19 October – Saints John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions
John de Brebeuf (1593–1649) was a French Jesuit. He wanted to enter the priesthood since young, but his health was so bad there were doubts he could make it. His posting as a missionary to frontier Canada at the age of 32 was a literal godsend. He spent the rest of his life there, and the harsh and hearty climate so agreed with him that the Natives, surprised at his endurance, called him “Echon”, which means “load bearer”. His massive size made them think twice about sharing a canoe with him for fear of sinking.
John had great difficulty learning the Huron language. “You may have been a famous professor or theologian in France,” he wrote in a letter home, “but here you will merely be a student, and with what teachers! The Huron language will be your Aristla crosse.” However, he eventually wrote a catechism in Huron, and a French-Huron dictionary for use by other missionaries.
According to the histories of the game, it was John who named the present-day version of the Indian game “lacrosse” because the stick used reminded him of a bishop’s crosier (la crosse).
He was martyred in 1649, tortured to death by the Iroquois. By 1650, the Huron nation was exterminated, and the laboriously built mission was abandoned. But it proved to be “one of the triumphant failures that are commonplace in the Church’s history”. These martyrdoms created a wave of vocations and missionary fervour in France, and it gave new heart to the missionaries in New France.
– Patron Saint Index
Since God had made him a promise, Abraham refused either to deny it or even to doubt it, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to God, convinced that God had power to do what he had promised. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’ Scripture however does not refer only to him but to us as well when it says that his faith was thus ‘considered’; our faith too will be ‘considered’ if we believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Jesus who was put to death for our sins and raised to life to justify us.
A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’
Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?.” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’
…take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time!
We celebrated our Family Day today at the Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) with a raucous party including praise & worship, mass, ‘Telematch’-style games and then a buffet lunch with games thrown in. It was truly heart-warming to see members aged 3 to 80-plus laughing, bonding and truly letting our hair down. While the theme was ‘Balik Kampung’ (literally, ‘Back to the Village’), we were told to dress in batik, stripes, checks or polka dots. As you can imagine, there was much laughter when we greeted each other.
The organising committee truly put in tremendous effort to dress up the centre so that it looked like a ‘kampung’, replete with a hammock, rattan furniture, and old school games. But unlike the rich man in the gospel passage, I am sure the committee didn’t have the luxury of a huge budget to fund the entire day. Truly, the Lord provided for us – from the haze-free conditions so that the outdoor games could go on, to the prizes for the games and the sumptuous fare at lunch, I could feel the Holy Spirit moving among us. As our spitirual director, Fr Erbin exhorted during his homily – we must come together as a family, as a community and not see each other as separate ministries performing different functions during our retreat. For that is what the Lord wants from us, to be united in love and as one body so that His spirit can work among us and that his graces can pour forth in abundance.
I wrote about how we recently welcomed three new members to my team at work and how I had to surrender my situation to the Lord so that He could guide me along. In the ensuing two weeks, I have observed how the ‘older’ members (they have been with me longest) are guiding the more senior ‘newbies’ and they are beginning to form bonds among themselves. It is never easy when new people join a team, especially when they are quite senior in rank. Yet, my staff have risen to the challenge and, in spite of their lower ‘rank’, they have taken the initiative to guide the new staff and share their knowledge freely. In the process, I have observed how they have banded together during lunch to go out or to share a meal together. I am looking forward to the day when we can all eat, drink and be merry as a team of 10 who have gone through enough shared experiences together.
I am glad that my initial misgivings and fears were unfounded and can only give thanks to the Lord for His guidance during this time. I pray that He continues to lead me during the upcoming few weeks and months when more and more, I will be called upon to take on heavier responsibilities. The initial bonding among the team is critical to our success and I pray that He continues to unite us as one so that when it comes time to celebrate our achievements at the end of the year, we can all look back and truly appreciate each other and the contributions that each has made to the team.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: We pray for patience, wisdom and guidance through our daily struggles and that our heavenly Father continues to watch over us and to protect us from all harm.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the angels that you send our way to help us bear our daily crosses.