Saint André of Mount Royal, Timely Canonization, Call to Conversion
brother." Many years ago, a lay brother penned a humorous article called, "So, You're a Brother, Father?" seeking to explain to the perplexed just what breed of men lay brothers are. It's sad but true: many practicing Catholics just don't get religious life. And for them, the most useless appendage in the anatomy of religion is the lay brother. The idea of living the counsels of evangelical perfection by vow, without the more "useful" addition of Holy Orders, seems to some the waste of a life.
The priesthood and the religious life are radically distinct vocations, even though they can coexist in the same man. Saint Benedict was not a priest. Neither were the vast majority of his early disciples, nor most of the desert fathers, Irish monks, or early disciples of Saint Francis, who himself was compelled to receive Holy Orders, but went no further than the diaconate. To canonize a man popularly known as "Frère" or "Brother" will add a much needed luster to this noble vocation.
6. Defender of the Social Order. The humble little porter opposed the various anti-Christian "-isms" that made the twentieth century the most sanguinary in man's history. Good Catholic common sense made him despise Communism, which seriously menaced Canada in his day. He made his feelings known in the most innocent of ways. When his arm suffered from paralysis, he told friends, "My arm is acting like a communist." On his deathbed, he prayed for Catholic Spain, then in the convulsions of war, as General Franco strove to defeat both communists and anarchists.
Let us not forget that in French America, just as in Mediterranean Europe and Latin America, liberalism, socialism, and Freemasonry show themselves in much more explicitly anti-Catholic dress than in the Anglo world. "The old fool on the mountain" (as his detractors called him), with his miracles and his calls to conversion and prayer, was a standing rebuke to their snide ideologies. While the little porter does not rank among the well known defenders of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, his whole long life was a very public affirmation of the primacy of God's rights. Christ the King is most honored by such little ones in His Realm.
7. Strongly Roman, Papal. When he was on his deathbed, Frère André was encouraged to ask St. Joseph to spare him because he was "needed." To this, he responded, "There is one who is far more necessary than Brother André in this world: that is the Pope. If the Holy Father passed away, it would be a disaster; he still has much to accomplish." Brother André did not survive this illness, but Pope Pius XI, who lay sick and dying at the same time, recovered. It is known that the porter prayed for Pius, and we may believe the Pope's two more years of life were an answer to those prayers.
That such a simple, provincial, supremely-not-cosmopolitan man should concern himself with the well being of the ailing Italian - Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, who lived 4,000 miles away in Rome - is an eloquent testimony to the universality of the Church, and the doctrine that the Roman Pontiff "is father and teacher of all Christians," possessing "full power to rule, feed, and govern the universal Church" (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, III). In our own day, a confused notion of collegiality has well established itself in theological circles, trickling down to the masses as frank disregard for the Supreme Pontiff. Saint André's edifying example of intense devotion to the Holy Father is much needed.
Included, by the way, among the deeds accomplished by Pius XI in the time "purchased" for him by Frère André were some acts that seem especially apt. For one, on March 19, 1937 - the Feast of Saint Joseph - Pius published Divini Redemptoris, an encyclical letter condemning Communism. As if in gratitude for his own recovery and with great confidence in Mary's spouse, towards the end of the encyclical Pius wrote: "We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of Saint Joseph, her mighty Protector."
8. Devotion to the Holy Family. Brother André's Congregation was part of a larger religious family founded by Canon Moreau, consisting of three parts, each one of which corresponded to a member of the Holy Family. The Holy Cross Fathers, whose members were conformed to Christ's priesthood by virtue of Holy Orders, corresponded to the Holy Infant. Mary was represented by the sisters, called the Marianites of Holy Cross. The Holy Cross Brothers stood in the place of St. Joseph in this family. They were, in fact, originally a congregation of lay brothers founded by Father Jacques François Dujarie and called "The Brothers of St. Joseph."
Father Dujarie entrusted his foundation to Canon Moreau, who merged them into his already existing religious family. All the members of all these three congregations were imbued with devotion to the Holy Family. In these days when family life is so terribly assailed on so many fronts, devotion to the mystery and the persons of the Holy Family is of great value. And the fact that Brother André acquired his solid piety in childhood is an incentive to Catholic parents to imitate the Bessette's own "holy family."
Dear Saint André, pray for the conversion of Canada and the United States to the Catholic Faith! And may the example of your virtues inspire the faithful to live a more intense spiritual life, and to embrace the life-giving Holy Cross.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Blessed Basil Moreau, Saint André Bessette, Father Jacques François Dujarie, Canada, United States, Saints, Holiness
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