Wednesday 22nd February 2017

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes… St. André Bessette

January 10, 2017 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

High on Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, stands the largest Catholic church in Canada, the Basilica of St. Joseph’s Oratory. As the pilgrims climb the steps through the lovely grounds and statuary, they can turn and see the city of Montreal spread out below. Once inside they can visit the main statue of St. Joseph, surrounded by hundreds of votive candles. This magnificent church had very humble beginnings — a vision of a sick and frail man who could not seem to keep any job to support himself.
On August 9, 1845, in the small village of Mont-Saint-Grégoire, 25 miles southeast of Quebec, a child was born. Isaac Bessette, a carpenter, and his wife, Clothilde Foisy, a homemaker, welcomed the eighth of their twelve children, Alfred. From birth the boy was frail and sickly. He and his siblings were educated at home by Clothilde.
When Alfred was almost eight years old, the family moved to Farnham so Isaac could find employment as a lumberjack. Before Alfred’s ninth birthday, Isaac was killed when a tree fell on him and crushed him to death. Clothilde did her best to provide for the family, but she soon succumbed to tuberculosis, leaving the children orphans.
This loss caused the children to be separated and Alfred felt the loss keenly. He once told a friend, “I rarely prayed for my mother, but I often prayed to her.” She died when Alfred was only 12 years old, forcing him to leave school just two years later to try and support himself.
Because his education was cut short, he had difficulty reading and writing, which limited his employment possibilities. Thus began 13 years of wandering from one place to another — never remaining long at any establishment since he was “unsuitable.”
Nevertheless, with unwavering hope and valiant effort, he continued seeking employment, resulting in the same outcome as he was bullied by the more experienced and stronger workers. He tried work as an unskilled laborer, construction worker, farm boy, tinsmith, blacksmith, baker, cobbler, and coachman.
As the textile industry in the United States expanded, Alfred went there to find employment. Once again, he was determined to give his best despite his ailments. “Despite my weak condition, I did not let anyone get ahead of me,” he later said. Alfred continued to work there until Canada became a nation in 1867 and he returned to Quebec.
In 1870 he applied to the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal as a novice. Once again his frail health caused concern to the superiors of the order, but after considerable deliberation, Alfred was accepted and given the name Brother André.
Brother André was given the lowliest chores, such as washing the floors and windows, running errands, cleaning the lamps, bringing in wood for the fires, and acting as porter. He lovingly accepted this post and did his best to do it well. As he wrote years later, “My superiors showed me the door, and I remained there for forty years without leaving.”
With great compassion, he accepted the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden, as he invited them to pray to St. Joseph for the cures and the help they sought.
Sometimes he would sit in the tramway across the street from the college in order to be available to more people — the members of the order had complained of the many people coming to see Brother André. He frequently gave haircuts to the students and used these meager funds to build a wee chapel in honor of St. Joseph after discerning that God wanted one built on Mount Royal for all to see.
The doctors could offer no explanation for the miraculous cures Brother André brought about. More and more people sought his help, knowing he was a man of compassion, wisdom, and sympathy for their ailments. After his long day as the porter, he then would visit the shut-ins and help them as well.
As people began to praise him for so many wondrous deeds, he referred them all back to God: “I am only a tool in the hands of Providence, a lowly instrument at the service of St. Joseph.”
Brother André was calm and serene with eyes alight with the fire of God’s love. Although reserved with newcomers, he demonstrated much joy and a quick wit with those for whom he cared. By those means, he hoped to not only spread the good news, but also give advice in a friendly way.
His vision of the chapel materialized in 1904 with the shed on the hill. This was enlarged in 1908 and again in 1910 and by the time each of the additions was completed, even more room was needed. More and more pilgrims came to the Oratory of St. Joseph to see the “Miracle Man of Montreal.” Knowing this fame was misplaced, Brother André would go into seclusion on important feast days.
Finally in 1917, a much larger building was begun, but with the advent of the Great Depression, the construction was halted. As frost and the elements threatened to destroy what had been built, a meeting was called and Brother André was questioned. His response was, “This is not my work. It is the work of St. Joseph. Put one of his statues in the middle of the building. If he wants a roof over his head, he will take care of it.” Two months later they had the funds.
Like most saints, Brother André placed a high priority on saving souls. Though thousands came to visit him, and he worked at night with the homebound, he was criticized for “gallivanting around.” Little did they know at what cost Brother André cared for these people.
Although he was happy to help with their temporal needs, he was saddened as he observed, “It is surprising that I am frequently asked for cures, but rarely for humility and the spirit of faith. Yet they are so important.” Another time he said, “People who suffer have something to offer to God. When they succeed in enduring their suffering that is a daily miracle.”
As Brother André neared death, he encouraged others by saying, “You know, it is permitted to desire death if one’s unique goal is to go toward God. When I die, I will go to Heaven, I will be much closer to God than I am now; I will have more power to help you.
When Brother André died on January 6, 1937 at the age of 91, one million people passed by his coffin. Below the basilica his body lies under the oratory’s main chapel. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010. His feast in the United States is celebrated on January 6 and in Canada on January 7.
Dear Brother André, heal our wounded souls so downtrodden by so many divisions in our families, our country, and the Church. Help us to seek always, with humility and a deep faith, through the intercession of St. Joseph, the grace to reach our eternal reward. Amen.

