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Homily of the Most Reverend Yves Le Saux, Bishop of Le Mans, France, given last September at the dedication of the mother church of the Congregation as the Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau:
I am happy to celebrate Blessed Basil Moreau with you today. The change in status of the church of Our Lady of Holy Cross, which, while remaining a parish church, is becoming the shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau, has as its goal to help us to know better, and to make better known, the figure of Blessed Basil Moreau.
In light of the scripture texts suggested by the Church [for celebrating Basil Moreau], I would like to emphasize some points that seem to me to be part of the experience of Basil Moreau, and which the Holy Cross fathers, brothers, and sisters have inherited.
Spirit of Union
Basil Moreau insisted on union among the different members of his religious family. He proposed as model the union that exists at the heart of the Holy Family among Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Even more radically, he proposed the relationship of Jesus with his Father in the Holy Spirit, the Trinitarian communion.
Thus we heard in the letter to the Ephesians: “Livewith all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3).
To be sure, Basil Moreau was talking about the union between the different branches of what he had founded, the priests, the brothers, and the sisters. He thought that the mission would best be fulfilled by the complementary witness of these three different ways of life. But without a doubt, we should also keep in mind that the condition for missionary fruitfulness comes to us by way of communion and fraternal charity. And we all know that on this path, there is always progress to be made.
This charity among us is born out of our personal union with Christ. As Saint Therese of Lisieux admirably said, “the further I am from Jesus, the further I am from my sisters; the closer I am to Jesus, the closer I am to my sisters.”
Lastly, Saint Paul says again, “we all will attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13). Together, not alone. It seems to me that Basil Moreau says to us: together, not alone.
One could say that Basil Moreau was a man of the cross. If I have understood correctly, the motto of the community of Fathers and Brothers of Holy Cross is “Hail the Cross, our only hope.”
This is, of course, first of all, an affirmation of faith: salvation comes to us through the Cross of Christ. It is also an invitation to follow Jesus, by way of the Cross.
In discovering the life of Basil Moreau, I was struck by the number of trials he went through: the misunderstandings, the calumny, the financial concerns, and the rejection he suffered unto the very end of his life. All of that, however, never seems to have restrained his love and affection for all, particularly for his brothers. This calls to mind the words of Saint Paul: “We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently” (1 Cor 4:10, 12). One can understand why, in memory of Basil Moreau, this passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew was selected: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt 16:24).
Basil Moreau invites us to walk in the footsteps of Christ crucified; to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross.
“Let us have the courage to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood, which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. In this way the Church will go forward. Even Peter, who professed Jesus Christ, said to him, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross.’ When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly” (Pope Francis, homily of 14 March 2013).
Trust in Divine Providence
Basil Moreau was convinced that God acts and leads the way, and that our place is to collaborate with the action of God. “To second [assist] the designs of Divine Providence.” Basil Moreau invites us to be attentive to the presence and constant activity of God.
It is a question of promoting the will of God. We live in an era that wants to control everything, and we seek control of things before moving forward. (In reality, we’re not making progress.) It seems to me that Basil Moreau invites us to place ourselves second. It’s God who is first. Of course, this is an invitation to confidence. To put it differently, allow me, please, to use the words of Benedict XVI: “The first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and it’s only in joining ourselves to the divine initiative that we, too, are able to become with him and in him evangelizers.” (Benedict XVI, meditation for the opening of the synod on the new evangelization, 8 October 2012).
Basil Moreau invites us to enter into the initiative of God, along with all that that entails in terms of detachment from one’s own plans and from confidence solely in oneself.
On the feast day of our founder, Fr. John DeRiso, C.S.C., the Rector of the International Shrine of Basil Moreau in Le Mans, shares the homily given by the Most Rev. Yves Le Saux, the Bishop of Le Mans, on the occasion of the shrine’s inauguration on September 21, 2014.