Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, P & Mm, and companions, Mm

+Luke 11:47-54

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.

‘And that is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute, so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet’s blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary.” Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

‘Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to.’

When he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions, setting traps to catch him out in something he might say.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Faith and understanding

156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”. So “that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind”.

157 Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but “the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives.” “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.”

158 “Faith seeks understanding”: it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens “the eyes of your hearts” to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God’s plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. “The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood.” In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”

159 Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”


Psalm 129

A song of ascents. 1 Much have they oppressed me from my youth, now let Israel say.

Much have they oppressed me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed.

Upon my back the plowers plowed, as they traced their long furrows.

But the just LORD cut me free from the ropes of the yoke of the wicked.

May they be scattered in disgrace, all who hate Zion.

May they be like grass on the rooftops withered in early growth,

Never to fill the reaper’s hands, nor the arms of the binders of sheaves,

With none passing by to call out: “The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!”

Source: The New American Bible


St. Isaac Jogues, S.J. (10 January 1607 – 18 October 1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America. He was the first European to name Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement (Lake of the Blessed Sacrament). In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawk at their village of Ossernenon, south of the Mohawk River.

Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuit priests or laymen associated with them, were canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1930; they are known as “The North American Martyrs.” A shrine was built in their honor at Auriesville, New York, at a site formerly believed to be that of the Mohawk village. Their feast day is celebrated on 26 September in Canada, and on 19 October in the United States of America.

Early life and education

Isaac Jogues was born on 10 January 1607, in Orléans, France, into a bourgeois family, where he was the fifth of nine children. He was educated at home until the age of ten, at which point he began attending Jesuit schools. In 1624, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen in Northern France. Here, his Master of Novices was Louis Lallemant. The master, Louis Lallement, already had two brothers and a nephew serving as missionaries in the colony of New France.

Jogues professed simple vows in 1626, and went to study philosophy at the royal college of La Flèche. In 1629, he went to teach humanities to young boys in Rouen.

The Jesuit community had a strong missionary spirit, beginning in 1625 with their first mission to New France; its teachers included missionary pioneers, Énemond Massé, and later, Jean de Brébeuf.

These Jesuit missionaries inspired Jogues, and he aspired to follow in their footsteps. In 1633, Jogues was sent to the Collège de Clermont in Paris to pursue his studies in Theology. By 1636, he was ordained as a priest at Clermont.

Early Missions

Jogues was inspired by the missionaries that had returned to France in 1636: Father Brebeuf, Father Charles Lalement and Father Masse to venture to New France. These missionaries told Jogues of their hardships, treacheries and tortures which ordinarily awaited them by the native population, as missionaries in New France. Their accounts however, increased Jogues’ desire to “devote himself to labor there for the conversion and welfare of the natives”. Soon after Jogues was ordained a priest in January 1636, he accepted service in the missions and embarked to New France with several other missionaries. Jogues was assigned as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian peoples; both were allies of the French in Quebec.

Jogues sailed from France on 8 April 1636, and eight weeks later his ship dropped anchor in the Baie des Chaleurs. Jogues arrived in Quebec only several weeks later on 2 July. On arrival, Jogues wrote to his mother: “I do not know it is to enter Heaven, but this I know– that it would be difficult to experience in this world a joy more excessive and more overflowing than I felt in setting foot in the New World, and celebrating my first Mass on the day of Visitation”.

Jogues joined Jean de Brebeuf, the Superior of the Jesuit Mission, at their settlement on Lake Huron, the village of St. Joseph (Ihonatiria), on 11 September. Upon his arrival, Jogues was stricken by fever. Soon thereafter, a similar epidemic broke out among other Jesuits and the native people of the village. Due to recurring epidemics, the Huron blamed the Black Coats, as they called the Jesuits, threatening to kill them all. Father Brebeuf conciliated them and by the following year relations had improved as evidenced by one of his reports: “We are gladly heard, and there is scarcely a village that has not invited us to go to it… And at last it is understood from our whole conduct that we have not come to buy skins or to carry on any traffic, but solely to teach them, and to procure them their souls’ health.”