+ + +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Conference Looks Beyond ‘Crisis’ of Catholic Colleges, Debunks ‘Land O’ Lakes Statement’

The day after an historic and widely-covered March for Life, presidents from four Newman Guide colleges and Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly presented on the future of Catholic higher education at the “CRISIS: Catholic Higher Education and the Next…Continue Reading

Top Restaurants Will Sell Cookies to Raise Money for Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A handful of Chicago restaurants are baking cookies and selling them through Feb. 24, with the proceeds benefitting the abortion group Planned Parenthood, the Chicago Eater reported.

Roman Catholic Church of Philippines Criticizes Duterte’s Bloody Drug War

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in a sermon read out during Sunday’s services, marking its strongest opposition yet to a flagship policy that has led to the deaths of more…Continue Reading

Catholic conservatives level criticism against pope

VATICAN CITY —Conservative criticism of Pope Francis intensified Saturday after his intervention in the Knights of Malta order, with posters appearing around Rome citing his actions against conservative Catholics and asking: “Where’s your mercy?” The posters appeared on the same…Continue Reading

U.S. archbishop visits Vietnam to show solidarity, offer support

CHICAGO (CNS) — U.S. bishops sent their immediate past president to Vietnam to see how they could help with the first college-level Catholic school approved in the Asian country in about 40 years. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky,…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi Tells Adopted Woman: Your Mom Should Have Had the “Choice” to Abort You

nancyp

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has made some pretty outrageous statements about abortion in the past. During a recent CNN Town Hall event, Pelosi stuck her foot in her mouth again when she told a young woman who was adopted…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke urges massive U.S. crowd to defend faith amid Church confusion

cburk12

LENEXA, Kansas, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The façade of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a boogeyman of tradition projected by his critics and the media was nowhere to be found last Friday when he gave his usual clear witness to the Catholic faith before an overflow crowd in the Kansas City area. Cardinal Burke delivered a stirring, clear message on defending the Catholic faith amid the current confusion in the Church that was embraced with…Continue Reading

Again More Questions than Answers . . . MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO

Dear Brothers and Sisters, First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all…Continue Reading

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s “eleventh hour” HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions. Title X money comes from the government to fund “family planning services,” but technically not abortion. Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X

When Cardinals Clash

It was easily predictable that the Amoris Laetitia (particularly footnote 351), would lead to jarring assaults on the Church’s doctrinal unity – even by some of the Church’s own shepherds. Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, has just joined the ranks of prelates who say that Pope Francis has authorized giving Holy Communion to those in adulterous second “marriages

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Reopening The Question Of Women Priests… A Theological Travesty And A Spiritual Tragedy

By JEFFREY MIRUS (Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. This commentary first appeared on CatholicCulture.org, and LifeSiteNews featured it on February 13. All rights reserved.) + + + La…Continue Reading

Even As “Assisted Suicide” Looms . . . Ethics Expert Tells How Roe V. Wade Might Be Reversed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “If you want to see what a Roe v. Wade reversal looks like, read Washington v. Glucksberg,” a national expert on medical ethics and the law told a Catholic physicians’ meeting here while he also warned against an accelerating effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in the states. With speculation rising…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… Silence As An Expression Of The Sacred

By JAME MONTI In a recent interview concerning his new book, The Power of Silence, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah observed, “Before God’s majesty, we lose our words” (Catholic World Report, October 3, 2016). Silence is man’s humble reply to the glory and transcendence of His Creator, a reply that even the high and mighty…Continue Reading

The Fatima Centenary . . . The Historical Context Of The Fatima Event

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of monthly articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) + + + There is no better time to more deeply learn, live, and spread the message…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 25 Haven’t you met Catholic people who question the gravity of Adam’s sin? They do believe that all humans stem from a single couple, yes, but they find it hard to accept that stealing an apple is such a big deal. Surely God could not be that much offended by that! Such people argue…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER As narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. Jesus and His apostles had just traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Passover in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent reply about the failure of Jesuit colleges and universities to uphold Catholic morality, the Cardinal Newman Society has reported that most members of Congress who graduated from Catholic institutions have pro-abortion voting records. Of the 56 Jesuit college alumni who hold seats in the new Congress, said Matt Archbold of the Cardinal Newman…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Mammon

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 49:14-15 1 Cor. 4:1-5 Matt. 6:24-34 In the Gospel reading today, our Lord tells us that we cannot serve two masters. We will either hate the one and love the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. Then He states the point…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading