One Minute Reflection – 6 January – First Day after Epiphany, Readings:
1 John 3:22–4:6, Psalm 2:7-8, 10-11, Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
” .. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.” … Matthew 4:16
REFLECTION – “In speaking of vision, or rather of a great light, Matthew undoubtedly intends us to understand our Saviour’s luminous preaching, the radiance of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. The land of Zebulon and of Naphtali heard it from our Lord’s own mouth before anyone else…
For in fact it was in this particular land that our Lord began to preach, it was there His preaching was inaugurated… And the apostles, who were the first to see this true light over these regions of Zabulon and Naphtali, themselves became “lights of the world”... As Isaiah’s text continues: “They rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing the spoils.” This joy will indeed become the apostles’s joy, it will be a twofold joy when “they come back like reapers carrying their sheaves” and “as conquerors sharing the spoil”, that is to say of the conquered devil…
For it was You, our Lord and Saviour, who removed from their shoulders “the yoke that burdened them”, that yoke of the devil’s who in former times lorded it over the world when he reigned over all the nations and caused their necks to bow beneath the yoke of a grievous slavery… You it was who, without troops, without bloodshed, in the secret of Your power, freed us to place us at Your service… Yes, the devil will be “burned as fuel for the flames” because “a child is born to us”, the lowly Son of God “upon whose shoulders dominion rests” because, being God, He is able to possess the pre-eminence by His own strength… And His “dominion extends” since He will not only reign over the Jews, as David did but He will have the sovereignty over all nations “both now and forever”.” … Rupert of Deutz OSB (c 1075-1130) Benedictine Monk, Theologian, Exegete, Writer.
PRAYER – Lord, may the radiance of Your glory, light up our hearts and bring us through the shadows of this world, until we reach our homeland of everlasting light. May the prayers of St Andre Bessette and all Your saints who stand beside You, be an assistance in our moments of trial. Through Christ, the Light which shows us light and the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 6 January – Saint André Bessette CSC (1845-1937) “God’s Doorkeeper” more commonly known as Brother André and since his Canonisation as Saint André of Montreal, was a lay brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Apostle of Prayer, the Holy Eucharist, the Passion of Christ and of charity to the sick. He is famous for the many miracles worked during his and since his death. He was a devotee of St Joseph and constantly attributed all the cures to his intercession.
Saint Brother André, born Alfred Bessette on 8 August 1845 in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville, Quebec, was the eighth in a family of 12 children, four of whom died in infancy. At birth, he was so frail that the curé baptised him in an emergency ritual the following day. The family was working-class, his father, Isaac Bessette, was a carpenter and lumberman and his mother, Clothilde Foisy Bessette, saw to the education of her children. In 1849, with employment scarce and his family living in poverty, Alfred’s father moved to Farnham, Quebec to work as a lumberman but soon perished tragically crushed by a falling tree. André was only nine years old and his mother died of tuberculosis three years later, when he was 12 years of age, he was an orphan, without money or education.
He remained small for his age and rather frail. He tried working as a helper on his uncle’s farm and he tried learning a number of trades – shoemaking, baking, welding and blacksmithing but his health did not permit him to persevere in any of them. When he was about 18, he emigrated to New England, where he found work in the textile industry.
He returned to Canada in 1867 and he pastor of his parish, the Fr André Provençal, noticed the devotion and generosity of the young man. He decided to present Alfred to the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal, writing a note to the superior, “I’m sending you a saint.” Although he was initially rejected by the order because of frail health, Archbishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal intervened on his behalf and in 1872, Alfred was accepted and entered the novitiate of the congregation, receiving the religious name of Brother André, by which he was known for the rest of his life. He made his final vows on 2 February 1874, at the age of 28. Although he spoke fluent French and English, he could neither read nor write.
For 40 years, he was the porter at Notre-Dame College in Montreal. He also looked after the laundry and the sacristy, he ran errands and cleaned. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years,” he said. As his work permitted, Brother André visited the sick and met with the handicapped and the chronically ill. His great confidence in Saint Joseph inspired him to recommend the saint’s devotion to all those who were afflicted.
On his many visits to the sick in their homes, he would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel and recommend them, in prayer, to Saint Joseph. People claimed that they had been cured through the prayers of the good Brother and Saint Joseph and they were grateful their prayers had been heard.
