Blog Post - October 19th
SS. John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions (North American Martyrs)| S. Peter of Alcantara| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and Companions
Isaac Jogues (1607-1646): Isaac Jogues and his companions were the first officially recognized martyrs of the North American continent officially recognized by the Church. As a young Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, a man of learning and culture, taught literature in France. He gave up that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World, and in 1636 he and his companions, under the leadership of John de Brébeuf, arrived in Quebec. The Hurons were constantly warred upon by the Iroquois, and in a few years Father Jogues was captured by the Iroquois and imprisoned for 13 months. His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed.
An unexpected chance for escape came to Isaac Jogues through the Dutch, and he returned to France, bearing the marks of his sufferings. Several fingers had been cut, chewed or burnt off. Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: "It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ be not allowed to drink the Blood of Christ."
Welcomed home as a hero, Father Jogues might have sat back, thanked God for his safe return and died peacefully in his homeland. But his zeal led him back once more to the fulfillment of his dreams. In a few months he sailed for his missions among the Hurons.
In 1646 he and Jean de Lalande, who had offered his services to the missioners, set out for Iroquois country in the belief that a recently signed peace treaty would be observed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party, and on October 18 Father Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded. Jean de Lalande was killed the next day at Ossernenon, a village near Albany, New York.
The first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred was René Goupil who, with Lalande, had offered his services as an oblate. He was tortured along with Isaac Jogues in 1642, and was tomahawked for having made the Sign of the Cross on the brow of some children.
Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649): Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who came to Canada at the age of 32 and labored there for 24 years. He went back to France when the English captured Quebec (1629) and expelled the Jesuits, but returned to his missions four years later. Although medicine men blamed the Jesuits for a smallpox epidemic among the Hurons, Jean remained with them.
He composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron, and saw 7,000 converted before his death. He was captured by the Iroquois and died after four hours of extreme torture at Sainte Marie, near Georgian Bay, Canada.
Father Anthony Daniel, working among Hurons who were gradually becoming Christian, was killed by Iroquois on July 4, 1648. His body was thrown into his chapel, which was set on fire.
Gabriel Lalemant had taken a fourth vow—to sacrifice his life for the Native Americans. He was horribly tortured to death along with Father Brébeuf.
Father Charles Garnier was shot to death as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack.
Father Noel Chabanel was killed before he could answer his recall to France. He had found it exceedingly hard to adapt to mission life. He could not learn the language, the food and life of the Indians revolted him, plus he suffered spiritual dryness during his whole stay in Canada. Yet he made a vow to remain until death in his mission.
These eight Jesuit martyrs of North America were canonized in 1930.
Faith and heroism planted belief in Christ's cross deep in our land. The Church in North America sprang from the blood of martyrs. Are we as eager to keep that cross standing in our midst? Do we bear witness to deep-seated faith in us, the Good News of the cross (redemption) into our home, our work, our social world?
"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" (from a letter of Isaac Jogues to a Jesuit friend in France, September 12, 1646, a month before he died).
Patron Saint of:
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Peter of Alcantara, Confessor. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
Peter was born at Alcantara in Spain in 1499. Already as a child he manifested a remarkable gift of prayer, so that at times, when he became absorbed in prayer, the servants were unable to get any response from him.
At the University of Salamanca Saint Peter of Alcantara resolved to join the Franciscan Order. The tempter left nothing undone to depict the comfortable life he could lead in the world and still have time for the practices of piety, but humble prayer overcame the seductions of the evil one.
Peter set out for the quiet convent of Monjarez. On the way our Lord gave him a signal assurance of his vocation.
Saint Peter of Alcantara came to a stream which, because of heavy rains, had overflowed its banks considerably. Seeing no means at hand with which to cross, he knelt down and asked God for help. Suddenly, without knowing how, he found himself on the other side.
Once received into the order, Peter gave himself up completely to union with God. He kept so strict a guard over his senses, that a year later he could not say whether the church in which he prayed each day had a vaulted roof or a flat one.
