It is still sinking in. Brother André Bessette is now a canonized saint!
Perhaps like many of you, I watched with great devotion, pride, and joy the canonization Mass early this morning. One of my own, one of our own, has been canonized by Holy Mother Church. I was so filled with joy and excitement as I watched the coverage that it felt as if I were there … although it probably was a good thing I was not in Rome, since I do not know if I could have kept as stoic as it seemed most of concelebrating priests were. I would have been cheering!
It seems, though, that I would have fit right in at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona. The parish hall was full, even though it was 1 a.m. in the morning local time, to watch the canonization live. As Brian Ching, CSC, a Holy Cross seminarian serving in the parish reported, the crowd broke into “a round of applause” when the Holy Father pronounced the formula of canonization!
I also heard this afternoon from my friend, Andrew Polaniecki, who was at the canonization with his wife Dré. Andrew is the Director of Campus Ministry of Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana. He wrote, “The number of the people in the square was mind blowing – so many people from all over the world to celebrate the lives of six heroic men and women! How big is our Church and how wonderful to see the excitement and enthusiasm! Even being so far from home, it felt like I was there with family because of seeing so many Holy Cross priests I knew concelebrating the Mass. It was a moment of pride to see Brother Thomas Dziekan, CSC, [the vicar general of the Congregation of Holy Cross] present the relic of Brother André to the Holy Father.”
Andrew then added, “It was moving to see patriotism at its best. There is no better reason to be proud of your place of origin or descent than to celebrate the holiness of one of your own. People of Canada, Australia, and other places, this was your special day to stand tall and have the world take notice!”
Indeed, stand tall and have the world take notice! Brother André Bessette is now St. André Bessette – the first male-born Canadian saint and the first saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
I also heard from another Andrew – seems to be the day of Andrews – who was in Rome for the canonization. Andrew Solkshinitz went to Rome as part of a pilgrimage led by the Holy Cross Office of Vocations. He described the canonization as an “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, and you can read his full blog post on our Holy Cross vocations blog
For me personally, however, the most powerful moment of the day came when I celebrated Mass at our Holy Cross parish in Austin, Texas. I am a huge fan and friend of the saints. As a priest, one of my favorite parts of the Eucharistic Prayer is when we invoke the intercession of the saints so that we, too, having been nourished by our Lord’s Body and Blood, may join their company in the communion of saints.
Today, of course, was the first time I got to invoke Brother André as Saint André Bessette in the Eucharistic Prayer. As I prayed, “Make us worthy to share eternal life, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, the apostles, Saint André Bessette …” I had to pause, and soak in the grace of the moment. That is when it really hit me: Brother André is a canonized saint! Yes, Saint André Bessette, pray for us, that together with you we, too, may become God’s saints and be worthy to share eternal life with God in heaven! Amen!