The Deacon's Reflection
Sts. John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues
& Companions - North American Martyrs
It's fitting that the Church celebrates this Feast on October 19, the day after World Mission Sunday this year. These men, six Jesuits and two lay missionaries, devoted their lives to missionary work, bringing the Catholic faith to those who had never heard of Jesus. The following is excerpted from Loyola Press, which defines them as being among the most gifted men of the 17th Century:
“By 1632, the Jesuits had a mission center in Quebec, where they ministered to 20,000 Huron in 30 villages. [They] suffered from cold and heat and were not accustomed to the Huron culture. When the “black robes” arrived, Huron children ran to their mothers, afraid that they were sorcerers. The missionaries were blamed for a smallpox epidemic. Still, they tried to bring the faith to the native people, educate them, and teach them medical and agricultural skills. John de Brébeuf founded schools and wrote a catechism and dictionary in the Huron language. He was once condemned to death but spoke so well that he was spared. Noel Chabanel, a language professor, could barely stutter out Huron phrases. The food and life of the Huron repulsed him, but he vowed to stay. Rene Goupil and John de Lalande, lay missioners, worked without pay. Charles Garnier sometimes walked 40 miles to baptize one child.
The missionaries converted about two thousand converts in their many years in Quebec. Then the enemies of the Huron, the Iroquois, who resented the French, captured and tortured the missionaries. Rene Goupil was tomahawked while trying to baptize a baby. Anthony Daniel was at Mass when the Iroquois attacked, shot arrows at him, and threw him into the fire. Isaac Jogues was made a slave but escaped back to France. His left hand had been mutilated, but Pope Urban VIII allowed him to celebrate Mass, saying, “It would be a shame that a martyr of Christ not drink the blood of Christ.” Isaac Jogues returned to America. On a peace mission to the Iroquois for the governor of New France, he was accused of bringing a bad harvest. The Iroquois thought his box of religious goods contained the plague. He was attacked and killed. The Indian who killed him was later baptized and took the name Isaac. The sufferings of the missionaries are the seeds of the Church.”
Let's continue to pray for those bringing Jesus to others. Even in our time, priests and religious are being attacked and killed, all because they are preaching the Good News of Jesus. ~ Deacon Gerry Devine
Note: World Mission Day, or Mission Sunday, was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, to remind Catholics about their commitment and support to the missionary work of the Church through prayer and sacrifice.