St. Noel Chabanel

        by Jennifer

Published in The Compass, May 27, 2009, vol. 4, issue 10

            People have always sought heroes:  someone larger than life, extraordinary in power and capable of saving the world from all its sorrow, distress and fear.  Literature, movies, songs and even comic books try to answer that yearning in our souls for that superhuman who will stand above all that is dark and evil and rescue us from it. 

            The world mistakenly bestows this title to the wrong kind of hero.  Sports stars, pop-culture celebrities, and the rich and famous-for whatever reason- monopolize our conversations, elicit our adoration, and hang on the bedroom walls of children and teenagers.  Society doesn’t seem to honor the altruistic man or woman who puts the needs of the greater good before their own, but desires to idolize that which is the most glamorous, wealthy, strong, intelligent or beautiful.

Christ is the God-man, our savior and redeemer, who descended from heaven and frees us from the bonds of fear, doubt and evil.  Yet, sadly too often takes second place or worse in our thoughts, affections and time.  Since his resurrection over 2000 years ago, Our Lord has set aside countless men and women to serve him.  Saints called to renounce worldly fame, money, prestige, honor, comfort and even their very life.  They gladly give up everything to the One who reigns over all creation and desires to share his Divine life with us in heaven forever. 

Noel Chabanel answered Christ’s call, joined the Society of Jesus at age seventeen and burned with desire to work as a missionary and shed his blood as a martyr.  Once given the chance to come and work among the natives in Quebec, he met with many obstacles and mortifications.  Unlike the other priests, he found great difficulty learning and communicating in the native language.  However, in his zeal Noel continued to serve wherever he was needed.  His sensitive nature inclined him to have a great distaste for the lifestyle and practices of those he was trying to win over for Christ.  Rather than quit and return home, he made a vow to God to remain there for the rest of his life or until the Order called him to serve somewhere else. 

Consistent and determined by God’s grace and bound by obedience, Noel Chabanel continued to serve Our Lord faithfully despite ridicule, loneliness, disappointment and spiritual dryness.  Through persevering prayer and unshakable faith, this saint-hero was graced with the crown of martyrdom on December 8.

- Jennifer

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