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Chalk up another for Brother Andre

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 06, 2016

On this feast of St. Andre Bessette it seems appropriate to tell my own story.

Several years ago, shortly after I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, my sister visited the Oratory in Montreal and brought me back a medal of Brother Andre, reminding me that he had been involved in countless physical cures. I gratefully took the medal and put it in my pocket, along with my spare change—as close as practical to the site of the problem.

The doctors had assured me that the cancer was very small, and probably growing very slowly, so that there was no need for immediate treatment. We agreed that I would wait for a while and schedule a second biopsy to see where I stood. The months went by, there were no signs of trouble, so I actually waited almost two years.

During that time, every morning I would scoop the medal and some coins off the top of my dresser, and toss them into my pocket; every evening they’d go back on the dresser. I’d like to say that I said a little prayer for Brother Andre’s intercession every time I handled the medal. The truth is that it had become a part of my routine, often done mindlessly. Still, I did shoot off many a quick message.

Finally the results of the second biopsy came in. There was no sign of cancer.

There was a perfectly logical, straightforward explanation for this result, the doctors said. The cancer was probably still there, lurking in the organ, but it was so small that the biopsy probes missed it. If it was still that small, two years after it had first been detected, then it was growing so slowly that it was unlikely to cause any problems in my lifetime. (The cancer, they said, is "occult" and "indolent"-- don't you love the terminology?) So for all practical purposes I could stop worrying about it—which I have done.

On the morning after I heard that good news, when I swept the loose change off my dresser, I noticed that the medal of St. Andre was missing. Curious. I checked the pocket of the trousers I had been wearing the previous day. Not there, either. I have never found it.

Now you might be persuaded by the doctors’ explanation of the biopsy result; it makes perfect sense. And you may think that the medal just happened to slip out of my pocket while I was running errands around town. That theory makes perfect sense, too. But don’t you think it’s quite a coincidence that the medal disappeared—after nestling safely in my pocket for two years—the same day that I heard the biopsy results?

There is another explanation, equally logical—especially if, like me, you’re more inclined to believe in miracles than in coincidences. My theory is that Brother Andre was letting me know that he’d taken care of business.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: phil L - Jan. 11, 2016 6:45 PM ET USA

    Thanks, Charles. I'll say a prayer for your speedy recovery from the surgery. Brother Andre's still on the job.

  • Posted by: charles.pullin6847 - Jan. 11, 2016 2:20 PM ET USA

    As I sit here, shy my own prostrate for 11 days due to cancer surgery, I wish I had found your medal some weeks ago, Phil! :) May you stay cancer-free, as I am now, for the remainder of your earthly life. And may St. Andre continue to intercede for miraculous cures.

  • Posted by: Travelling - Jan. 08, 2016 7:07 PM ET USA

    Wonderful witness to St Andre's intercession! I am still getting to know him, feel very drawn to him. I know he was very keen that we pray to St Joseph, which Ihave been doing a great deal recently. St Joseph is a quiet worker.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jan. 06, 2016 4:43 PM ET USA

    I'm thanking God, Br. Andre and your sister for the happy outcome. I hope to enjoy your writing for a good long time!