“When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door … and I remained there for forty years.”
These were the words of St. André Bessette about the doorkeeping work that had been entrusted to him for almost forty years. St André, a friend, brother, and a saint that he is, continues to fascinate all of us, religious and lay persons alike. That he had lived almost eighty years ago hasn’t in anyway diminished his appeal to a present day situation that any of us may find ourselves in.
St. André continues to baffle many a minds, because he scripted a success story which consists in and draws only from virtues such as simplicity, humility, and a unswerving surrender to Divine Will.
The life of St. André, if one takes a deep look into it, had its foundations on the Gospel. It is this facet of his life that had seen him through the most formidable of all the challenges that he was faced with in his life. The words of the Archbishop Paul Bruchesi of Montreal to the then-Provincial—“Then let him alone … if the work is from God, it will continue; if not, it will crumble”—bear a telling testimony to the fact that ‘the whole episode of St. Andre’—his life and message—was, in fact, from God.
For all of us, who are men and women of the present day, a very glance at the life of St. André can offer us hope of great magnitude. The man that St. André was, wasn’t very much different from the lives of all us. The struggles of St André had been strikingly similar to those of any of us today.
The ability of St André to see God’s will in all that happened in his life was what had made all the difference in his life. Yes, we see in St. André a person who would attribute everything that happened in his life to a comprehensive divine plan he saw was unfolding. Even in the midst of his earthly and human frailties such as short temper and so on, he was seen as a messenger of God, because the people of his times could see in him a light that proceeded from Jesus and the Gospel.
Even after many decades of his existence, St. André comes as an answer to many conflicts and afflictions of the present day modern world. Besides the wonders that he had worked and the cures that he had affected, the ‘Love’ and ‘Faith’ that his life embodies, and the kind of virtues that St. André lived out in his earthly life come as an answer to many of the issues that are haunting the human race today.
A world afflicted by hatred, terrorism, and poverty is in need of people who would innovatively live out the virtues of ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Love’. St. André’s life stands as a beacon of light for the entire human race. The call of St. André to all of us is one of the Gospel. It is a call to see a brother and a sister in each and every human being on earth.
This reflection for the Feast Day of St. André Bessette, the first canonized saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by Br. S. A. Gnana Gekaran, C.S.C., who is a member of the Vicariate of Holy Cross Brothers in India. He serves as Headmaster at one of the Congregation's schools.