The Northern Missions – Msgr. Frank Lane
In this lecture from our 2007 Deep in History Conference, Msgr. Frank Lane looks at the missionary efforts of Jesuits in Upstate New York and Canada, and what the examples of those saints can teach us today.
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-What does it mean to be a “missionary community” in the midst of the world?
-“Transform what is already there” was the motto Msgr. Lane says was the crux of the Northern Missions. How did this motto allow for the Church to spread in North America?
-Compare the Catholic missionary styles (using this motto) with other Protestant missionaries, of which Msgr. Lane gives examples later in the talk.
– Msgr. Lane says that the story of the North American missions is one of the most “phenomenal love stories” he has ever read.Why do you think he believes that? Do you agree? How should the loving example of the North American missionaries and natives influence our attempts at evangelization today?
-Reflect on Msgr. Lane’s summary of the early Church Fathers’ description of the “corporate memory of humanity”:
The story of Genesis is the common history of all humanity and deep in the primordial soul of every living person, is the “corporate memory” of their beginning. Sin came into the world through the fall and in this
sin…the stories got distorted and the dark veil of sinfulness came crashing down upon humanity and blurred their vision and darkened their inner sensitivities. They retained those primordial elements of the common experience of humanity, but in retaining those primordial elements, they no longer understood them in the light of revelation, and, therefore, their memories were distorted.
-With this in mind, what then is the task of the missionary? (Acts 17:16-34 is a similar example of evangelizing using “corporate memory.”)
-Did the stories about the Catholic missionaries’ desire for the salvation of souls make an impact
on you? If so, how?
-What are your reactions to Msgr. Lane’s reflection on the possibility of martyrdom?
Tertullian: Tertullian was born to pagan parents in Carthage, North Africa between 155-160 A.D. A lawyer by profession, he converted to Christianity in 193 A.D. and became a Catholic apologist until 212 A.D., when he succumbed to the Montanist heresy (among other beliefs they held that sins committed after baptism could not be forgiven and practiced a severe asceticism). His writings during his period of orthodoxy arguably represent the first in the new vernacular of the West, Latin, by a Christian author. His prolific writings are often quoted by later Christians, especially St. Jerome and St. Augustine. His most famous work entitled simply, Apology, is
preserved in no less than 36 codices and its most quoted phrase is, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of
Christians!” He died between 240-250 A.D.