Br. James Henke, C.S.C.

If you were to ask a Holy Cross religious why they first joined Holy Cross and why they made Final Vows, you will often receive two different answers. Our first attractions to life in Holy Cross don’t go away, but through our time in formation we discover a reason that touches us more deeply than our first impressions. As I was discerning religious life, I was looking for a way to give myself radically, completely to the Gospel. So many different communities and ways of life offer that opportunity, but as I began to look at brotherhood in Holy Cross, two characteristics of this life first popped out at me. For one, I was excited by the internationality of Holy Cross. I’ve always been strongly attracted by the missionary life. The thought that I could be a part of an international community of men who shared the same mission in a number of communities and cultures around the world very much excited me. The second distinctive characteristic that attracted me was the community life I witnessed. I saw that the life these men shared together brought them great joy. Watching them live and love each other as brothers showed me that religious life in Holy Cross meant joining a family. Both the mission and the community life of Holy Cross spoke to my heart and offered me a vision of the life of a brother in Holy Cross which could be both joyful and fulfilling.

Since I entered formation a little over five years ago, I have found something even greater than I could see from the outside. There are so many reasons why I love being a brother in Holy Cross, many of which remain a mystery even to me. When I reflect on my journey, and where I am now as a brother, it feels like a love story, and I cannot point to one defining reason for why God has invited me into this relationship with Him. One aspect of this singular call to become a Holy Cross brother that touches me most profoundly is the unique relationship with God to which I am invited. As a brother in Holy Cross, I have a particular availability to God in my prayer life and in my apostolic work. It is this unique relationship with God that feeds all that I do and love about Holy Cross. I have come to discern that this is the way I was created to love in the world. Rather than diminish my earlier attractions to Holy Cross, I have found that my mission and community life have been transformed by this relationship with God that is unique to the Holy Cross brother. Jesus is my brother and I am His brotherly presence to the world.

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