Monday, January 5, 2015

Saint André Bessette - Saint Joseph's Friend

You who fear the Lord trust him,
And your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
For lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the Lord, love him,
And your hearts will be enlightened.
— Sirach 2:8-10

In these final days of the Christmas Season, there are a handful of “American” Saints that we are celebrating: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (on January 4), St. John Neumann (on January 5), and St. André Bessette (on January 6 in the United States and January 7 in Canada).

“It is with the smallest brushes that the Artist
paints the best paintings.”—Saint André Bessette
Born in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville, Canada, in 1845, “Brother André” was orphaned at the age of twelve. Unable to attend school, he was forced to support himself and worked as an unskilled laborer in various textile mills in New England. 

In 1867, André returned to Canada and entered the Congregation of Holy Cross as a lay brother. Known for his generosity and credited with many miracles, especially benefiting the sick and poor, he was popularly referred to as the “Miracle Man of Montreal.” He was always quick to attribute his miracles to the intercession of St. Joseph, to whom he had a strong devotion.
In 1904, he began the work for which he is most especially remembered: the construction of a shrine in honor of St. Joseph. Over the decades, this simple wooden structure would evolve into the great Basilica of St. Joseph on Mont-Royal.

Brother André died on January 6, 1937. Shortly before his death, his religious brothers carried him into the still unfinished shrine that he had dedicated his life to building. Today, his remains are enshrined in the basilica dedicated to his beloved St. Joseph. He was canonized in 2010.

In these final days of the Christmas Season, we can continue our reflection on the Incarnation by remembering the life shared by the Holy Family, including the work of St. Joseph, which provided for the needs of Mary and her Child. And, as we think about St. André and his incredible devotion to that humble and righteous man from Nazareth, we can give thanks for many little miracles we experience each day.

Many who only saw Brother André in passing would have seen a small, simple religious brother, without realizing the wonder that he was. It was much the same for St. Joseph whose life of work and prayer were the inspiration for everything that St. André did in his own life, which was itself a miracle of perseverance and faithfulness.

This week, offer a prayer for those hidden saints who live and work all around us. Pray, too, for religious brothers, whose lives of service as teachers, healthcare and social workers, champions of the poor, missionaries, and tradesmen go largely unnoticed. 

A Prayer in honor of Saint André Bessette +
Lord our God, friend of the lowly, who gave your servant, Saint André Bessette, a great devotion to Saint Joseph and a special commitment to the poor and afflicted, help us through his intercession to follow his example of prayer and love and so come to share with him in your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)

Originally written for Mayslake Ministries and posted on their website on January 5, 2015.

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