November 2018 Print

The Last Word

Dear readers,


“Preach the Gospel to every creature!”

Tradition tells us that St. Peter went to establish his See in Rome at the command of Our Blessed Lord. This divine strategy immediately enabled missionaries to make use of all the Roman networks as means to propagate the message of salvation, “the Verbum Crucis, the Word of the Cross” (I Cor. 1:18).

The Church continued the same stratagem throughout the centuries whenever new lands were discovered. This became easier in later years when the leaders of state were fervent Catholics and encouraged, if they did not impose, the presence of priests to travel with the explorers, since these leaders knew firsthand the meaning of the Social Kingship of Christ.

Thus, when Jacques Cartier, a fervent Catholic explorer, landed in Gaspé, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, now in Québec, in the summer of 1534, he took possession of the new territory in a most solemn way. Here it is in his own words:

“On the 24th of the month, we built a 30 foot tall Cross in the presence of many (Indians)…upon which was written in large letters ‘Long live the King of France.’ They were watching us make and erect a similar Cross at the coast of this new land. After raising it up in the air, we all knelt down, with joined hands, and, adoring it in front of them, we made some signs, looking at and showing them Heaven, making them understand that through the Cross was our salvation. They repeatedly looked with wonder towards the Cross” (L. Groulx, La Découverte du Canada, 1934, pp. 172-173).

At the sight of the mighty wealth that the discovery of the New World offered to the European countries, it is of the utmost importance to see how every participant understood his duty. Here we see at the beginning of the history of Canada (which had such an impact on the whole of North America when one thinks of all the missionaries and religious communities that came from there), more than 484 years ago, a Cross erected at the sight of and for the education of the natives, and, at the foot of this Cross, a small band of Breton sailors kneeling in an act of adoration, in the center of the group their captain, his soul captivated by the ideal of his Faith.

This is how 16th century France manifested itself in the New World. Among so many ways of reaching a new land, what is better than the Cross?

“When I erect a Cross in these islands,” said Fr. Pierre Henry, O.M.I. (+1979), the apostle of the Magnetic Pole, “Our Lord extends His kingdom!”

“Thy Kingdom come!”

Fr. Daniel Couture