Tuesday, October 19, 2010




LETTER TO SEMINARIANS OF BENEDICT XVI VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS REPORT) - Given below are ample extracts from the English-language version of a Letter to Seminarians, written by the Pope to mark the end of the Year for Priests and dated 18 October. "When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: 'Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed'. I knew that this 'new Germany' was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a 'job' for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalisation: they will always need the God Who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, the God Who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with Him and through Him life's true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough". "In this letter I would like to point out - thinking back to my own time in the seminary - several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying. "(1) Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a 'man of God', to use the expression of St. Paul. For us God is not some abstract hypothesis. ... God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. ... It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God's messenger to His people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to 'pray constantly', He is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God". "(2) For us God is not simply Word. In the Sacraments He gives Himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. ... In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age - the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations. (3) "The Sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. ... Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. ... Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognising my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour. "(4) I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community". "(5) Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. ... I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! ... The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people's questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments. ... It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. ... I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious. ... But you should also learn to understand and - dare I say it - to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications. ... I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realisation that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity. "(6) Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. ... This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person's growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment". "(7) The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the communities, particularly within the movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and His Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. ... The movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another. .. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ's Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary. "Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish".

SYNOD FATHERS MEET IN LANGUAGE GROUPS VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Synod Fathers who are currently participating in the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops met in language groups. During the course of today they are due to come together to prepare and approve the propositions on the theme of the synodal assembly.SE/
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AMERICA: USA: DEATH OF PRO-LIFE DR. MILDRED JEFFERSON report – Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a civil rights pioneer who aggressively dedicated her life and talents to defending the rights of unborn children, died Friday at the age of 84 at home.Anne Fox, President of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, broke the news of Jefferson’s passing to the media. While no cause of death has been specified, Fox said that Jefferson’s health had been declining for the past few weeks.Jefferson is an important figure for her accomplishments both as a black American and as a woman during the civil rights era. She broke the barriers of her day when in 1951 she became the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and then the first female surgical intern at Boston City Hospital. She later became the first female doctor at Boston University Medical Center.But a turning point in Jefferson’s career from accomplished surgeon to pro-life leader came when the American Medical Association in 1970 resolved that member physicians could perform abortions ethically in states where the procedure was legal. According to the Boston Globe, the 2004 book “African-American Lives” said that this profoundly disturbed Jefferson, who saw the AMA’s position as an abandonment of the Hippocratic Oath which admonishes doctors to “do no harm.”Jefferson would lend her mind and voice to advocating the pro-life cause with exceptional passion, intelligence, and rhetorical excellence.These gifts could be seen in her famous explanation to the American Feminist magazine in 2003 for why she dedicated herself to the fight for the right to life.“I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live,” she said.Jefferson was a co-founder of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), and served as vice-chairman of NRLC’s board in 1973, then as chairman. She held the post of president from 1975 – 1978, providing leadership in those critical years for the pro-life movement, as it struggled to coalesce into an effective political force in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision."The right-to-life movement has lost a champion and a pioneer. And we have lost a dear friend," said Darla St. Martin, NRLC co-Executive Director, in a statement. "Mildred Jefferson was a valued colleague in our fight for the most vulnerable members of our society and she will be greatly missed."Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, co-chairman of the congressional Pro-Life Caucus, recollected that Jefferson was a “trailblazer” who was “always graceful” and “embodied compassion.”“Poised and passionate, always focused and extremely devoted, she made history and inspired an entire generation of pro-life leaders,” said Smith.“It was an honor to work alongside Dr. Jefferson on critical pro-life issues, and I know her legacy and memory will live on in the lives of the unborn children she helped save.”NRLC noted that Jefferson during her tenure as president stressed the necessity for the pro-life movement to be a broad-based coalition in defense of life."We come together from all parts of our land,” Jefferson wrote in the 1977 NRLC convention journal. “We come rich and poor, proud and plain, religious and agnostic, politically committed and independent ... The right-to-life cause is not the concern of only a special few but it should be the cause of all those who care about fairness and justice, love and compassion and liberty with law."Massachusetts Citizens for Life announced that Jefferson was a former director, and actively involved herself with pro-life groups such as the American Life League, Americans United for Life Legal Defense Fund, Black Americans for Life, and others."Mildred Jefferson used every forum available to educate America and encourage people of all ages to become active in the right-to-life movement," said NRLC’s St. Martin. "Her legacy will be the countless people - most especially young people - that she brought to the movement by her constant presence and tireless dedication to the cause of life." SOURCE
