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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blessed Andre Besette

Blessed Andre was a saintly Holy Cross Brother who lived from 1845-1937. He was born in Quebec and orphaned at the age of twelve. He entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross and had a gift for tending the sick; he was called "The Miracle Man of Montreal" and was much loved by all. With some lay friends he built a wooden chapel in 1904 that became St. Joseph's Oratory; it is now a basilica with over two million visitors each year. Andre was declared "Blessed" in 1982.
One of my Dad's five sisters drove my grandmother to Montreal to visit St. Joseph's shrine when I was still a young child. I suppose I remember it because they brought me a rug with a bear woven into it. I seem to associate the rug with the shrine and the devotion to Andre.
I had two peaceful days at the Cenacle in Gainesville, but would never drive up on January 2 again. It seemed as if cars from every state were returning north on the Florida Turnpike. It was bumper to bumper with long lines for gas at the rest stops. However, the return trip on Monday was easy and took less than the six hours it usually does.
Beginning the year with a mini retreat is a real grace and I am grateful for the opportunity and for the visits with my spiritual director. I hope that it will be a year not only of gratitude and joy, but one of transparency--open to God to reflect his light and love to others.

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