Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Today we celebrate the feast of the North American Martyrs, Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and their six companions, 17th century Jesuits who were put to death in a most cruel fashion. They are not as popular as they once were because it is not politically correct to say that native people did naughty things, even to men who had the audacity to assert their religious beliefs were superior to the indigenous creeds. The letters of these men stimulated a veritable religious revival in France, particularly among the young. It is a pity today their memoirs, letters and sketches gather dust on forgotten shelves. They have the same potential today that they did almost four hundred years ago. Pray they be rediscovered especially by the young whose interests seem limited by board games.
These eight Jesuit martyrs can teach us a further lesson about social justice, a topic some times as popular as board games and often as shallow. They were able to cut through ethnic, political, economic and social structures to focus on the real disadvantaged – those who did not know Christ and his message of spiritual liberation. Sincere humanitarians frequently do just as good – or even a better – job dealing with social justice problems than self-anointed social justice apostles, but only the man or woman committed to Christ can detect the relationship between evangelization and genuine human advancement. Pray today that more men and woman like the North American Martyrs become teachers in our grade schools, high schools and colleges.