Dear Believers in Emmanuel,
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany. In Matthew 2:1-12, we overhear the magi asking the question, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” Their search for him is our search. Their quest to find the child is our journey in this Christmas season. They laid before the child their gifts. We lay before the Incarnate Word, the gifts already given us, of faith, love and hope within our Church and world. The quest to find the child is deep within our hearts, for we long for him. The search is never over on this side of grave. We constantly ache for God to heal us, to offer us hope, and to convert our hearts in his love.
This week we celebrate the memorial of St. André Bessette. Depending on which country you live, the memorial is celebrated either on January 6 or 7. Brother André is the first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He ministered in Montreal, welcoming the ill and marginalized. Brother André was canonized on October 17, 2010 in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.
I find Brother André incredibly fascinating. He was a sickly child who was not expected to live. Instead, he died at 91. He grew up illiterate. In the work of the Holy Spirit, he was accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross that is best known for education. Our religious community really did not know where to assign him. They appointed him porter at their college in Montreal. He stayed in the doorway for over 40 years. He had a great devotion to St. Joseph, especially after his own father died when André was very young. God used that devotion to St. Joseph to heal people as they came to the door.
In the high point of St. André’s ministry, he encountered 600 people a day. He would invite them to go to confession or to Mass. He would suggest that people pray to St. Joseph or any form of prayer. He would use oil from a lamp in the chapel to anoint some people in their pain and frustration. He offered people hope when there was little medical care accessible to them. He even told a mother of a very ill child to wash the child in dishwater only to test her faith. That child was completely healed.
St. André slept only one or two hours a night. He spent the night praying for all the people who had come to him during the day. He was a simple man with an amazing life of prayer. He thought of himself as God’s little one, as God’s little puppy, not only because he was short in stature, but also because he was leading people to God through St. Joseph. St. André never considered himself a healer. When he died on January 6, 1937, over one million people came to his funeral in Montreal.
The Shrine of St. Joseph in Montreal is the largest shrine in the world to honor the foster father of Jesus. The families that had a miraculous healing of a family member financially supported the shrine. Unfortunately, André did not live to see its completion. The shrine continues today, and millions of people still search for healing on that hill.
A first-class relic of St. André Bessette is housed in our altar at Sacred Heart Church. I am so grateful that St. André’s presence is in the center of our community in a real way. The relic is a gift from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada.
After the remodeling of the former rectory, we will name that building, “Saint André House.” I am delighted that St. André’s name will welcome us to socialize and to help our continuing education.
Learn more about St. André Bessette by visiting our website at www.sacredheartcos.org.
Please offer your life, your suffering, to St. André. He will help you pray. He will lead you to God, to the love and miraculous power of Christ Jesus. Pray for the completion of Saint André House. Pray for the weak and the weary, the lost and the desperate.
St. André Bessette, pray for us!
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor