Homily for the Feast of Saint Anne in Cormac, July 30, 2023

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Homily for the Feast of Saint Anne in Cormac

Dear faithful and pilgrims who have gathered here today in large numbers to honour Good Saint Anne on her feast day,

I know that many of you have come here today to ask for a special favour, for a healing, or even for a miracle. I must remind you though, that Saint Anne does not operate or do any miracle whatsoever. She simply turns to her grandson Jesus and begs him to grant a particular grace or divine favour to the person who invokes her in faith and who believes that her intercession is extremely powerful.  So, why is Saint Anne’s intercession so powerful? And why is she invoked all over the world by people of faith, by people who suffer or who are praying for a special favour for themselves or for their loved ones? And why do so many faithful throughout the centuries still call her: “Good Saint Anne”? The reason is simple: it is because of her unfathomable love for her grandson Jesus. Like most grandmothers, she undoubtedly loved him dearly and probably spoiled him from time to time. And of course, you can imagine that Jesus also loved her with every fiber of his being, as most grandchildren usually do and feel about their grandparents. That is why Jesus never refuses anything that is dear to his grandmother’s heart. When Saint Anne asks him to favour someone in need, he simply cannot refuse and grants the cure, the grace or miracle. Today’s Gospel related the miracle of the hidden treasure in a field. Dear friends, you who are sitting or standing in this field today, know that there is a hidden treasure here also. Many in fact. This treasure is Godsent and remains hidden in all of your hearts until you decide to open it up. It is the treasure of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that you have received when you were baptized. If you have opened this treasure box already with your daily prayers and with your good will and charitable actions, these gifts are comparable to invisible seeds that sprout in your soul until they reach full maturity and turn into a tree of eternal life; a tree that bares many beautiful and divine fruits that nourish not only you, but all the people that God puts on your path. This hidden treasure can also be called the treasure of eternal life that God has given to all of us from the very day that we were conceived in our mother’s womb. “Chosen and elected before the foundation of the world to become his adoptive children in Christ,” says Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. Could there be, I ask you, a more beautiful and meaningful gift that we could have ever received when we were created? I mean, God could have given us 100, 1,000 years of temporal life. But that was not enough for him. He wanted us to share his love to a maximum level: for all eternity! What an awesome gift! Nothing can compare with such an overwhelming gift. But there are a few conditions that we must fill in order to attain this eternal bliss in heaven: we were sent here on earth to be tested in order to merit such a gift at the end of our earthly lives. Tested in what way, you may ask? The first phase of this test consists for us to use our gift of superior intelligence and discernment – a gift that most of his other creatures have not received in such fullness – so that we can gradually learn to know how good, how loving, how merciful and Holy He truly is. The reading of the Holy Scriptures reveals all of this to our intelligence.  Once we discover how loving and merciful He truly is through these various acts of intelligence and discernment, the second phase consists in using our freewill to respond and to decide to love Him in return, and then to serve him with gratitude through our desires, our thoughts, our actions and our good deeds that will then become part of our daily lives.  Jesus told us many parables to make us understand the mystery and sublimity of the presence of his divine and invisible Kingdom that is already at hand and in our midst since he began to proclaim the Good News and the need for conversion in Israel. Parables are simple stories that are easy to remember for the young and old. I have preached numerous parish missions in my life, and I can tell you that years after participating to one of my missions, people don’t always remember the taught I gave them, but they sure remember the simple spiritual stories that I told them.

This is why I would now like to relate two miracles to you today. Two stories of the miraculous healings that were obtained through the powerful intercession of our dear grandmother, Good Saint Anne. The first one occurred in 1841; the second one in 1700. I have taken these stories or testimonies from a book that Fr. Gerard Desrochers, a redemptorist father who died more than 10 years ago, wrote and published at least more than twenty years ago. Unfortunately, this book is not sold anymore at the church store of the Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupre. In this book, one would find many more of these miraculous stories that were archived in the private Redemptorist library and who were officially attested or confirmed by credible witnesses who signed the reports.

The first one that I will now read to you is taken from this book and has been documented and attested by the parish priest of Ms. Geneviève Mailloux of L’Île-aux-Coudres, P. Q. and by four other witnesses of his parish in June 3rd, 1841.  Madame Geneviève Mailloux had been for several years, subject to frequent attacks of epilepsy. Each time these attacks brought on violent and painful convulsions, causing a paralysis of the arms and lower extremities, which however used to pass away by degrees.  This infirmity grew worse from year to year, and at length the lameness became permanent. It had steadily lasted for five months, when in June 1841, the sufferer had herself conveyed to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, hoping there to obtain her cure. Indeed, her pious entreaties were heard, for she went home completely cured and never, after this pilgrimage, did she experience the slightest return of the disease. These facts have been attested by the parish-priest, the physician and several other residents of L’Île-aux-Coudres.  ATTESTATION  “Before us, the undersigned pastor, Olivier Boudrault, Louis Demeulles, Augustin Dufour, farmers, and Physician Didier Mailloux, of the parish of St. Louis de 1’Ile-aux-Coudres, who certified to us that Genevieve Mailloux, wife of Mr. Boudrault, was subject to frequent fainting fits daily for seven years, with intervals of a few days; moreover, she occasionally had epileptic fits that threw her into violent convulsions which left her crippled in her legs and arms and prevented her of leaving her bed; that the lower part of her legs and her feet were bent into a semicircle; that the disease had grown worse of late years; that there was no interruption for the past five months and that it ceased only on the third day of June of the present year, in the church of Saint Anne de Beaupre where the sick woman had been conveyed in fulfilment of the vow she had made to obtain her cure, and that from that date she has had no attack or return of her disease.