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Agenzia Fides REPORT - Today, October 19, the Conference for the Catholic Bishops of the Great Lakes Region opened in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi. It will be dedicated to the issues of peace and justice.According to a note sent to Fides, the conference, which ends October 21, is being attended by delegates of the two regional conferences of bishops, ACEAC (Association des Conférences Episcopal de l'Afrique Centrale) and AMECEA (Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa) in addition to those from the national bishops' conferences of Burundi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. The aim is to undertake a joint action to make the Church in the region a greater sign and promoter of a culture of peace and reconciliation.The conference was originally commissioned by the Episcopal Conferences of Tanzania and Burundi, on a proposal from the Joint Commission for Refugees formed by the two conferences. Tanzania has, for a long time, been home to hundreds of thousands of Burundian refugees. A few years ago, they started the repatriation of these people, with the assistance of several organizations, including the Catholic Church in the two countries.The proposal was echoed by the other episcopal conferences mentioned above. The Catholic Peacebuilding Network of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University in the United States has offered technical help in the preparation of the event.Among the participants are the Presidents and General Secretaries of the Bishops' Conferences organizing the conference, the Presiding Bishops of the respective Commissions for Justice and Peace, and the bishops of the dioceses bordering Burundi. There will also be delegates from the CPN, from the United States Bishops' Conference, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), from the Civil Service for Peace (AGEH), Missio and MISEREOR of Germany, and CORDAID of Holland.
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Cath News report: A celebration of "epic proportions" will be held tomorrow at Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast in honour of Australia's new St Mary of the Cross.The Port Maquarie News said the Port Macquarie Regional Sports Stadium will host a crowd of up to 5000 people in planned celebrations.Catholic schools from Port Macquarie, Kempsey, 50km to the north, Wauchope, 20km to the west, and Laurieton in the Camden Haven, will unite for the day of worship.Lunch and a games afternoon will follow the liturgy, which begins at 10.45 am. Tomorrow's celebrations will be hosted by St Agnes' parish priest, Father Leo Donnelly, and is open to all, said the report.
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Asia News report: The Word of God is celebrated in the new diocese of Miao (founded in 2005) by bringing the Holy Scriptures directly to the homes of the faithful, surrounded by flowers, incense and songs.Manmao (AsiaNews) – The Church of Our Lady of Pilar in the diocese of Miao, a northeastern region of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, has organised Bible reading classes for the month of October in order to help Catholics become better acquainted with the Word of God.“We wish our faithful to be close to God,” said Sister Filicita Kispotta, who runs the programme. For this reason, “we have decided to organise Bible reading for a month.”The holy book goes house to house. At each stop, it is placed on a table surrounded by flowers, lighted candles and incense. The travelling priest who brings the text reads some passages from the Holy Scriptures, explains the Word of God, and together with the host family reads a prayer and sings a song. At the end of the service, children take blessings from their parents and elders.The Diocese of Miao was created in 2005. Since 2 May, it is home to the state’s only Roman Catholic cathedral, and the biggest statue of Jesus Christ in the whole of Asia.The state’s Catholic population is about 70,000, out of a population of a million people.Arunachal Pradesh is on India’s border with China. Both nations claim it, and have engaged in military confrontation over it in the past.“pilgrimage”-house-to-house-19765.html-en/Arunachal-Pradesh:-Bible-goes-on-“pilgrimage”-house-to-house-19765.html
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Agenzia Fides REPORT - 11th Missionary Volunteer Day to be held October 23 at Teatro Miguel Franco and Santana Mercado in Leiria, will reflect on the fight against poverty and social exclusion. "Against Poverty, You Can Make a Difference" is the slogan for the initiative promoted by the Foundation Evangelization and Culture (FEC), with the support of the Missionary Group Ondjoyetu and the City of Leiria.According to information sent from the FEC to Fides, the opening conference will be on the theme: “Promoting human development: from local to global,” by Alfredo Bruto da Costa, president of the Portuguese National Commission for Justice and Peace. "In order to motivate participants to take action against poverty, there will be a presentation of some projects initiated by Amnesty International, CAIS, Jesuit Refugee Service, and Caritas Leiria.In this year 2010, we celebrate the European Year against poverty and social exclusion, and celebrate 10 years of the United Nations Millennium Declaration on the fight against extreme poverty. "These are two examples of initiatives that call for joint action in communion, for the same goal, i.e. integral human development,” says the FEC. “In an increasingly more interdependent world, the great challenge of globalization is to transform this interdependence into interaction. To ensure that this change occurs at the global level, the transformation must take place first at a local and personal level."John Paul II said that "we are all really responsible for everyone." This is a goal that should be permanent: that each person works so that humanity can live in a permanent supportive relationship, where everybody is responsible for everybody else.
