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St. Andre Bessette

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordJanuary 7, 2021

Today's readings are 1 John 4: 19- 5: 4; Psalm 72; and Luke 4: 14-22a

A man who loved God and loved others.  A man whose original name was Alfred.  Born in a village in Quebec in 1845.  Sickly, small, he was orphaned at the age of 12.  Eventually he tried gaining employment in New England, but soon returned to Quebec.  Back in his hometown, his village priest noticed Alfred's great faith, and sent him to the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal with an introductory letter simply stating, "I am sending you a saint".  It was there that he was given his religious name, Andre. 

This tiny man, virtually illiterate upon arrival in Montreal, soon became a spiritual giant.  Assigned to be a porter at the College Notre-Dame, he not only answered the door, but welcomed the sick and the afflicted, praying with them and anointing them with oil that had been placed in front of a statue of St. Joseph.  Word soon spread.  The poor, the rich, the famous, the afflicted all came his way - for prayer, for counselling and for healing.  Many miracles occurred, but Brother Andre always gave credit to the intercession of St. Joseph for these miracles.  

Under his guidance a small chapel in honour of St. Joseph was built on the northwest side of Mount Royal, and soon work began on a giant basilica that we now call St. Joseph's Oratory began.  

When Brother Andre died on January 6, 1937, a million people came to view his body before his funeral. St. Andre is the patron saint of family caregivers, and the story of his life and faith have inspired tens of millions of Canadians and Americans.  And I am one of the many who has a deep devotion to him.  St. Andre, pray for us!

I would be reticent if I did not share my horror and dismay at what happened yesterday in Washington. My dear readers, our neighbours to the south need our prayers - for healing, for peace, and for civility.  In our prayers for the United States, let us also call upon the intercessions of St. Andre, that great healer of soul and body, as well as the intercessions of such great American saints as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Mother Cabrini, and St. John Neumann.  Lord, hear our prayers!