YOUR GUIDE IN THE YEAR OF ST JOSEPH IS ST ANDRE BESSETTE
Brother Andre was a little fellow, a butter-bean of a man as they would say in my native Ireland. His warm brown eyes melted with compassion and his cheeks were creased with a discrete smile.
Like Solanus Casey, Brother Andre was a door-keeper to his monastery in Montreal, Canada. When he was appointed porter, he joked that no sooner had he joined a religious order when he was shown the door. He was stationed for long periods of time at the monastery's reception. In the quiet moments, he attended to menial cleaning tasks. He mopped floors and rinsed down windows. But these moments became rarer as his fame as a miracle-worker spread and crowds of people clamored to meet him and confide in him so that he would ask the intercession of St Joseph so they might be healed.
Perhaps as a result, Brother Andre loved car journeys. He relished his little break in the comfort of a car, away from his duties of opening the door and listening to the woes of the multitudes and taking their burdens from their shoulders. During a car journey, Brother Andre enjoyed his one luxury; he could offer a Rosary in peace without many interruptions.
One day Brother Andre was traveling in a car on the roads of Montreal. He was en route to see a sick friend, when he saw a severely disabled man who hobbled on crutches at the side of the road. Brother Andre asked his driver to stop, and he leaned out of the window and called out to the man who held himself up by his crutches. The man told Brother Andre that he had been permanently injured in an accident. When he learned this, Brother Andre replied, "Let go of your crutches and walk!" The man replied indignantly, "I can't!" But Brother Andre rejoined, "I said, "Let go of your crutches and walk!"" In a fit of pique, the man threw his crutches from him and to his amazement he discovered he was completely cured of his disability and able to walk without wooden sticks. He looked at little Andre who looked at him from the car window and said, "I know you are not the good Lord, but you must be someone great!"
"Thank St Joseph, not me," replied Brother Andre in characteristic self-abasement, but in an admission that betrayed his fantastic devotion to St Joseph. Brother Andre lived from 1845 to 1937 and perhaps no other saint of the last century has had his white-hot zeal and passion for St Joseph and all-encompassing trust in his intercession as Andre Bessette. No one can best Bessette when it comes to loving St Joseph.
That there were 10,000 miraculous cures attributed to Brother Andre by the priests of Holy Cross is sensational in itself. But it is all the more awe-inspiring when it is taken into account that this number is confined to the 60 years that Brother Andre was a brother with the Holy Cross Congregation - and when he was alive.
All the more stupendous miracles occurred after Brother Andre died. There is the case of Arthur Ducharme, who as an 8 year-old boy had his arm ravaged in an accident. The muscles and nerves on his arm were scraped to the bone by shards of glass. His parents were told that he would need to have his arm cut off, amputated, but his mother couldn't bear the idea of consenting to strip her son of a limb. Arthur's arm rested in a muslin sling and flapped by his side, he had no working muscle to move it and no nerves to control it. But when Arthur went to the dead body of Brother Andre, who was laid out in his coffin, and Arthur's arm was placed on the petite porter's body, his arm came to life and was suddenly functional as though sharp points of broken glass had never ripped nerve and muscle from it. Arthur sprang around the monastery and delighted in lifting chairs to prove his working arm!
But in life, Brother Andre always, always gave all credit for such miracles to St Joseph. He did so loudly, even when it broke with his French-Canadian etiquette and his usual way of being polite.
Once Brother Andre verbally punished someone who rudely sought to raise him above St Joseph when they said, "Brother Andre, you are better than St Joseph. We pray to him and nothing happens, but when we come to see you, we are cured!" When he heard this, Brother Andre was infuriated, and he shouted, "GET OUT OF HERE! IT IS ST JOSEPH WHO CURED YOU, NOT I! GET OUT!"
Brother Andre would not stand for one moment to take the spotlight off St Joseph. "Go to St Joseph," was the simple instruction he gave every soul who looked into his soft brown eyes and confided their troubles.
Were you and I to meet Brother Andre, he would no doubt tell us, "Go to St Joseph."
This year of 2021 has been dedicated to St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, who is the only one who ranks worthy of "protodulia", the honor given him as the father who God the Father entrusted with His Son. His wife, the Virgin Mary is the only one who merits "hyperdulia" as the Messiah's mother, but while every other Saint may be honored with "dulia", he who deserves first recognition or "proto" reverence is Joseph.
There is the question of how to give such protodulia to Joseph.
