I haven’t been at my family home for Thanksgiving since 2012, which was the year before I entered Moreau Seminary. The schedule of academics and the formation program have meant that I have spent each of the last three holidays with my religious family in Holy Cross. Before that, of course, I celebrated this holiday with my parents and sister, and being away from them is still new and somewhat difficult. Each year this has given me time to consider both my relationship to my family and my relationship to my brothers in Holy Cross.
Those Thanksgivings with the community are some of my favorite times with Holy Cross. After beginning the day with Mass, we end up spending almost all day together. There is the annual Moreau vs. Old College flag football game, some time for rest, and then we gather for the big dinner. We spend the rest of the day just hanging out. In those times, the spirit of community and charity is clearly present. There’s a special gratitude that makes itself evident. The busyness of the semester is set aside for more important things. But in it’s essential parts, it looks like almost anyone else’s Thanksgiving celebrations.
While there are some obvious differences, there are also some surprising commonalities between the two experiences, with my family and with Holy Cross. On this day, our life together as a family, as a brotherhood, presents itself clearly. It helps me understand that by joining Holy Cross, I didn’t join a club or charitable organization. I joined a community that prays, works, and lives together.
The time that I spend here with my family in Holy Cross has become important to me, and I have learned to cherish it. This is not to say that there are not difficulties. I miss my family back in Texas, and they miss me. Though I joined this religious family, I did not abandon or forsake my parents or sister. But I am also grateful that I will be home in Texas for the last week of Advent and for Christmas. My participation in the brotherhood of Holy Cross has helped me to better appreciate the holidays I do celebrate with my parents and sister.
This leads me to think especially of a paragraph from our Constitution on Brotherhood:
It is essential to our mission that we strive to abide so attentively together that people will observe: “See how they love one another.” We will then be a sign in an alienated world: men who have, for love of their Lord, become closest neighbors, trustworthy friends, brothers.
In my short time in formation, I have come to appreciate our desire to live together intentionally, to live with love for each other. I hope to grow in this love for my neighbors, friends, and brothers for the rest of my life.
Mr. Andrew Higdon, CSC, is in his second year of temporary vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross. He resides at Moreau Seminary with his brother seminarians while competing his M.Div at the University of Notre Dame. Andrew is originally from Austin, TX.