His reputation spread throughout Montreal and many brought their sick relatives to see the College door-keeper. They came in such great numbers that there were complaints from the parents of students and Brother André’s superiors as well as doctors, the compromise solution was to authorise him to place a statue of Saint Joseph on the mountainside, facing the College.
In 1904, with the help of some lay friends he built a wooden chapel on Mount Royal. The cost, $200, came from the offerings of those whom he had helped and from the nickels he charged students for haircuts. Pilgrims flocked to the chapel and so many people wrote to Brother André with requests for prayers that four secretaries were required to answer their letters. The chapel was enlarged in 1908 and a stone crypt was erected in 1917. Construction of the Basilica began in 1924. It was finally completed in 1967. Saint Joseph’s Oratory on Mount Royal is known around the world as a place of pilgrimage. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are drawn to this place of prayer and recollection.
Brother André died on 6 January 1937, at the age of 91. A million people filed past his coffin.
The remains of Brother André lie in the church he helped build. His body lies in a tomb built below the Oratory’s Main Chapel, except for his heart, which is preserved in a reliquary in the same Oratory. The heart was stolen in March 1973, but was recovered in December 1974 with the help of famous criminal attorney Frank Shoofey. He was declared Blessed on 23 May 1982 by Saint John Paul II. On Sunday, 17 October 2010, Pope Benedict Canonised him.
André Bessette was above all a man of prayer. Father André Provençal, who had recommended him as a candidate for joining the religious of the Holy Cross, had noticed his piety when Alfred was a young man. Alfred was hesitant to present himself to the Holy Cross novitiate because he had so little education but Father Provençal managed to persuade him that one didn’t have to know how to read or write in order to pray. St André’s spirit of prayer overcame the reticence of his Holy Cross superiors. The novice master was convinced that even if he turned out to be unsuitable for work, he could surely pray and teach by example.
Prayer was at the heart of his works of mercy. He prayed with the sick and involved them in praying, inviting them to reconciliation with God. He regularly prayed well into the night. He meditated on the passion of Jesus and saw the suffering of Jesus in the suffering people who came to him for help.
Like Moses on the mountain, he spent hours in intercessory prayer on behalf of those who asked him to talk to God on their behalf, often at the foot of the crucifix and before the Blessed Sacrament. That is where he found the courage, the patience and the serenity, to carry on his joyful love of all who came to his door.
He understood Saint Joseph’s life to be much like his own – a worker, at times an emigrant, fulfilling the role of a servant in an educational context. This was also the reality of many of the people who shared with Brother André their difficulties, suffering, weaknesses and illnesses. His love of God and neighbour became a movement of the people, based entirely on word of mouth and the witness of those who had received help from his prayers.
St André Bessette, Pray for us too, we beg you, amen.
The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Epiphany celebrates the visit of the three kings or wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles. The date of Epiphany, one of the oldest Christian feasts, is 6 January the 12th day after Christmas. However, in most countries, the celebration of Epiphany is transferred to the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8 (inclusive). Greece, Ireland, Italy and Poland continue to observe Epiphany on 6 January as do some dioceses in Germany.
Because Epiphany is one of the most important Christian feasts, it is a Holy Day of Obligation in most countries.
St Demetrius of Philadelphia
St Diman Dubh of Connor
St Erminold of Prüfening
St Felix of Nantes
Bl Frederick of Saint-Vanne
Bl Gertrud of Traunkirchen
Bl Gertrude van Oosten
St Guarinus of Sion
St Guy of Auxerre
St Hywyn of Aberdaron
St John de Ribera
St Julian of Antinoë
Bl Luc of Roucy
Bl Macarius the Scot
St Macra of Rheims
St Nilammon of Geris
St St Petran of Landévennec
St Peter of Canterbury
Bl Peter Thomas
St Pia of Quedlinburg
St Rafaela Porras y Ayllón
Bl Raymond de Blanes
Bl Rita Amada de Jesus
St Wiltrudis of Bergen
Martyrs in Africa: Unknown number of Christian men and women who were martyred in the persecutions of Septimus Severus. They were burned to death c 210.
