"God does not ask the impossible. God asks that we offer our good intentions, accept the inconveniences that come with each day, and offer our daily work."
This is the formula that Br. André Bessette, C.S.C., used throughout his life, and it led him to sainthood. Simple and straightforward, his words reflect a profound trust that God is and remains faithful, that God will use our usual daily activities to bring us to holiness. St. André needed that trust throughout his life, from his entrance into Holy Cross to the development of the Oratory of St. Joseph. He trusted even when confronted with misunderstanding and lack of support. St. André nurtured that trust with the truly essential works of his life: faith, prayer, service.
St. André believed that he would enter Holy Cross; he believed that he could make a contribution; he believed the Oratory was possible. And all of that came to be. He would say to others, “If you do not believe in God, you will get nothing.” He believed, and today we see the fruits of his faith and the ways that he continues to touch so many people. So it must be for us. How does our faith enable us to touch the lives of others and so make a difference in our world?
St. André prayed. Eyewitnesses testified that when he prayed he looked as if he was speaking to someone from whom he expected an answer. His prayer to God—often through St. Joseph and Mary—was, above all, a personal relationship from which he drew strength and encouragement for the work before him. He believed that God was very close to anyone who prayed. As he would say, “When we pray, God’s ear is pressed to our lips.” So it is for us. How is our own prayer a relationship?
St. André served others to the best of his ability, not allowing his limitations to shrink his openness to whatever God and St. Joseph wanted to accomplish through him. We could consider his work for the development of the Oratory and his ministry of healing as the primary activities in his life. His own perspective, however, was much more gospel based: “We cannot love God without loving our neighbor.” He understood his main vocation in life was to love, even as Jesus loved. So, too, for us. Beyond the arenas of family and profession, in which ways do we serve others?
Believe, pray, serve, and, by all that, trust God. It is a simple enough regimen for a full spiritual life. It is a simple enough formula for sainthood. A regular recommendation from St. André was: “Be saints.” In his mind, this was not an impossible task, for he knew God would not ask that of us. Rather, this is what we were created to be—saints.
Just before he died, St. André’s last words were, “This is the seed.” He was a seed, a small seed—he would say an insignificant seed—but one that was watered by God’s grace and grew in the fertile soil of faith and prayer and service. He was a seed that became a saint. And so it is for us because, after all, God does not ask the impossible.
This reflection for the Feast of St. André Bessette, the humble Holy Cross brother who is the Congregation's first canonized saint, was written by Br. Joel Giallanza, C.S.C. It originally appeared in the revised edition of Ave Maria Press's The Cross, Our Only Hope: Daily Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition. A member of the Moreau Province (Austin, Texas), Br. Joel is the Associate Director of The Holy Cross Institute at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and travels the world as a renowned retreat director and speaker.