LITURGY OF THE DAY: MONDAY January 5, 1998


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MONDAY, January 5, 1998

SAINT JOHN NEUMANN, Bishop, Missionary Religious, and Educator

     The practice of Forty Hours Devotion in the United States can be attributed to a Czechoslovakian in the nineteenth century who came to our shores to become a Redemptorist priest and foster Catholic schools and education throughout the U.S.A. This man was Saint John Neumann, born on March 28, 1811 and ordained in 1936. In 1852 he was appointed bishop of Philadelphia where he worked tirelessy to establish the Catholic school system in America. He labored especially with European immigrants in mind. He spoke twelve languages fluently and wrote numerous books and two catechisms as well as a Bible History for the students. His was a life of firsts, becoming the first Redemptorist to make his profession in America and the first bishop from America to be ordained a saint. He died on January 5, 1860 just as the Civil War was breaking out, but he was not forgotten and his legacy has served many a college student through the years with almost each college campus throughout the country providing a Catholic oasis for the students known as "Neumann clubs." He was ordained in 1977 by Pope Paul VI.

TUESDAY, January 6, 1998

BLESSED ANDRE BESSETTE, Religious

      Credited with countless cures, Canadian-born Blessed Andre Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother was born in 1845 into a family of twelve. At the age of twelve he became an orphan when his parents died and helped care for his brothers and sisters by working in mills and farms in New England before returning to Montreal in 1870. At the age of 25 he joined the Holy Cross Order as a Lay Brother. Never educated and of poor health, Andre did not let that deter him from fulfilling God's Will in the simplest of ways. Though he was first rejected by the Holy Cross Fathers after his novitiate, the Bishop of Montreal intervened and suggested that he become a lay brother with the Order. For the next 67 years he devoted himself to the menial, but spiritually rewarding jobs of porter and gardener. Through the grace of God those who came in contact with this holy man were cured and word quickly spread of his fame. While he was helping build a shrine to Saint Joseph in Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory, he contined as porter at the College of Notre Dame in that Canadian city. For 40 years he held this responsibility until demand was so great for Brother Andre to be at the shrine that the Holy Cross Order transferred him over there. Millions of pilgrims flooded the shrine with countless cures physically and spiritually occurring regularly when they came in contact with this holy, humble man of God. They flocked to him for spiritual direction. He received over 80,000 letters a year and insisted on corresponding with the people, but could not read or write and so he dictated the letters, many through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to a plethora of secretaries hired to handle the phenomenal responses to Blessed Andre. Through word of mouth and devotion, this shrine has since become the most well-known shrine to the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus in the world. It was already the best known in North America when Brother Andre succumbed of old age at 92 in 1937. Eighteen years later the Oratory was solemnly dedicated and declared a minor basilica. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

January 1998