Virtues of Blessed Basil Moreau
Fr. Basil Moreau was declared Venerable in 2003 as a result of the concentrated efforts of the Superiors General of the four congregations of men and women of the Family of Holy Cross. On September 15, 2007 he was proclaimed Blessed at a liturgy celebrated in LeMans, France, the birthplace of the Family of Holy Cross. Below is a reflection on some of the virtues of this holy man.
Basil Moreau was a man of steadfastness, evident in the growth of his vocation in the ways of God. This same characteristic is seen in the great trials of his life, in his temptations to despair, in abandoning everything to Divine Providence, in his rejection by his brothers in Holy Cross and finally by the liquidation of all Holy Cross assets in Le Mans. As always his union with his Divine Master is manifest in his expressions of complete trust, “My God, I consent to this provided the Congregation be saved and that you be glorified.”
Basil Moreau was a man of urgency. In his early life we find several indications of this aspect. In him there is a deep realization of the presence of God, of God’s love and of God’s call to him personally. He lived this out in his vocation as a priest and in his great adventure and responsibility as a Founder. To the call of this God who was his everything, he answered with love and gratitude which he expressed in one of his sermons, “He alone merits the homage of my mind and the affection of my heart. I want to live but for him and to breathe but for His glory.”
Basil Moreau was a man of untiring effort. It was in the livery of service that he lived and struggled. Inspired by the needs of the day, he consistently moved toward whatever would change or shape the future. He was a man of active vigilance, prompt to answer the Master. In his meditation on the workers sent into the vineyard, he wrote, “If today you hear the voice of the Lord to the care of his vineyard – harden not your hearts – but go at once.”
Basil Moreau’s highest ambition was to cooperate with God. One striking point was his constant effort to cooperate with the grace of his calling. As a young priest he imposed rigorous discipline on himself. Throughout his life he struggled ” to become a saint”. In the rule of Holy Cross he wrote, “Each one will try his best, with the help of grace, to augment his love until it fills his whole mind, his whole heart, until it exhausts his strength.”
Basil Moreau was a director of souls and an educator. In his ministry we find him practicing patience, gentleness, faith in the transforming power of grace, forgiveness in making new beginnings possible – “You ask me, my friend, to forget the past and forgive you – how easy it is for me to do that.” He insists on Jesus as educator of his disciples, “He taught them patiently, correcting them gently and firmly.” His own advice was, “Avoid hasty zeal; join a just firmness with wise delay.”
Basil Moreau was a man zealous for the mission. “I hope still to be able, even though I am 73 years old, to preach during the coming Lent.” This was written November 19, 1872. When Lent arrived, he was already in eternity.
Basil Moreau was aware of the needs of the Church of his day. These needs included the lack of priests, lack of Christian educators, lack of assistance to the poor and rejects of society. A world in need of salvation inspired in Basil the desire to commit himself personally and then with others to meet needs. The desire began to take shape. First Moreau grouped together the auxiliary priests to preach and minister in parishes. With Fr. Dujarié he entered into the field of education in the direction of the brothers of St. Joseph. Then he founded the sisters to assist in the work of education at Holy Cross College. The field for his zeal opened when his first collaborators arrived. With the formation of his apostles would come Holy Cross.
Father Moreau entered into God’s plan with absolute confidence, when by providential events, God showed him that He wanted the foundation of Holy Cross. “I shall have no fears for the Congregation, and even if all of you had abandoned me on learning of our catastrophes, I would have begun all over again, as soon as I could have, so convinced am I that God wanted what I undertook.”
Moreau saw God’s hand in the creation of a “religious family”. He drafted the plan for the first association of Holy Cross, gave it its first statutes, its first rules that he repeatedly touched up and modified over a period of twenty years. Finally Holy Cross became an “officially recognized body in the Church”. In fidelity to the totality of his call, Fr. Moreau had also “to create means of evangelization”. This would be education in its broadest sense:
- Through preaching in parishes – religious education
- On different levels and with different groups
- With young people in Christian formation activities.
Moreau believed with all his soul in:
- His mission
- The Movement of Providence
- Vigilance and Response to God’s Will
- Faith in the Acts of Divine Providence
- Confidence in the Work Born of Inspiration
- Faith in Impulses Coming from God