His body seemed to have given to him only to inflict pain upon it. The mortifications he practiced upon divine impulse were amazing. For more than 20 years he wore an iron belt studded with sharp points which pierced his flesh, and for more than 40 years he daily scourged himself till he bled. At first he was much troubled with sleepiness, but he so mortified himself that in time he got along with one and a half hours sleep in a day; and this rest he took while sitting on the floor.
According to St Teresa of Avila, it was a very common thing for him to take food only once in three days, and that sometimes he would go a week without eating.
God showed His approval of these mortifications by sustaining Peter's strength in a remarkable way. Saint Peter of Alcantara never tired of going from place to place to give missions, and his success was so astounding that St Francis Borgia once wrote to him: "Your remarkable success is a special comfort to me."
His various activities, however, in no way diminished his spirit of prayer. He lived and toiled in this spirit, and endeavored to impart it to others.
The sufferings of Christ were the special object of his devotion. As Christ sacrificed Himself for us, Peter found nothing too difficult in His service; and as Christ atoned so severely for our sins, Peter practiced the most rigorous penance.
The custom of erecting a cross at the close of a mission had its origin with Saint Peter of Alcantara. Whenever feasible, he had the cross erected on an elevation, so that it could be seen all over the parish. On one occasion he was so literally carried away with devotion that he sped through the air to such a cross, where with arms outstretched he prayed a long time, while rays brighter than sunlight proceeded from his person.
Saint Peter of Alcantara wrote a little treatise on prayer and meditation which is celebrated the world over. Pope Gregory XV declared that it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The great mistress of prayer, St Theresa, who lived at that time, wished to have the saint for her spiritual director; and he aided her in reforming the order of Carmel.
Saint Peter of Alcantara was a very humble man, and fled from honors. Emperor Charles V wanted him for his confessor, but Peter begged him not to press his request since he could easily secure more learned and eminent men.
In the order itself he was obliged to accept the position of provincial, and due to his efforts his province rose to a flourishing state of religious discipline. Provincial though he was, he did not hesitate on occasion to perform the lowliest duties in the house.
Saint Peter of Alcantara was humble and charitable in his judgments. A nobleman was once decrying the various evils which were rampant. The saint said: "Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made."
On October 18, 1562, Saint Peter of Alcantara died peacefully in the Lord. St Theresa saw his soul take its flight to heaven. Later he appeared to her and said: "O happy penance that has merited for me such wondrous glory!"
Many miracles, including the raising of six dead persons to life, occurred in answer to prayers addressed to him. Pope Clement IX enrolled him among the saints.
Oh, how thunderous the applause must be in heaven, all those times we are mocked on earth...for the sake of His Name.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Peace is a prelude to eternal happiness.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 292: The Value of Special Vocations
Some people are called to a unique life of prayer and solitude within the context of religious life. In particular, there are those called to the eremitical life or the cloister. These holy souls are separated from the world and spend their days in quiet prayer and work. But what value does this life have to the world? This is an important question to understand. From a worldly point of view, they add little to society. They may be looked upon with curiosity and intrigue, offering inspiration and admiration, but little more is rarely understood of their life. Never underestimate the incredible value of these holy vocations. Their life of hidden prayer and sacrifice brings delight to the Heart of our Lord and is a constant source of His Mercy in the world. In fact, without these holy souls, the world would be in grave danger. Through their lives of prayer and sacrifice the Lord withholds much of His judgment and issues Mercy in its place (See Diary #1434).
What is your understanding of the value of the hidden vocation of religious? Seek to understand the great value of their vocation. Look to them for a deepening understanding of the spiritual life and trust that their prayers are a source of much Mercy in your life. Additionally, reflect upon the fact that you are called to imitate their lives of prayer to one extent or another. Though you may not be called to the cloister or to live as a hermit, you are called to a deep interior life of prayer. Allow these holy souls to teach you by their writings, their witness and their unique vocation. They are an abundant source of Mercy in our world; seek God’s Mercy through them.
Lord, I thank you for the gift of those holy souls called to lives of solitude and prayer. Please sanctify them in their vocation and help them to win many souls for Your Kingdom. I pray that their witness and vocation will inspire many in an interior life of prayer. Jesus, I trust in You.