Thursday, October 19, 2006

The North American Martyrs

Today is the feast of St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brébeuf and companions, martyred while bringing the Gospel to the native Americans of the northern Hudson.

St. Isaac is also a patron of the Paulist Fathers. The striking portrait below is from the common room at the lake house at Lake George (originally named Lac du Saint Sacrament -- Lake of the Blessed Sacrament -- by St. Isaac Jogues).

From today's Office of Readings, from the Spiritual Diaries of St. John de Brébeuf:
For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.
Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, what can I give you in return for all the favours you have first conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name. I vow before your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier-in truth I vow to you, Jesus my Saviour, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.
I bind myself in this way so that for the rest of my life I will have neither permission nor freedom to refuse opportunities of dying and shedding my blood for you, unless at a particular juncture I should consider it more suitable for your glory to act otherwise at that time. Further, I bind myself to this so that, on receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit. For this reason, my beloved Jesus, and because of the surging joy which moves me, here and now I offer my blood and body and life. May I die only for you, if you will grant me this grace, since you willingly died for me. Let me so live that you may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and Saviour, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not known, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it. My God, even if all the brutal tortures which prisoners in this region must endure should fall on me, I offer myself most willingly to them and I alone shall suffer them all.


assiniboine said...

Ahem. September 26 as the "Canadian Martyrs" in the Canadian Catholic calendar. There are innumerable "Canadian Martyrs" Catholic parishes and Anglican and United Church people are rather jealous that Canadian Catholics have their very own saints whom they cannot in all conscience refer to: do we tell them, never mind; our American friends have not only appropriated Brébeuf and his Brethren (as usual: confer Thanksgiving!) but even ascribed to them a different Feast Day?

Gashwin said...

Hey ... we don't celebrate it as the "American" Martyrs, but the "North American Martyrs." They did operate in the territory that is now part of the United States too you know ... :-)