Let us imagine that we are walking with Blessed Basile Moreau after his beatification, as the two disciples walked with Jesus to Emmaus after the resurrection. Our destination might be different, but the warming of our hearts comes from the same active presence of him with us today.
From the Healing to the Beatification
The story of the healing which so contributed to the beatification of Fr. Moreau is truly marvelous. In 1948, a serious case of double pleurisy threatened the life of a Quebecois mother, Laurette Comtois, who had had a premature baby who had not survived. She was the cousin of one of the novices of the Sisters of Holy Cross, Sr. Juliette Beauchemin.
When her uncle, the father of Laurette, visited, the novice entrusted to him a relic of Fr. Moreau and promised him her prayers and those of the whole Novitiate for the healing of Laurette, of whom she was very fond. The uncle shared the great faith of the novice and began a novena with the family.
On the fourth day, the condition of Laurette improved to the point where she was cured. The doctor was there did not understand at all and said to her, "You are so lucky to have passed through a double pleurisy in four days!" Laurette responded, "It's thanks to Fr. Moreau and the prayers of the sixty novices that I am healed."
Very discreetly, Sr. Juliette Beauchemin, C.S.C., the novice of 1948, was present in 2007 in Le Mans, with Sylvia and Cecil Julien, daughters of the recipient of the miracle, for the beatification of Fr. Moreau. In 2006, the offical Roman decree declared "that the rapid complete and lasting healing of Mrs Laura Comtois is a miracle accomplished by God through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Basile Antony Marie Moreau, priest and founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross." The accomplishment of the beatification invites us to recall how great a miracle took place.
On the occasion of this Year of Mercy, let us thank our blessed founder for having given to the Church and the society works of mercy of the highest kind. This mercy is composed of various elements, from a simple glass of water to the most sublime grace. All that is contained in "it is to me that you did this" is mercy, imprinted with empathy, true love, pardon and compassion. Thus, mercy is the continuation of his life and his teachings. Mercy acts without self-interest, without exploiting the underprivileged for its own ends.
The Roman decree concerning his virtues recognized that: "The presence of God was constant in his life; his thoughts and his works were directed to the greater glory of God. Urged on by his love of Christ, he set about numerous apostolic activities and undertook his work for the glory of God and the salvation of souls ... A tireless man, he accepted innumerable sacrifices for the good of souls in whom he saw the face of the divine Redeemer."
Following the foundation of an orphanage in rural Italy, Pope Pius IX conferred on him the title "Missionary Apostolic." The decree does not hide the fact that "Fr. Basile was the object of false accusations and disavowals ... certain members of the Institute for which he had worked tirelessly accused him unjustly of poor administration."
It is fitting that we direct our prayers and praises to Fr. Moreau, but it is also fitting the we address to him our requests for mercy for the injustices against him, which is also part of mercy.
Truly Saving the World
In his spirituality, Fr. Moreau urges us to conform our life to Jesus, our model. Many of his titles could be considered, since Jesus shows many sides of his person. But I submit that the most fundamental for Fr. Moreau is Jesus as Savior.
He wrote: "How would you have zeal for the demands of your state, if you did not have a love for the Savior which inspires in you respect and affection for your work, and devotion to the salvation of souls for whom Jesus sacrificed his life?"
Religious, theologian, professor of Sacred Scripture, Fr. Moreau was suffused with this redemption of the Savior. He knew that the angel had told Joseph, "You will call him by the name of Jesus, since it is he who will save his people." Thus, Jesus-Savior. In the Bible the name of a person, more than describing a person, identifies them.
The writings our our founder are peppered with this Savior. He named the Novitiate "The Solitude of the Savior," he designated the priests of Holy Cross as "Salvatorists." One could even suggest that the Savior is at the foundation of the mission of Holy Cross and so of its charism.
On further reflection, "to save" makes reference to a danger from which one is delivered or out of which one is pulled, in the sense of "safeguard" one's life, to be safe and sound, to be healed ("your faith has saved you"), to be delivered from the storm of from death. In sum, the Savior provides universal salvation for the world. This is very inspiring for us today. Our path is a way of mercy with the Savior through all the dangers and risks of our cultures and civilizations. Might this not be true evangelization?
Allusions to Fr. Moreau in His Mass
The liturgy of the Mass of Fr. Moreau that we have celebrated since his beatification takes us to him by means of allusion. In this way, his voice resounds in the words of Jesus, in the Gospel: "If anyone wants to walk after me, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it."
In the universal prayer of this Mass, let us remember the following: "For the family of Holy Cross throughout the world: sisters, brothers, priests and associates; that, through the intercession of blessed Basile Moreau, we might be blessed and continue the work of evangelization instituted by our founder for the service of the Church and the World."
This reflection for the Feast Day of Blessed Basile Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by Br. Vianney Saint-Michel, C.S.C., who is a member of the Congregation's Province Canadienne headquartered in Montreal, Québec, Canada.