Thursday, October 19, 2017

Feast of the North American Martyrs

October 19 is the Feast of the North American Martyrs, sometime known as the Feast of St. Isaac Jogues and Companions. 
The eight Jesuits--Jean de Brébeuf,Noël Chabanel, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, René Goupil, Isaac Jogues,Jean de Lalande and Gabriel Lalemant--are some of the most heroic and noble men in the church’s calendar of saints. They worked in the wilderness, among people with whom they had little in common other than their common humanity, far from their homelands, sometimes together, sometimes apart, always bound to the Lord, in “New France,” in the 17th century.
His life, like the lives of all the North American Martyrs, has much to teach us about working and living among those who are different from us, the inevitability of difficulties even for the most devout of souls and the necessity of faith at all times.

When he returned to New France in 1635, he was cheerfully welcomed by his Huron friends. Immediately he and Antoine Daniel, another Jesuit, began their work in earnest. (They were one of several Jesuits working in the region at the time.) Near a town called Ihonotiria, near current-day Georgian Bay in Canada, Fathers Brébeuf and Daniel began teaching the people about Christianity. They were later joined by two other French Jesuits, Charles Garnier and Isaac Jogues.

With the arrival of their new companions, though, a smallpox epidemic broke out among the Jesuits, which spread to the Hurons, who had no immunity whatsoever from the illness. The missionaries cared for the sick and baptized thousands of Hurons. But because they had baptized those who were dying, the Hurons concluded that baptism brought death, and so many of the Hurons began to turn against the "Blackrobes." Brébeuf then moved to Sainte-Marie, a center for the Jesuits in the area.

Then a new danger arose. Rumors (false ones) circulated that Jean was in league with a sworn enemy of the Hurons, the Seneca clan of the Iroquois. So he prudently moved to another site, Saint Louis. On March 16, the Iroquois attacked the village and took the Hurons, who were mainly Christians, along with Jean and another Jesuit, Gabriel Lalement, prisoner. He knew that the possibility of martyrdom was imminent.

Jean de Brébeuf's torture was among the cruelest any Jesuit has had to endure. (You might want to avoid this next paragraph if you're squeamish.)

The Iroquois heated hatchets until they were glowing red and, tying them together, strung them across his shoulders, searing his flesh. They wrapped his torso with bark and set it afire. They cut off his nose, lips and forced a hot iron down his throat, and poured boiling water over his head in a gruesome imitation of baptism. They scalped him, and cut off his flesh while he was alive. Finally someone buried a hatchet in his jaw.

After 14 years as a missionary, Jean de Brébeuf died on March 16, 1639. He was 56. At his death his heart was eaten as a way for the Iroquois, who were stunned by his courage, to share in his bravery. Eight other Jesuits were martyred around this same time, and are now referred to as the North American Martyrs. 
May they pray for us and be our examples of patience, fortitude and faith.

Excerpt from James Martin, SJ

Daily Reflection

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Today's reading from Romans continues yesterday’s theme which Paul tells us that we are not justified by our works but by our faith. He uses Abraham, our Father in Faith, as his example. Abraham did many good things and could have boasted about them but what justified him was the fact that he put his faith in God. 

This was partly to ‘correct’ a belief that saw Abraham justified because of his actions after God’s call rather than because of his faith in God. 

In our Gospel text from St. Luke we see Jesus teaching the people and his disciples and reminding them that everything that is said and done is known to the Father. He also tells the disciples that they need not fear those who can kill our mortal bodies. We can fear those who can kill the spirit also which is far more serious. For this is spiritual part is the immortal part of our being. Trust in God will prevent such a thing from happening.

Marian moment

God of wisdom and love,
you have sent your Son Jesus to be the light of the world,
and continue to send your Holy Spirit among us
to guide us into the way of truth.

Open our hearts to your word
and let us ponder your actions among us.
Give us your Spirit of wisdom and knowledge,
of understanding and counsel.
With Mary, may we rejoice in your gifts,
and walk in the way of truth and love.

