Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mors Artis in Mickey's Diner

Neither the French nor the Jesuits will ever appear on my short list of favorites. However, I bow head and knee for this October 19th memorial of Sts. John de Brebeuf, Issac Jogues, and the North American Martyrs. They were Jesuit missionaries slaughtered in the mid 1600's by Huron and Iroquois.

Here is an excerpt from BreBeuf's private diary.

For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.Jesus, my Lord and savior, what can I give you in return for all the favors you have first conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name. I vow before your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier-in truth I vow to you, Jesus my savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.

I bind myself in this way so that for the rest of my life I will have neither permission nor freedom to refuse opportunities of dying and shedding my blood for you, unless at a particular juncture I should consider it more suitable for your glory to act otherwise at that time. Further, I bind myself to this so that, on receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit. For this reason, my beloved Jesus, and because of the surging joy which moves me, here and now I offer my blood and body and life. May I die only for you, if you will grant me this grace, since you willingly died for me. Let me so live that you may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and savior, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

I doubt that any of us who read these lines will ever be called to experience the full blinding force of offering ourselves through a bloody death to the Father in union with His Beloved Son. However, we will all experience the little deaths which prepare us for the Final Journey.

Today I ate lunch at Mickey's Diner in downtown St. Paul. I am not in the habit of going there often, especially in midday. Too cramped. Too poor. Too crowded. Too real. Today I sat at the counter and watched and listened as a variety of small dramas unfolded around me. The man next to me had been attacked in his Frogtown apartment. A few seats down a young man worked pensively on some paperwork. I wondered why his brow was so furrowed. A variety of street people, all of us gathered with our various unseen troubles in that sheet metal shelter from the cold and damp, a few feet away from the Dorothy Day Center across the street.

I considered the disapointments which these folk around me were called upon to face. They were challenged to find warmth and shelter, food and love. My own small struggles pale by comparison, less basic, more narcissistic than theirs. But what we will all share in common is that this is the messy and seemingly unending road to Life, paved with little irritants and big stumbling blocks and fraught with worrisome events. And it all turns us to the Cross, and the One who died there for us.

Jesus, my Lord and savior, what can I give you in return for all the favors you have first conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name.


Anonymous said...

I know very little about the saints you mentioned, so I really appreciate the insight you provided into St.John Brebeuf. What a beautiful passage. Praying like that could form one's heart to accept and embrace suffering, don't you think?

Phil B. said...

So true. So often, even though the saints may be distant from us in time and/or geography and culture, I find myself resonating with their self- offering to God. I pray we could all give ourselves more totally to God and others in service.... which is the essence of sainthood. It's what our Lord did.

If you read what Mother Teresa wrote, quoted in today's post, that message comes through loud and clear, and couched in terms directed to us Westerners. Peace.