January 6th. The Feast of the Epiphany ...a special day honoring the three men who traveled a looong way to honor Our Lord. No TSA back then, but undoubtedly their journey was more arduous than we can imagine. So how do you think they felt upon arrival at the destinations of destinations? The chance to behold the Infant Jesus, to adore him, to spend time with the Holy Family...what wonders awaited those faithful wise men.
One more note on the Epiphany, hope you all had the chance to have some chalk blessed this year. It is a great family tradition, please pass it along to Catholic families everywhere.
The reason for my return to blogging tonight is the feast of Brother Andre. I wish to share the profound respect and appreciation I have for an amazing man well on his way to canonization.
For those of you not familiar with Blessed Brother Andre, be prepared to have your socks knocked off by the wonderful miracles God worked through a humble Canadian doorman.
My family made a pilgrimage to see some of the magnificent fruit of this holy and delightful man's life - St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada.The Oratory itself is breathtaking. The shrine honoring St. Joseph is filled with piles of crutches, discarded wheelchairs and other evidence of countless miraculous healings. Wherever Brother Andre went, miracles followed. However, he was the first to attribute them to the intercession of glorious St. Joseph, to whom Brother Andre had a deep devotion.
I've pasted American Catholic's brief synopsis of Brother Andre's extraordinary life below, but great in-depth info can be found here and here.
Brother Andre: The Wonder Man of Mount Royal is a fantastic book for those looking to learn more. Fans of Padre Pio or Venerable Solanus Casey might want to check out this book too. All three men embraced lowliness, serving God with their whole hearts. Sincere thanks to God for the grace of their good example.
One final note - during our visit to St. Joseph's Oratory, I approached both St. Joseph and Brother Andre with a major prayer request. I remember feeling so ashamed to ask holy St. Joseph to pray for me, someone so ridiculously imperfect. I placed my hands on Brother Andre's tomb and thanked him for loving Our Lord , St. Joseph and Our Lady so much.
The Oratory is so special, so beautiful, such holy ground that I felt like I could have floated out of there. Praying there - in fact, just being there - gave me so much peace. It really felt like you were close to God.
About a week later I received a call. My prayer request had been answered. Everything I asked for had been granted.
God is so good.
Thank you so much St. Joseph and Brother Andre. Please pray for us!
Blessed André Bessette(1845-1937)
Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph.
Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.
At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years.”
In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”
When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.
When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.
The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.
He is buried at the Oratory and was beatified in 1982.
Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that?
Superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets his saints help him bless his children.
Quote:“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures,” said Blessed André Bessette.
with appreciation to www.AmericanCatholic.org