Blessed Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, & Companions, Martyrs!
Today’s memorial celebrates some of those who gave their lives for Christ on our continent. In his letters, St. Isaac Jogues demonstrates a fierce and undaunted desire to give his life intentionally, both in witness of Our Lord’s lifesaving Passion, and with the hope that his own sacrifice, united to that of Christ, would help advance the mission Christ entrusted to the Church of being His live-giving presence in the world:
“My heart tells me that if I have the happiness of being employed in this mission, I shall go and shall not return; but I shall be happy if our Lord will complete the sacrifice where He has begun it, and make the little blood I have shed in that land the earnest of what I would give from every vein of my body and heart” (Isaac Jogues, S.J., “Letter to a Friend,” from Lives of Saints with Excerpts from Their Writings, ed. Fr. Joseph Vann, O.F.M.).
If the blood of the martyrs is truly the seed of the Church, as many early writers affirmed, then Christians of today and tomorrow, who have sprung from this nourishment, can rightly look upon these figures as ancestors within the communion of saints professed in the Creed. Family members, through the sheer force of spending time with one another, come to resemble one another in their habits, three of which might be mentioned in connection with St. Isaac Jogues in particular.
The first is the virtue of religion, which St. Isaac makes evident in his reference to the sacrifice of Christ and his own willingness to imitate it. So “bound” was St. Isaac to Christ that, springing from this first virtue, he also displays two more closely related virtues seen in Christ: patience and fortitude, the latter of which is also acknowledged as a gift of the Holy Spirit. In the passion narrative of his martyrdom, after the author recounts the brutality experienced by St. Isaac, it is noted “for all these pains, the poor Father had no other Physician or other Surgeon than patience; no other salve than pain, no other cover than the air which surrounded his wounds” (Jesuit Relations, 24:301). Like Christ exposed on the Cross and adored in the Eucharist, in holding nothing back, St. Isaac exposes to us the divine life that animated him, empowering him to endure all things for love of Christ. An example worth contemplating and striving to imitate.
St. Isaac Jogues, tireless lover of the human family, pray for us that we too might be blessed with the Spirit’s gifts and come to resemble Christ more completely so as to reveal God’s love to the world!
Your servant in Christ,
Tony Crescio is the founder of FRESHImage Ministries. He holds an MTS from the University of Notre Dame and is currently a PhD candidate in Christian Theology at Saint Louis University. His research focuses on the intersection between moral and sacramental theology. His dissertation is entitled, Presencing the Divine: Augustine, the Eucharist and the Ethics of Exemplarity.
Tony’s academic publications can be found here.