By: Father Boby John, C.S.C. on January 20th, 2023
A Chosen Soul - Family Reflection Video
Be careful of birds landing on your head. That happened to Saint Fabian, and it was taken as a sign when a dove sat on his head, that he should be elected pope! Fabian was a Roman layman who came into the city from his farm one day as clergy and people were preparing to elect a new pope. So, he was! And he served for 14 years as a pope, until he was martyred in 250.
It is an age-old argument: Do the events of history create the great (or evil) men who will change the world, or do great personalities come along at the right time to profoundly change history itself?
There are valid arguments for both points of view. Let us then see what our answer will be after we learn the story of a holy French priest, Father Basil Anthony Mary Moreau.
Born in the diocese of Le Mans, France, on February 11, 1799, he would be forever affected by the spiritual upheaval caused by the French Revolution. Church property was seized, priests were executed and arrested, and religious communities were expelled from France. Basil Moreau’s hope was to fill this vast spiritual and educational gap.
In 1821, Moreau was ordained a priest for the diocese, later becoming a seminary professor, teaching philosophy and theology while enthusiastically continuing his pastoral duties.
By 1835, Moreau had organized a group of young and energetic “auxiliary priests” whose mission was to travel the diocese, assisting in educational and spiritual growth programs at parishes. That same year, Bishop Jean Bouvier asked him to oversee the Brothers of St. Joseph, a group of educators founded by Rev. Jacques- Dujarié. Two years later, on March 1, 1837, Father Moreau merged the priests and brothers, and the association took its name from the small French town outside Le Mans from which it was based, Sainte-Croix. The new order’s name became Congregatio a Sancta Cruce, hence the initials C.S.C., which literally means “Congregation of Holy Cross.”
The Cross soon became an integral part of his community’s spirituality. The motto of the congregation is Ave Crux, Spes Unica, which means “Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope” — calling on the community to “learn how even the Cross can be borne as a gift.”
Blessed Moreau’s vision was to complete and maximize the spiritual vigor of this association — to give it “one heart, one soul” — by modeling it after the Holy Family and bringing into it a group of sisters who would also be involved in education and evangelization.
Reflecting his association’s zeal to make God known, loved and served, Moreau started sending members to other countries, including Algeria, Canada, Bangladesh and the United States. He sent seven young men — six brothers and Rev. Edward Sorin — to the United States, where in 1842, they founded the University of Notre Dame here in the United States. In 1857, the Holy See officially declared Moreau’s group to be a religious congregation and the Congregation of Holy Cross was born.
Moreau died on January 20, 1873 and was beatified on September 15, 2007.
So, how do we answer the question of the first paragraph? I don’t know if we can. Ultimately, in God’s Providential dispensation for our salvation, men, grace, and circumstances tumble around each other, producing polished specimens of sanctity such as blessed Father Moreau. His story may only suffice to prove the elusiveness of the answer. But, answer, or no, we can thank God, our always-loving Father, for sending us the chosen souls He has throughout the ages. Father Moreau was truly a man against his times, raised up by God to fight the evils of his day. The great work he took up in the worst of times continues still among those few apostolic men who are crucified to the world and the world to them.
May their number increase! May our number increase!
- Father Boby's inspirational homily was recorded live this morning during Mass at the Father Peyton Center. Please view the video on our Facebook page. (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
- To view Rosary prayer and Mass streaming live, please visit our Facebook page at 11:30 am EDT, Monday – Friday. Please invite your loved ones to join us too! (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
- Basil Moreau, Founder of Holy Cross by Gary MacEoin
- The Cross, Our Only Hope edited by Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C. and Kevin Grove, C.S.C.
- Blessed Father Basil Moreau: A Man Against His Times by Eleonore Villarrubia
About Father Boby John, C.S.C.
Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.