Within the past few weeks, I have celebrated three funerals here at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, beginning on our Founder, Blessed Basil Moreau’s, feast day — January 20th, the anniversary of his death and, we believe, his entrance into eternal life. There are other funerals that my pastor, Father David Halm, C.S.C., has celebrated since then, as well. For Father Moreau, the cross is a sign not that all will go well for us as Christians but that we are progressing ever closer to reaching our goal: conforming ourselves to our Divine Master, Jesus Christ, and accomplishing faith’s goal, which is our salvation. This is why he repeatedly uplifts and motivates his confrères not to be discouraged by crosses and trials, because “If we seek God’s glory and are ready to make every sacrifice for so good a ruler, then the more trials we have to face, the better everything will succeed” (Letters).
Christ’s are the footsteps that we take and that Moreau took — not our own — as we walk the path shouldering our crosses all the way to Calvary. A lot of our parishioners are making this Way of the Cross with Jesus and Mary as we speak: mothers losing their sons and daughters, children losing their brothers or sisters, grandparents heading off to heaven marked with the sign of faith and bringing their family along in their prayers at the hour of their deaths.
As I accompany a family through a recent death of a loved one in these sacred moments, the truth of our Holy Cross rule of life encourages me in my identity and mission as a Holy Cross religious & priest: We must be men with hope to bring. Resurrection for us is a daily event. We grieve, but not as men without hope, for Christ the Lord has risen to die no more. If we, like him, encounter and accept suffering in our discipleship, we will move without awkwardness among others who suffer. There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation he cannot exchange for blessing, no anger he cannot dissolve, no routine he cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in his victory.
But of course these words are a promise to be assimilated as a reality, not a paltry truth to be recited! When I am ministering to these saddened and heartbroken families, I find that Christ carries me and carries them. Even when they don’t understand why, when they cast or sometimes even hurl their fears, anger, and cares upon God, we remember together that, although the loss is difficult, Jesus said it must be this way. If he has revealed that the only way to the Father’s house must entail rejection, hurt, pain, self-denial, taking up your own cross, stumbling, falling, weeping, and dying, then he also shoulders the responsibility of revealing to us how we win Resurrection and new life with him. We only walk the way Jesus walked first, to go where he has gone. Everything else is left up to the mysterious mercy of God. So if you find yourself dealing with a loss in your life right now, don’t “deal” with it; let Jesus carry you in it, and remember. Remember that Jesus was there before — he knows the way — and that all your brothers and sisters suffering around the world are doing the same for you with their prayers.