The Catholic Defender: The Saint Andre Bessette Story
“My only ambition is to serve God in the most humble tasks.” Saint Andre Bessette
One of the benefits of being Catholic is the great access we have with the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus gives this to everyone, but unfortunately, sadly some do not understand this very well.
Hebrews 12:1-2 states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God”.
St. Andre Bessette saw this vision and now is among those within this cloud of glory. He is back on Deepertruth, what a joy to have the heavenly glory around us reminding us of our need to follow Jesus!
He was born in Quebec Canada raised in a small town called Mont-Saint-Gregore. He was so weak and frail, he was given an emergency Baptism.
My wife worked at a Catholic Hospital and has baptized infants just like this, which shows how sick he was at birth.
Andre was one of 10 children and work was difficult, his Father sought work and was rarely home. He was tragically crushed by a falling tree working as a lumberjack.
Shortly after this accident, his Mother developed consumption (tuberculosis) leaving St. Andre Orphaned by the time he was 12 years old.
He would try any odd jobs he could find, he had no trade, no real education and his health was frail.
Through all this wondering he steadily grew in his spirituality. He maximized what some people will minimally do.
He would spend his free time before a Crucifix, or he would talk to friends about our Lord. He would be someone after my own heart.
He was a lot like the Children of Fatima as he would do penance for those he would pray for. By the time he was 20 years old, he would come to the United States seeking work in New England.
There, he caught the eye of a Parish Priest who recommended St. Andre to The Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal. Fr. André Provençal wrote, “I’m sending you a saint”.
Because of his poor health, he was not initially accepted, However, the Montreal Archbishop Ignace Bourget, intervened for St. Andre Bessette and he was finally accepted in 1872.
From this time on, he would be known as “Brother Andre”. He made his final vows on February 2, 1874, at the age of 28.
Incredibly, Brother Andre would serve there for 40 years. He took hospitality to a whole different level as he served as a receptionist, a Wall-Mart Greeter. He did the tasks that most would gladly give to him to do and he did it with a smile, with love and devotion.
He was no average Wall-Mart shopper, he would go and visit the sick at their homes, at the hospitals, it wasn’t long that rumors of healing began to spread. Something he never took credit, but only praised God!
People began to seek him out for prayer and he would always have a kind word for each person, but he never took credit for any of the supernatural events taking place.
He had a strong devotion to St. Joseph and the Holy Family. He became known as the “Miracle worker of Mount-Roya”. With all this excitement surrounding him, of course the Secularist and the anti-Catholics would do what ever harassment they can muster.
So influential was St. Andre, once, when the news of an epidemic broke out in the entire area. People responded seeking the prayer support of Andre. Many came to St. Andre's door by the droves, it became a public spectacle which St. Andre's superiors were not prepared to handle. Even the Diocese was asking questions and the medical establishment attacked him calling him a "quack". Through all of this, Andre's response was “I do not cure, Saint Joseph cures.” It is important to mention here that no one died as a result of the epidemic, but four secretaries barely covered the over 80,000 letters received each year.
That’s the way it always is. His popularity far exceeded the criticism as when he died at age 91, 1,000,000 people past his coffin. That is wild.
This reminds me when I went to Chicago to see St. Pope John Paul II with about 2,000,000 other people. The famed Atheist, Madeline O’Hara along with about 25 protesters arrived to protest the Papal Mass at Grant Park.
St. Andre Bassette was canonized a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI on December 19, 2009 and his Feast day is January 6. So many times do we see the scripture teaching that the humble are lifted up by God.
You do not have to be a strong “Hulk Hogan” type to gain popularity, but a simple love for God and great acts of kindness.
Nothing wrong with being an athlete, but it is much better to be a Christian Athlete! St. Andre Bessette, pray for us Amen!
Blessed Brother Andre, your devotion to Saint Joseph is an inspiration to us. You gave your life selflessly to bring the message of his life to others. Pray that we may learn from Saint Joseph, and from you, what it is like to care for Jesus and do his work in the world. Amen