St. Roque Gonzalez, S.J.

St. Roque Gonzalez, S.J.
Posted on 11/16/2017

Today is the feast day of St. Roque Gonzalez, S.J. whose work was depicted in the award-winning 1986 movie, The Mission.  When this movie came out the St. John’s Jesuit community went to a local theater to see it.  To this day, freshman theology teacher Mr. Butch Welling shows this movie to his classes.  He uses the movie to show an amazing time in the history of the Society of Jesus and to illustrate the Jesuit way.  

Roch Gonzalez, an intrepid missionary, was one of the main architects of the Jesuit reductions in Paraguay along the River Plate, and it was through his industry that many of them became economically successful settlements.  Gonzalez helped the native people become self-sufficient and free at a time when Spanish conquistadors were brutalizing and enslaving them.  He led the Jesuits who founded the “reductions,” independent Indian village communities that excluded European settlers.  The economy of the reductions made the Indians self-supporting by combining communal agriculture with private property holding.  And the reductions had their own political structure that gave the natives a measure of freedom.

A local native chieftain, zealous of his success and the influence Fr. Gonzalez had over his people conspired to have him murdered.  On the morning of November 15th, Gonzalez had just celebrated Mass with the natives; he noticed some Indians that were working setting up a bell.  He went over to help and was struck by a henchman of the chieftain with an axe.  He fell dead at the assassin’s feet.  – The Ignatian Book of Days, Jim Manney

At the end of the day today the Freshman Pilgrim Retreat begins; it ends tomorrow.  The retreat is led by SJJ faculty members Gabriel Jakubisin, Libby Kyle, and Phil Levering, along with a large group of seniors and juniors who have been preparing many weeks for this retreat.  Please pray in blessing for the success of this first high school retreat experience for our freshmen.  Grant me, Lord, to see everything with new eyes, to relish the things that are yours and communicate them to others.  St. Roch Gonzalez, pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Jesus’ prayer)

The above is a blessing which comes from the lips of Jesus; he encourages all his followers to repeat this blessing often.  Blessings has unfortunately become very passive, something we receive from God or clergy or, rarely, from others.  We seldom do any blessings ourselves. In the Bible, however, a blessing is simply the use of good words, while cursing is the use of words depicting disaster. Biblical tradition not only encourages us to bless, but calls upon us to bless, even God, as Jesus does here.  The ancient notion was that,  after having been blessed by us, God would reciprocate with good words of His own which, of course, would be good events. - David Burton Bryan, The Western Way of Meditation, The Rosary Revisited.
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