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St. Paul of the CrossFOUNDER OF THE PASSIONIST FATHERSFeast: October 19Information:Feast Day:October 19Born:January 3, 1694, Ovada, Piedmont, Duchy of Savoy (now modern-day Italy)Died:October 18, 1775, Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, RomeCanonized:29 June 1867, Rome by Pope Pius IXMajor Shrine:Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, RomePaul Francis Daneii, born at Ovada, Genoa, Italy, 3 January, 1694; died in Rome, 18 October, 1775.His parents, Luke Danei and Anna Maria Massari, were exemplary Catholics. From his earliest years the crucifix was his book, and the Crucified his model. Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino, Lombardy. He made great progress in study and virtue; spent much time m prayer, heard daily Mass, frequently received the Sacraments, faithfully attended to his school duties, and gave his spare time to reading good books and visiting the churches, where he s p e n t much time before the Blessed Sacrament, to which he had an ardent devotion. At the age of fifteen he left school and re turned to his home at Castellazzo, and from this time his life was full of trials. In early manhood he renounced the offer of an honorable marriage; also a good inheritance left him by an uncle who was a priest. He kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.Inflamed with a desire for God's glory he formed the idea of instituting a religious order in of the Passion. Vested in a black tunic by the Bishop of Alessandria, his director, bearing the emblem of our Lord's Passion, barefooted, and bareheaded, he retired to a narrow cell where he drew up the Rules of the new congregation according to the plan made known to him in a vision, which he relates in the introduction to the original copy of the Rules. For the account of his ordination to the priesthood, of the foundation of the Congregation of the Passion, and the approbation of the Rules, see PASSIONISTS. After the approbation of the Rules and the institute the first general chapter was held at the Retreat of the Presentation on Mount Argentaro on 10 April, 1747. At this chapter, St. Paul, against his wishes, was unanimously elected first superior general, which office he held until the day of his death. In all virtues and in the observance of regular discipline, he became a model to his companions. "Although continually occupied with the cares of governing his religious society, and of founding everywhere new houses for it, yet he never left off preaching the word of God, burning as he did with a wondrous desire for the salvation of souls" (Brief of Pius IX for St. Paul's Beatification, 1 Oct., 1852). Sacred missions were instituted and numerous conversions were made. He was untiring in his Apostolic labours and never, even to his last hour, remitted anything of his austere manner of life, finally succumbing to a severe illness, worn out as much by his austerities as by old age.Among the distinguished associates of St. Paul in the formation and extension of the congregation were: John Baptist, his younger brother and constant companion from childhood, who shared all his labours and sufferings and equaled him in the practice of virtue; Father Mark Aurelius (Pastorelli), Father Thomas Struzzieri (subsequently Bishop of Amelia and afterwards of Todi), and Father Fulgentius of Jesus, all remarkable for learning, piety, and missionary zeal; Venerable Strambi, Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, his biographer. Constant personal union with the Cross and Passion of our Lord was the prominent feature of St. Paul's sanctity. But devotion to the Passion did not stand alone, for he carried to a heroic degree all the other virtues of a Christian life. Numerous miracles, besides those special ones brought forward at his beatification and canonization, attested the favour he enjoyed with God. Miracles of grace abounded, as witnessed in the conversion of sinners seemingly hardened and hopeless. For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his sons. The body of St. Paul lies in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul, Rome. He was beatified on 1 October, 1852, and canonized on 29 June, 1867. His feast occurs on 28 April. The fame of his sanctity, which had spread far and wide in Italy during his life, increased after his death and spread into all countries. Great devotion to him is practiced by the faithful wherever Passionists are established.