Dated at 1’Ile-aux-Coudres, the I5th of August, 1841.

The second miracle I would like to share with you is documented by the parish priest of Mr. Jean Salois of St. Lawrence parish, on the Island of Orleans, P.Q., and is dated March 8th, 1700.  Account given by Mr. Leveiller, who was then pastor of the parish of St. Anne de Beaupre. I, the undersigned, Francois Leveiller, priest, pastor of the parish of St. Anne du Petit Cap, on the Beaupre Hill, certify that on the 23rd October 1699, Jean Salois, son of Claude Salois and Anne Mabille, his father and mother, inhabitants of the parish of St. Laurent, Island of Orleans, was injured by a blow from an axe accidentally inflicted by Francois Olivier, his brother in law, while they were cutting the same tree, the axe struck his knee and severed the sinew of the knee-cap which was drawn back by the other muscles.  The surgeons who addressed his wound, namely: Sieur Lavimodière of Château-Richer township, and Sieur Belle-Isle of Quebec, were unable to unite the severed tendon which had so withdrawn, but they nevertheless closed up the wound. The man was thus crippled for the remainder of his life. In fact, the knee-joint being neither retained nor held back by that tendon, the bones of the thigh and leg separated from one another whenever he tried to lift his leg on which he could not stand. After the wound closed up, the knee was inflamed in the day time, and the inflammation went down at night, causing him much pain.  When he was hurt, he made a vow to St. Anne who is honored in this church and had ten masses said in her honor. As soon as he was able to come to fulfil his vow, he had himself carried here and arrived on the 1st of March 1700. He went to the house of Sieur Lessard, near the church, to make a novena in honor of the great Saint. The very first night he was free from all the pain that, before then, made him frequently cry out at night. He began his novena on the first day of Lent, the second day of March, confessed and received communion in St. Anne’s church. He continued to come and pray there with great faith and perseverance for entire days at a time, until the second Monday of Lent, the 8th of March.  In the evening the sick man wished to see if there was any improvement. He found that he could walk without crutches and without a stick and he sent for me. God, who willed that the confidence of the faithful in St. Anne’s protection should be increased, permitted that Madame de Champigny, the wife of the Intendant of Canada, and the Chevalier de Champigny with Sieur Sarrazin, physician, should come from Quebec on a pilgrimage to this church, on the following day, the 9th of March, in order that they might be the unimpeachable witnesses of the miracle worked in favor of that man through St. Anne’s intercession. In fact, Mr. Sarrazin, who is very learned in the treatment of wounds and of diseases, examined the wound in the presence of Madame de Champigny, of her son, of Sieur Lessart, his wife and some others; he questioned the patient as to how he was after the accident, and declared that he had been crippled and that the cure could not have been inflicted by natural means. He promised me an attestation of all of this.  These facts led me to ask the parishioners to assist, on the following day, at the Mass that we celebrated in thanksgiving for such a miraculous a cure. The young man, after receiving communion with many others, went up a ladder, in the presence of everyone, to hang his crutches on the wall of the church, to serve as a memorial of the favor he had received.

In testimony whereof I, François Michel Leveiller, Priest, Guillaume Morel and François Caron, have signed the present certificate with the undersigned witnesses )The other witnesses were unable to sign their names).

Dear pilgrims here present in Cormac on this beautiful and sunny Feast Day of Saint Anne, the beloved grandmother of Jesus, I encourage you to have faith in the powerful intercession of Saint Anne. “Ask and you shall receive”, says the Lord in his Gospel. Ask in faith and promise Saint Anne that you will honor her in some way if you receive the special grace, the healing or miracle that you desire deep within you and that you will now present as an offering to her motherly and loving heart during this Mass. Do not despair if your petition is not heard immediately. God is putting you to the test sometimes, to see how much faith you truly have. Your patience, your perseverance and your persistence in asking for your special favour through the intercession of Saint Anne – as long as it is God’s will and for his greater glory – will be granted to you sooner or later. Ask God to give you the faith of the centurion who said to the Lord: “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” May God bless you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.

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