From Weedy@21:1/5 to All on Wed May 5 23:41:00 2021
Spiritual Progress Draws Detractors
"People who change their way of life and begin to think about making
spiritual progress also begin to suffer from the tongues of
Whoever has not yet suffered this trial has not yet made progress, and
whoever is not ready to suffer it does not even endeavor to progress."
--St. Augustine--Commentary on Psalm 119, 3
Prayer: Come to my aid, O God, the one eternal, true reality! In you
there is no strife, no disorder, no change, no need, and no death;
only supreme clarity, supreme permanence, supreme fullness, and
--St. Augustine--Soliloquies 1, 1
May 6th - St. Francis de Laval, Canada’s First Shepherd
New France at one time embraced all of North America apart from the
American seaboard and the Hispanic Southwest. Eventually its control
receded, but it had meanwhile established the Province of Quebec as a Francophile and Catholic territory. Francis Laval, the first bishop of
Quebec, had had a strong influence in confirming its Gallic character
and Catholic identity.
His full name was Francois de Montmorency Laval. He was born in
Normandy, the third son of a soldier of high aristocratic level.
Destined for the priesthood according to custom, but also according to
his own content, Francis entered the royal college of LaFleche, the
most famous of French Jesuit schools, at the age of nine. At age 12,
according to the contemporary church practice, he was admitted to the
clergy and named a canon of Evreux by his uncle, the bishop of that
diocese. At 19 he transferred to the Jesuit College de Clermont in
Paris for his theological studies. There he associated with a number
of zealous young seminarians who would eventually found the Seminary
of Foreign Missions. Laval would have been ordained a priest before
1647, but the death in quick succession of his father and two older
brothers left him heir to the family responsibilities, and he had to
take time off to attend to them. Meanwhile, named archdeacon of the
diocese of Evreux, he attended devotedly to the duties of that
In 1653, Pope Innocent X appointed him vicar apostolic of Tonkin,
Indochina, today Vietnam. (French Jesuits had established a stable
mission there as early as 1615.) But ecclesiastical intrigue, war,
traveling conditions, and renewed family obligations conspired against
his setting out at once for Asia. From 1655 to 1658 he lived at the “Hermitage”, a retreat house at Caen, in the practice of piety and
good works. This stay brought him into close contact with some of the
leading spiritual reformers of the time. He was deeply influenced by
the teachings of Jean de Bernieres-Bertigny, the lay mystic who had
founded the “Hermitage”.
Finally Rome named him titular bishop of Petraea and vicar apostolic,
not of Tonkin but of Quebec! Consecrated a bishop in Paris on December
8, 1658, he arrived in Quebec City June 16, 1659.
At that time French Canada was a typical frontier settlement. Quebec
City had only 500 inhabitants, and Canada no more than 2200 souls, all struggling to make a living but fearful of being destroyed at any
moment by the Iroquois Indians. The colony needed, above all, a strong shepherd. Laval proved to be the ideal leader: a churchman of vision,
a patriot who was still not afraid to defend the Church when civil
officials interfered; a nobleman who could command, yet was himself a
pattern of humility and devotion.
The new Vicar Apostolic left the Indian missions in the care of his
friends the Jesuits, although he later invited Recollect Franciscans
to work in the local mission field. He personally baptized in a solemn ceremony, one of the outstanding Iroquois converts, the noble Onondaga chieftain Garakontie. He was tireless in his visitations, which
entailed difficult travels through wild country. He encouraged the
Catholics to practice religious devotions, especially to the Holy
Family, the Immaculate Conception, and Saint Anne (the cult of St.
Anne developed at Beaupre during his episcopate).
Laval’s focus on education was thorough and durable. He set up a
complete educational system: primary, classical and technical, largely
with his personal funds. He also founded a seminary (1663) that became
both the source and center of his diocesan priesthood, and an
institution paralleling the famous Seminary of Foreign Missions in
France. Out of his seminary would arise, in 1852, Laval University,
which subsequently acquired a Montreal branch as well. In 1668 the
bishop also initiated a minor seminary. Obedient to the instructions
of the King, he admitted Native American boys as candidates for the
priesthood to this “little seminary”, but priestly and religious
vocations would always be rare among the Indians. In 1674 Quebec was
created a diocese, the first in Canada, and Msgr. Laval was, of
course, named its bishop.
Laval’s greatest struggle was against the liquor trade. The liquor
merchants exploited the Indians’ weakness for firewater, and were in
danger of corrupting them completely. Eventually, after much
consultation, Bishop Laval decreed excommunication for those liquor
sellers whose greed made them enemies of all Canadian society.
Excommunication helped solve the problem, but it gained for Laval many
enemies in business and government.
The first bishop of Quebec loved Canada and contributed greatly not
only to its piety but to good government, law enforcement, and even
military security. In 1688 he retired, worn out by his tireless
efforts. Personally, he was devout, self-denying, and devoted to the
On June 22, 1980, he was declared “blessed” by Pope John Paul II.
Beatified on this same occasion were Marie Guyard, foundress of the
Canadian Ursulines, and Kateri Tekakwitha, “Lily of the Mohawks”. They
were three great heroes of pioneer Quebec!
Take care not to meddle in things which do not concern you, nor even
allow them to pass through your mind; for perhaps you will not then be
able to fulfil your own task.
--St. John of the Cross
He who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is truthful, and there
is no injustice in him. (John 7:18)
Hail, O Mother!
By St John Chrysostom (347-407)
Hail, O Mother!
Virgin, heaven, throne, glory of our Church,
it’s foundation and ornament.
Earnestly pray for us to Jesus,
your Son and Our Lord,
that through your intercession,
we may have mercy on the day of judgement.
Pray that we may receive, all those good things
which are reserved for those who love God.
Through the grace and favour of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
be power, honour and glory,
now and forever.