I have some suggestions that may come in handy for you. Offer your daily Rosary in honor of St Joseph, and offer a second daily Rosary in honor of St Andre Bessette. Ask St Andre to teach you how to love St Joseph and seek his intercession. The day of the week devoted to St Joseph is Wednesday, and I'd invite you to regard Wednesday as the day when you may get the most difficult work projects done. As St Jospeh is the terror of demons, he may terrorize the unclean spirits who seek to terrorize you.
This was the case in the life of Padre Pio. As a young priest, Pio was mercilessly attacked by demons who came with clubs to beat him and even showed themselves (the sight of them in their horrid ugliness, Pio admitted was the worst persecution visited on him as young priest), but on Wednesday, Pio was left unharmed because as this day belongs to St Joseph they did not molest Pio on this day.
There is also the marvelous process of consecration to St Joseph.
Just before Christmas, I was at a dinner party, and the other guests were extolling the greatness of a book by Father Calloway on Consecration to St Joseph. Then I was given the book as a gift by my significant other, and I have been preparing to consecrate myself to St Joseph. I tried and failed to start my consecration on January 1st, but it was too overwhelming for me. As per usual I had to discover that I lack the love necessary for such a consecration, and for now I need to rely on St Andre to tell me how to trust in St Joseph.
The reason I tried to start my consecration on January 1st it that it is among a set of dates that Father Calloway recommends as start points for the 33 day consecration. The other dates you may choose to begin your consecration are:
+ February 15
+ March 30
+ April 11
+ July 20
+ September 30
+ November 8
+ December 22
Much of the consecration to St Joseph draws on the inspiration of St Andre, whose feast day is January 6th, the day he left earth for Heaven. And this Year of St Joseph, the feast of St Andre falls on a Wednesday!
The best-selling Consecration to St Joseph may be bought from the Spirit Daily Store
I will pray two rosaries today one to St Joseph and another to St Andre Bessette. As I age I notice the decline in my health and my wife's health. I visited St Joseph's Oratory in 2019. I visited the crypt and saw hundreds of canes and crutches left as a testament to healings bestowed by God on the faithful. It was a long drive from California to Montreal, (and back)
May St Andre and St Joseph bless each and every one of us today with all the crosses we have to bear!
Wow, well done on making a pilgrimage to St Joseph's Oratory!Delete
Wow, well done on making a pilgrimage to St Joseph's Oratory!Delete
Mary, a couple of quick comments:ReplyDelete
1.) Congrats on the significant other. God bless the relationship. I prayed a Novena to St. Therese of Liseux and met my wife a dew weeks later in 1993. Thank you St. Theresa the Little Flower! My wife and I were blessed with three children, Margaret Patricia, Catherine Gianna and James Aloysius Carl V. Catherine was named after Bl. Catherine McAuley of the Sisters of Mercy. Amazing the saints that have played a role in my children's lives.
2.) Glad to hear that Katie Collins is still kicking. I still remember you asking us to pray for her. I still do pray for her and why not, even if the original need for the prayers is no longer a pressing issue.
3.) Your note about the "sting" when one receives spiritual favors from St. Joseph. I know what you are not clearly articulating. But, I think it has more to do with what you pray for. Some favors require you to carry a cross.
4.) At some point, I will need to write you a comment about Mary of Agreda and Anne Catherine Emmerich, Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, Scotists and Thomists, Dominicans and Franciscans, Maculists and the Immaculate Conception. All I can say is the devil really hates the Immaculate Conception. May our Lady continue to protect you and yours!
Happy new year!
James Ignatius, You gave your children such excellent names. Thank you with all my soul for your prayers for dear Catherine. Yes, select favors come with crosses, which I hope I am better at receiving. And I concur, the devil despises the Immaculate Conception. I look forward to your comment...Delete
Please could you expand on the idea of the "sting" re spiritual favours from St Joseph? Also, I'm very interested to know more about favours requiring a cross, as perhaps I'm encountering this situation right now. Mary, do you go to Brompton Oratory? I'm there most days - it would be lovely to meet you some time? We may even know each other by sight!!Delete
Yes, your question is an apposite one.
When a prayer is answered, sometimes the grace comes with a twin grace in the form of a cross. The "sting" of the splinter is from the wood of the cross, and the suffering is unexpected and unwanted; sometimes the sting and the answered prayer are one and the same thing, and t'would not appear to be God's will that they are separated, because the cross is for the person's good. Sometimes, the greater the answered prayer, the greater the cross. When one prays to St Joseph, he can be so efficient in giving you exactly what you desired, but there can be a pain that the soul did not foresee. But tis better for the soul to accept the pain, and see the will of Our Lord in giving this hardship.