For years, Jogues lived in the village of St. Joseph (Ihonatiria) and learned the ways and language of the Hurons. The missionaries “accommodated themselves to the customs and food of the savages” as much as possible to show the Indians that they intended to share their life. Gradually, the native people began to accept Jogues. This did not last long however, as there were some Indians who had been “among the English and Dutch settlers to the south” who spread reports that the missionaries brought “calamity wherever they went and that they had in consequence been driven out of Europe”.

Jogues traveled with Garnier to Petun, a historical first nations band government located in modern-day southern Ontario, also known as the Tobacco Nation for their chief commodity crop. The natives of the village were so uninviting to the missionaries that the Fathers thought it would be impossible to do any missionary work among them. The rumours that had encircled them spread to the village and quickly discovered that their cause was just as hopeless as in the former place. They travelled from village to village, until after a couple of months they decided that they could not continue to do their missionary work. Their luck changed however, when in 1639, the new superior of the Jesuit Mission, Father Jerome Lalement, entrusted the building of Fort Sainte-Marie to Jogues.

In September 1641, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut went into the territory of the Sauteurs (Oijbwe). They were welcomed by some two thousand Indians upon their arrival. Jogues settled down to the duties of a resident missioner at St. Mary’s for some time.

Capture by the Iroquois

On 3 August 1642, Jogues, Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and a group of Christian Hurons were heading back from Trois-Rivières to Quebec City when they were waylaid by a war party of the Mohawk Nation, part of Iroquois Confederacy. Jogues allegedly hid in reeds and bushes, but decided to leave his hiding place to join the prisoners so that he could comfort them and ensure that their faith in Christianity remained strong. Shortly thereafter, and in retaliation for comforting a tortured Frenchman, the Mohawk beat Jogues with sticks, tore out his fingernails, then gnawed the ends of his fingers until finger bones were visible. The war party then took their captives on a treacherous journey to a Mohawk village, during which worms began to fester in Jogues’ wounds. There, the villagers turned out en masse and tortured the prisoners by marching them through a gauntlet, which consisted of rows of Iroquois armed with rods and sticks beating the prisoners walking in single-file. Afterwards, the Iroquois forced Jogues and the prisoners onto an elevated platform where they were mocked. A captive Algonquin woman then cut off Jogues’ thumb. At night, the prisoners were tied spread-eagled in a cabin. Children threw burning coals onto their bodies. Three days later, Jogues and the prisoners were marched from one village to another, where the Iroquois flogged them in gauntlets, and jabbed sticks into their wounds and sores. At the third village, Jogues was hung from a wooden plank made of intersecting pieces of wood, and nearly lost consciousness, until an Iroquois had pity on him and cut him free. Throughout his captivity, Jogues comforted, baptized, heard confession from, and absolved the other prisoners.

Instead of being put to death or integrated into a Mohawk family, Jogues remained a captive at large. Perpetually malnourished and inadequately dressed for the harsh winters, he spent his days gathering wood, praying, and proselytizing his captors. His enslavement was likely seen as even more humiliating due to the fact that gathering wood was, for the most part, the task of Iroquois women. Seeking solace in his faith, Jogues prayed so intensely that he had visions: in one, he suddenly appeared in a bookstore covered in crosses, and bought a book that reminded him that, to enter into Heaven, it was necessary to experience many tribulations. His captivity dragged on, lasting between eight and ten months, during which he was kept in a state of severe malnourishment and exposure to the cold. Some noteworthy incidents that occurred during this period were when he saved the life of a pregnant woman that had fallen into a deep, fast-flowing creek during the winter, and when he baptized the Iroquois man who had freed him from the wooden torture device.

A party of Dutch traders from Fort Orange (now Albany, New York), including the Reformed minister Johannes Megapolensis, ransomed him and gave him money for passage down the Hudson River to New Amsterdam (New York) and a return to France. Jogues was the first Catholic priest to visit Manhattan Island. From there, he sailed back to France, where he was greeted with surprise and joy.

