Monsignor Yennock on Columbus and The New World / The Apostles and The New World - October 18, 2015

Oct 19, 2015

COLUMBUS AND THE NEW WORLD

THE APOSTLES AND THE NEW WORLD

OCTOBER 18, 2015

AS MOST OF THE 50 STATES OBSERVED COLUMBUS DAY LAST MONDAY. AT LEAST NINE CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES OBSERVED INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY EVEN THOUGH THE UNITED NATIONS IN 1994 HAD ALREADY ESTABLISHED AUGUST 9 AS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.

MANY NATIVE AMERICANS PROTESTED THE HONORING OF COLUMBUS AS THEY PROTESTED THE CANONIZATION OF THE FRANCISCAN MISSIONARY FR. JUNIPERO SERRA.

SOME NATIVE AMERICANS CLAIM THAT HONORING COLUMBUS CELEBRATES THE VIOLENCE AND DEATH TO NATIVE AMERICANS AT THE HANDS OF THE EUROPEAN CONQUERERS. THEY ALSO RESENT THE LOSS OF THEIR CULTURE AND THEIR LANDS.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS NOT A SAINT, AND HE COMMITTED MANY SINS, NONE OF WHICH ANY RATIONAL PERSON WOULD EVER CONDONE. NOR WOULD ANYONE EVER CONDONE THE HORRENDOUS ACTS PERPETRATED BY THE MILLIONS OF SPANISH, DUTCH, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH ADVENTURERS, EXPLORERS, PIONEERS, AND EVEN MISSIONARIES OF COLUMBUS' ERA AND THEREAFTER.

WE HOPE THAT SOME DAY MEN WILL LEARN THE WORDS OF JESUS THAT IT IS THE TRUTH THAT SETS US FREE NOT THE SWORD. WE WHO LIVE IN THIS PRESENT AGE MUST ASK OURSELVES IF THE SWORD OF THE CONQUISTADORES CAME WITHOUT THE CROSS OF THE MISSIONARIES MIGHT THERE HAVE BEEN MORE CARNAGE AND MORE SLAVERY?

WE MUST NOT PRETEND THAT THE NATIVE PEOPLES WERE LIVING IN HARMONY AND IN PEACE WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH NATURE. HISTORY IS A WITNESS TO THE FACT THAT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA ALSO WERE NO SAINTS. FOR EXAMPLE MANY OF THESE CULTURES PERFORMED HUMAN SACRIFICE AND WERE GUILTY OF HORRIFIC ATROCITIES THEMSELVES. THE EXPLORERS DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES THAT THOSE PEOPLE DID NOT DO TO ONE ANOTHER. EVEN THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DID NOT ESCAPE THE SCOURGE OF ORIGINAL SIN.

WE REMEMBER COLUMBUS, BY A NATIONAL HOLIDAY. BUT OUR FOCUS IS LESS ON A MAN THAN ON A MOMENT AND AN EVENT IN HISTORY. THIS MOMENT IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY WAS MOMENTOUS BECAUSE IT OPENED UP THE WATERWAYS FOR THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL.

THIS EVENT IN HISTORY CAN BE COMPARED TO WHAT THE ROMAN ARMIES DID IN THE CENTURIES BEFORE CHRIST. THEY OPENED UP THE WATERWAYS AND THE HIGHWAYS TO SPAIN, TO AFRICA, TO NORTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPE, SO THAT ALL ROADS EVENTUALLY LED TO ROME, AND FROM ROME TO THE WORLD.

IN TURN WHEN THE CHRISTIANS CAME ALONG, THE GOSPEL WAS EXPORTED FROM ROME TO THE BRITISH ISLES, TO GERMANY, TO THE SLOVAK PEOPLES, TO THE SCANDANAVIAN PEOPLES, AND TO THE FRONTIERS OF AFRICA AND ASIA.

WE MUST NOT LET THE CONTROVERSY ABOUT NATIVE AMERICANS AND THE EUROPEAN EXPLORERS CLOUD THE EFFECTS OF EXPLORATION ON ALL PEOPLES.

IN SPITE OF HUMAN FRAILITY, THEY OPENED UP THE WATERWAYS. THEY PLANTED THE CROSS. THEY LEFT BEHIND THE LEGACY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, AND ITS CORE VALUES OF REASON, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, PROGRESS, INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, LAW, AND THE PURSUIT OF INDIVIDUAL HAPPINESS.