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St. Isaac JoguesMARTYRFeast: October 19Information:Feast Day:October 19Born:January 10, 1607, OrlĂ©ans, FranceDied:October 18, 1646, Auriesville, New YorkCanonized:29 June 1930, Rome, Italy by Pope Pius XIMajor Shrine:National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York, USAThe labors of the Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries in the New World form an important chapter in the history of the Church and of the Western Hemisphere. These missionaries were for the most part men of culture and learning, carefully chosen and rigorously trained. Many of them gave up important careers in the Church to endure the dangers and privations of the wilderness. In New France, as Canada was then called, where Isaac Jogues spent his missionary years, their lot was hardship, disease, solitude, and, not infrequently, torture or violent death. The perils of forest and trail, the intense cold, the wretched food and verminous huts of the Indians, changed them, after a few years, into haggard old men; yet their spirits remained undaunted, strengthened as they were by an indomitable faith. What the American historian, Francis Parkman, in , wrote of Father Brebeuf, Jesuit leader in Canada, applies almost equally to the other members of this noble band: "His was the ancient faith uncurtailed, redeemed from the decay of centuries, kindled with new life, and stimulated to a preternatural growth and fruitfulness."The pioneer French explorers, Cartier and Champlain, were men of piety, eager to have the aid of the religious orders in opening up the new continent, and both Jesuits and Franciscans were encouraged to establish Catholicism in Canada. Jesuits led the way here, while Franciscans and Dominicans became active in the southwest of the United States and in South America. Early in the seventeenth century the Jesuits began to arrive in Quebec; they would quickly push on into the interior, to be engulfed by the forest or to be taken prisoner by the Indians and treated as slaves or objects of barter; yet at times they met with a heartening response. Among the more notable of these men were Brebeuf, Daniel, Masse, Lalemant, Chabanel, Ragueneau, Garnier, Jogues, and Le Jeune. It was Le Jeune, a Huguenot in early life, who conceived the plan for keeping his superiors of the Society of Jesus, as well as the European laity, informed of the great undertaking, by the careful compilation of missionaries' letters, which described in detail their experiences and impressions. Every summer, for a period of forty years, these reports were despatched back to Paris, where they were published serially under the title of . They form an historical chronicle of the highest value, and it is to them that we are mainly indebted for our knowledge of Father Jogues.Called the "Apostle of the Mohawks," and known to the Mohawks themselves as Ondessonk, "the indomitable one," Isaac Jogues has been selected to represent this group of North American saints. He was born on January 10, 1607, at Orleans, France, into a good bourgeois family; at the age of seventeen he entered the Jesuit novitiate school at Rouen. Later he studied at the royal college of La Fleche, which Henry IV had founded a short time before. From one of the teachers there, Louis Lalemant, who had two brothers and a nephew serving as missionaries in Canada, the young man heard stories that may well have turned his thoughts towards the New World. He also had meetings with the pioneers, Brebeuf and Masse, on their return from Canada in 1629, when Quebec was captured by the English. Three years later the province was again in French hands, and Richelieu had formed the Company of One Hundred Associates, which was to control New France for the next thirty odd years. Isaac Jogues continued his education at the College of Clermont, University of Paris, and in due time was ordained and accepted for missionary service. He was already recognized as an able scholar, with talents for writing and teaching. In the summer of 1636, at the age of twenty-nine, he embarked for Canada with several of his fellows, among them Charles Garnier. Drawings of Jogues made at about this time reveal features of unusual refinement; this air of delicacy was, however, deceptive, for beneath it lay heroic powers of physical endurance.Sailing on the same ship with the young missionaries was Sieur Huault de Montmagny, the new French governor sent out to replace Champlain, who had died a few months before. After a stormy voyage, they sailed up the St. Lawrence to the lofty citadel of Quebec. On arrival Jogues wrote as follows to his mother: "I do not know what it is to enter Heaven, but this I know—that it would be difficult to experience in this world a joy more