Snowy? Retreat

I’m anxious for the week to move along, as I’m attending our Knights of Columbus annual retreat this weekend.  Each year Fr. Foster Council 9518 of Ralston, NE hosts a retreat in the middle of winter at the  Creighton University Retreat Center in Griswold, IA.  The retreat center is a former Boy Scout Camp, and has been enhanced, expanded, and improved for many years under the direction of Fr. David Smith, SJ.  The center is owned and operated by the Jesuits of Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Our Council believes that the work we do must be grounded in a genuine spirituality.  The Knights of Columbus aren’t just do-gooders; they are Catholic gentlemen seeking to serve Christ among us in a variety of ways.  Find out more about the Knights of Columbus here.

I’ve attended the retreat for many years, and have always been delighted by the wildlife encountered during the weekend.  The main chapel, named after Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, features floor-to-ceiling windows along the south side.  I’ve yet to attend Mass there without seeing deer moving through the forest.  I’m hoping to encounter some this weekewinter-retreat1nd, too.

Retreats are important for anyone serious about the spiritual life.  It’s important for us to tithe some of our time each year to listen to the voice of the Lord, and to draw close to God in a pronounced and unhurried manner.

I remember being in Rome during the Jubilee (Holy) Year 2000 – signs were posted at all the basilicas reminding everyone (in multiple languages) that a pilgrimage is about an interior journey of the heart, not just a physical vacation of the body.

If you haven’t been on a retreat lately, take some time to schedule one right now.  It’s a New Year’s Resolution worth keeping.  If you’ve never been on a retreat, drop me a line for some suggestions, or contact your diocesan family life office.  They can share with you what is available in your area.

Please pray for me this weekend, I’ll be like a deer longing for running water . . .

Categories: Jesuits, Saints, Theology | Tags: , | 3 Comments

The blood of the martyrs . . .

In his work Apologeticum written in 197 Tertullian included this famous line, “the blood of the matyrs is the seed of the Church.” (Chapter 50)

 Nothing could be more true, and the truth of his famous line is shown in both today’s feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, as well as Friday on the feast of the [Jesuit] North American Martyrs.

 Last night during RCIA I shared with the class the vast size of the Catholic Church, and how it all began with the immediate followers of Jesus, the Apostles.  Many of the early Christians were martyrs, and at given times of Roman persecution, MOST of the Christians were martyred.

The incredibly high number of those willing to give their lives for their belief in Jesus Christ is awe-inspiring.  It’s also historical proof of the validity of the Gospel.  One or two fanatics might follow a false messiah, but thousands and thousands of them attest to the truth.  The truth of the Son of God, and what He did for all the world.

The witness we honor today (martyr is the Greek word for witness) was killed in 107.  He was sent a message to come back to Rome and face accusations.  He knew he would be killed, but he went anyway.  He took his deacons with him, and wrote letters to various churches on the journey.  He faced his death with bravery and an unwavering dedication to his Savior.

The North American Martyrs were eight Jesuit missionaries slaughtered for their belief in Christ by Huron and Iroquois Indians in the middle of the 17th century.  The very same fortitude that brought Ignatius to the Coliseum animated these Jesuit missionaries as they preached the Gospel in the New World.  Even though separated by over 1,500 years, the intensity of belief, and the willingness to give up everything for their Lord, links these witnesses together forever.

Pray for us, holy witnesses to the Truth – your example inspires awe in us on this very day!

Categories: Catechetics, Jesuits, Saints | Leave a comment

Week of Witnesses

This week is one filled with witnesses. A week of red vestments at the liturgy. A week of powerful examples for us all to model our lives after.

The Greek word for ““witness”” is martyr, and the liturgical calendar this week features three feast days of martyrs:

  • Monday, Oct 17th St. Ignatius of Antioch
  • Tuesday, Oct 18th St. Luke
  • Wednesday, Oct 19th Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues & their companions

St. Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch (Peter was the first), and the person that first used the term “Catholic” to describe the Church. Like most of the Apostolic Fathers, he was martyred for his faith in Jesus. He was killed by animals in the Flavian Amphitheatre, more commonly known as the Coliseum in 107.

St. Luke was both an Evangelist, writing a the Gospel attributed to him, as well as the Acts of the Apostles, and a companion of the Apostle Paul. He gave his life in witness to our Lord Jesus in Greece, where he was crucified, probably on an olive tree.

Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions were French Jesuit missionaries serving in Canada from 1625 to 1649, when they were were martyred — some tortured to death, others decapitated. This group of eight Jesuits became known as the North American Martyrs, and were canonized in 1930. The names of the companions were: John de la Lande, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, Anthony Daniel, Rene Goupil and Noel Chabanel.

Some people might think that the days of the martyrs are long gone. That most of the martyrs came during the early formation of the Church, and the ensuing persecutions by various Roman emperors. While it is true that many were martyred during these times; unfortunately the days of the martyrs are anything but over.

There are more martyrs of the 20th century then any previous century in the life of the Church. Thousands of new martyrs have offered their lives even in these latter days, primarily in Africa and Asia. Christianity is persecuted in many countries even today, with torture being used commonly against Christians.

Take a moment and pray for our brothers and sisters who suffer so badly because of their belief in Christ; they need our prayers and support. How beautiful a world it will be when all are afforded religious freedom. Until that day we will continue to have fearless role models that make present today the same fire and fervor that Ignatius, Luke and the Canadian Jesuits exhibited.

Pray for us, holy martyrs of God!

Categories: Catechetics, Etymology, Jesuits, Saints | Leave a comment

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