Celebrating a Saint: Straight to the Difficult

Fr Jose Ahumada, CSC

Today is the last in our series of Sunday reflections on Brother André Bessette as next Sunday we will be celebrating his canonization, and we will have blog posts from pilgrims in Rome for that historic day! So stay tuned! Our reflection this Sunday has an international flair, coming from Fr. Jose Ahumada, C.S.C., who is the rector of St. George’s College in Santiago, Chile.

“Recte Ad Ardua”: Straight to the Difficult, is the motto for our school in Chile, Saint George’s College. That spirit to face and not give up before difficulty is the spirit we teach our students since they are young. Now that Brother André will be recognized as a saint to the Universal Church, who better than him to serve as a model of someone who faced adversity and was not discouraged before any seemingly impossible task.
Since he was young Brother André had to face the difficulties of life, yet he walked forward, never yielding. As a child he first faced the death of his father and then a few years later his mother’s, becoming an orphan along with eleven other siblings. This reality had him take on a different life then other children of his age. Nonetheless, he was not afflicted.
Since his youth he felt the marvelous call to consecrate his life as a religious, and devote himself totally to share with others the love he felt he had received from God. His life of prayer and his great devotion to St. Joseph took him to become close to the brothers of the Holy Cross. Yet, his lack of education and weak health made it almost impossible for him to join a congregation of educators. Again, he did not abandon his dreams and made every effort to respond to the fire he felt burning in his interior. The religious saw in him a young man with a profound life of prayer, a passion for something great, and finally they accepted him into the novitiate.

1925 Br Andre Bessette, CSC 80 years old

Being a humble religious of Holy Cross, he was for forty years the doorman of a college in Montreal. He received with affection all the people that went to the college. Brother André never felt bored or frustrated in his job, which for others would have been too routine. How many times has that happened to us, that after a few years at a job we feel exhausted and we desire for other more interesting challenges. Brother André knew about perseverance and how to find meaning in what others would think as the most insignificant tasks.

Who would believe that a humble servant of God, that never learned to read or write, would be able to establish the largest sanctuary in the world dedicated to St. Joseph. Many thought that Brother André would never be able to finish the immense oratory to St. Joseph, but his great faith and trust in Divine Providence, made that many of his collaborators continued with the love of God what they had started. The oratory was finally finished in the most difficult economic times.
Our Holy Cross Constitutions say that to follow Christ is to follow the footprints of those men and women who in adversity remained standing and walked towards the light of the coming Easter. Brother André, friend of the poor, ill and afflicted, is without a doubt a great example of someone who knew how to walk straight towards the difficult.

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