excessive and more overflowing than I felt in setting foot in the New World, and celebrating my first Mass on the day of the Visitation." His later letters show the same exaltation of spirit.Father Jogues' companions were at once sent on westward to join Father Brebeuf, who in 1626 had established an outpost on the peninsula of Lake Huron, to minister to the Huron Indians, one of the less warlike tribes. Jogues went with them as far as the settlement of Trois Rivieres, and there, some weeks later, he saw a flotilla of canoes descending the St. Lawrence. In the first, wielding a paddle, was Father Anthony Daniel, one of Brebeuf's coworkers, exhausted and emaciated, his cassock in tatters. He was bound for Quebec for a period of recuperation, and Jogues was to replace him. The young missionary lost no time in organizing the expedition. The post was nine hundred miles away, up the river, through forests, across portages. On long trips such as these the missionaries and their guides had to carry provisions, and sometimes stored corn in by the way.Arriving at last at the Lake Huron post, Father Jogues collapsed in Brebeuf's arms. Almost at once he fell ill of a fever, which in turn struck down others. At this time the fathers were living in crude huts, and their food was poor and scanty. When the missionaries had recovered, a similar epidemic broke out among the Indians, who, blaming it on the Black Coats, as they called the Jesuits, threatened to kill them all. Brebeuf conciliated them and by the following year relations had so improved that he was able to write in one of his reports: "We are gladly heard, and there is scarcely a village that has not invited us to go to it.... And at last it is understood from our whole conduct that we have not come to buy skins or to carry on any traffic, but solely to teach them, and to procure for them their souls' health." Indian good will, however, was fickle, and before long the medicine men had fomented so much hostility that in a tribal council the Indians decided that the Jesuit priests must die. Once more the Indians were pacified.For six years Father Jogues labored here. He learned the language and ways of the Hurons, developed into a skilled woodsman with great stamina, and often went on missions. He and Garnier were chosen to go south to the Petun Indians, called the Tobacco Nation, with the Gospel, and he and Raymbault were sent to make the acquaintance of the Indians further north. On this latter trip, traversing uncharted lands and waterways, they may have been the first white men to stand on the shore of Lake Superior, at the site of the present city of Sault Ste. Marie. About 2,000 Ojibways were gathered there to celebrate their Feast of the Dead, and Jogues addressed them. He erected a cross facing west towards the country of the Sioux, who were settled around the headwaters of the Mississippi. This was thirty years before Pere Marquette set out to explore the great river. With the good will of the Indians in these parts gained, the way was prepared for Marquette and others, who were able to carry on their work without suffering martyrdom.Back on the Huron peninsula, near the mouth of the Wye River, the Jesuits established their main settlement, calling it Ste. Marie. A church, living quarters, a cemetery, a hospital, and a fort were eventually built, and a way of life that was half monastic, half patriarchal grew up in this remote spot. The surrounding lands were cleared and cultivated, food was stored against famine, and here the Indians came in times of sickness and trouble, as well as on Sundays and feast days. Although no tangible evidence of the Jesuits' enterprise survives today save a part of the foundation of the fort, archeologists are of the opinion that the buildings were well-designed and impressive; the achievement is noteworthy in view of the scarcity of materials and the primitive nature of the available tools. Here in the lonely north woods the missionaries tried to create order and organization and to demonstrate in their manner of life the teachings of their religion.The year 1642 brought a very poor harvest and much sickness among the Indians. Also Father Raymbault was ill and needed medical treatment. Father Jogues was appointed to lead an expedition to Quebec for supplies and reinforcements. The journey was safely made, but unfortunately they had been sighted on the way down by a Mohawk scouting party. The Mohawks were members of the confederation of Five Nations into which the great Iroquois people had banded themselves, and were the sworn enemies of the Hurons. More Mohawk warriors were recruited by the scouting party and they lay in wait for the Black Robes and their detested Huron converts as the flotilla traveled back upstream.Father Jogues was in