Category: Brother André
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.”
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.”
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?
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)
“The Good Lord is not far from you. He is close to you. Every time you say Our Father, God’s ear is next to your lips”, Saint Brother André often said.
These few words express the essence of the spiritual and mystical experience of the little lay brother, porter of the Collège Notre-Dame, friend of Saint Joseph and founder of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.
His continuous meditation on the passion of Christ allowed him to experience and live, in an exceptional way, the mystery of the disconcerting and disconcerting closeness of God, our Father, through his privileged relationship with Saint Joseph.
A Listening Ear
If you go to pray in front of the urn that contains Brother André’s heart, you have behind you one of three scenes representing episodes from his life: his doorkeeper’s quarters at Notre-Dame College, from which he often contemplated the new Oratory; the office where he welcomed so many pilgrims; the hospital room where he died.
Of the three, the one that strikes me the most is the second one, and here is why. We see the little brother standing there, his eyes bright and welcoming. He listens attentively to the person who speaks to him. He has received so many pilgrims for over thirty years!
In June 2022, I was invited to the city of South Bend, Indiana (USA), to attend a conference on religious archives. The event was held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This institution shares some commonalities with Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. First, it was founded by a Father of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Father Édouard Sorin (1814-1893). Like the Oratory, the university was placed under the protection of the Congregation of Holy Cross. But above all, Brother André is very present there.
That morning I was to preach on the Gospel of the Multiplication of the loaves. Now I didn’t feel like talking about the parallel between the multiplication of the loaves and the Eucharist yet. As I reread the Gospel, another clue emerged with the seven loaves.
We are in a desert place, far from any settlement. For three days a huge crowd has been following Jesus without eating. Jesus is moved by compassion. But how to feed all these people? The apostles have only seven loaves of bread. So Jesus asks them to bring them to him. The disciples comply. Jesus blesses the seven loaves and asks the apostles to distribute them. Not only do they feed the crowd, but they collect seven baskets of leftovers! Because they put their poverty at the service of Jesus, he was able to do wonders.
- Arts and culture (14)
- Brother André (56)
- Communications (2)
- Communications (2)
- Faith (81)
- Feasts and Celebrations (32)
- Fêtes et célébrations (18)
- History (40)
- Month of Mary (9)
- Music (2)
- Organ (1)
- Nature (4)
- Nature (1)
- News (22)
- Pilgrimages and Devotions (42)
- Religious Heritage (7)
- Saint Joseph (56)
- Spiritualité (16)
- Spirituality (27)