Our youngest is named after one of my favorite saints. St. André Bessette. I love St. Andre, for so many reasons. His humility was so beautiful. I love that he was simple – he loved God, and God loved him. He lived his life to simply love God, in every aspect. In every moment that came, he answered the call to the moment. Being a doorkeeper, every visitor that came he had an opportunity to meet Christ, and to be Christ to that person. He was humble, and spent much time in prayer. He requested his little room be in the little church that was first made to honor St. Joseph. It was a tiny room up in what would have been a choir loft, with a simple bed, desk, and a washbowl. You can go see it to this day. He was known to go into the town to the people in his off hours and visit the sick, pray with them, bless them with holy oil, and keep moving. So many people, and yet, they all got a little time with him, unrushed. The amount of walking and people that would be cared for by him, one would wonder if he bi-located. Many, many people were healed by God through this saint’s little visits.
But his faith! It was so strong. Faith to move mountains. This little man (he was short in stature) practiced heroic virtue, and changed the world. He felt called to build a church in honor of St. Joseph. This call was so strong, in times of prayer and in his day to day. Who was going to give him, a simple man who was not able to become a priest because he was not smart enough, who could only be given the responsibility of being a doorkeeper an enormous amount of money to build a church? Why would they? There were plenty of other churches. So, what did St. Andre do? He simply took a statue of St. Joseph to a piece of land and placed it there. He dedicated the land to St. Joseph. If St. Joseph wanted it, it would be built. He would visit the statue often and pray for the church to be built. People started noticing him going off to pray… and then they joined him. Soon there were large crowds joining him in prayer to St. Joseph. There was opposition, obstacles, walls, impossibilities. But with prayer and determination, faith and magnanimity, fortitude and perseverance, the great church was built. St. Joseph did provide. He always does. St. Joseph’s Oratory stands to this day, a beacon of light, reaching to the heavens, whose walls are lined from floor to ceiling with the canes and crutches of the people cured through the intercession of St. Joseph and St. Andre. All from one simple, humble man, who loved the Lord, and heard His call, and wholeheartedly devoted his life to making God’s wish realized.
What if? What if St. Andre cowered? What if he got disheartened that he was not smart enough for seminary and just left? What if he let pride enter in and decided not to be a simple doorkeeper? What if he heard Jesus asking him to visit the poor and sick, and thought that God couldn’t possibly be asking him to visit with them and pray over them, blessing them with holy oil? Why would God use him to heal the sick? How could he, little he, have the gift of healing? Why wouldn’t God give that to a more capable, more knowledgeable person, someone who was holier than him? And then this church!? How could the Lord call him to build this great oratory? What if St. Andre second guessed the call, told the Lord he was not worthy for this great project, to go find someone more holy and capable? What if he gave up one of the many times that everyone around him said no? What if?
So many times where St. Andre could have given up, and yet, perhaps as he read through Scripture, he too was reminded as we are today… “Do not be afraid.” So many times in the Gospels Christ says that to us: ” Do not be afraid.” “Ask and you shall receive, ” Jesus says. And then He goes on further: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have already received it, and it will be yours.” Wow. Jesus tells us to ask and have faith that He will truly answer. He will move that mountain.
This world is so calculated, and I find that so many think that if it doesn’t make sense on paper, if the numbers don’t work, etc.. then the idea cannot come to reality. Where is our great faith? “O you of little faith” Jesus would always say to his disciples, questioning them why they didn’t trust Him more.
We must have great faith. We must pray for the virtue of magnanimity. I often think on Jesus’ last conversations with the apostles before He ascended. It seems like an impossible task he asked of them, does it not? Jesus told the apostles to go make disciples of ALL nations. Not just their community. Not just their town. Not even just their country. ALL nations. If He desires it, if God Himself wills something, will He not also provide the grace and means to accomplish it? St. Therese would say that God does not place a desire on our heart that He does not intend to fulfill.
And so He sends the Holy Spirit to stir up the courage, the fortitude, the perseverance, the patience, the humility, and ultimately the love that spurs them on to take on this great task that Christ has given them. And they go forward, secure in His love, strengthened by the Eucharist and His Word, to build His Church, to truly go and make disciples of all nations, to bring souls to the Heart of Christ.
And what about us? Do we ever feel a tug at the heart to do something? We take it to prayer and it seems as though God says, “Go.” Do we simply trust Him, and go, or do we hesitate? Do we second guess?
May we be attentive to the tugs on our hearts from the Lord. Let us take them to quiet prayer. And ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, stirring up those gifts He has given us. And then, let us go out to do His work, to be His instruments. All for His glory.
Lord, increase our faith.
“My dear child,” Jesus replies, “Do not be afraid.”