Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The North American Martyrs

Today is a feast day in the Catholic Church which celebrates the martyrdom of several saints who were missionaries to the Indians in North America. My husband and I included one of these saints' names in the name of our 4th child. St. Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit priest. I first learned about this saint when I was at Franciscan University taking a class from an elderly professor. I have a vivid memory of this dear man reading a description of the priest saying mass "with mangled hands", he stopped and looked up at us with tears in his eyes and whispered "such holiness!". The story of the North American martyrs is gruesome, full of torture and violent deaths. So why was I so drawn to his story? I was totally amazed after reading the tortures this man and his companions endured, that he finally escaped, got home to his peaceful monastery, was reunited with his Jesuit brothers and could think of nothing else but returning to win souls for Christ. Did he lose his ever-loving mind?! No, this is what we call heroic virtue, when Christ Jesus has so completely taken over a person's life that they are able to do things they never could have done before.  I admired his courage in the face of such suffering, and his overwhelming desire to bring souls to Jesus.

For readers who are not Catholic, we "celebrate" the lives of such people for several reasons. Firstly, they are our brothers and sisters, and it's kind of like saying "hey, I'm related to THAT guy!" and celebrating his/her life. Secondly, we learn from how they loved God and hope to follow their example. Thirdly, if Christ could transform this person, there's hope for the rest of us! We also believe because the body of Christ is a mystery, we are connected to those who have gone before us in Christ. They pray for us, are cheering us on, and are somehow mysteriously with us to support us in this life, as any brother or sister would be.

I take great comfort when I am parenting this very unique strong-willed child God has given us (whom I believe will form me more than all the others) that maybe Saint Isaac Jogues was like this when he was 3. Maybe he destroyed his mother's curtains, bullied his siblings, and threw fits. Maybe my son puts a smile on his face as he watches him grow. It is the strong ones that God can raise up to be mighty warriors for Him.

Saint Isaac Jogues and Companions, pray for us!!


  1. Welcome to the blog world V! Love this on the NA Martyrs - I totally remember visiting their shrine here in Canada, aptly called Martyr's Shrine. Their stories had an impact on me as a kid, as did the wall of crutches from people who'd been healed through the intercession of the North American Martyrs.

  2. Love it! You did a great job setting it up...that is the most time consuming. I've found every now and again I can just post something quickly, or even a more thought provoking post. I've learned now, too late, to use tags. This is helpful if you want to go back and read something you wrote years ago. You can pull it up by tag as the months and years blend and you can't remember when you "wrote about that thing."