*BEST OF DTB #264* The Catholic Defender: St. John La Lande

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2013

Recently, I was visiting family near Kansas City Missouri and so while I was there, I drove to Blue Springs Missouri to visit my old Catholic School that I attended in the 1960′s.

Schools out for the summer, but fortunately there were some people there that I was able to talk with and see the growth of the school.

The School really looks great and the Parish continues to grow.  This particular day there was a photographer taking pictures for the Parish directory.

As I walked around, I remembered who St. John La Lande was.  It was the summer of 1636 when French Jesuit missionary Father Isaac Jogues saw North America, the rock cliff of Quebec, for the first time from the sea.

Now, nearly 10 years later, Father Jogues was back to Quebec.  Standing right there besides him was 18 year old, St. John La Lande, who was very aware of the torture Father Jogues endured at the hands of the Mohawks in Quebec just 4 years earlier.

Fr. Jogues, John La Lande, and three Indians set out by canoe from Quebec on September 27, 1646 for the Mohawk village of Ossemenon.

Two of the Huron Indians accompanying the missionaries abandoned the party upon hearing that the Mohawks were once again on the warpath.

Once the missionaries had landed they were captured, stripped, beaten, and taken to the village where on October 17 strips of flesh were cut from Fr. Jogues’ neck and arms.

The natives blamed a chest of religious articles which Fr. Jogues had left in the village on a previous visit for an epidemic which had caused them to lose their corn crop.

While recovering from the wounds, Fr. Jogues was invited to a feast in one of the Indian lodges. As he entered the lodge he was struck by a tomahawk and killed.

He was then decapitated, and his body was dragged through the village.  John La Lande was held in another lodge and advised to remain inside.

However, intent on finding Fr. Jogues’ body, La Lande left the lodge and was tomahawked to death on October 19, 1646 by an Indian guard who had been set to watch the lodge.

Both Fr. Jogues and John La Lande were beatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21, 1925 and canonized on June 29, 1930. John La Lande’s feast day is October 19, the day he was martyred.

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

How appropriate that this School is named for a young person who gave his life as an enduring witness for the Lord.

This picture is exactly as I remembered the School when I was here beginning in 1963.  It was interesting to note that the Parish School is celebrating their 50th anniversary since being established.

The celebration is set for 21 August 2013 beginning with a five mile fun run followed by Mass.  Then there will have a barbecue.  “We are spreading the word to former students, priests and nuns who were teachers when the school opened to get as many of them to come as possible,”  “We even have one family who has had children and grandchildren attend since the school opened. We are all very excited to celebrate the history of our school and where it will go in the future.”

I remember this painting when I was here at St. John La Lande so long ago!  I’ll never forget the Priests and lay volunteers who gave of themselves to make a difference in our lives growing up.  That is so important.  I treasure the opportunity to have played ball as a youth there.  Basketball, track, and football were important.  I played baseball locally through the Little League program in Blue Springs.  My Mother sacrificed a great deal for my Brother and I so that we would get a good Catholic education. 
I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk about the old days with some of the Parishioners taking pictures and staff members.  
Some of the statues were still here and that really was interesting to see.  They have built a new Church since when I was here.  I learned that some of the Nuns who were our teachers still lived in the area.   That was really interesting to me, but today the School is primarily run by civilians, lay people.  The days of the Nuns teaching here is a thing of the past.  I must of stayed there for nearly three hours talking to people and looking at the school.  There have been a lot of changes over the years, but there was enough of the old school that I was able to recognize so much of it. 
I would encourage you to consider sending your children to a Catholic School near you to give this kind of foundation.  “It is He whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Colossians 1:28

The Catholic Defender: The Divine Altar Call

Posted by John Benko - November 1st, 2010

Have you ever heard of the “Altar Call” associated with going up to the front of a church to accept Christ?

I was just thinking about this and I couldn’t help but think that the Catholic Church practices an “Altar Call” every Mass!

For Catholics, this act is not a one time experience, but a way of life. I remember making my first Holy Communion in 1963 at Blue Springs Missouri St. John La Lande Catholic School.

I remember Father Miller, our Pastor of the School. I remember serving Mass as an Altar boy those early years there for him. What a heritage!

Mom, Dad, there are not many better foundations you can give your children. I really do treasure this gift. When I was in College, our Basketball Coach shared with me that when he grew up, what he treasured the most growing up was his family getting together praying the rosary. Mother Mary leads people to her divine Son!

I also remember carrying my Children to the Altar when they were but infants. They too would be brought up in the Catholic Faith given this great wonderous foundation. When you take a look at the Catholic “Altar Call”, it gets deep very quick! It is based on a “New and everlasting Covenant”! It becomes the means to renew this Covenant with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp bearing the reproach that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come” (Hebrews 13:9-14).

Our Altar call is “outside the gate” as we follow Christ outside the gate. The sacrifice we share is more than the blood of animals given as a sin offering for God’s people.

We have the Bread of life that is offered for us once and for all through a perpetual sacrifice.

St. John writes, “There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished”.

What was finished? The perpetual passover is transformed into a “New Covenant”! As the hyssop branch was used to mark blood from spotless lambs on the houses of the Isrealites, the hyssop branch was used to mark the blood of the new and everlasting covenant by the spotless Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. “Happy are they who are called to his supper”.

As the Passover feast was made a “memorial feast” for the Israelites, the Last Supper established the transformation that by receiving the “Lamb” we are made whole.

St. Paul states, “Therefore, my beloved, avoid idolatry. I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying. The cup of blessing that we bless, is is not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:14-17).

The Lord speaking through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34) said, “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord. But this covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more”.

Luke 22:20 Jesus fulfills this prophecy as Jesus says, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you”.

Matthew 26:28 also adds, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins”.

Jesus is definitely connecting with Jeremiah’s prophecy, that God will “remember their sin no more”. Jesus initiates the covenant giving us the opportunity to renew this covenant with him. This is why the Mass is so important.

Every Mass we are invited by the Lord through His Church to come forward and receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

He is present body, blood, soul, and divinity totally and completely. He offers himself to the Father on our behalf so that after receiving him, the Father sees Jesus in us.

We are adopted Son’s and Daughter’s of God. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:54). What a promise, what an “Altar Call”!

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