Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
I would like to welcome all of our guests to Old St. Mary’s today as Cincinnati celebrates its annual Oktoberfest. Willkommen in der alten Marienkirche!
Several years ago, and again over this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Shrine of the North American Martyrs’ in Auriesville, New York. This shrine is the place where not only was St. Issac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil, and St. John de Lalande were martyred in their attempt to bring the faith to the Native Americans, but this is also the place where St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born and converted to the faith. Unlike New York City, Auriesville has not changed its scenery much since the days of the North American Martyrs. A tranquil and reflective place, one can still sense the spirit of these early Jesuit missionaries as you walk the grounds of the shrine and know that you are walking among the saints in our own country. So often we think we can only do so in Europe, but the United States has places where those who have been raised to the altar of the saints have walked.
The sacrifice that these saints made, as they left their own native country of France, to come and proclaim the faith to those who had yet to hear the name of Jesus, speaks to their great charity. They gave up homeland, comfort, family, and friends because they loved Christ so much, they were willing to go wherever He asked. They did not have the luxury of smartphones, email, fast postal service, even landlines. They left home with no certain expectation of ever speaking to their families or friends again. Because it was only the love of Christ that urged them on, prepared to make whatever sacrifice was necessary to proclaim the Gospel.
It was only this intense charity that could have allowed them to give up their lives for Christ. They could have denied Him, but they didn’t. Because they knew their lives were not worth as much as the truth. And so, for the conversion of their captors, they freely offered their lives for Christ. Joining the long legacy and memory of all the martyrs throughout the history of the Church.
May we strive to model our lives after theirs, even as we continue to enjoy our own family and friends, and the comfort of our lives. We can, however, still love Christ as much as they did. Ensuring that even as we continue to live our regular lives, that we are prepared to offer whatever it is that may be asked of us for the faith. We make so many sacrifices for other things. We make sacrifices for sports, music and dance practices, social clubs, work, school events. Are we ready to make, even if small, sacrifices for Christ and His Church? Would we be prepared to offer the ultimate sacrifice of our lives for the sake of the good and the true?
These are questions we each need to contemplate as we remember these early pioneers that helped bring the Catholic Faith to our country. We remember them on September 26 on the Traditional Roman Calendar and on October 19 on the General Roman Calendar. May they pray for us!