January 6th is a big day for the Congregation of Holy Cross. Of course, January 6th has traditionally been the celebration of the Feast of Epiphany (although in the United States the feast has been transferred to the first Sunday after January 1). January 6th is also the day that Saint André Bessette died in this world and was born in the world to come. Usually, the Church celebrates the saints on the day of their birth into eternal life, but in future years, Saint André’s feast will be celebrated on January 7th to avoid the Feast of Epiphany. This year, however, having just been canonized on October 17, 2010, by Pope Benedict XVI, we mark this humble, holy Brother of Holy Cross on the day the Lord received him into eternal life 74 years ago.
In honor of this, the first feast day of Saint André of Montreal, we want to share with you again the links to the video coverage of his canonization as well as the posts on this blog documenting the events in Rome.
Finally, new to the blog, we also share with you (under “read more”) the moving reflection written by Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., weaving together Brother André and the Feast of Epiphany. It is one of the reflections contained in the Advent reflection book The Gift of Hope. Enjoy, and Happy Feast Day!
Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, the day we traditionally celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the wise men who followed the star to give homage to the newborn Christ Child. They came bearing him gifts: gold, symbolizing the power and wealth of a king; frankincense, which gives tribute to what is holy; and myrrh, an ointment to anoint the sick and the dying.
The Church has also reserved this day to celebrate the Feast of [Saint] André Bessette, the founder of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Quebec. What a joy it is for Holy Cross to celebrate one of its saints on this special day! His appearance and demeanor were far from regal, yet in his humility and loving compassion for the sick, Brother André commanded of those who had the privilege of meeting him the respect and honor fit for a king. Similar to the Magi, Brother André in his own faith journey presented to the Lord his own special gifts. Although his religious poverty prevented him from giving gold, he generously gave of his own personal treasure of profound faith and healing to the thousands who came to see him. In many ways his frankincense was the dream and construction of the Oratory itself, a striking memorial honoring the holiness of his beloved St. Joseph. And finally, his myrrh was the holy oil he used in his ministry to anoint gently the sick and infirmed.
Today high on top of the magnificent, illuminated dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory, a lit cross shines brightly, much like the star of Bethlehem, guiding millions of pilgrims in their desire to pay homage to our Lord and King as well as to a simple, holy man whose gifts brought hope and healing to many. We look to the Cross and we look to Saint André to help us find our Savior, so that we, too, may bring our diverse gifts to him. In our giving, we just may find that we ourselves have received a far greater gift – that special gift of hope that only he can give.
From The Gift of Hope: Advent and Christmas Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition, edited by Rev. Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C. Copyright © 2009 by Priests of Holy Cross, Indiana Province. Used with permission of Ave Maria Press (http://www.avemariapress.com/).