Start building, start small

My love for Saint Andre Bessette runs deep. I don’t pray to him nearly as often as I should, but every time I think of him my heart melts with love. Constantly turned away and looked down upon for his physical & mental limitations – of which there were many – he eventually made a home with the Holy Cross Brothers (despite their reluctance). His placement was Notre Dame College in Montreal where he was asked to do the minimum – answer the door, welcome guests, and deliver mail. Talk about humble work!

At some point, he requested permission from the Archbishop to build a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph on the nearby hill. The Archbishop refused to go into debt and tasked Andre with raising the money himself. He collected donations over the years (“donations for St. Joseph”), building piece by piece as he went. At first, it was a little wooden shelter. This little structure grew & grew, people began coming for Mass, and great healings occured. Brother Andre did not live to see his work finished (which he insisted was impossible, because there will always be new ways to express this devotion), but what stands there today is a grand & majestic basilica honoring St. Joseph. The Oratory draws in a great deal of pilgrims every year, and for good reason. It has played a profound part in me & Kevin’s relationship since our first of three (we intend for many more!) visits in January 2013.

What strikes me so is that even with financial obstacles & little support, Brother Andre persisted his entire life with this one cause. While he never saw his work as complete, he also completely trusted with each small step. I know, in my own life, I’m quite hesitant to start something unless I have it all figured out. Unless the plan is laid, the details ironed out, and I see, quite practically, how things will fall into place. But not Brother Andre. He started so small that many probably thought his venture was completely ridiculous. Go take a look at the Oratory now – it brings magnificent glory to God and honors, in such a beautiful manner, the protector of our Church.

So I ask for Saint Andre Bessette’s intercession today & all days. For the work of our family – that we might not be intimidated or overwhelmed at what God is calling us to, that we might be at peace with each small step we are taking. And how appropriate is this quote by him: “It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the best paintings.”

Let’s make 2017 a beautiful year for the small things – may they become great one day! In what ways will you start building, friends?

Quebec, again.

This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn’t been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good.

We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon – so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be…it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!

A wee little stop in Vermont
A wee little stop in Vermont
Votive Chapel at the Oratory
Votive Chapel at the Oratory

The weekend was on and off with the weather – rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn’t really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph’s Oratory – and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles – each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made.  We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.

Brother Andre's Chapel
Brother Andre’s Chapel
The Oratory
The Oratory

We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre’s Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It’s probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.

Outside the shrine
Outside the shrine
St. Anne de Beaupre
St. Anne de Beaupre

There’s so much that could be said about the Oratory, but…just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It’s amazing – just off the main road being all stunning and what not!

Inside St. Anne's
Inside St. Anne’s

This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it’s usually fine since it’s all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he’s been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness…it’s unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!

There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land – it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees – each step in reparation for Christ’s passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)…uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne’s was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.

 

Montreal
Montreal
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.

The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy – there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts…that I don’t particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac – ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.

I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin’s very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I’ve sold everyone enough on this delightful province!