10/19/2021 – North American Martyrs

Today is the feast of the North American Martyrs.

These Jesuits of the 17th century left France to fulfill the Lord’s “Great Commission” to go out to the whole world to preach the Good News.

In accepting the mission they accepted martyrdom, trusting that God would give them the grace and placing their lives in the hands of the Blessed Virgin. Each one of them was girded with her rosary.

These two excerpts give us a glimpse of Rosary in their lives.

One of the martyrs Fr Isaac Jogues’ “total concern is for all those within reach of his love and compassion:… none whatsoever for himself. He was noted for his long hours of quiet prayer on his journeys and for saying the Rosary with his companions. This prayer life must have given him the vision to, as we say, “put his priorities in the right place!” (catholictradition.org)

One of St Isaac Jogues companion’s was Rene Goupil, a layman. Rene would be the first fruit of the mission. Fr Isaac Jogues describes his martyrdom:

“One evening with sad hearts, René and I went beyond the village stockade to pray more reverently apart from its noise. Two Indian youths came after us ordering us to go back to our long house.

I sensed some foreboding of what would happen and said to René:

‘My dear brother, let us commend ourselves to our Lord and to our dear Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I am afraid these Indians have some evil design…

“A few minutes earlier René and I had offered ourselves to Our Lord with intense devotion. We begged God to accept our lives and our blood, and to unite them to His life and His blood for the salvation of these pagan tribes.

We were returning to the village, praying our Rosary, of which we had already said four decades…”We paused at the gate of the stockade to hear what the two Iroquois had to say. One of them drew a tomahawk from under his blanket, and dealt René a blow on the head. René fell prostrate to the ground, uttering the holy Name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. We had often reminded each other to end our speech and our lives with that most holy Name…

“At the sound of the blow I turned around and beheld the tomahawk dripping with blood. I fell to my knees to receive the blow that would unite me to my dear companion. The Iroquois delayed. I rose again and rushed to René’s side as he lay expiring, but not before I had given him absolution. Since our captivity I had absolved him regularly every other day after his confession…

”These and the other North American Martyrs relied on the rosary.

They prayed on the beads they brought from home, they prayed it with knotted ropes and strings of nuts and seeds. After they were captured and they could no longer celebrate Mass or pray their breviary they still had the rosary. They counted the Aves, with pebbles, sticks, with their fingers. When they hadn’t these because their hands were bound or like Fr Isaac when his fingers were bitten off, the rosary could still continue to the end.

P.S. Another meeting with Dr Blythe Kaufman in relation to setting up Children’s Rosary groups around Ireland will take place this evening at 8pm. Here is the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84391513600?pwd=ZVpOTGZBZXVsZWxId2svVHNtV1RNdz09