2002: General Council Decision

BasilioThe General Council decided to start the procedures for the beatification of Brother Basilio Rueda, our Superior General from 1967 to1985 on the eve of Saint Marcellin Champagnat’s feast, 5 June 2002.

Basilio was born in Mexico in 1924 and died in the same country in 1996 but during his entire life he has been a very universal man. Although he happened to be the Superior General during a period of turmoil for the Church he proved himself to be a great prophet and an innovator as regards the post Vatican II religious life. He combined his genius of friendship and the care for persons to a penetrating intelligence and a perpetual sense of humour. He was even recognised as one of the leading spiritual leaders. With us, he went through the crucibles of this world while living in a happy intimacy with God.

He told us that it is possible and fascinating to love Christ today.

 Osservatore Romano – 04/08/2002 

Brother Basilio Rueda Guzman, 1924-1996

The Marist Brothers’ General Council decided to open Brother Basilio Rueda’s cause on 5 June 2002. Brother Basilio was the Superior General of the Congregation from 1967 to 1985. 
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico will shortly set up a diocesan tribunal to introduce Brother Basilio’s cause. The opening ceremony will take place on 19 June in the Sagrario’s church where Basilio was baptised. There, he also made his first communion on 12 December 1931 during the fourth centenary celebrations of the Guadalupe apparitions.

Eight years only have gone by since Brother Basilio’s death. Many among us have known him, have enriched ourselves from his writings, listened to his lectures while attending one of the retreats he gave in our provinces. Others were welcomed by him for a little bit of accompaniment and felt empowered in the Lord’s service.

Basilio stood prominently among eminent people of our era. The list of his friends and colleagues is quite impressive:
Cardinals Garronne and Pironio, Fathers Arrupe, Urs von Balthasar, Lyonnet, Lombardi and Rotondi. He met Carlo Carretto, Roger Schutz, Kiko Arguello, Escrivà de Balaguer, don Alberione, Chiara Lubich, Marte Robin, René Voillaume, Monsignor Alfred Ansel and Jean Vanier. He was asked to attend the synod on the family in 1980 during which he often met Mother Teresa. In 1995, the Vatican appointed him as a consultant to the Congregation of consecrated life institutes.

Holiness indeed flourishes where one has been planted; it penetrates into our world’s heart. Those of our friends who walk on the “Beatitudes’ Boulevard” tell us that holiness is one of today’s realities. In his last book, “Get up. Let’s Go!” John Paul II reminds us that holiness is there for the taking. He tells us that it is not obtained solely by imitating some extraordinary lives that belong to paradigms of virtue but by praying the Spirit who is always at work in our ordinary and varied lives.

Basilio was at the same time typically Mexican and a very universal man. He was born in 1924 at Acatlan de Juarez, Jalisco in Mexico and he died at Guadalajara, Mexico in 1996. From 1960 to 1985, his duties took him to many countries around the world. Entrusted with the Better World Movement in Ecuador from 1960 to 1964, his mission made him travel to Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Central America.

He then stayed put in Spain for two years where he directed our Escorial Second Novitiate.

When he was elected as Superior General of the Marist Brothers in 1967, he reserved for himself the spiritual animation of the Institute. That choice allowed him close relationships with the Brothers in Canada, in Australia, in Japan and in the whole Marist world. Besides, other congregations solicited his presence and advice. He was often travelling to go and direct retreats on God’s love, prayer and Vatican II’s teachings.

His gifts allowed him to befriend people easily and to quickly grasp their problems. Great parts of his nights spent in God’s contemplation allowed him to radiate the wisdom that comes from the Spirit. His intimacy with God and his knowledge of human problems led him to write mystical and practical circulars. Other religious institutes also studied his enlightening and lively writings.

For eighteen years, he remained at the helm of the Marist Brothers’ Institute. These were the Council years: a time of enticing challenges but also of sufferings; a period for demolition and reconstruction, of death and resurrection.

At the end of 1985, he returned to Mexico for a little while. Brother Charles Howard who had replaced him called him back to Italy to direct a training session for the future masters of novices of the Institute from January 1990 to June 1991. This session took place at the Oasi, Father Rotondi’s house on the shores of Lake Albano near Rome. When he returned to Mexico, he was appointed master of novices, a duty he fulfilled until his death on 21 January 1996.

The General Council’s decision to open Brother Basilio’s cause was accompanied by a book with a meaningful title: I WANT TO AWAKEN THE DAWN. This title characterises Brother Basilio’s objective: the will to bring in the dawn of a new style of religious life and the desire to prepare religious persons for today’s people. With other leaders, he succeeded in giving the necessary impetus to religious people in order to stimulate them to really centre themselves on Christ the Lord and to turn themselves totally to the men, the world and the Church of our time.

Two focal points characterise his spirituality:

– The Father’s will, sought with passion, knowing well that this will means love and life. During the 1986 Spiritual Exercises he noted, “Finally, I must continue to make God’s will the most important issue of my life and I must seek it actively instead of quietly waiting for it to manifest itself. And I want to see in this will the opportunity to show my love and my commitment to God rather than a useful shield against deceptions or my own daring.” This submission to the Father we find it again in the last message Basilio sent to his friends one month before his death, “I commit everything in God’s hands where I find a deep peace, a desire to be thankful and to praise Him. I know there aren’t better hands than those of God. Besides, the dying Christ committed Himself into the Father’s hands.”

– Jesus at the centre of his life
Basilio’s notes read, “Jesus is the friend, the beloved, my Lord, God’s kiss to humanity, what God can become for us and we for God… the great mystery that lives in each of us.” Through his prayer he had the intuition that God’s complete will expresses itself in Jesus. “Jesus is God’s will.”

After he had tried so hard to renew the Marist Brothers’ Congregation he realised that many initiatives had proved fruitless. He confessed to his friends in his 1978 Christmas letter, “Slowly, Christ, our kind Jesus has been shoved to a second place and worse, in certain occasions he has been left out. Really, he is the main reason, the transcendental reason for which we live and die. He indeed is at the origin of our call, our fraternity and our friendship. He is our salvation. It is high time to make all our efforts to bring back Jesus to the centre of our lives.” 

During his first retreats in the 1970’s, he used to say, “When you announce the Resurrected Christ you commit yourself to Him in such a way that you will let yourself be tortured rather than ever abandon Him.”
He re-wrote in capital letters his spiritual director’s advice,


With all the experience he had acquired he could assert, “When God’s love descends into one’s life, it unleashes a type of love that goes beyond the reasonable measure and the beloved one becomes complete availability to God. Once we engage ourselves on love’s way there is no more going back. Life is worth living only if we love without limit. Besides, Brothers, what basically makes our peace is not our own kindness but rather God’s kindness; we are at peace not because we love but because we are loved by an effective and infallible love. God loves us, He does not do anything else and he cannot help but love us. But if you exclude one person from your heart, your love is dead.”

Brother Basilio Rueda’s cause bears on consecrated life, it gives it light and comfort. That cause is also important for the whole Latin American continent. The Christians of this continent discover in Brother Basilio a typical dynamic, intelligent and human being; they discover a man who was stimulated by the last conquests of science but who was also authentic in his commitment to God, the Church and man. To meet Basilio was (and is) to confront a man who entertains a passion for human knowledge but daily lives with his God in deep contemplation.

From the moment he pronounced his first vows in 1944 to his last breath on 21 January 1996, his ideal was to “burn his life for Christ!”

Fr. Giovanni Maria Bigotto,
Postulator General