St. Andre Bessette

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. André Bessette.
André was born near Montreal, Canada in 1845. He was so frail at birth, that the priest immediately baptized him. His father died early, and when he was 12 he lost his mother. Later he would say, “I rarely prayed FOR my mother, more often I prayed to her.
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He was sent to live with his uncle, who helped him find some work, but the boy’s frail health made this difficult. For 13 years he went from job to job, his health always hindering him. He became a farmhand, he tried being a shoemaker, then a baker, a tin-smith, a factory worker, a blacksmith, a wagon-driver – all failures. He was barely able to write his name or read his prayer book.
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But the Pastor of his parish saw goodness in him. So he presented him to the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He wrote to the superior: “In this young man, I am sending you a saint.”
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After a year in the novitiate however, they found out the same thing as everyone else: his health did not permit him to do much work. But the bishop intervened, and they accepted Andre.
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He was given the humble job of being the doorkeeper. Later, he would jokingly say: “When I joined this community, they showed me the door!’
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For forty years, he worked just there – at the door. His other duties were also simple: washing floors and windows, laundry worker, and cleaning lamps. In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees praying. On his windowsill was a statue of Saint Joseph, to whom he had a great devotion since childhood.
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When he heard someone was ill, he visited, to cheer them up and to pray with the sick person. Healings began to happen. Many people began to go to Brother Andre. But he kept saying, “I do not cure anyone, it is St. Joseph who cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.
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Some say, ‘A Monsignor is high up in the Church, or a Cardinal is a very high person in the Church. But this is not God’s thinking. Greatness in the Church is measured by holiness. For this reason, a simple doorkeeper like André Bessette, who did the simple things of life, totally for Christ – such as these are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.         

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