Holiness stands out

Why do people start sending testimonies, to speak with enthusiasm, to pray to somebody and entrust him/her with their problems?

I invite you to make the following experience: speak with somebody who knew Brother Basilio at least a little. The praises for the man immediately abound and the heart warms up with fond memories. This behaviour is not the fruit of emotion: it is the certainty that Basilio developed a great friendship with God and with people. As when Basilio lived on this earth, he counselled, advised, encouraged and directed so many people who felt the benefits of his friendship, one believes that he can still help us now and to a higher degree. After admiring the feats of holy people, we cannot help but witnessing to them; from learning of the strong faith of the blessed ones we automatically pray to the latter. Holiness radiates and stands out for it is simply a denser presence of God in His true friends.

This general council’s decision can be interpreted as our desire to thank God. This thanksgiving will not be a short and vague prayer to celebrate the wonders God operated through the friend he chose. Rather, this thanksgiving wants to discover the talents that God had deposited into Basilio’s soul so that we may sing God’s kindness with genuine reasons, now and for all the generations to come. Without such a decision, we will quickly risk amnesia and ungratefulness. This gratitude for the gift that was Basilio can also reveal to us how much God loves us everyday and fills us up with his kindness; it can give us the habit of praise and thanksgiving. According to Basilio, praising and thanking God are adult prayers.

One has to realise that a candidate to canonization is not a private property. He belongs to the whole Church and all christians must benefit from his example. It is his close friends’ duty, e.g. his brothers to make him known and to introduce him to all the faithful. Let us think how happy the Mexican and the Latin American people must be… God never chooses friends for His pleasure and their good only; they all have an ecclesial dimension and they are all a grace for God’s people. All given grace is for the Mystical Body. When we greet Mary as the ‘’full of grace’’, we must understand that Mary is full of graces that gracefully overflow on us. God does not have any capricious particular friendship. We received Basilio we must now give him back to the Church.

To behave according to the indications of the previous paragraph means that we want to thank Basilio for all the work he achieved among us, for having been generous, genuine, simple and constant, never measuring his labour for others. We bring our attention on the man’s quality without forgetting that his message keeps all its value. Basilio’s circulars did not grow old neither in their style nor in their content. They remain a treasury of wisdom, of spiritual life and of Marist spirit. To return to them in a peaceful reading e.g. during a retreat can strengthen our Marist identity and spirituality. They are still proper ‘’food’’.

The decision of the general council to introduce Brother Basilio’s cause brings us to this question: Where are we in that Marist renewal that the Council requested and that Basilio launched with so much force and perspicacity in our congregation? Our prayers are more profound, better prepared, less rushed up and more in relationship with life and the world. All the efforts to promote our Marist apostolic spirituality of the recent years are mainly due to the inspiration and example of Basilio. Meditation and contemplation that were so vital to Marcellin-—do we give them the space they deserve? Do we live in union with God? One of Basilio’s goals was: to train ourselves to live in union with God and on that union, build with quality our community life and apostolic daring.

That decision has a spiritual ambition: to make the Brothers proud to have had Basilio as a confrere and to be proud to show the same daring and generosity. Basilio died seven years ago; he is still a man of our time. He tells us that holiness is possible today, that it is still the source of our joy and of our soul’s valour. He tells us that holiness does not equate visions and miracles… but in the intimacy with God which becomes a constantly attentive love to others. To know how to guess the needs of others, how to welcome visitors, how to listen to them, how to understand, how to forget the rigid time table when there is an emergency, how to let one’s heart beat in unison with the great joys and with the dramas of this world, to know how to really love our Marist family and the Church… here are the facets of holiness that today’s man esteems and seeks. This is Basilio’s holiness: a very practical one that gives plenitude to each day.

‘’When Brother Basilio directed his first long retreats in Spain, we, the young brothers were busy with the chores: the preparation of rooms and tables, the cleaning of the dishes and the general cleaning of the house. At the end of the retreat, Basilio told us, ‘You really deserve a nice trip.’ Very happy, we used an old pick up and we travelled from Longroño to Africa.’’ (Brother Antonio Martinez)

Brother Basilio never accepted royalties for his circulars printed by the Sisters of St Paul or other editors. He told them, ‘’Give that money to the poor.’’ When he heard of the misery of an old Argentinean priest, Basilio sent him mass stipends to help him to survive. A Cameroon Sister spoke to him of a young and poor orphan. Basilio found ways to pay for the studies and the medical care of the boy. At his request, the general council helped congregations and dioceses in need. Dozens of thank you letters confirm this fact. Basilio was sound in doctrine and had a generous hand.
The decision was not made so that we could glorify ourselves about the halo around Basilio’s head! But to safeguard and make us appreciate the treasures he left us, to make us heirs of his intuitions and darings, to recognise how kind God has been for us, to realise that a beatification is another means to help us become brothers as Marcellin dreamed, “To become a brother is to commit oneself to become a saint.’’

It goes without saying that a lot of technical work is involved in the preparation of a beatification: the collection of all writings, the lectures, articles and letters to end up with a full personality profile of Brother Basilio that will enrich us with a complete knowledge of our brother. There will be more than technical work because one cannot ‘live’ with Basilio without being seized by admiration and desire to imitate him.

Thus, our Marist family expects very positive fruit from this decision. We wish to repeat that the preparatory work will be beneficial. We hear echoes about the little book, ‘Basilio, Another Champagnat’. These echoes do reveal the profit of obtaining a deeper knowledge of the one who was our superior general for eighteen years.