Return to France

Pope Urban VIII considered Jogue a “living martyr,” and gave him dispensation to say Mass with his mutilated hand. Under Church law of the time, the Blessed Sacrament could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger. Jogues was unable to follow this law after the loss of two fingers while in Iroquois captivity, resulting in the requirement for dispensation by the Pope. Jogues visited his mother in Orléans, but was eager to return to the missions. Jogue experienced regret over his time in captivity, and a longing for martyrdom that motivated his return to New France in 1644 after only a year and a half in France, first to Quebec, followed by a trip to Wendake.

Return to New France and Death

In the spring of 1646, Jogues returned to Iroquois territory, along with Jean de Lalande, to act as the French ambassador to the Mohawk. His ambassadorship was intended to maintain the tentative peace reached in 1645 between the Iroquois, and the French, the Huron and the Algonquin. This was done to ensure a safe passage for trade and travel along the east-west corridor.

Jogues and Lalande were met with hesitation upon their arrival, as some Mohawk regarded missionaries as evil practitioners of foreign magic. The Europeans transmitted European diseases, such as smallpox and measles, that spread among Native Americans. These diseases resulted in high fatality rates among the Mohawk, who lacked immunity to the new diseases. When the Mohawk suffered yet another outbreak of infectious disease, and crop failure at Ossernenon, they blamed these unfortunate events on Catholic paraphernalia left behind by the Jesuits, which the Mohawks perceived as magically harmful. Additionally, as a result of his previous experience on the territory, Jogues demonstrated an uncanny knowledge of the territory, which the Mohawks perceived as threatening.

On 18 October 1646, the Iroquois killed Jogues with a tomahawk, an axe held with one hand; they killed LaLande the next day. The Mohawk threw the missionaries’ bodies into the Mohawk River. The killing seems to have been the work of an anti-French faction within the Mohawk community.

The story holds a curious double martyrdom of Jogues. Aboriginal allies of the French captured Jogues’ killer in 1647 and condemned him to death. While awaiting his execution, this man was baptized and renamed with the Christian name of Father Isaac Jogues. His death represented a secondary martyring of Isaac Jogues.

Veneration and Legacy

Jogues was canonized on 29 June 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with seven other Canadian Martyrs. His feast day is celebrated on 26 September in Canada, and on 19 October in the United States.

Jogues’ actions have a large impact on how he is remembered by the Jesuit and Catholic communities alike. There are a multitude of buildings and monuments dedicated to Jogues. The largest of these monuments is the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, built in Auriesville, New York in 1930. It honors Jogues, René Goupil, and Louis Lalande. It was completed in 1930. The shrine also honors Jean de Brébeuf and five of his companions, who were killed in Canada in 1648 and 1649.

There is also the Martryr’s Shrine located in Midland, Ontario, Canada, which honors the Canadian Martyrs (another term for North American Martyrs).

A seasonal chapel on the east shore of Saratoga Lake, New York is named after Jogues. A statue of Jogues stands in front of the main entrance to the chapel that faces the lake. While he was being taken into captivity, Jogues is said to have been the first European to see this lake.

Fordham University, a Jesuit University in New York, has a dormitory building at it’s Rose Hill Campus names Martyrs’ Court. The three wings of the building are named after Jogues, René Goupil, S.J., and Jean de Lalande, S.J.

Another statue of Jogues was erected in 1939, in the village of Lake George, in the Battlefield Park by the lake.

Camp Ondessonk, a Roman Catholic youth camp located in Ozark, Illinois, is named after Jogues’ Mohawk name. The living quarters for campers are each named for one of the North American Martyrs, including Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Jean de Brébeuf, S.J.; Noël Chabanel, S.J.; Antoine Daniel, S.J.; Charles Garnier, S.J.; René Goupil, S.J.; Jean de Lalande, S.J., and Gabriel Lalemant, S.J.

Source: Wikipedia


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