The spirituality of the cross
By Tim Cleaver, Guest Commentary
Greetings! My name is Tim Cleaver and I am a novice for the Congregation of Holy Cross. It's been a great gift to be connected with the Congregation of Holy Cross, a religious community filled with priests and brothers who embody the ministry and zeal of Christ. As you probably know the Congregation staffs many universities throughout the country, including the University of Portland. The Congregation brings a unique chrism and spirituality to these institutions' students, staff and faculty. This is what I would like to focus on in this article.
The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross was Blessed Basil Moreau. His work and life experiences are reflected in the way that Holy Cross religious live their daily life. Fr. Moreau's life was full of hardships, challenges and struggles. He was ostracized by the community he founded, blamed for the Congregation's financial difficulties and was criticized for sending priests and brothers to developing countries throughout the world. Many thought his new congregation would not survive. However, his trust in divine providence and ultimate reliance on God helped him through these challenges. He had a firm belief that hope must be the utmost virtue we should cherish.
This theme of hope is a central aspect in the Congregation's Constitutions. These are the rules that its members look to for guidance. The constitutions are directed to members of the Congregation but all Christians can find consolation in their theme of hope. This hope is rooted in the love that Christ gave to us through his death on the Cross. The cross is our only hope, "Ave Crux, Spes Unica" the motto Fr. Moreau left to his congregation. It is through the cross of Christ that we are called to share in his resurrection.
The cross is not just limited to the Passion of Christ on Good Friday. We experience crosses every day in our own lives. Some of those crosses may be our struggles in classes, frustrations in our relationships, anxiety about life after graduating, and so on. All of these are crosses. Crosses that we must bear in our lives to follow Christ. As Christ said we must "take up our cross and follow him" (Matthew 16:24).
This is the spirituality of Holy Cross - the spirituality of those priests and brothers that teach at UP, that live in your residence halls, that hold administrative office and work in Campus Ministry. They understand that crosses are a part of life. But if we bear them we will be able to share in Christ's new life.
My prayer for you here at the University of Portland is that despite those crosses of our lives, you will never lose site of the hope of the resurrection that Christ promised. May we all follow the example of the Congregation of Holy Cross and Blessed Basil Moreau and Ave Crux, Spes Unica, "Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope!"
Tim Cleaver, CSC, is a Novice with the Congregation of Holy Cross and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.