‘Hail the Cross, our only hope’
By Lisa Kochanowski
SOUTH BEND — The cross is an integral part of the Priests of Holy Cross communities’ spirituality. The motto of the congregation is “Hail the Cross, our only hope.” During the season of Lent, the Church focuses on the cross through the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, and for members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, this devotion has an even deeper meaning.
“Human life is like a great Way of the Cross. We do not have to go to the chapel or church to go through the different stations. This Way of the Cross is everywhere and we travel it every day, even in spite of ourselves and without being aware of it,” said Blessed Father Basil Moreau, the founder of Holy Cross. “If the tree of the cross has been planted in the vast field, which is ours to cultivate; even if, more often than not, its fruits have seemed bitter; we must recognize that it has become a tree of life and that we are now reaping from it fruit which is as ‘pleasing to the eye as it is good to the taste.’”
“To understand the doctrine of the Cross we must love the Cross after the manner St. Paul loved it when he said: ‘May I not glory unless in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,’” said Father Edward Sorin, the founder of the University of Notre Dame.
During the praying of the Stations of the Cross, members of the Priests of Holy Cross get the chance to make a special connection with members of the congregation because they are not only following the path of Christ, but they further remember their special devotion to the Cross made during their vows to the order.
“Our founder, Father Moreau, encouraged his religious to pray the Stations of the Cross. In the toughest moments of his own leading Holy Cross, Father Moreau would go to the chapel and walk from station to station, searching for light, insight and guidance. Holy Cross apostolates (our parishes, universities and missions) pray the stations as a way of reflecting directly on the life of Christ,” said Holy Cross Father Kevin Grove, parochial vicar of Christ the King Parish in South Bend. “Stations of the Cross as a devotion grew from the holy desire of people to trace the steps of Jesus in the Holy Land. Over time, 14 stations were added to churches in order that believers might make that pilgrimage in their own hearts by walking the path of Christ in their local church. Father Moreau loved these practices of the Catholic faith but wanted the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ to be before his religious all of the time.”
At his parish, Father Grove has the chance to pray the Stations of the Cross twice each Friday during the Lenten season with the parish community. He is also able to pray with the school children and is delighted to have one of the parish high school students designing an outdoor Stations of the Cross, with a footpath to go around the grassy field by the church and school, allowing people to take a spiritual journey outside this spring.
The Lenten season, specifically Stations of the Cross, are an opportune time for members of the Priests of Holy Cross to integrate the beliefs of their order into their prayer preparation.
“A fellow Holy Cross priest, Father Andrew Gawrych and I worked to edit a Stations of the Cross last year. It was just published by Ave Maria Press in English and Spanish and is focused on the reflections on different aspects of the Cross by priests, brothers and sisters, from around the world. It is called ‘You Have Redeemed the World,’” noted Father Grove. “In the process of putting together this book, I encountered very powerful images of ways that people have come to understand and appreciate the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. Meditation on the Cross and the stations is not an easy or simple thing sometimes. But, our spiritual tradition is one grounded in the belief that our true and only hope of eternal life springs from Christ’s passion. This is how the great spiritual writers of our Catholic Church and our own founder, Blessed Father Moreau, can call the Cross a ‘new tree of life.’”
Father Grove hopes members of the Church discover many wonderful things during this Lenten season and about his order the Priests of Holy Cross.
“Nothing says it better than our Holy Cross Constitution on the Cross on this point: But we do not grieve as men without hope, for Christ the Lord has risen to die no more. He has taken us into the mystery and the grace of this life that springs up from death. If we, like Him encounter and accept suffering in our discipleship, we will move without awkwardness among others who suffer. We must be men with hope to bring. There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the cross can be borne as a gift,” states Father Grove.
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