One of the first gifts that Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, gave to his young religious community was the Directory, “a book of common and personal prayers to assist in their ongoing formation and living of the religious life.”
In his Circular Letters, Moreau often referred community members to the devotions included in the Directory in order to renew their religious life and assist their growth in holiness. He also hoped that the Directory would deepen the union of the Congregation by expanding the shared spiritual patrimony of all the members with a common set of prayers and devotions.
With those same hopes in mind, Fr. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., who served as Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross from 1998-2010, requested that a new Directory of prayer be prepared for the community.
Fr. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., chaired the committee of Holy Cross priests and brothers charged with bringing this project to fruition. In recent weeks, their labors have born fruit as copies of the new Directory of Devotional Prayer – promulgated by the current Superior General, Fr. Richard Warner, C.S.C., and totaling over 200 pages – have begun arriving in the hands of Holy Cross religious. New members to the community will now receive the Directory of Devotional Prayer, along with the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, at the time of their reception into the Novitiate.
We share with you the Preface to the new Directory, which goes into greater depth on the Directory’s scope, purpose, and significance in the life and mission of Holy Cross “to make God known, loved, and served, and thus save souls.”
As the liturgical prayer of the Church expresses and forms us in the faith of the Church, so this Directory of Devotional Prayer expresses and forms us in the spiritual heritage of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The prayers and texts chosen for inclusion in this book of prayers were taken from the writings of Father Moreau, the Church's rich patrimony of popular devotions, or were newly composed in light of our Constitutions, charism, and spiritual heritage.
Although Blessed Basil Moreau taught that the "gospel is quite sufficient as a rule of life for religious," he provided his first religious with Constitutions and Rules, as well as a Directory, a book of common and personal prayers, to assist in their ongoing formation and living of the religious life. By the publication of this Directory of Devotional Prayer, the Congregation invites us to enhance our personal prayer, already marked by meditation upon the Scriptures and our Constitutions, with a prayerful engagement of the "sound popular devotions" proposed in this text. Thus the traditional triptych of Scripture, Constitutions and Rules, and a book of prayer, offered by Father Moreau as the principal elements of our Holy Cross tradition (Eucharistic devotion, daily meditation, examination of conscience and preparation for Reconciliation, the Way of the Cross, vocal prayers for various needs, and devotion to Saint Joseph, Our Lady of Sorrows, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus) for our personal prayer and reflection. In so doing, it deepens our bonds with the "great band of men" who beckoned us to "walk in their company" and who ground us in our historical patrimony.
Second, it enhances these traditional elements by providing a context and texts from the Scripture and our Constitutions. Thus, it complements our historical patrimony with the Word of God, which speaks to us anew in every age, and our Constitutions, which summon us to ever greater fidelity to Christ in the present moment.
Third, this Directory of Devotional Prayer invites us to contemplate the lives of our holy predecessors in Holy Cross. Thus, it calls to mind that our life in Holy Cross is a genuine way of holiness and that in our journey of faith we are not alone as we come before the Lord in prayer.
Fourth, it proposes for prayer and meditation the dynamic elements of the Holy Cross charism: conformity to Christ, trust in Divine Providence, confidence in the Cross, and a spirit of union and collaboration. In so doing, it reminds us that our way of life in Holy Cross, a path of holiness, is meant, as Moreau dreamed it, to be "a powerful lever with which to move, direct and sanctify the whole world."
Our Constitutions speak of God's Spirit, who "gives us the desire and utterance for prayer," and of prayer as "our faith attending to the Lord." May this Directory of Devotional Prayer, a testament of faith attending to the Lord, help to stir to flame within our hearts the desire for God that is always the Spirit's gift!