Thought for the Day – 16 March
Potential martyrdom was a central component of the Jesuit missionary identity. Missionaries going to Canada knew they were at risk from harsh conditions, as well as from confronting alien cultures. They expected to die in the name of God; they believed the missionary life and its risks was a chance to save converts and thus be saved themselves. The Jesuits Christophe Regnault and Paul Ragueneau provided the two accounts of the deaths of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement. According to Regnault, the Jesuits learned of the tortures and deaths from Huron refugee witnesses, who had escaped from Saint-Ignace. Regnault went to see the bodies to verify the accounts and his superior Rageuneau’s account was based on his report. The main accounts of Brébeuf’s death come from the Jesuit Relations. Jesuit accounts of his torture emphasize his stoic nature and acceptance, claiming that he suffered silently without complaining. Throughout the torture, Brébeuf was reported to have been more concerned for the fate of the other Jesuits and of the captive Native converts than for himself. As part of the ritual, the Iroquois drank his blood, as they wanted to absorb Brébeuf’s courage in enduring the pain. The Iroquois mocked baptism by pouring boiling water over his head.
Is it even a tiny iota of our faith to know and be prepared to die such a death for Christ? When we suffer and are persecuted, in the smallest way compared to this, compared to the Cross of Christ, do we grow in faith and courage and pray for more?
St Jean de Brebeuf please pray that we may all grow in faith and courage!