As we come once again to the feast day of the great Miracle Man of Montreal, we also recognize a less celebratory milestone. When we praise Jesus Christ for the life of grace we witness in St. André, we also acknowledge nearly two years of the Covid-19 Pandemic. We of course commend all those who suffer the effects of Covid and all healthcare workers to St. André’s intercession, and we pray for all those friends, confreres, parishioners, and co-workers who have died during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the end of the second year of the pandemic hasn’t been a return to normal. A new variant rocked the fragile stability we thought we had rediscovered. And in the midst of this seemingly unending virus, I can’t help but wonder what Br. André might say to us in this situation. What words of comfort and hope did he give to those who sought through him the healing touch of God? By conservative estimates, André may have healed 10,000 people during his ministry, which would count him as one of the Church’s greatest miracle workers. And yet hundreds of thousands visited him. Of course, some left without physical healing, but still had a spiritual renewal. But I have to wonder how many, after not being healed the first visit, came back again. Did some people who sought André’s intercession and prayers come back week after week? Did they beg Br. André to finally just make it go away this time? What words of comfort might André have given someone whose cross will not leave them?
We know that visitors were struck by St. André’s unwavering confidence in God. A confidence that was nurtured daily by the Body and Blood of our Lord. As we celebrate St. André and ask for his intercession this year, we too will gather around the altar of the Lord and pray with him, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Its confidence in the unwavering, unceasing love of Jesus who gives us exactly what we need in order to follow him each day that allows us to bring him our joys and hopes, our frustration and exhaustion. And as the Pandemic reveals how much even our health depends upon each other, St. André invites us to depend upon God, who strengthens us to endure those things we wish would just go away.
This reflection for the Feast of St. André Bessette, the humble Holy Cross brother who became the Congregation's first canonized saint, was written by Fr. Gil Stoy, C.S.C., of the United States Provinces of Priests and Brothers. Fr. Stoy is currently studying theology at Oxford University in England.