It All Adds UP: Tribute to the Saint

We have our latest post from Fr. Charlie McCoy out at the University of Portland in his monthly blog on university ministry called “It All Adds UP.” In keeping with the canonization theme, he shares about the re-dedication of a chapel on the campus.

Saint Andre Bessette

Tonight, I’ll be concelebrating at my first ever re-dedication of a chapel. Now nothing bad happened that caused the chapel to become “dis-dedicated”; in fact, the re-dedication actually marks an important upgrade. A few years ago, the University of Portland named the chapel of Haggerty and Tyson halls after Blessed Brother André Bessette. And on October 17, 2010, the Church added Saint Brother André to its official canon. So tonight, all the other dorms, including mine, are cancelling their usual Masses so that we all can head over to Haggerty and Tyson to dedicate the Saint André Bessette Chapel: we’ll celebrate Mass and have a reception afterward at The Anchor, a campus café that supposedly serves the best gelato around.

Now in Rome, of course, the actual canonization nine days ago was an enormous event, with thousands and thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. Moreover, this coming weekend, Montreal, Saint André’s home city, will host its own official thanksgiving for the canonization. And so, our own celebration tonight might seem insignificant, almost a little silly. Our Mass will gather a few dozen UP students and a handful of priests from some dorms, not the sea of faithful in Rome and Montreal. Our presider will be Fr. John Donato, not Pope Benedict. Our gelato cannot compare to the gelato in Rome! So why even make the fuss?
Because our little celebration here at UP is perhaps the perfect tribute to Holy Cross’ first saint. For André Bessette is, as St. Therese of Lisieux would put it, one of God’s “little flowers.” He was barely allowed to enter Holy Cross, as the superiors feared he was too sickly. He joined a community dedicated largely to education, and he was essentially unlettered. Yet in his very weakness and simplicity, he cooperated with God’s grace to miraculous effect, and even in his own lifetime he reached international renown. And now, André’s name adorns buildings throughout the world, and it is inscribed in the Church’s canon for all times. Christ promised that the meek would inherit the earth, that the humble would be exalted. Many of us might imagine that these reversals will occur only in the heavenly realm, but the Church — as a kind of budding forth of God’s Kingdom to come – tries to effect this divine justice even here in the world.
As an academic, I participate in a culture where individuals have to try to make a name for themselves by distinguished teaching, research, and publication. And so, tonight, I am grateful for this celebration of Saint André, who reminds me that God alone bestows on us the names that last forever.

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