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Memorial of Saints John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs



Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and 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 whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”


REFLECTION

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.


Six Jesuit priests and two laymen were recognized as the first martyrs of the North American continent. In 1632, the Jesuits had established a mission in Quebec. They were spreading the gospel to 30 Huron villages and were ministering to 20,000 native Huron Indians. At first, they were greeted with suspicion. The Huron children were afraid of the priests at first and they called them, "black robes." They thought they were sorcerers. Matters got worse because of an outbreak of smallpox for which they were blamed. Yet, the missionaries were persistent in bringing the faith to the natives. They were good educators. They taught the people some medical skills and good agricultural practices.


St. John de Brebeuf started schools and wrote a dictionary and catechism in the Huron language. St. Isaac Jogues was a learned Frenchman and a young priest when he decided to go with de Brebeuf to Quebec to help spread the gospel to the Huron Indians. Life was harsh for them, but they worked hard for the Lord. St. John saw 7,000 converted before he died in 1649. He labored there for 24 years. He was captured by the Iroquois and died after four hours of extreme torture.


The Hurons had many enemies. The Iroquois had captured Fr. Jogues and for 13 months he was imprisoned and tortured. He was rescued by the Dutch and was sent back to France. His hand was mangled and several fingers were cut, chewed, or burnt off. Even with his mangled hands, Pope Urban VIII, allowed him to say Mass. Pope Urban said, "it would be shameful that a martyr of Christ not be allowed to drink the Blood of Christ." In a few months, Fr. Jogues returned to his Huron mission. In 1646 he went with a fellow missionary to offer services to one of the villages and was captured by a Mohawk war party. On October 18th Fr. Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded.


The other four Jesuits priests and two laymen were martyred in similar gruesome ways.

But their blood watered the seeds of Faith that they helped plant. "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival." Yes, these Jesuit priests and laymen were vigilant servants.


Let us pray for all priests to have hearts on fire for the Lord!

Pray together our PAPA Prayer for Priests.




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