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Dear Followers of Christ, the Healer,
The Church celebrates Epiphany today. This feast continues the Christmas season and the revelation of Christ Jesus as Light of the World. We are drawn toward the Light of Christ with hope for the lost. Christ, the Light of the World, is hope for all nations, all people, in every time and land.
I also draw your attention to Saint Andre Bessette, the first person to be canonized in the Congregation of Holy Cross. His memorial is celebrated on January 6 in the United States. In many other countries, the memorial is often celebrated on January 7 because of the Epiphany on January 6. No matter the memorial of Saint Andre, he speaks to us with love and faith in our three communities during this Christmas time.
At Sacred Heart Church, we are honored to have a first-class relic of Saint Andre Bessette housed within our new altar. We received this relic this autumn from Saint Joseph Oratory in Montreal. I am so grateful that Andre’s presence is here, forming us in his mission, pointing us all into the direction of Jesus’ healing and presence among those who most need God.
Alfred (Andre) Bessette, born near Quebec, Ontario, Canada on August 9, 1845, grew up in poverty and faith. Orphaned by age 12, prayer guided him to Saint Joseph. Through this devotion, he desired to enter the Congregation of Holy Cross. Brother Andre was assigned as Porter to Notre Dame College, Montreal. As doorkeeper, his healing reputation spread, reaching 600 people a day. He spent sleepless nights praying for the sick.
His ministry grew into what is now Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. He died on January 6, 1937 before its completion. He remains a paradox within our religious community since he was illiterate, joining our community known for education. He was frail bodied and strong in faith. He was orphaned, yet welcomed the sick as family. Brother Andre lived simply, a model of faith for people in despair. He was a sickly child and lived to be 91 years old.
I have a great love and devotion to Saint Andre. He is such an example for me that God reveals love amid the weak and needy. The strength that enabled him to listen and care for the sick and pray all night came from Jesus. Andre understood that there was nothing more important than the needs of the sick and suffering.
I rely on Saint Andre in many ways. I also see his work among those who reach out in our community to the sick and elderly. Andre helps us in our food pantry and in our mission of our parish to serve the Lord’s Dinner on Sunday. I believe Andre helps us host the meetings for people suffering addictions and he is with us when we don’t know where to turn when ministry becomes overwhelming. Andre’s presence helps us see with the eyes of Jesus and gives us a vision of love in a violent world.
Jesus’ heart becomes our heart. We also learn from Saint Andre Bessette who was canonized, October 17, 2010 and how he extended his heart and life to the weary.
I invite you this week to seek out the life of Saint Andre Bessette. I invite you to surrender your pain and doubt to him in prayer. Invite him into your bodily and emotional pain. Allow Saint Andre to welcome you in the frustrations or tragedies of your life. Allow Saint Andre to reveal to you the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the place of love and comfort for us all.
Welcome me at the threshold,
When I am lost.
Offer me tenderness and solace,
When I am tired.
Remind me I belong
When I am orphaned.
Guide me to Saint Joseph
When I am far from home.
Bring forgiveness to my heart
When I feel most unworthy.
Reveal Jesus’ healing touch
When I hurt and am alone.
Touch my pain,
When I wait to be healed.
Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us!
Blessings to you,