AS SOON AS COLUMBUS FOUND THE OPENING TO THE CARIBBEAN SEA, MISSIONARIES FOLLOWED HIM. WITHIN 80 YEARS 30 DIOCESES WERE ESTABLISHED IN THE WEST INDIES, FLORIDA, CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND MEXICO. THERE ARE RECORDS OF DIOCESES FORMED IN SANTO DOMINGO IN 1511, PANAMA IN 1513, CUBA IN 1522 AND MEXICO IN 1530.

IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY THE CHURCH WITNESSED UNPARALLED MISSIONARY ACTIVITY. THERE WAS A REASON FOR THIS. AS SOON AS COLUMBUS OPENED UP THE WATERWAYS, THE CHURCH HAD MANY RELIGIOUS ORDERS THAT COULDN’T WAIT TO PURSUE NEW ADVENTURES IN SPREADING THE GOSPEL TO FOREIGN LANDS.

THE FRANCISCANS, THE DOMINICANS, THE CARMELITES, THE AUGUSTINIANS AND THE JESUITS WERE READY TO TAKE THE GOSPEL TO PEOPLE WHO DID NOT KNOW CHRIST.

MANY SAINTS DISTINGUSHED THEMSELVES IN THE SERVICE OF THE GOSPEL. SOME OF THE MORE FAMOUS ARE ST. LOUIS BERTRAND A DOMINICAN WHO WORKED IN COLUMBIA AND PANAMA; ST. FRANCIS SOLANUS A FRANCISCAN WHO MINISTERED IN PERU; ST. PETER CLAVER, A JESUIT, WHO BAPTIZED OVER 300,000 BLACK SLAVES IN CARTAGENA; ST. JUNIPERO SERRA WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THE FAITH TO 21 MISSIONS ON THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA AND ST. ISAAC JOGUES WHO SUFFERED HORENDOUS TORTURE AND DEATH TO BRING THE FAITH TO THE NATIVE AMERICANS IN WHAT IS NOW NEW YORK STATE.  

TODAY IS MISSION SUNDAY. JESUS SAID: “WHAT DOES IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS SOUL IN THE PROCESS?” WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY ACHIEVE IN THIS WORLD THAT WOULD TRUMP THE SALVATION OF YOUR SOUL FOR ETERNITY?

IF YOU TAKE SERIOUSLY THE WORDS OF JESUS, YOU ARE CONCERNED, NOT ONLY ABOUT THE SALVATION OF YOUR OWN SOUL BUT YOU ARE ALSO PASSIONATE ABOUT THE SOULS OF OTHERS. AS ST. JOHN BOSCO SAID: “LORD GIVE ME SOULS”. TAKE EVERYTHING ELSE AWAY.

IT IS SAID THAT WE DO NOT GO TO HEAVEN ALONE. WE MUST TAKE SOMEONE WITH US. AS CHRISTIANS EVERY ONE OF US IS A MISSIONARY.

WHEN THE APOSTLES IN TODAY’S GOSPEL WERE ARGUING AMONG THEMSELVES WHO WAS TO HAVE THE HIGHEST PLACE IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM. JESUS SET THEM STRAIGHT RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING. HE SAID:

“THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE FOR THE RANSOM OF MANY” (Mark 10:45)

YOU AND I WERE BAPTIZED INTO A MISSIONARY CORPORATION. WE MUST NOT HORDE THE FAITH FOR OURSELVES. AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WE ARE MEANT TO GO OUT AND SERVE OTHERS WITH THE WORD OF GOD AND THE BODY OF CHRIST.

COLUMBUS AND THE EXPLORERS AFTER HIM HAD MANY DIFFERENT MOTIVES FOR CROSSING THE OCEANS AND THE WATERWAYS OF THE WORLD.

THE MISSIONARIES, ON FIRE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, HAD ONLY ONE MOTIVE, THE SALVATION OF SOULS.

IN SPITE OF THE GREED, LUST AND CRUELTIES OF THE CONQUISTADORES, SOULS WERE BEING SAVED. THE FAITH WAS TAUGHT; THE SACRAMENTS WERE ADMINISTERED; THE SACREDNESS AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON WAS INSTILLED INTO THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO HEARD THE GOSPEL FOR THE FIRST TIME.

TODAY, ON MISSION SUNDAY, WE EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE TO THE MISSIONARIES WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US. WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE PREACHING AND BAPTIZING AND FEEDING PEOPLE IN EVERY COUNTRY OF THE WORLD.

AFTER ALL THIS IS OUR FAITH THAT THEY ARE SPREADING.THEY ARE TAKING OUR PLACE. THEY ARE BRAVING ALL THE CHALLENGES OF STRANGE LANDS FOR ONE REASON—TO SAVE SOULS.THEY DESERVE ALL THE HELP THAT WE CAN GIVE THEM.