Thaw! and Feast of St Andre Bessette

Thaw! and Feast of St Andre Bessette

My winter garden after the big snowfall but before the thaw.
My winter garden after the big snowfall but before the thaw.

It’s hard to believe so much of the country is so cold today when we were enjoying a warm snap. 57 degrees! I forced the children to take a walk and none of us wore coats, just light jackets! The snow was melting and the street was awash with runoff but we had to walk in it because the sidewalks were still buried. Bella’s feet got wet but I think we’re all much the better for the fresh air and exercise. So funny to see the snow sublimating to water vapor, clouds of fog everywhere rolling off the snowbanks.

Today is the feast of St Andre Bessette, who Jen’s saint’s name generator picked as my patron for the year. I’m pondering Elizabeth Scalia’s words about cultivating that relationship:

Most years, I eventually figure out why a particular saint “picked” me, but it is not always obvious, and some years December comes and I ask my patron, with whom I’ve lost contact, “so, what was that about, anyway?”

The thing is, if you don’t take it seriously — if you don’t remember to talk to your patron every day — the thing doesn’t jibe. You never figure out why the Holy Spirit, or the saint, thought there was a match, there. When you really seek out your patron, really study his life and remember him (or her) while at prayer, you develop a genuine relationship with them — a true friendship. It’s great that everyone is talking about pulling their saints this week, but if you don’t work the relationship, it ends up meaning very little.

Still, I feel like I’ve got a little head start. I visited St Andre’s shrine in Montreal in 2003? 2004? with my little brother Stephen. It was Thanksgiving and he was living in Montreal at the time and I thought it would be lovely to drive up and join him for a few days. We had our Thanksgiving dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant– delicious! And had fun discovering a bit of the city. Climbing up to St Joseph’s Oratory, exploring the church there and the tiny chapel built by St Andre– though at the time of our visit he hasn’t been canonized yet– and attending Mass was one of the highlights of that trip.

When I picked Saint Andre and quickly read through his biography to refresh my memory, I immediately felt drawn to his hospitality and his healing ministry. Both of those have been longings of my soul: a desire to open my home and my heart to others, to Christ. And a desire to seek healing for the wounds in my soul, especially those that harm the ones I love most. So to St Andre I entrust these two intentions. I am also very drawn to his devotion to St Joseph, I’d love also to draw closer to him. So I also pray that Saint Andre will lead me closer to his dear friend St Joseph and, further, that he let me know further why he has chosen to be my particular friend, to know what else it is that he can teach me that I’m not even looking for yet.

I look forward to getting to know St Andre much better in the coming year.

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  • I am having a minor crisis over this patron saint thing. I have seen the random saint generator on Jen’s blog since she created it and I have never clicked the button. I thought hard about it last year and never did it. It rolled back around this year and I decided to take the plunge.

    I click over to the site and pray that God will show me what He wants me to know. Now in my mind, I am supposed to get St. Ann, the patron of homemakers, as a sign that I will finally get to be a full time homemaker this year. I am supposed to get St Joseph, the patron of jobs, as a sign my husband will get a job that will support us this year. I am supposed to get someone related to home life as a sign that soon all will be set right.

    I click the button that will show me who was generated: St. Margaret of Hungary. Nobody I really know anything about. Probably related to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. I click over to a biography page and see, “Known for severe self-imposed penances, and for kindness to those of lower social station.” WHAT? Severe penances?!?

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! (That’s the sound of me having a temper tantrum.)

    What is this supposed to mean? Am I supposed to like this time of job anguish? Is this a sign that these past few years are just the beginning? Maybe it means that it all isn’t going unnoticed. I don’t know. I feel like I put too much faith in a random computer generator. It’s going to take some time for me to figure this out.

    • I’ve picked a saint the past few years and, like Elizabeth Scalia, says some years I’ve taken the time to get to know my saint and others it was a momentary thing. I read a brief bio but couldn’t find more and I kind of forgot to follow through with prayer.

      I liked the point Elizabeth Scalia makes about it as an opportunity to make a new friend. In the comments on Jen’s blog people often glom onto the incidentals of the saint’s life and yeah I kind of do that too. But my suggestion is to make this an opportunity to dig deeper, remembering that Saint Margaret was a woman who lived a very long full life and that the reason for her adopting you might not be an obvious one at first.

      Perhaps it’s her quality of confidence in prayer that is meant to inspire you? “She was confident in the power of prayer to effect what she desired, and she carried this almost to the point of a certain imperiousness in the requests she made to the Almighty.” ( or maybe it’s her spirit of service or humility– such as when she washed the feel of all the nuns and the servants too and dried them with her own veil. Or maybe it’s this: “The church recognizes Margaret of Hungary as a saint in spite of the traces of willfulness and pride that seem to have marked her life. But she excelled in charity, and “love covers over many a sin” (1 Peter 4:8 NJB). Those of us who want to be holy, but have many “in-spite-ofs” to contend with, can be glad for that.” (

      Or this: “Since she was a princess and the convent was built for her, no one seems to have been able to temper her excesses.” Perhaps there are excesses in your life you want to temper and she’s the one to help you with that since she herself was prone to excess at times?

      And I like this point about fostering the faith of children: “She, a princess by birth, took the lowliest tasks: sweeping, scrubbing the dishes, working with the poor, caring for the sick sisters in the infirmity, no matter what sickness brought them there. She was content to serve them so that she might draw closer to the Lord. St. Margaret offers us a great witness of fidelity to the Lord. In her, we can see that when the faith of children is fostered and when aided by God’s grace, the hope of eternal life can take root in the soul and lead to a life of joy and sanctity.” ( Interesting how many people in her family were saints. A great point about how family fosters holiness.

      Also, I rather like this bio of her from the Dominican nuns of Summit:

      Just a few thoughts of other avenues to explore. I do know one thing I want to do is read a whole biography of St Andre. I wonder if there might be something longer out there about St Margaret.

      • Wow! Thanks, Melanie! You have given me a lot to read and think about. I just saw penance and went screaming in the other direction. 🙂 In fact I am trying to clear out an excess right now (staying in bed too long). And I do need to be inspired with confidence in prayer because I’m getting tired of asking for the same thing. I feel like my hope rises and crashes from day to day. What’s the difference between ‘Wait’ and ‘No’? Waiting feels a whole lot like ‘no’ until you aren’t waiting anymore. Only then can you look back and say, “oh, I was waiting.” I want to believe that if the answer were truly ‘No,’ the longing would go away and I would have peace with it.

        • So true that waiting and no can only be discerned in retrospect. As for the peace… I think sometimes you have to wait for that too. For me it’s often the process of prayer itself that brings peace. The last time I was desperately praying for something like that it took nine months for the sense of desperate longing to subside and for me to find peace. Waiting is so hard. I’ll pray for it to be easier. And for you to get that “Yes” that I know you really want.