Monday, October 19, 2020

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

Marianist Monday

 Chaminade - A Man of Faith & Vision

To the south of Bordeaux a road leads down across the Pyrenees into Spain. This was the road Father William Joseph Chaminade followed into exile in September of 1797.

He was a French priest in disguise, escaping the enemies of the Church in his native land. Close by lay the danger of arrest. Other priests had already died as martyrs.

But Father Chaminade was at peace. He was a man of faith.

The night before his journey into exile Father Chaminade wrote:

“What is a faithful man to do in the chaos Of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God .Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good.”

In Saragossa, Spain, near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:

The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!

May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Mary conceived the Society

On October 12th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain. Near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:

"The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!"

" A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus.
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May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Fear

Thomas Merton once said that at the root of all war is fear - not so much the fear we have of one another but the fear we have of everything.

Fear makes all of God's creatures do strange things. Once adrenalin hits the bloodstream, who can predict the ways of fight or flight? For example, unlike other bears, grizzlies merit extreme caution from hikers because they have a highly unstable adrenal gland and are "high" on this fight-flight drug most of the time. Imagine having your insides - your nerves, stomach and heart - jangling, reeling and pounding all the time like you'd just seen the latest Halloween movie. Poor bears! And poor anyone who gets in their way!

The disciples experienced that mouth-drying, heart-thumping, knee-buckling kind of fear many times. The disciples could not fathom the magnificence of the divine presence. The mystery was far beyond their ken and kin.

No wonder the disciples often reacted by curling into defensive little fear-balls at Jesus' feet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

October is Rosary Month

 H/T to The Deacon's Bench 

I still have my first set. Do you?
It was given to me as a first communion gift: simple black beads with a plain cross. They're small, child-sized, but I carried them in May processions when I was in grade school. They served to teach me the rudiments of one of our faith's most popular - but often misunderstood - forms of prayer.

The Rosary.

Since October is dedicated to this devotion, and since the Holy Father specifically recommended rediscovering the rosary..., I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves how meaningful it is, and to appreciate even more the part it plays in our Catholic culture.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Marianist Monday

The Venerable Faustino Pérez-Manglano Of Valencia
(Spain), (1946-1963)

“My Mother, help me, you who succeed at everything. Christ, my ideal is going to be to live always united with you so that each day is closer to the goal of my vocation: to be a religious at the service of people for the love of Christ.

Mother, help me to attain my ideal”
(Diary, June 22, 1961)
Marianist Sodalist


Born in Valencia (Spain) on August 4,1946, he was a student at "Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar" from the time he was six until he died on March 3,1963, of Hodgkin's disease, while he was studying pre-university courses.

Joyful and congenial, he was enthusiastic about sports, camping, and everything good. Few could have suspected the greatness of soul hidden in the small body of this boy who was everybody's friend: his fidelity in every trial,his iron will, his intense love of Christ, his filial affection for the Virgin. He was a member of the Sodality-State of Mary Immaculate from 1962, and on February 9,1963, after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, he made his definitive consecration.

From 1960, feeling the call of the Lord, his great ideal was to consecrate his life to the salvation of souls as a Marianist religious. Before he died, he promised to concern himself with vocations in Heaven.

Through his diary, one can see the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul, totally dedicated to the Lord.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

We hear in the Gospel "take up your cross." Many think this means bearing burdens and suffering hardships for the Lord. Surely such hardships will at times be required, but there is a fuller meaning if we consider the context.

What is a cross for? It was not just a burden to be borne. Far more than that, it was an instrument of death and total sacrifice. Jesus said take up our cross and follow Him. He bore a cross and we must bear our cross and follow Him. But where was He going with His cross? He had just said He was going to die. In the next verse Jesus said we must give our lives for Him. Then He asked what good our lives would be to us, if we are unacceptable at the judgment.

Hence, "taking up your cross" refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication of life. Our whole life is given to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life.

The determination to give our lives to God's service is called "repentance." In repenting we determine to turn away from our own will and live our lives to please God. We cannot be saved without this, and that is why repentance is so important in salvation.

The next verse then helps us understand Jesus' point and strengthens the application. If a person holds his life so dear to himself that he wants to use it to please himself, do his own will, and accomplish his own purposes, rather than denying self and serving God, that person will in the end loses his life eternally. But anyone who loses his life for Jesus' sake - gives it in service and sacrifice to God by denying himself, as described above - such a man will save his life by gaining eternal life.

