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The North American Martyrs: Testament to Authentic Evangelization

The Second Vatican Council, citing the words of Christ – “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19) – decrees: “Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body” (Ad Gentes, 7).

At a time when this authentic mission of the Church – as defined by Vatican II and reaffirmed by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II as the “new evangelization” – is confronted with compromise by a creeping religious indifferentism, it is edifying to reflect on the preeminent mission of the North American Martyrs.

Saint among the Hurons: The Life of Jean de Brébeuf, by Fr. Francis X. Talbot, S.J. (1949),* tells the story of the early seventeenth century French Jesuits who with heroic fidelity to Christ’s commission to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), did proclaim authentically, unambiguously, the Good News to several indigenous tribes around Lake Ontario in North America.

St. Jean and his confreres shared a fervent resolve to bring to the native people of New France nothing less than the salvation of their immortal souls, to deliver these abjectly fallen humans from the profound oppressions of original sin – from spiritual and moral destitution and bondage.

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