In a few weeks I will be making a pilgrimage (honeymoon) to St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal. Blessed Andre Bessette is the founder of the Oratory.
Early in his life Andre left his Canadian homeland and traveled throughout New England seeking work in the factories there. He led a vagabond existence until finally returning to Canada and entering religious life.
In religious life his job was that porter meaning he was given the rather menial task of answering the door.
Yet it wasn't long before people flocked to him to receive healing at his hands. One such healing story involves a young man who had pierced his hand accidentally with an ice pick. The hand became so infected that the doctors feared it would have to be removed. The young man a non-Catholic went to Brother Andre with the promise that if he were healed he would convert. He was healed and had no problem embracing the faith that Brother Andre held.
Brother Andre claimed that it was St. Joseph who gained from God the grace of healing that flowed through his hands. He encouraged those who came to see him to turn to Joseph. "Tell him, 'If you were in my place, Saint Joseph, what would you do? Well pray for this in my behalf.'"
Although he had the grace to heal others, Brother Andre was constantly sick himself. He died in 1937 at the age of 91. "St. Joseph" was the last intelligible word he uttered.
I hadn't thought about it much when I suggested to my fiance that we travel to Montreal for our honeymoon. It seemed like it would be a neat place where we both could get in touch with part or our families French Canadian heritage.
"My ways are not your ways," Scripture records God as saying. Reflecting on this decision it has dawned on me that this is heavens way of getting me to make a trip to thank St. Joseph who has figured heavily in my life over the past ten years.
The first event happened some ten years ago while I was making a retreat at Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky. One night while praying on the hill underneath the statue of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus, I said to him, "You are the guardian of the Church which is in such a mess, why don't you do something about it?"
It was a rhetorical question, not meant to receive an answer, but I did receive one instantly: "I am doing something, I am taking my son out of Egypt."
At the time I applied that message to a close friend of mine who was leaving the priesthood. It seemed to fit. He left and was hired by a man whose name was Joseph to a new job on the Feast of Joseph the worker.
Yet it was several years later that I realized that the message was intended not for my friend but for me. I had gone through my own trial and was kneeling in front of a statue of St. Joseph in the Church. I was worried about finding a job. I had an interview the next day and was hopeful about it but still a little afraid. Until I realized that the next day was May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
Suddenly whatever fear and anxiety I had left me and I knew that everything would be okay. It was and I received the job.
Joseph was silent for most of the next nine years (I don't want anyone to think that this stuff happens to me all the time because it doesn't), until one day when I was walking by a chapel dedicated to him in the crypt of the Archabbey Church of St. Meinrad. I was on my way to Vespers (evening prayer) and I stopped in for a visit. As soon as I opened the door and saw the statue of St. Joseph I immediately heard the words, "Have no fear about taking Amy as your wife."
I realized that the words I heard were a play on the angels words from the Scriptures to Joseph but since the message wasn't asked for and it came to me so plainly I accepted it without reservation.
Amy and I will be married at St. Joseph's Church in June and sometime in the following week we will both kneel at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal and thank him.
I should add that Amy will thank him for a different reason than mine, she sold her house after we called upon his intercession to do so without having to follow the current rage and advice of realtors by burying a statue of him in her backyard. I don't think Joseph would like that or his Son.