“Saint Brother André, we celebrate your presence among us.” This first sentence of the prayer that is offered “to obtain a special favor” through the intercession of Saint Brother André will resonate in a very special way during the month of August which is dedicated to him. More than an occasion to mark the birthday of the founder of the Oratory, born Alfred Bessette on August 9, 1845, this annual event is an opportunity to celebrate the Friend, the Brother, the Saint who accompanies us today.
With the Risen Jesus-Christ, hope is reborn when we accept that he walks with us, on the road of life. This is what we learn from the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus (Gospel according to Luke, chapter 24, verses 13 to 35).
The encounter of the Risen Christ with the two disciples, pilgrims of Emmaus, is “a therapy of Hope,” Pope Francis said during the General Audience on May 24, 2017.
How many times I went with my dad to P. A. Gouin, Pascal, Handy Andy, Léopold Duplessis or Canadian Tire to pick up a tool, some paint, a car part or all sorts of materials to repair, renovate or build something!
His workbench was just as carefully organized as the shelves at the hardware store: the nails and screws were categorized by their size and type. Everything was neatly ordered, and finding things was a snap.
It was on May 13 1917, while they were tending a flock of sheep and goats, that three children aged ten, nine, and seven, saw a lady above an oak tree. The lady, they said, was clothed in light brighter than the sun, yet whose rays did not dazzle, but were rather soothing to the eyes and imparted a sort of serenity. It was difficult to describe because they had never experienced anything like it before. These three little sheepherders were named Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta.
Joseph understands the importance of work. As the carpenter in Nazareth, his job was his pride and his identity. He understood what it meant to work with dignity and to ensure the life and peace of his family.
We contemplate the Cross, symbol of suffering for human beings, symbol of our suffering. Depending on the person, suffering might mean long illness, adversity, failure, violence, grief… Right now, for all of us it means: COVID-19 pandemic. But the cross of Christ is special. It is for each and every one absolutely unique. Victory of love, it is our only Hope. Today, we celebrate neither suffering, nor death. Today, we celebrate the immense love that Christ and God have for all women and men without exception.
Naturally, every novena celebrated at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal has its own story…
Although Saint Brother André’s Original Chapel was inaugurated in the fall of 1904, it was used on a seasonal basis during the first five years of its existence. The Feast of St. Joseph wasn’t celebrated until 1909, and it was noticed that at the time, the Ascension (40 days after Easter) seemed to draw the most pilgrims.
On January 1, 1924, two Oratory employees, Édouard Barsalo and Napoléon Carrières, had a pious idea: to start the new year off right by making a night pilgrimage from Mile-End to the Oratory, arriving on time for the first mass of the year, at 6 a.m. From this initiative, a tradition that has lasted over 80 years was born!
To mark our gratefulness for Father Claude Grou’s recovery, following his attack on March 22, and to salute his return to pastoral fonctions, we are happy to share the homily he gave, in French, during Mass on Friday March 29.