Br. Dennis Fleming, C.S.C., Br. Patrick Lynch, C.S.C., Bro. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C., and Bro. Thomas Dziekan, C.S.C. — These men, our brothers, are the face of the Holy Cross brother among us here at Chapter. In them, we are reminded once again of the great band of men who bear and have borne the respected title: “Brother!”
And so, in the midst of the busyness of this Chapter, we take this opportunity to offer our simple, but profound thanks! For in them, and in all who bear the formal title of “Brother” in the Congregation of Holy Cross, we have been most richly blessed!
Our General Chapter established this as the Year of the Brother in honor of our first saint, Saint André of Montreal and as an expression of gratitude for the proud history and legacy of our Brothers. It was also to bring about greater consciousness of this important vocation for the Congregation and Church with the hope that it would give renewed focus to the vocation of the brother wherever we are and among those we serve.
So this morning we profess our profound gratitude for, indeed, we recognize the personal contribution and value of our brothers to the life and vitality of our Province and to the Congregation as well.
But is it sufficient to simply express our thanks and appreciation, or is there something more to which this celebration calls us?
In his homily to open this Chapter, Fr. Richard Warner, C.S.C., our Superior General, spoke of the greatest challenge facing the Congregation today: the call to renewal of our religious life as priests and brothers. He cautioned us that any structural reform without renewal would be ineffective.
As a point of reflection, then, may I suggest that, beyond our expressions of praise and gratitude, through the vocation of our brothers we are reminded of that which is most basic and fundamental to our life in Holy Cross. For ultimately our life is not about what we do, the assignments entrusted to us, the titles we bear, but more importantly, it is about who we are as consecrated religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
My brothers, whatever we may have thought initially, we entered consecrated life in Holy Cross in response to an inner call. It was not our doing but the Lord Jesus inviting us to: Come. Follow me.” So we embarked on a life journey, strengthened by the witness and support of each other, to seek God through our personal journey in faith — and from that foundation, to guide and assist others in their journey as well.
And haven’t we learned that the invitation to follow the Lord is never answered once and for all, but a continual invitation to enter ever more deeply within as we seek to center and re-center our life in Christ? In this way, those we serve may see beyond the personality variables or particular gifts we may possess to see in us something more — that “something more” that comes from years of fidelity in seeking God, recognizing that our real treasure is not here, but Elsewhere. For in God Alone we live and move and have our being.
It’s about listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit emanating from deep within us, drawing us ever more profoundly into “…single-hearted intimacy with God … trusting dependence upon God … and willing surrender to God…” (Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, 5:43), so that God’s may be done in and through us in God’s way, not our own.
My brothers, to the extent we open ourselves in fidelity and trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to give purpose and direction to our life in community, this, I suggest, then becomes that “ministerial difference” people see in us and how we serve: living a life of love as Jesus did, walking in His footsteps as He leads us to the Father!
But this can only happen united with Jesus, as branches to the vine. Today’s readings held special significance to Blessed Basil Moreau, providing a guiding image in founding his new Congregation.
And brothers, haven’t we learned that creating our own lives is the journey of a lifetime, that on-going conversion of mind and heart. It’s about the conversion of our habits, our character, our attitudes, our desires (6:57), leading us to that point wherein our life speaks: “It is no longer I who live but Christ living in and through me” (Galatians 2:20).
Shortly before coming to Chapter, Myrna Thomas, Administrator at Holy Cross House, in speaking of Holy Cross commented: “I’m always amazed at how your life in Holy Cross is a constant ‘yes!'”
And haven’t we learned that the quality of our “yes” is a measure of the extent to which we are open to the Spirit nudging us to move beyond self, inviting us into trusting confidence in our following the Lord Jesus?
Let me suggest this is the fundamental call we celebrate here in honoring our brothers!
So as Dennis, Pat, Donald, and Tom step forward to renew their vows, may each of us renew our inner resolve to surrender our life in ever greater trust and faithfulness into the mystery of God’s Love — a Love deeper and more profound than we could ever imagine or thought possible — a Love that is truly Mystery, inviting us to be “Men with Hope to bring!” (8:118). For the “Hope” we bring is the Eternal Word spoken from deep within, emanating from what is measureless, eternal and divine within us!
Fr. Ken Molinaro, C.S.C., the Assistant Provincial and Vicar of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, gave this homily as a part of a celebration of the Year of the Brother at the 2012 Provincial Chapter. Learn more about the vocation of a brother in Holy Cross.