command of the twelve canoes, carrying in all some forty persons; there were but three white men-William Couture, Rene Goupil, and himself. Goupil was a young Frenchman who had failed of admission to the Society of Jesus because of poor health, but he had nevertheless taken up the study of medicine and had come to Canada to offer his services to the missionaries. Couture was another layman of great courage and integrity. Among the company was a noted Huron chief, a Huron medicine man and his young niece Therese, who had been trained by the Ursulines in Quebec and was returning to teach her people. The canoes were loaded with vestments, altar vessels, bread and wine for the Eucharist, writing materials, tools, and food. About a day's journey beyond Trois Rivieres, the main body of warriors fell upon them, killing or maiming some and taking many prisoners, including the girl Therese. The more agile of the Hurons escaped to the woods. Father Jogues could also have escaped, but gave himself up when he saw that Goupil had been taken. Couture was singled out for severe torture later because in the fray he had slain a Mohawk leader.The white men and the Huron prisoners were led south to the home ground of the Mohawks in east central New York. At the southern end of Lake Champlain is a small island, now called Jogues Island, which is believed to have been the scene of barbarous cruelties inflicted on the prisoners. Jogues wrote: "We were made to go up from the shore between two lines of Indians who were armed with clubs, sticks, and knives. I was the last and blows were showered on me. I fell on the ground and thought my end had come, but they lifted me up all streaming with blood and carried me more dead than alive to the platform." Worse tortures followed. The Iroquois were especially cruel to the Huron converts. At this time and during subsequent torturings Father Jogues suffered the loss of two fingers.The horrible journey south continued. Their destination was Ossernenon, a village on the banks of the Mohawk River, a little above where the Schoharie flows into the larger stream. Known as the Lower Castle, it was in fact a very strong fortress which served to protect the Mohawks against their enemies as well as from the rigors of winter. It consisted of a double palisade, with a trench between, and, inside the enclosure, a number of communal dwellings called Long Houses, each of which was large enough to accommodate several families or clans. The captives were exposed to mistreatment there and in the other Mohawk villages of Teonontogen and Andaragon. Couture was left in one of them, while Jogues and Goupil were brought back to Ossernenon, where the Indians apparently intended to burn them alive. The news of their capture soon reached the Protestant Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam at the mouth of the Hudson, and Commandant Van Corlear came up in person to ransom them. His overtures were rejected, but the Indians decided not to kill such valuable captives—perhaps in the hope of getting an even higher ransom from the French.Before long, however, Goupil was tomahawked from behind by an Indian who had observed him making the sign of the cross on the head of an Indian girl, a gesture which, according to the Indian medicine men, brought bad luck. Jogues, who happened to be nearby, took the dying man in his arms, and gave him the last absolution before he died. The Indians snatched the body away from the grieving priest and concealed it in a stream. Guided by a friendly Indian, Jogues went in search of the corpse, and on finding it, hid it deeper in the stream, hoping to return and give it proper burial before he too was killed. The Indians thwarted him by destroying the body. Father Jogues wrote of the young doctor's death: "Thus on the 28th of September this angel of innocence and martyr of Jesus Christ was immolated in his thirty-fifth year, for Him who had given His life for his ransom. He had consecrated his heart and soul to God and his life and labor to the welfare of the poor Indians."Jogues' slavery lasted for more than a year. His record of it, written for his Superior, has been studied by scholars who are amazed at his endurance. "He would sometimes escape," Parkman wrote, ". . . and wander in the forest, telling his beads and repeating passages of Scripture. In a remote and lonely spot he cut the bark in the form of a cross from the trunk of a great tree; and here he made his prayers. This living martyr, half clad in shaggy furs, kneeling in the snow among the icicled rocks and beneath the gloomy pines, bowing in adoration before the emblem of his faith in which was his only consolation and his only hope, is alike a theme for the pen and a subject for the pencil." Later Jogues was to report to his