In this Thursday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us to pray the “Our Father.” It is a simple prayer that keeps us from “babbling like the pagans.” St. Andre Bessette (1845-1937) visualized this prayer like this:
“When you say Our Father, God’s ear is next to your lips.”
The imagery of whispering in God’s ear is so extraordinarily intimate that I had to investigate this saint a little more.
Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi is my first source when I want to know more about a saint. Andre entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross at age fifteen. He was sickly and nearly let go, but the archbishop of Montreal intervened and Andre was permitted to stay. He was frail and lacked an education so the community assigned him the door-keeper position at the College of Our Lady of the Snows, a boys’ school in Montreal. Andre said, “My superiors showed me the door and I stayed there forty years.”
Brother Andre became devoted to St. Joseph and encouraged sick people to ask for St. Joseph’s intercession. He would anoint the sick with oil from a lamp that burned before St. Joseph’s image. The men he would sometimes massage with a medal of the saint wrapped in cloth – never women. At least one healing a day was received from 1910 through 1937 through Brother Andre’s ministry.
As Brother Andre got on in years, he lost a bit of the sense of humor that he had when he first became door-keeper:
“Go away, I’m busy,” he would snap, dismissing a persistent petitioner. He claimed that no one could truly appreciate the pain caused him by the daily press of hundreds of visitors, each expecting a healing. – from Voices of the Saints
Saint Andre Bessette died at the age of 91, a tireless champion of the faith who despite his tremendous holiness (and maybe because of those hundreds of visitors a day!) probably had a right to be a little crotchety.
Copyright 2017 Pam Spano