As gifted was yesterday’s saint, Bishop John Neumann, so seemingly bereft of gifts was Saint Andre Bessette. Bishop John was fluent in eleven languages. Andre reached the Congregation of the Holy Cross at aged 25 unable to either read or write. What was a community of teachers to do with this frail, uneducated man?
He never left his lowly post at the door, and people began to understand that Andre truly was a doorkeeper, one who opens human hearts.
Bishop John was promoted in any community or diocese he entered. Because of his recurrent bouts with stomach problems, Andre had a history of being unable to keep a job. It’s easy to understand those in the order who feared they were simply taking on a burden in Andre. But Andre did bring to the Holy Cross fathers a note from his local bishop. It read, “I am sending you a saint.” And so they were.
The fathers made Brother Andre the doorkeeper at their school for boys in Montreal. For 40 years, he opened the door, greeted visitors, collected the mail, cleaned and ran errands. He did handyman jobs, putting himself cheerfully at the disposal of anyone with a need. And, always, he prayed.
His particular intercessor was St. Joseph, whom Andre loved, as simply as a son. There was such a sense of prayer about the man. People, young and old, began seeking him out, asking him to pray for them. And Andre did pray. Stories began to circulate of healings, miracles granted to those for whom Andre prayed. He never left his lowly post at the door, and people throughout Canada began to understand that Andre truly was a doorkeeper, one who opens human hearts onto Christs’ own heart.
Perhaps you have the sort of job that ends conversations before they start. Perhaps you’ve gotten in the habit of introducing yourself with the qualifier, “I’m just,” as in, “I’m just a housewife/stay-at-home-mom-dad/cashier/housecleaner/fry cook/ telemarketer/ salesperson/parking attendant/ babysitter.” Name the job nobody seems to want. Then give thanks to God for St. Andre, whose life reminds us how God’s glory shines wherever it is welcomed. St. Andre is honored, not in the high places, but in the lowest and most humble.
More about the communion of saints in our book.