There can be no greater or clearer teaching anywhere of the meaning of being a disciple. This is how our Master lived, so this is how His disciples must live. We must live lives of complete and total submission to the will of God.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Mary must be known in order to be loved and served.

Blessed Father Chaminade understood Christ to be the mystery of the Son of God, become Son of Mary for the salvation of all. For Fr. Chaminade, the best way for Christians to come to an intimate relationship with Jesus was through his Mother Mary.

Between Jesus and Mary, Father Chamiande taught, existed an unsurpassed intimacy and spiritual union that inseparably united Mary to all his mysteries.

Just as Mary is Mother of God, she too, is the mother the Church, the mystical body of Christ. Thus Mary becomes our mother.

Finally for Blessed Chaminade, in order to assist in Mary's mission of bringing her children to her son, Mary must be known in order to be loved and served.

May we always love and serve our Mother Mary, that we may know, love and serve her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Friday, October 2, 2020

THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGELS - OCTOBER 2

For members of the Society of Mary, October 2, 1817 is a day of celebration. It was on this day that Jean Baptiste Lalanne and several other men met with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade to discuss the possibility of forming a group of vowed men who through prayer and living in community would be actively involved in the ministry of the Church. After the initial meeting, several additional men—clerics, manual workers, and merchants—joined with Lalanne and Chaminade to found the Society of Mary (Marianists).

On December 8, 1817, several men made private vows and on September 5, 1818, seven men made public vows as members of the Society of Mary.

October 2, Foundation Day for the Society of Mary, is the feast of the Guardian Angels. Remembering the Guardian Angels has been important to members of the Society of Mary. Guardian Angels were seen as guardians of the students in Marianist schools. To help students behave appropriately, members of the Society of Mary were encouraged to “invoke the Guardian Angels of their pupils at the beginning of class and surveillance periods." Hopefully, the angels would guarantee that students behaved in a proper manner so as to be receptive to the classroom instruction of the Brothers and priests.

"Education is a participation in the work of Mary. She is the great teacher of mankind. Her mission has been, and still is, to give birth to Jesus Christ and to rear Him….In calling us to the work of education, Mary has constituted us Her collaborators in this mission. Our pupils are Her children more than ours…and it is Her name that we ought to try to form Jesus in them. "
Emil Neubert, S.M., (1954)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Jesus - identifies with our suffering

There is a monk in the mountains that is concerned about something most people swat and try to eliminate. Our story today is about a monk and bees. Honeybees.

They're capricious little critters. But cross them just once, and they'll zing you and sting you.

So you've got to wonder why a monk named Remy Rougeau spends so much time with them.

On days like today, when heavy snowfall blankets the upper Midwest, Remy puts on his snowshoes and walks two miles over prairie hills with a shovel. He passes antelope, snowy owls and jackrabbits. Mule and whitetail deer are everywhere. One year, a porcupine was hanging around the bee yard. His reason for making this trek is to clear the snow off the honeybee hives, because if hive entrances are covered, the bees can suffocate.

But Remy does more than simple snow-clearing. Throughout the year, he keeps some bees at the abbey so that he can sting himself.

Sting himself. On purpose. Each week he takes a bee in the knee. A local allergy specialist suggested this. "Years ago," he recalls, "when I was first assigned the apiary, I nearly choked to death when a bee got into my suit and stung me in the neck. I was far from help and not breathing well. Fortunately, I had an anaphylactic kit ... and after three injections of epinephrine my throat began to relax. Later, after the allergist thoroughly tested me, he suggested regular exposure to venom. And nowadays, I have no reaction to bee stings at all. They hurt for 10 seconds and it's over."

Exposure to venom. It's not a deadly thing for Remy Rougeau. In fact, it's the poison that enables him to maintain his passion for the honeybees.

In a certain way we should open our eyes and see that God loves us in the same way that this monk loves his honeybees. God adores us despite the fact that we are unpredictable little buzzers, responsibly making honey one second, and then aiming our stingers and shooting venom the next.

According to the letter to the Hebrews, God made Jesus - the pioneer of our salvation - "perfect through sufferings." Jesus exposed himself to our venom so that he could identify completely with our suffering and death, and so that he could have a full understanding of the human condition.