“Jesus said to His disciples: … ‘Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants who the master finds vigilant on his arrival.’” (Luke 12:35-36)
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 “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
They had left behind their homes in France to willingly embrace hardship in service to our Lord.
Ss. John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues are the best known of the eight missionaries known as the North American or Canadian Martyrs. They were priests of the Society of Jesus, as were Ss. Anthony Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noel Chabanel, and Gabriel Lalemant. Ss. Rene Goupil, the first to die in 1642, and John de Lalande were Jesuit lay brothers. Within eight years they had all given up their lives in bringing news of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation to the Huron and other native people in Canada and upstate New York. They had left behind their homes in France to willingly embrace hardship in service to our Lord. Most also endured brutal torture before they were martyred. Warfare between the Huron, with whom they basically worked, and the Iroquois, plus various alliances with the French, Dutch and English made the situation extremely difficult. This was compounded by cultural differences and fear on the part of many native people that the missionaries brought illness and other troubles among them.
St. John de Brebeuf had a particular gift for languages. He was eventually able to translate a Catechism into the Huron language to facilitate their work. He, like the others, was determined to do all they could to share their faith in Christ despite the obstacles – and the danger. St. John de Brebeuf prayed, “My beloved Jesus, here and now I offer my body and blood and life. May I die only for You, if You will grant me this grace, since You willingly died for me. Let me live so that You may grant me the gift of such a happy death.” He and three of the other Jesuit priests met their deaths in 1649, the last of these missionary martyrs. They were all canonized in 1930.
Suggested missionary action: In memory of the North American Martyrs, who offered themselves in service to Christ, we can make a resolution to pray for all the Church’s missionaries and the many people they assist around the world. We can also support their efforts through the Pontifical Mission Societies.