“The door is always open.” This is something we say to convey our willingness to assist someone in need. Jesus, the only door through which we may achieve salvation, revealed His Father as the very Being of openness: “Knock, and the door shall be opened to you” (Mt 7:7).
Br. André Bessette, CSC was a man who knew how to open doors. He spent most of his life welcoming the stranger, the lost, the sick, and the suffering. But, this remarkable porter didn’t just open doors made of wood and metal. He opened his heart to whomever he encountered, and he invited them to open the doors of their hearts as well.
Whereas many religious serve as teachers, pastors, and laborers, Brother André served faithfully for years the ministry of porter. He spent his life literally at the door of a school in Montreal and welcomed others in need. He talked to people and listened to them as they waited to do business or receive guidance from the priests. Soon his reputation spread as a healer and a spiritual guide – so much so that hundreds and then thousands started coming to Montreal to see him.
Whenever anyone asked Br. André for a cure or for an answer, he would get a little angry and say, “It is not I who heal. That comes from God alone. Go, ask St. Joseph to bring your petition to God.”
Like St. Joseph, Br. André was completely opened to God’s will. He believed that, through service to our brothers and sisters in need, we are, indeed, serving God. Through the grace and intercession of Br. André, we pray that we may open doors for one another.
This reflection on St. André Bessette, the first canonized saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by the now Most Rev. William Wack, C.S.C., Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. It appeared in the first edition of The Cross, Our Only Hope, published by Ave Maria Press. Bishop Wack, a member of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, was serving as Pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas, when he was named bishop by Pope Francis in 2017.