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ND celebrates Moreau feast day

Molly Madden | Friday, January 23, 2009

The month of January contains a very special day for the Notre Dame community, as Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, celebrated his feast day on the 20th of January.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Moreau, bringing him one step closer to being canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church.

In honor of his feast day, the inaugural Blessed Basil Moreau Lecture took place in the Jordan Auditorium at the Mendoza School of Business Thursday. The lecture, titled “The Cross, Our Only Hope: Two Christian Views of Suffering” was given by John Cavadini, chair of the Notre Dame Theology Department, and the response was given by Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell of the Notre Dame Law School.

The views expressed by both professors focused on the views of suffering in the Christian tradition and then made connections between these views and the motto of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, “Crux Spes Unica” or “The Cross is Our Only Hope.” The fundamental question the lecture tried to answer was that given the suffering of Jesus, is suffering in any way good??

Cavadini opened the lecture by outlining two traditional views of suffering within the Christian belief system, the Iranaeus theodicy and the Augustine theodicy.?

Irenaeus believed that God created humans as imperfect, Cavadini said, so that as they grow into the moral image of God, they would grow to love God as well. Iraneous believed that the best way to become more moral was to undergo suffering.?

“In this belief system, God allows us to define ourselves by our own choices,” Cavadini said. “God punishes only to purify and to bring repentance.

“In a sense, God is acting as a good parent by issuing punishments that educate the wrong-doer,” he said.?

Cavadini explained that Augustine believed that God could not or would not abolish evil. That suffering was common for both the good and the wicked human being.?

“Suffering and struggle bring us into contact with our status as being ‘created’,” Cavadini said. “In this view, suffering of the body is meaningless.”?

But Cavadini stated that both systems believe that faith in Christ is the means of salvation.?

“Perfect joy is found in Christ, which allows us to take our suffering and turn it into something good,” he said. “Faith is the only saving power in the world that is of God’s love.”?

“This leads us back to the motto of the Congregation of the Holy Cross; in this sense, the cross really is our only hope.”?

Overall, Cavadini said that one good can always be taken from suffering.?

“The experience of suffering brings about signs of God’s love which creates hope,” he said. “Humans build not on suffering, but on hope. Hope is what allows us to put our suffering to good use.”?