The Priests and Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross have as their motto “Ave Crux, Spes Unica” which translates to “Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope.” This motto arose from their founder, Bl. Basile Moreau,* who was a man familiar with suffering, experiencing much adversity during his lifetime. At his beatification in 2007 this motto was present during all the celebrations and liturgies. It was central to Moreau’s spiritual life and therefore it obviously remains central to those who follow in his footsteps. Surely for one to find hope in the Cross is to have understood that suffering has a meaning, and that, as Moreau believed, “the Lord’s choicest blessings come through the crosses we bear out of love.”**
Every life matters. There is no life which is less significant than others. That message is clear throughout the gospels. Jesus spent significant time with those who were considered the lowest of the low: the tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, sinners of every sort, the possessed, and the ill. He gathered around Him fishermen, shepherds, farmers, outcasts, the poor, widows, children, the under-educated, and foreigners. He cared for every one of them. There was no one who approached Jesus whom He ever turned away. The most notorious of sinners and the lowliest of people all received a response of boundless love. He lifted up that which had been torn down by sin and brokenness. He even offered His love and mercy to the arrogant, such as the Roman officers, Pharisees, and other Jewish officials who sought to trip Him up at every turn. There was no one beneath Jesus and no one who was not worthy of His love.
Second to the realization and acceptance of being loved by God is the realization that we have a mission to accomplish. We need to accept that we are very gifted with talents in our own uniqueness. In other words, there is no one else on this earth that can do what you were put here to do. No one else can love as you do, and no one else can give to the people you meet as you can. No matter how small you feel, no matter how insignificant your place in life may seem, and no matter how much you are suffering, you always have something to offer the world. Even if it is your very suffering which you offer up as prayer, you have a great gift to give. We all do. Each of us must realize that our efforts matter in the fight against poverty, injustice, oppression, waste, marginalization, and loneliness. Even the little we may have, (or the great amount we may have), can go a long way in helping others realize that their lives matter, too. The smallest gesture, such as a loving response to a rude, angry attitude or lending a hand to one who requires help, can change the life of one in need.
©Michele L. Catanese
*For more on Bl. Basile Moreau, founder of Congregation of Holy Cross you can go to the following sites:
**The quote comes from this site:
The photos are mine. The first one was taken in Salzburg, Austria; this crucifixion scene was on a church on the end of a main street.
The second picture is an artist's rendition of Bl. Basile Moreau, CSC which was featured prominently at his beatification in 2007.
Next is an icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called St. James the Lesser. No one knows who actually wrote the letter attributed to James. It could have been any of the men named James who were companions of Jesus. So in the spirit of the letter being named for one of the men named James, I chose to share this icon. You can find it at http://fineartamerica.com/products/st-james-the-lesser-254-william-hart-mcnichols-art-print.html.
Next are my own photos again. A small village in Austria is first of these. Many seemingly solitary villages dot the Tyrolean countryside. Each of these, and each of the people in them, are important to God.
Following the village scene are some climbers getting to the top of Jugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. They did not climb the entire mountain, by the way; just the last bit, but it was still hair-raising to watch. I chose this photo to symbolize that all our efforts and struggles matter.
The last photo is the back of a commemorative medallion which was struck for the beatification of Bl. Basile Moreau. I was blessed with being present at this event. The medallion was a gift to me.