Today we celebrate the faith and work of the North American Martyrs...
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of Ss. John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs (October 19, 2021): ROM 5:12,15,17-19,20-21; PS 40:7-8,8-9,10,17; LK 12:35-38
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
who offered themselves in order to bring the Good News of Christ Crucified to the native people of this continent.
In the 1640’s, six Jesuit priests and two lay brothers from France lay down their lives for the faith they longed to share with the native people of Canada and what is now northern New York State. They worked particularly among the Huron, but their efforts were made difficult because of their warfare with others, especially the Iroquois. There was a great mistrust of these men known as Blackrobes and fear that they caused sickness and other disasters. Still, the missionaries persisted. In fact, both St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues had the opportunity to go back to France, but returned to their missionary activities. Isaac Jogues had actually been held captive and brutalized for over a year before he was rescued by the Dutch. He petitioned Pope Urban VIII to allow him special permission to say Mass because his hands that had been mutilated. The pope agreed, saying, “It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ not be allowed to drink the blood of Christ.”
Today’s Psalm reminds us, as it must have those faithful servants of God, that He wants our whole-hearted willingness to do what He asks of us – whatever it may be: “Sacrifice or oblation You wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. … May all who seek You exult and be glad in you, And may those who love Your salvation say ever, ‘The Lord be glorified’” (Psalm 40:7,17). Even before their martyrdom, these missionaries had suffered the difficult, but everyday hardships that so many have experienced over the centuries even to this day. They knew fear and loneliness, as well as having to learn a new language, eat different food, and face harsh weather and other conditions. St. Isaac Jogues said, “My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to Him, and not to spoil His work by our shortcomings.” The North American Martyrs, also known as the Canadian Martyrs, were canonized in 1930.