In my own spiritual immaturity, I used resent such crosses and such splinters, but now I see that my poor manner of accommodating a new cross was the problem, and my refusal to follow God's will the encumbrance, not the intercession of St Joseph. Had I welcomed the crosses, and asked Our Lord to show me what he wanted me to do, then the pain would have been lessened. For example, often answered prayers has caused interpersonal difficulties between me and others, they have become jealous or worse; and instead of seeing that Our Lord was perhaps inviting me to move on from certain relationships, I persisted in trying to have my desires met, and ultimately I had to follow Our Lord's promptings, but after much pain that could have been avoided had I just obeyed. The house of cards that is a relationship founded on jealousy means that on no answered prayer that provokes jealousy in the other can come without the house falling down!
As I've experienced, when I've tried to shrug such a cross, there is a boomerang whereby the cross comes down more heavily on the shoulder.
You say you may be in that situation right now, and while I don't know the specifics, I would perhaps invite you to discern if the cross may be welcomed by you, and that perhaps the more you allow it rest on your shoulder, there will be less occasion for the wood to chaff against you, and for the added sting of a splinter to blister you. I write in metaphor, of course. In discernment of whether this cross's purpose is to make you follow more closely Our Lord's will; relinquishing attachments and in giving your will to His may be the first priority. But feel free to ignore this if it does not apply to you.
In more maturity, I've also tempered my prayers with the request that my prayers be answered in tandem with my being given greater ability to follow the will of Our Lord, and in this new stage of my life and simultaneously abandon myself to Our Lord's Will.
Yes, for many years I was a regular, even daily communicant at the Brompton Oratory, but I moved away and have not been there for some years. At the moment, I am not disclosing my whereabouts online at present, and I'm not free to meet up. I ask God blessing on your piety in being before the Blessed Sacrament at the Oratory most days. Yours in Christ, MO'R
This is a wonderful post. Many years ago I traveled to Montreal with my parents and my two young sons to visit the shrine to St. Joseph. My father was born Lutheran. He married my Irish Catholic mother with an intent to become Catholic but by the time he began studies to enter the Church, he told the priest that he was teaching Lutheran doctrine.ReplyDelete
During our shrine visit, we became separated a bit (It's a big place!). My mother asked if I could find my father. I searched for him and found him where I left him several minutes before: standing next to St. Andre's crypt with his hands resting on it. On our return home to the west coast, he wore a medal of St. Joseph from the shrine, with a relic of Brother Andre on the reverse side. Within a couple of years he began to attend a Traditional Mass with my mother and made his conversion there. I definitely give St Joseph and his dear friend St. Andre the credit for my father's conversion and later, his reception of all of the sacraments for a holy death and burial.
Your post is a happy reminder for me to renew my friendship with St. Andre and to read Fr. Calloway's book. And to thank St. Joseph for an unexpected and wonderful gift I received during Christmas week.
God bless you,
Mary K J
Mary Kay, Thank you for your lovely comment - I really enjoyed reading it! I am so glad your father converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism. So glad, too, that you received a surreptitious gift from St Joseph recently. I think you will love Father Calloway's book, tis truly a tonic for the soul. May you be blessed with blessings beyond number and enjoy + Joseph's intercession always.Delete
Dear Mary and friends,ReplyDelete
Please, please pray for me. My precious husband died suddenly on Dec. 17, 2020. I am in pain and grief, and shock. On top of all that my husband's employer is trying to delay his death benefits to me. I am unemployed for the last 4 years. Please pray for me to St. Joseph.
I will also no longer have medical insurance past this March. I'm trying to be confident in St. Joseph's powerful protection, I can use the prayer support. God bless,
+ Prayers urgentlyDelete
Prayers for you in your great difficulty. Many of them.Delete
Thank you for bringing St. Brother Andre's devotion to St. Joseph to the attention of readers! I went to Montreal in 2015 after seeing a biography of the saint on Salt and Light TV. I believe his mission was really to "prepare the way" for St. Joseph to be venerated by the whole world. The little saint was instrumental in building the Oratory of St. Joseph, which is currently the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world. https://www.saint-joseph.org/en/ The presence of St. Joseph is tangible in it, and everything in it points to St. Joseph. By contrast the tomb of the little saint is in an out of the way spot. Yes, even in death St. Brother Andre is pointing to St. Joseph!ReplyDelete
I love this comment, Janet. Thank you for your amazing insight: "I believe his mission was really to "prepare the way" for St. Joseph to be venerated by the whole world."Delete