Martyrs of Sirmium – 8 saints: A group of Christians martyred together for their faith. The only surviving details are the names of eight of them – Anastasius VIII, Florianus, Florus, Jucundus, Peter, Ratites, Tatia and Tilis. They were martyred in the 4th century at Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Vojvodina, Serbia).
Twelve Apostles Saints of Ireland: Twelve 6th century Irish monks who studied under Saint Finian at Clonard Abbey and then spread the faith throughout Ireland. Each has his own commemoration but on this day they and their good work are considered and celebrated together. Though Saint Finian is sometimes included, most ancient writers list them as –
• Brendan of Birr
• Brendan the Navigator
• Columba of Iona
• Columba of Terryglass
• Keiran of Saighir
• Kieran of Clonmacnois
• Canice of Aghaboe
• Lasserian of Leighlin
• Mobhí of Glasnevin
• Ninnidh the Saintly of Loch Erne
• Ruadh´n of Lorrha
• Senan of Iniscathay
Thought for the Day – 6 January – The Memorial of Sts André Bessette C.S.C. (1845-1937) and St Charles of Sezze O.F.M. (1613-1670)
Both the Saints whose Memorials we celebrate today, lived their lives as simple porters, gardeners and the like. But they both lived their lives in total charity and love of God. And they are both saints. They fulfilled their tasks with love and utter commitment to God their Father. And through their faithfulness to these little things, God rewarded them with great things.
Since God through the Holy Spirit is the giver of charity and since true charity is beyond the capacity of human nature left to its own devices, God can give it without reference to natural gifts like intelligence. And this seems true in the case of the uncharitable: there are plenty of examples of intelligent people who lack charity—the “evil genius” is a standard literary character for a reason. (Br. Bonaventure Chapman, OP) But today also offers us a positive example of two men graced with charity which is love and is not love both question and answer and the new commandment given us. What more is needed by the grace of God?
St André Bessette and St Charles of Sezze, Pray for us!
One Minute Reflection – 6 January – The Memorial of Sts André Bessette C.S.C. (1845-1937) and St Charles of Sezze O.F.M. (1613-1670)
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home…..Matthew 1:24
REFLECTION – “When you invoke St Joseph, you don’t have to say much.
Say, “if you were in my place, St Joseph, what would you do? Well, pray for this on my behalf.”……..St André Bessette
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, You constantly provide us with examples of holy life. St André Bessette and St Charles of Sezze were both wonderful examples of service, as was St André’s hero, the Foster Father of Your Divine Son, St Joseph. May they be intercessors and examples to me, to give to You my all. St André Bessette, St Charles of Sezze and St Joseph. Pray for us, amen!
“He belongs to you but more than that, He longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He wants His breath to be in your breath, His heart in your heart and His soul in your soul.”
St John Eudes
“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures.”
Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that? Superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets His saints help Him bless His children and open their eyes! St André was convinced of the goodness of God our Father and the power of the intercession of the saints. Trusting that God is lavish in His goodness , St André called upon that goodness constantly. He was never disappointed. May such faith be ours! As Pope Benedict XVI said at his canonisation, St Andre “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”
Saint of the Day – 6 January – St André Bessette C.S.C. (1845-1937) – known as Brother André (French: Frère André) and since his canonization as Saint André of Montreal, was a lay brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross and a significant figure of the Roman Catholic Church among French-Canadians, credited with thousands of reported miraculous cures associated within his pious devotion to Saint Joseph. Bessette was declared venerable in 1978 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree of sainthood for Blessed André on 19 February 2010, with the formal canonization taking place on 17 October 2010.
St. André was born Alfred Bessette in Quebec, 1845. Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.
At 25, André applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget, he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and there I remained 40 years,” he said. In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, Saint Joseph is going to be honoured in a very special way on Mount Royal!”
When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.
When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “Saint Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year. He prayed with them to God through the intercession of St. Joseph. Hundreds credit their cures to St. André’s prayers.
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected $200 to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying Saint Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.
Statue of Brother André by Joseph-Émile Brunet on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, QC, Canada
The chapel also grew. By 1931, there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of Saint Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. By the 1920s, the Oratory hosted more than a million pilgrims annually and hundreds of cures were attributed to his prayers every year. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.
St. André Bessette died in Montreal on January 6, 1937. It is estimated that more than a million people attended his wake and funeral. He is the first Saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross.