ROME, OCT. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Oct. 1 marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Father Thomas Morales, founder of the secular institutes of the Crusaders of St. Mary. To mark the event, the institutes organized an international congress last week in Madrid, Spain.
The Jesuit priest, whose cause for canonization is under way, also founded the Homes of St. Mary marriage movement and the Militia of St. Mary youth movement, present in the United States, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Latin America.
Before the congress in Spain, ZENIT interviewed Beatriz de Ancos, a St. Mary’s crusader, one of the speakers at the congress.
Q: You call your founder a “prophet of our time.” Why?
De Ancos: Father Thomas Morales is considered a prophet of our time because he anticipated by 20 years the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, specifically two documents: “Apostolicam Actuositatem” and “Lumen Gentium.”
From the start of his apostolic activities, he began to impress, with a missionary emphasis, the laity to whom he gave the series of Spiritual Exercises.
That missionary emphasis consists in making the lay person realize his responsibility and mission in the Church, and the need to live his baptism in a consistent way, understanding that there are many sectors and temporal realities within society that no other member of the Church will be able to evangelize from within as the lay person can.
Q: Ten years after the founder’s death, what are the fundamental aspects of the charism?
De Ancos: What characterizes us is the determination for holiness without leaving the world, as contemplatives in action amid a multiplicity of activities — a holiness which is, moreover, apostolic and Marian. Marian because we always live with the sweet name of Mary in our hearts and we imitate her life from the “Let it be done unto me” of the Incarnation to the “being” at the foot of the cross. Apostolic because we live the faith with a militant sense within the Church, acting and offering ourselves for Christ when the circumstances require it.
Q: What does it mean to be a contemplative in action?
De Ancos: It is a way of living the Gospel which requires an intense and strong interior life, but this contemplation is lived in the midst of temporal realities in which the lay person is immersed.
In a word, it is that with which St. Ignatius concludes the Exercises “to love and serve in everything,” because our life is to love by serving all those who cross our path and to serve by loving with the heart of Christ. When we serve others we are putting contemplation into practice.
Q: How did Father Morales live, and ask others to live, the change brought by Vatican II?
De Ancos: He took up the different appeals of the Popes during the second half of the 20th century, but essentially John Paul II’s appeal during his visit to Javier in 1982, when he said: “A Catholic who becomes conscious of his faith becomes a missionary.”
Father Morales worked and gave his all in this, in making us all conscious of our faith and of our missionary responsibility acquired in baptism.
Father Morales was a loyal son of the Church and he taught us to love her. He lived the whole of the papal magisterium with great fidelity. The documents of Vatican Council II are so rich that we are still putting into practice all these teachings. He made them his life and made others live them.
He urged us to read the documents of the Church carefully, analyzing them, commenting on them in discussions and holding study circles and talks on them.
In the study circles, not only did we focus on those materials or the texts we had read, but examples were also given of how they were lived. Theory and practice.
When he directed a study circle, or gave an apostolic commission, Father Morales made time for comments at the following session relating to the different apostolic experiences on what had been proposed.
Not only did he give formation in action, but also in judgment. The endeavor is to give integral formation: intellectual formation, but also formation of the will and emotions, because everything is united in the person.
Q: Father Morales was known for being exacting. How did this fit in with the charism developed specifically toward young people?
De Ancos: Our charism is characterized by forming minorities, leaders, Catholic militants. Young people have much wealth within, a great capacity to give themselves. But one must know how to draw out their generosity and courage.
In general, it is the most generous young people who understand that exigency: that energy that youth has within must be channeled. It is necessary to discover and to help others discover the hero we all bear within.
The world offers us many types of heroes, but the hero that Father Morales presented, and that we continue to present from our charism, is the saint. It is not a question of exacting for the sake of exacting.
There must always be a reason that the young person must understand and, above all, it must be done with love, without ever demanding that which is beyond the other’s strength.
Q: To work with small groups might be seem as elitism?
De Ancos: Father Morales was a loyal son of St. Ignatius, the one who said at the Sorbonne in Paris: “If I win over Xavier, Xavier will win the world for me,” referring to St. Francis Xavier, today patron of the missions.
And Father Morales translates this lesson to our century, seeing the effectiveness of a few. He said “a minority forged in exigency and fidelity, firm and consequent in the faith, can transform the world. In university chairs, the press, politics, the army, and even in seminaries, it would Christianize society, it would give back to man his dignity threatened by totalitarian ideologies or corrupt customs. Their action would ensure the vitality of Catholicism throughout the millennia.”
Q: If your commitment must be centered on small groups, how have the massive Vigils of Mary Immaculate arisen, held every year in different cities of Spain and other countries where you come together, or the mass Dawn Rosaries in the month of May, two initiatives promoted by you?
De Ancos: Because the Gospel is for all. Father Morales used to say: “All must be taken care of, but cultivate small groups.” He was convinced that if he formed a small group he would reach the whole world, because that minority would be able to evangelize those around them.
Moreover, the Marian campaigns have always been a means of formation of Catholic militants, offering oneself for Christ, working generously to make love of the Virgin and the Gospel known to others. They are great campaigns to reach all, but at the same time they serve for formation, they have that double aspect.