Scriptures have the ability to introduce God into our lives much like the sun brings light to the earth. The journey through the Bible can be surprising, beautiful, shocking, or bewildering, but powerful; at times, life seems to spring forth from God’s Word like clear blue skies with an irresistible force.
In this month of Saint Brother André, Patron Saint of Caregivers, we want to highlight the importance of those who devote much of their time and energy to people who are ill and isolated because of their age or loss of autonomy. Following the example of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel of the August 9th liturgy, and of Saint Brother André, caregivers know that life is no match for hope when it comes to believing. Believing as an immense yes to life.
In October 1995, delegates from the poorest families in several countries came to Quebec to speak at the UN. Philippe, one of the leaders who was working to promote the dignity of the poorest individuals and families through his involvement in the ADT Fourth World* movement, and who was preparing to welcome them, wrote to me: “We feel very close to Brother André’s commitment and spirituality, and we hope that these delegates will be able to visit the Oratory and discover Brother André’s life.”
On several occasions, Saint Joseph moved from one place to another. In Luke’s Gospel, we see Joseph traveling to Bethlehem for the census of the people according to the decree of Caesar Augustus. Joseph and Mary also travel to Jerusalem for the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Holy Family also travels to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, there is the flight into Egypt.
One day, I had the pleasure of meeting Armand and his wife. They were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. As a gift, they had asked a friend to take them to the Oratory. Armand’s wife told me with great pride: “The first thing we did, the day after our wedding, was to come here to the Oratory. We’ve always had great confidence in Saint Joseph and Brother André. Armand and I wanted to come here to celebrate.”
The Romans used to dedicate a month to a deity. The month of May was thus the month of Maya, goddess of fertility. When Christianity became the official religion, the month of Maya became the month of the Madonna and therefore the month of Mary. The Dominicans developed the devotion to the month of Mary. But it is in the XVIII century, with Saint Philippe Néri that the month of Mary becomes a popular devotion. Pius VII, in 1815, consecrates the devotion to the month of Mary which extends to the whole world.
Have you noticed how the biblical texts we hear at Easter are texts of consolation?
During the days of the octave, that is, the liturgical week following the solemnity of Easter, the Word of God opens us to the presence of the Risen Jesus.
And each time, he surprises his interlocutors who are suffering from sadness and mourning by bringing them peace and consolation: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:10, Easter Vigil and Easter Monday); “Why are you weeping” (Jn 20:13, Tuesday); “Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? “(Lk 24:32, Wednesday); “Why are you troubled?” (Lk 24:38, Thursday); “It is the Lord” (Jn 21:7, Friday); “[Mary Magdalene] went to tell the news to those who had lived with him and were grieving and weeping” (Mk 16:10, Saturday).
In 1904, Brother André Bessette, a Holy Cross religious, created a shrine to Saint Joseph in Montreal. Every March, the patron saint of the universal Church is celebrated there. Did you know that Blessed Basile-Antoine Moreau, who was born in the Sarthe department in France in 1799 and was the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, is considered one of the forerunners of devotion to Saint Joseph in the 19th century?
Christian Lent always begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Palm Sunday, which opens the door to Holy Week.
It is a 40-day journey of fasting, prayer, meditation and sharing, in memory of the 40 days Christ spent in the desert, under the influence of the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:12-13, Mt 4:1-1, Lk 4:1-13).
This retreat of Jesus into the desert echoes the 40 days and 40 nights of Moses on Mount Sinai where he received the two tablets of the Law (Ex 24:18), his fasting of 40 days and 40 nights to intercede for Israel who had sinned gravely in making and worshipping the golden calf (Deut 9:18. 25), to the 40 years of wandering of the Hebrews in the desert (between Egypt and the Promised Land; Ex 24:18) and finally to the 40 days of the prophet Elijah’s walk to meet God on Mount Horeb (1Ki 19:8).
Today’s liturgy is the result of a long evolution in which two elements come together. A celebration of the presentation of Jesus in the temple and a celebration of light. On Christmas night we celebrated Christ, who came to be the Light of the World. Forty days later, this light enters the temple.
The temple, which for the Jewish people was the place of God’s presence among his people, now receives the Light of the World. The ancient rituals of presentation in the temple and purification are suddenly transformed by a light and two people, witnesses of this waiting people, are present to welcome the one who comes to illuminate the temple. They are there to testify that the time of waiting is now over and that the time of full realisation of the promise has arrived.
It is no coincidence that Brother André was canonized on October 17, 2010, the world day for the fight against poverty. His whole life was dedicated to alleviating the suffering of others, to give them hope and to tell them that they are loved by God.
This Sunday’s gospel reveals God’s message to Joseph. Through the dream he had, Joseph is invited to enter into God’s plan by welcoming Mary with her child because this unborn child comes from God. Through the angel, God asks Joseph to give this child a name that corresponds to his mission: “You shall call his name Jesus, that is, The Lord and Savior. (Mt 1:21) The evangelist Matthew concludes, “When Joseph awoke, he did what the angel had told him to do.” (v.24)
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