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witness

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 19, 2007

Sjödin's Casual Minister line of clerical leisure wear hasn't made it to the apparel department of my local Wal-Mart yet, but for all that it suggests the ancient quarrel between the urgency of Christian discipleship and the comforts of worldliness has, in some quarters at least, been put to rest.

The triumph of Casual Ministry has a special poignancy on October 19th as the feast day of Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf and their companions: Jesuit missionaries who gave their lives while serving in New France (Southeastern Canada and Northeastern United States) in the 17th century. The following account is condensed from the Catholic Encyclopedia article on St. Isaac Jogues, who as a Jesuit had been a teacher of literature at Rouen before he was sent to the New World:

[After six years of missionary work in New France] Father Jogues was taken prisoner on 3 August, 1642, and after being tortured was carried to the Indian village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk, about forty miles above the present city of Albany. There he remained for thirteen months in slavery. The Dutch Calvinists at Fort Orange (Albany) made constant efforts to free him, and at last, when he was about to be burnt to death, induced him to take refuge in a sailing vessel which carried him to New Amsterdam. From there he was sent across the ocean and landed Christmas morning, 1643, on the coast of Brittany. Thence he found his way to the nearest college of the Society. He was received with great honor at the court of the Queen Regent and was allowed by Pope Urban VII the very exceptional privilege of celebrating Mass, which the mutilated condition of his hands had made canonically impossible; several of his fingers having been eaten or burned off.*

In early spring of 1644 he returned to Canada, and in 1646 was sent to negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He followed the same route over which he had been carried as a captive. He was well received by his former captors and the treaty of peace was made. He started for Quebec on 16 June and arrived there 3 July. He immediately asked to be sent back to the Iroquois as a missionary, but only after much hesitation his superiors acceded to his request. The Iroquois met him near Lake George, stripped him naked, slashed him with their knives, beat him and then led him to the village. On 18 October, 1646, when entering a cabin he was struck with a tomahawk and afterwards decapitated. The head was fixed on the Palisades and the body thrown into the Mohawk. Jogues was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930, with seven other North American martyrs.

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*A helpful safeguard against over-accessorizing.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 20, 2007 1:47 PM ET USA

    She looks like a young Diana Rigg (from the Avengers) in her "cat" suite. If you don't agree with female ordination she will no doubt use a casual karate kick!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 20, 2007 11:09 AM ET USA

    ". . . the Iroquois aroused Gabriel [Lalemant] from a spell of resting and resumed their torments. They forced fiery faggots into his mouth, sliced off his tongue, gouged out his eyes, and filled the sockets with glowing coals." -from Saints of the American Wilderness, by John O'Brien, p. 165. Eyes thus treated would benefit little from those trendy glasses our model wears. And eye-gouging is just murder on mascara.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 12:00 PM ET USA

    These saints of the counter-reform are indeed a stark contrast to self-indulgent, comfort-loving "casual ministers." A few vivid scenes of Fr. Jogues are included in the movie "Blackrobe" (1991). That is perhaps the only cinematic portrayal (and also the most realistic) of this early time in North American history.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 11:40 AM ET USA

    It is also my understanding that in his last mission to the Iroquois that their shamans held St. Isaac Jogues in utter awe and fear due to his gentle fortitude and profound presence that was beyond anything that they had witnessed. And the Iroqouis were masters of torturing their victims--mostly from other tribes especially the nearby Huron. I assume that the lady in the photo is modeling for Halloween?

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