- Sunday, 19 October 2008 09:41
In the North American context these martyrs demonstrate for me the work of grace in the
face of tremendous hardship which some would say evil. As a child when visiting my grandparents on their farm in Fonda, New York, my family would make the trip for Mass to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, located in the beautiful Mohawk Valley. I learned early in my life that these martyrs, followed Jesus very closely, even to the point of identifying with Christ crucified and offering their total being to the point of death. The deaths of these men were particularly gruesome. The Gospel pericope for the feast and which focuses the mission is what Saint Matthew records: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Brief biographies of the martyrs
Jesuit Father John Hardon’s reflection on the North American martyrs
Jesuit Father James Martin’s reflection on the martyrs
St. Jean de Brebeuf
St. Nöel Chabanel
St. Anthony Daniel
St. Charles Garnier
St. Issac Joques
St. Gabriel Lalemant
St. Rene Goupil
St. Jean de la Lande
Father, you consecrated the first beginnings of the faith in North America by preaching and martyrdom of Saints John & Isaac and their companions. By the help of their prayers may the Christian faith continue to grow throughout the world.
It is said that Father Jogues succeeded in burying Brother Rene Goupil calling him a martyr, because slain in hatred of God and the Church, and of their sign which is the Cross, and while exercising ardent charity towards his neighbor.
- Tuesday, 09 September 2008 20:57
A former colleague of mine, the late Jesuit Father Joseph MacDonnell inspired this brief biography of today’s saint, Peter Claver, some time ago. Claver lived the dictum of his friend Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, a lay brother who was discerning: “Look for God in all men and serve them as images of Him.”
Saint Peter Claver, Spanish born (1580-1654), as a university student met the Society of Jesus and entered the same in 1602; he
studied philosophy on the island of Majorca at the college of Montesión whose doorkeeper, Jesuit Brother Alphonsus Rodríguez encouraged young Peter. In 1610 he was sent to South America where he finished his studies, ordained to the priesthood in 1616 and then worked for 35 years helping to alleviate the spiritual and physical sufferings of the victims of Cartagena’s despicable slave trade. He referred to himself as “the slave of the slaves forever.”
His missionary vocation had been inspired by Brother Rodriguez (later canonized) who urged Peter: “Your mission is to the West Indies. Why don’t you go there and work for the Lord”? In Cartagena, Colombia he dedicated his energy to the poor people who had been shipped like cattle from Africa to Cartagena only to be sold to the highest bidder. It was said of him that he seemed to be everywhere at once because of the incredible speed with which he went about visiting the sick and instructing the ignorant, even in the scorching sun, drenching rain or biting wind which usually kept many of the inhabitants of Cartagena indoors. When the worn out slaves caught sight of him they clapped their hands by way of salute. Peter managed to convince the local authorities to issue a law that no new arrivals be baptized until they received adequate instruction. He then used this law to delay their departure into a life of slavery by prolonging his catechism classes, much to the chagrin of the slave dealers. Peter also irritated the wealthy citizens who came for the sacrament of Penance and found that they had to wait in line along with the slaves. He would say, “To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all temporal love. We must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake.”
Peter Claver was esteemed as a saint in his own time and stories of his miracles were commonplace. When he died fervor seized the whole city to honor him as a saint. The Jesuit college was besieged by crowds who came to venerate his mortal remains. Slaves came from all parts of the city and neighboring towns. He was declared the Patron Saint of African missionaries.
Today, Saint Peter’s life inspires Catholics to serve the poor as Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxillary.
- Thursday, 31 July 2008 06:43
On the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola there are many things that can be said of the Pilgrim-Saint and the Jesuit Order. Today, let us pray using the words of Loyola’s The First Principle and Foundation:
The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
– St. Ignatius as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J. from the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises