Monday, October 18, 2010

St. Andre Bessette: A Model of Humility, Kindness and Compassion

In 1870, Alfred presented himself as a candidate in the novitiate of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montréal. Because of his weak health, his superiors had doubts concerning his religious vocation. However, these reservations were soon put aside as he was finally accepted and given the name of Brother André with the responsibility of porter at Notre-Dame College. While talking about his early duties at the college, brother André was found to say: ‘’When I entered the community, my superiors showed me the door, and I remained there for 40 years without leaving.’’ On top of his porter duties, his daily tasks consisted of washing floors and windows, cleaning lamps, carrying firewood and working as a messenger.

 Soon, Brother André started to welcome the sick and broken-hearted. He invited them to pray to Saint Joseph to obtain favours. It was not long before many people were reporting that their prayers were being answered. For twenty-five years, he spent six to eight hours a day receiving those who came to him, first in his small office, then in the tramway station across the street from the college. He built the first chapel with the help of friends and with the money he earned giving haircuts to the students of the college, he had the certitude that Saint Joseph wanted to have a place on the mountain: thus, he spent his whole life preparing a beautiful shrine worthy of his friend.

Bother André began visiting the sick in the area and travelled as far as the United States where he had made friends. He earned the reputation of miracle-worker, but he vehemently protested such a title: ‘’I am nothing… only a tool in the hands of Providence, a lowly instrument at the service of Saint Joseph’’. He went even further by affirming: ‘’People are silly to think that I can accomplish miracles! It is God and Saint Joseph who can heal you, not I. I will pray Saint Joseph for you.’’

Brother André took great care in meeting and greeting people. He spent long hours in his office where thousands of people came to see him and, in the evenings, he visited homes or hospitals accompanied by one of his friends.

His kindness and compassion were matched by a remarkable sharpness of mind. He would make the following comment concerning the numerous requests for healings he received: ‘’It is surprising that I am frequently asked for cures, but rarely for humility and the spirit of faith. Yet, they are so important…’’adding. ‘’If the soul is sick, one must begin by treating the soul.‘’ Consequently, he would often ask the people consulting him questions such as, ‘’Do you have faith?’’ ‘’Do you believe that God can do something for you?’’ Then, before doing anything else, he would tell them, ‘’Go confess yourself to the priest, go to Holy Communion and then come back to see me.’’ Indeed, Brother André had a true understanding of the sense and the value of suffering, and he spoke with wisdom when addressing this subject: ‘’People who suffer have something to offer to God. When they succeed in enduring their suffering that is a daily miracle!”

~ Excerpts from here ~

On January 6, 1937, the death of a humble doorkeeper for a boys’ college drew over a million people to Montreal. For 40 years, Brother André Bessette of the Congregation of Holy Cross welcomed people at the door and became known as a miraculous healer. God’s Doorkeeper looks at the heart and legacy of Brother André — as a man of prayer, of hospitality, and of compassion; a man who draws people in to experience a God who is love. On October 17, 2010, Br. André became the first male Canadian-born saint and the first saint for the Congregation of Holy Cross. He is living proof that “it is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most beautiful pictures.”

Featuring interviews from Montreal, Rome, and different part of the United States — with people who knew him and others who continue Br. André’s work today. Also includes footage of the beatification and canonization ceremonies in Rome and the celebrations in Montreal, as well as a commentary by Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB on the perennial relevance of Br. André.

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