SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here for other saints celebrated on this date.
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Monday, January 06, 2014
St. André Bessette
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," he said.
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. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Andre "lived the beatitude of the pure of heart."
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.
"It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures," said St. André Bessette.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings.
The Word of God
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Meditation: Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
Saint André Bessette, Religious
Great crowds ... followed him. (Matthew 4:25)
Of course great crowds followed Jesus—he was magnetic! Who wouldn't want to be around him? His whole being radiated the power and love of God. Everyone who encountered him went away with renewed hope, newfound joy, and a sense of freedom. He truly was "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).
Do you know what? Jesus is calling you to be a spiritual magnet as well. It's true! And whatever he calls you to do, he empowers you to do. Every time you sit with him in personal prayer, every time you worship him with your brothers and sisters at Mass, he fills you with his love so that you can give it away. He wants you to bring light to people in the shadows, healing to people who are hurting, and hope to people caught in despair.
"But I am not flashy," you say. "I am not naturally confident or a gifted speaker." It doesn't matter. People are going to be attracted to Christ in you, not you in you. The more you spend quality time with the Lord each day, the more you will take on Jesus' character. And that will make you more magnetic. Your joy, your peace, and your love will grow—and people will be attracted to you. The Spirit in you will be contagious, reaching out to people and opening their hearts to the Lord. You will find yourself sharing your faith more easily. You may even end up offering to pray with people for healing and inviting them to join you in prayer!
The start of a new year provides a great opportunity to make some resolutions. Why not add this one to your list: "In all my relationships, I want to be a magnet for Christ." This is a lofty goal for sure, but it is possible. If you set your mind on coming into God's presence every day, your spiritual magnetism will grow stronger and stronger. Who knows? By the end of the year, you may even have strangers walking up to you and asking you why you look so happy!
"Here I am, Jesus, willing to be made into a spiritual magnet for you. Fill me with your life as I spend time with you each day, and let this life spill out for all to see."
1 John 3:22--4:6; Psalm 2:7-8, 10-12
There is just so much to consume. Those that belong to the Lord, trust in the Lord. Those that don't, beware of the antichrist. Beware of those that seek personal vanity, and for selfish reasons. But how will you know? Test the spirit. We read about it today. And if you find the antichrist, if you find discord in your dealings, if you find some may even hold animosity towards you, then take heart, because our Lord is with you. He will never forsake you. He brought light to darkness, and we need that hope. We need that power. And that power is ours, if we are more holy, more pure, more devoted, healings will abound in your life, just like Saint Andre. We see faith we don't understand. Medals? Oils? Laying of hands? What is that all about? It is all about faith. If you haven't tried it with all your heart, how can you downplay it? Jesus says Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Believe it or not, His Kingdom will come, if His will is done. You make it happen. We make it happen. Together we make it happen. As I parked this morning at work, the worker with the ailing, almost dying step-daughter caught me and spoke with me in the dark cold morning. He wanted to tell me that since we prayed together for his daughter, she had healed, and as of last night she was home. WOW! What a miracle I said. "We have to be thankful" I said. I continued "the whole reason we Catholics have a Mass is to give thanks, and the term Eucharist means thanksgiving". I said "now let's say a prayer of thanksgiving" and we prayed again. Thing of it is, there is a mystery. Because of who's faith was the girl saved? Was it the step-father, mine, or yours? I will never know, but that makes all of our faith grow. And this is what it is all about. You don't need to know how many angry people I have faced within the last week. And in every instance, I have to swallow their anger, and turn it into prayer for them. They have no right to be angry at me or anybody. They have every right to be blessed. This is where a true Christian should shine in the darkness. People's frustrations and dis-ease can be healed with faith. I want you to go into the world, your world, and heal. I want you to be Jesus. I want you to love Jesus more than anybody and that way, those that see you will want to love Jesus even more. This is why there is magnetic Christianity. This is why there is a baptized soul reading this today. This is the reason to live. There was a frustrated lady helping in the sacristy for Christmas. She made a threat as if this would be the last time she would help. LOL. Funny, this is not the first time I hear this in the very sacristy where the "faithful gather to help". I said "patience, if bad things are happening it is because you are doing something good." Now there is one thing to give up, give up on your frustrations, or give up on helping God. Helping God? Wow, what a term. But it is true. We are the hands and feet of Christ, especially if it is Jesus whom you have consumed.
BLESSED BE GOD FOREVER