spiritual guide, "The only sin I can remember during my captivity is that I sometimes looked on the approach of death with complacency." The Indians were not without respect for their strange captive, naming him "the indomitable one." He had at least one good friend among the Mohawks, an old woman whom he called "aunt." She tried to heal his wounds and to warn and protect him when danger threatened. His days were passed in menial work, learning the language, and comforting Huron prisoners who were sometimes brought in. He was taken on fishing and hunting expeditions, when he suffered much from hunger and exposure. As opportunity offered, he baptized children he found dying. During the year he baptized some seventy persons, New York State's first Catholic baptismal record.The Dutch hoped to rescue him, though they did not wish to jeopardize their own fairly peaceful relations with the Mohawks. Their efforts finally freed Jogues. His captors were lured into bringing him to Fort Orange, at Rensselaerwyck, now Albany. The Dutch told him on arrival that it would be possible to escape that night to a boat lying offshore in the Hudson which was ready to sail for Bordeaux. He and his Indian guards were to sleep in a Dutch farmer's big barn. Before dawn, guided by a farm hand, he picked his way over the sleeping Indians around him, and got to the river. Rowing out to the anchored vessel, he was taken on board and concealed. The enraged Mohawks were soon on his trail, threatening reprisals against the Dutch for their part in the affair. Learning of this, Jogues insisted on going back on shore. "If this trouble has been caused by me," he said, "I am ready to appease it at the loss of my life. I have never wished to escape if it meant injury to the least man in the colony." But the Indians were now persuaded to relinquish all claim to his person for the sum of 300 livres, which the Dutch paid. Yet Jogues' life continued in jeopardy, and for the next six weeks, while awaiting another boat, he was kept in close, uncomfortable confinement, befriended by the Dutch pastor, Dominie Megalolensis.At last, Jogues got passage down the river to New Amsterdam, on the island of "Manhatte." His descriptions of the fort and the town, now New York City, have been incorporated in the official records of the state. He was the first Catholic priest to visit the settlement, and to the two Catholics living there at the time he offered the comforts and rites of the Church. "No religion is publicly exercised here but the Calvinist," he noted, "and orders are to admit none but Calvinists; but this is not observed. There are in the colony Catholics, Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists, etc."On November 5, 1643, Jogues sailed, and towards the end of December reached the coast of Cornwall. He was able to get aboard a collier bound for France and on Christmas Day was put ashore in Brittany. Kindly people helped him reach the town of Rennes. At the rector's house, he sent word by a servant that he was the bearer of news from New France. Unknown to Jogues, his own fate was a matter of widespread concern in France, for the latest volume of had contained the details of his capture. When the rector came to the door, after an exchange of courtesies, he asked the shabbily-dressed man if he had known Father Jogues. "Very well indeed," was the answer. "Have they murdered him?" "No, Father, he is alive and free—and I am he!"The astonishing news spread quickly. Jogues reported to his superiors, and such was his fame that ladies, courtiers, and even the Queen Regent desired to meet him and do him honor. Jogues was received by Anne of Austria, and told his story. At its conclusion, the Queen arose and stooped to kiss the mutilated hands, which the priest habitually kept covered by the folds of his cassock. But public acclaim was the last thing the modest priest desired; he even refrained from going to see his mother, wishing to spare her the pain of another parting and the sight of his maimed hands. He feared that their condition would debar him from saying Mass, but Pope Urban VIII abrogated in his case the canonical ruling.Father Jogues' only desire was to get back to Canada, and in June, 1644, he was again in Quebec. From there he was sent to Montreal, to spend his time helping to build up that new outpost, until the cessation of warfare would permit him to return to the Hurons. Two years later an embassy of Iroquois came to Trois Rivieres to discuss terms of truce and the ransom of prisoners. Many fine speeches were made and gifts were exchanged. The Jesuit priest participated in these conclaves. After the deliberations were concluded, the French thought it prudent to send a conciliatory deputation to meet with other Iroquois chieftains at Ossernenon. This