In his first circular letter to the Brothers of Saint Joseph, whom the designs of Providence had entrusted to his care, Basil Moreau wrote, “Receive all that I have written to you as the outpouring of a heart that burns with the desire to help you.” From the beginning of our Institute, our father in religion was ever devoted to us who have been “received into the bosom” of the Congregation. He vowed to “stop short of no sacrifice” when our welfare or that of our community was at stake. His life and his life’s work most assuredly bore that out.
Our holy Founder’s most fervent goal, for himself and for his spiritual sons, was to be one with the Lord. Conformity to Christ meant making the Lord’s attitudes, virtues, thoughts, and affections our own, so that we might say with the blessed apostle, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2, 20). With a heart burning with the desire to help us, he exhorted his sons in Jesus Christ to be united with the Lord and with each other, in order that we might be ever more effective in our mission to make God known, loved, and served, and thus save souls.
Our blessed Founder’s affection for his religious community led to the cross – the cross of sacrifice, of unjust treatment, and of being wrongly judged. Ever eager to follow after the Lord as His good and faithful servant, and with a heart burning with love for us and for our Institute, Basil Moreau willingly took up the cross of suffering. Uniting his cross to the Cross of Christ, which he hailed as his only hope, our spiritual father’s sufferings did not fail to yield a rich harvest. By the grace of God, the seeds planted and watered by our holy Founder’s toil and tears have produced fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold! The small sapling that was the motherhouse at Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix has “grown into a stately tree” shooting forth “new limbs and branches…nourished by the life-giving sap” of fraternal charity and the vows of religion.
On this his feast, we give thanks to God for the life and witness of Blessed Basil Anthony Mary Moreau – a priest of outstanding holiness and heroic virtue. We find in his teachings and example a path to sanctity, a way of love, a mission to embrace. Let us also find strength and confidence in the assurance that he whose heart burned with the desire to help us, desires to help us still, as he makes intercession for us before the Lord whom we serve.
Father John DeRiso, C.S.C. is the first Rector of the Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau, at the church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix in Le Mans, France. He may be reached at email@example.com. See pictures of the Shrine and read spiritual reflections written by and about Blessed Basil Moreau by visiting www.facebook.com/moreaucsc.