With all your people on earth and in eternity,
we ask this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of your loving Spirit,
one holy God, for ever and ever.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

"Be Not Afraid"

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"Be Not Afraid"
Respect Life Month, October 2017

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Chairman

USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities


My dear friends in Christ:

Once again, we mark the month of October as Respect Life Month. Looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of uncertainty, suffering, and heartache. Between tragedies that occur in the public eye and trials that take place in our personal lives, there's no shortage of reasons we cry out to God.

At such times, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. But we have an anchor of hope to cling to. With words that echo through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, God says to us, "Do not fear: I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).

The 2017-2018 Respect Life theme, "Be Not Afraid," reminds us of this promise.

God isn't a detached, distant observer to our pain; the Eternal Son became man and Himself experienced immense suffering—for you and for me. His wounds indicate the very essence of our identity and worth: we are loved by God.

There are times we may doubt the value of our own lives or falter at the thought of welcoming and embracing the life of another. But reflecting on the healed wounds of the Risen Christ, we can see that even our most difficult trials can be the place where God manifests his victory. He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new. He is the God of redemption.

That's powerful. That's something to hold onto.

And, He is always with us. Jesus promised this when he gave the disciples the same mission he gives to each of us: Go.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are called to be missionary disciples. We are not only invited to follow and take refuge in God, our stronghold, but we are also commissioned to reach out to one another, especially to the weak and vulnerable.

Building a culture of life isn't something we just do one month of the year, or with one event or initiative—it's essential to who we are. It happens through our daily actions, how we treat one another, and how we live our lives.

How do we respond when our aging parents are in failing health? Do they know how much we love them and cherish each day given? Do we ensure they know they are never a burden to us? In our own challenging times, do we ask for support? When others offer a helping hand, do we receive it? When our friend becomes pregnant in difficult circumstances, do we show compassion that tangibly supports her and helps her welcome the life of her new little one?

Sometimes, we may not be sure exactly what to do, but let's not allow the fear of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing keep us from living out our missionary call. We don't need to have everything figured out all at once. Let's remember the guidance of Our Blessed Mother, the first disciple: "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5).

Also, I encourage you to visit to see the U.S. bishops' new Respect Life materials centered on the theme "Be Not Afraid." There are articles, bulletin inserts, prayers, action ideas, and more! This Respect Life Month and always, let's walk with each other; let's help each other embrace God's gift of human life. Whatever storms or trials we face, we are not alone. He is with us: "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
October 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Thanks you, Lord!

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There is a classic Dennis the Menace cartoon that depicts an irate Margaret haughtily proclaiming to Dennis as he walks by, "I'm not speaking to you, Dennis Mitchell!" 

The next frame shows Dennis, his eyes rolled heavenward, breathing a heartfelt, "Thank you, Lord."

When confronted with an unexpected grace or an unforeseen groan, is your first response to turn towards God in prayer? The very reason we can be anxious in nothing, that we can rejoice in the Lord, is that God is powerfully present for us in prayer, always. Saint Paul recognizes that a good percentage of our "prayers" are more correctly seen as "supplications" and "requests." Sometimes, when we are feeling spiritually strong and centered, our souls do turn toward God in true prayer, seeking nothing more than a feeling of the holy presence.

Other times, we approach God on our bellies. When our spirits are parched and dragging, we come to God as supplicants _ admitting our own inadequacies and recognizing God as the source of all wholeness. Often, however, we seek out God in prayer with specific requests. Sometimes we know our requests must seem childish and simple to God _ like the two little boys who in early September hopefully donned all their mittens, coats and hats, and perched their sled on the top of a hill and requested of God, "We're ready .... Let 'er rip!" But other times our requests are deeply serious: "Heal her," "Help him," "Hear me."

God wants our prayers, supplications and our requests.