embassy was led by Father Jogues and Sieur Jean Bourdon, an engineer, who represented the government of New France. "Oh, how I should regret to lose so glorious an occasion," wrote the priest to his superior before starting, "when it may depend only on me that some souls be saved! I hope that His goodness, which has not abandoned me in the hour of trial, will aid me still."The party traveled south, stopping first at Fort Orange, where the priest saw again his Dutch friends and reimbursed them for his ransom of the year before. The Dutch were astonished to learn that he was going back to the scene of his painful captivity Ondessonk indeed deserved his name! The Mohawks, too, when he appeared among them, were impressed by his courage and disarmed by his gentleness, for he showed no trace of ill-will. The old "aunt" greeted with friendly words the man who had been the tribe's despised captive and who now returned as an envoy of peace. "With us you will always have a mat to lie on and a fire to warm yourself," she told him. Gifts were exchanged between Frenchmen and Indians, and belts of wampum offered for the release of the Hurons held captive. Thus the purpose of the visit was achieved, the pact confirmed, and Jogues went back to Quebec. He was to return to spend the winter among the Mohawks, now that friendly relations were established.In the meanwhile, after Jogues and Bourdon had left Ossernenon, an epidemic broke out, caterpillars ate the crops, and famine threatened. As usual, the Mohawks blamed all their troubles on Black Coat, even though, on his latest trip, he had not worn priestly garb. But had he not left with them a mysterious box? True, he had showed them its contents, which consisted of personal necessaries, but he had locked it up and asked them to keep it. No doubt a devil was concealed in the box, to bring upon them all manner of evils. They threw the box into the river. Totally unaware of the mounting tension and antagonism, Jogues, with John Lalande, a lay missionary, once more started south for Ossernenon. On the trail they were met by a party of Mohawks on the warpath. The three or four Hurons serving Jogues as guides turned back to escape capture, while the two Frenchmen were led on as prisoners. At Ossernenon Jogues' arguments seemed to affect his hearers. "I am a man like yourselves," he replied to their charges. "I do not fear death or torture. I do not know why you wish to kill me. I come here to confirm the peace and show you the way to Heaven, and you treat me like a dog." In the councils the majority were ready to give the brave Ondessonk his freedom, but the minority faction, members of the Bear clan, took matters into their own hands. They invited Jogues to pay them a visit, and as he unsuspectingly entered the cabin of the Bear chief, he was brutally tomahawked. The next day Lalande met the same fate, and both bodies were thrown into a nearby ravine. Their heads were cut off and placed on poles facing the trail by which they had come, as if in warning to other Black Robes. When the news of the martyrdom was carried to Fort Orange, the Dutch pastor hastened to Ossernenon to denounce the Mohawks for their crime. Later on some of the Indians went to the fort with Father Jogues' breviary, missal, and cassock, hoping to make a profitable trade, and the pastor again censured them.The Iroquois now once more began to attack and plunder the Huron villages, sparing neither Christians nor non-Christians. Garnier, Daniel, Gabriel, Lalemant, and Brebeuf were killed. But in the Mohawk Valley the example of Jogues' heroism was not forgotten, for the gentle priest had possessed in high degree the virtue the Indians most admired, bravery. And when, some years later, there was peace, the three Jesuit priests sent from Canada to establish the Mission of the Martyrs were well received. Before long Mohawk converts were traveling to the seminary in Quebec to be trained as Christian leaders. Today, near the town of Auriesville, New York, which on the best archeological authority is accepted as the site of Ossernenon, there is a famous Catholic shrine and pilgrimage place. It was dedicated in 1885 to the Martyrs of North America and to their Indian converts. Here pilgrims come to honor the memory of the Jesuits of the seventeenth century who faced death in the wilderness. The eight martyrs—Jogues, Lalande, Brebeuf, Lalemant, Garnier, Daniel, Goupil, and Chabanel—were solemnly beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1930.
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TODAY'S GOSPEL- OCT. 19- Luke 12: 35 - 38
Luke 12: 35 - 3835"Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.37Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
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