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Brother André: What I like most about the Oratory

October 7, 2010
Welcome to the sixth in a series of blogs on the legacy of Br. André!  We are less than two weeks away from the Canonization of Brother André Bessette.  I’d like to tell you now about my impressions of the great shrine he built, Saint Joseph’s Oratory.
André-0201I must have gone to Saint Joseph’s Oratory twice in my life before working on Salt + Light's documentary on Br. André.  I don’t remember much from those times, though.  I was either with family visiting Montreal or with a friend visiting Montreal.  Seeing Montreal was the reason I’d quickly pass by Saint Joseph’s Oratory.
My visit this past July was different.  I went to Saint Joseph’s Oratory as a pilgrim wanting to speak to Br. André about the desires of my heart.  I also went as a filmmaker, assigned to produce a documentary on Br. André.
Whenever I go somewhere special, I try to find “the place” – the spot that becomes my centre of attraction or pull.  I usually go back to this place either physically or in my imagination.  That’s what allows me to feel the story.
I thought it’d be the tomb which houses Br. André’s physical remains.
Or maybe the votive chapel with its flickering coloured candles, hushed voices, and various devotions to St. Joseph.
Or even the heart of Br. André, the heart that was stolen because of what it symbolizes.  Surely it must be the heart!
But it was the outdoor Stations of the Cross that got me.
I walked through the gates and entered a beautiful garden.  I immediately thought of the Garden of Gethsemane (how appropriate!).  The light was peeking through the branches of the trees, casting shadows on the more than life-size statues of each Station.
So, imagine the feeling of being in a garden near dusk, and the Passion of Jesus in your face.  His sufferings hit me physically because of how large each scene was.  Not only that, as I climbed higher and higher to get to each station, and then turned and climbed higher again, I felt his sufferings even more.  At the end of my climb, I reached the Resurrection and felt refreshed as I sat by the fountain of the Lamb.  After my prayer, I sat on a bench.  I turned around to see the city of Montreal from one of its highest points!  Beautiful.
Stay tuned to Salt + Light because next week, we’re posting a 2-minute story that includes some pilgrims’ reactions to the outdoor Stations.  Actually, from Tuesday to Thursday, our daily Perspectives program will air 2-minute stories related to Br. André.  These clips will also be going up on our webpage, www.saltandlighttv.org/brotherandre.
Photo: © Steven Scardina 2010
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