of Brotherhood
One of my favorite rituals as a Holy Cross religious is the annual procession to our community cemetery on the Feast of All Souls. Following Mass in one of our religious houses, a long line of Holy Cross priests and brothers forms outside the chapel. We fall in step, walking side by side, chanting the Litany of Saints as we go. Upon arrival at the cemetery, we break formation and walk amid the crosses that mark the resting places of our brothers, silently offering prayers for the men “who had made and lived by their vows, men who had walked side by side in their following of the Lord” (Constitution 1:5).
On this day, I know just where I want to go — to the crosses that mark the resting places of those who were most important to me as I started out in religious life: Fr. Jerry Wilson, C.S.C., who modeled patience and kindness even as his body failed in his later years; Br. Chester Ziemba, C.S.C., who encouraged me in my seminary days when I was beset with apprehension and self-doubt; Fr. Joe Pawlicki, C.S.C., who taught me about zeal in the service of the Gospel as he ministered tirelessly to the Spanish-speaking community in the Southwest.
Author Simone Weil observed that “nothingamong human things has such power to keep our gaze fixed ever more intensely upon God than friendship for the friends of God.” My friendship with the men of Holy Cross who have taught me, encouraged me, and challenged me, strengthens my fidelity to the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience that fix my gaze ever more intensely upon God. If the vows are how we live and minister as priests and brothers of Holy Cross, then community is the context in which we do so.
I am grateful to the Lord for choosing the menof Holy Cross for me. I am privileged to “fall in step” with them; to be “part of the family they formed in order to share in their life and work” (Constitution 1:5). They are the ones with whom I have shared my joy in times of favor, and the ones whom I have leaned on in times of challenge. They are my “closest neighbors, trustworthy friends, brothers” (Constitution 4:42), and I couldn’t imagine my life as a priest without them.
After several minutes of private prayer among the graves of our beloved departed brothers, we set aside our individual paths, rejoin the procession, and chant in unison the “Salve Regina” for our deceased brothers. For love of the Lord, we men of Holy Cross have set aside our individual paths to join a procession; to chant in unison our life and our life’s work. Ours is a shared mission and a mutual interest: the love of God and of neighbor, the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, and the sanctification of ourselves, of one another, and of the world. One of our religious, Servant of God Patrick Peyton, popularized the phrase: “The family that prays together stays together.”
Prayer with my brothers in the family of Holy Cross recommits me to Christ and to this “union of hearts” envisioned by our holy founder, Blessed Basil Moreau. At the conclusion of the “Salve Regina,” we take leave of our departed brothers and of one another; but our leave-taking is no separation, for we remain members of one another, bound by our vows and supporting each other in our common pursuit of the life of the Spirit. Departing the cemetery, I am grateful for all my brothers who have supported me and helped form me into the priest and religious I am today, and I long, in turn, to be as good a brother to them. I am heartened also by the knowledge that one day there will be a cross marking my resting place, and my brothers, with whom I will remain joined, will offer prayers for me there, too.
Fr. John DeRiso, C.S.C., is the Pastor of St. Joseph Parish (South Bend, Ind.).