Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (5)

Saint André of Montreal


"Woe to me if I did not proclaim the Gospel," said St. Paul of Tarsus. This mysterious call pushed him to cross the border between Asia Minor and Europe. Later - and it is something in which we Christians can take great pride France, the eldest daughter of the Church has, over the centuries, in turn carried the Gospel far, far over the seas.

One example is Quebec: and many founding saints continued to proclaim Christ on the new continent. Saint André of Montreal is, for us pilgrims, an example of holiness which we should aim to copy.

Points to remember
• Biography of Brother André.
• A door and a heart open to his neighbour.
• The “healer "
• A deep devotion to Saint Joseph.
• Saint André shows us the way of St Joseph.


Elements of his biography
Born on August 8, 1845 in a small village near Montreal, he was the eighth of thirteen children of a humble and poor family. Very quickly, André was to grow under the shadow of the Cross. He was orphaned at an early age, losing his father when he was 9 years old, and his mother two years later. So he was then entrusted to an uncle and an aunt.

At 17, he was a shoemaker and a baker. He led a life of penance and prayer, to such an extent that it worried those around him, and damaged his fragile health. But he liked to undertake hard tasks.

At 25, he went to the Congregation of the Holy Cross, recommended to the superiors by Father Joseph-André Provençal who could already see him as a saint. André was a novice with impeccable behaviour, but he was to miss making his profession several times because of his fragile health. After three long years of novitiate, the bishop of Montreal intervened so that he was authorised to pronounce his vows.

A door and a heart open to his neighbour
He was then appointed as the porter of the College. He was to remain there for forty years, fulfilling this task with incredible fidelity and charity. He welcomed all who came: the poor, the sick and the disabled, resolved to treat all those who rang at this door like Christ himself. That door that Saint André kept all those years..., we are called to do the same. That door is above all the door of our soul. "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter in, I will sup with him, and he with me. "

Saint André: healer of bodies and healer of souls ... 125,000 miracles were listed during his beatification process. He distributed medals of Saint Joseph and olive oil; and asked people to anoint themselves, rubbing it in with confidence. Not everybody who came to him was healed, but he recognised in this fact, a divine pedagogy. It is often those who already have a strong faith that the Lord tests more. "My God, grant that those who seek you may find you; and those who have found you may seek you again. "

A profound devotion to Saint Joseph
"It's not me who heals, it's Saint Joseph!He was to build a basilica in honour of St. Joseph, in which his body is now at rest. The words POVERTY, SERVICE and HUMILITY, would guide his life, just as they did Saint Joseph’s; and they inspired him to put himself last, always in service to his neighbour. In a word, to become like Jesus.

He died at 92 and was canonized in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.

For us: Saint André shows the way of St Joseph.
Saint André, a frail little man, only five feet tall, did not look like a great saint. But he demonstrates the strength that we can draw from prayer; and he teaches us the kind of humility that will ensure that in each of our actions it is Christ who shines through.
We often feel helpless in the face of the difficulties of our world. What can I do, me, as a Christian in France (or England)?

Does not the first evangelization begin in our surroundings, our schools, our schools, our work?

Let's be a doorman in the image of Saint Brother André. Let's go beyond borders, our borders. 

• First, the borders of our hearts; to let us be touched by the word of God: "lend the ear of your heart";

• Then, to meet our brothers, go beyond individualism, which creates new barriers - no longer geographical boundaries, but barriers between souls.

• Let us then open the door of our heart to Christ, who desires only that, as he gives himself to us in his Eucharist.

• Finally, let us be those gatekeepers that Mother Teresa wanted: "Do not let anyone come to you and leave without being happier.May Our Lady, who has chosen Saint Joseph from all men to be her husband, guide us to him! 

"Our Lady of Chartres, tell us about Saint Joseph who admired the veil you made and wore. May we be able to love him and imitate him a little more, in the footsteps of Saint André Bessette! "

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