The Society of Jesus, most popularly known as the Jesuits, is one of the strongest and most important religious communities in the Catholic Church. Founded by Ignatius Loyola, it grew rapidly and actively involved itself in every activity of Church life. Today, when we think of the Jesuits, many of us tend to think of the Jesuits as academicians teaching in the many colleges and universities that they have established across the world. They have 27 separate universities just in the United States. What an accomplishment!
However, the Jesuits are also among the greatest missionaries in the life of the Church over the last four centuries. This week, we are reminded of that fact because today we celebrate the memory of St. John de Brebeauf and St. Isaac Jogues, two extraordinary missionaries who courageously worked among the Huron Indians in Canada and the Iroquois in New York. After years of exhausting missionary activity, these two brave men would ultimately be killed by the people among whom they were working.
Some of us wake up on Sunday morning and if there is a hard rain, we decide that we will cut Mass this week and “catch up” next Sunday. When we are faced with a temptation like that, we ought to think about the extraordinary generosity of those who helped to build the faith in North America. The Jesuits were among the best!