I walked down into the ravine where Isaac Jogues and his companions were martyred. Having never been to Europe where many site of martyrdom can no doubt be found, this was a particularly powerful experience for me.
Knowing that I was walking on the very ground where Jogues and his friends were captured, tortured, and killed made the whole “saint thing” all the more real. While we venerate these holy men and women for their moral excellence and dedication to the faith, this visit forced me to come to grips with the fact that these were real people.
Indeed, they were ordinary people who, by the grace of God, accomplished extraordinary holiness. It also forces one to reflect on our own ordinary lives and ask whether we have missed out on invitations to extraordinary opportunities. As my brother in law often says, “If not now, then when? If not me, then whom?” Because Isaac escaped from his initial captivity, we have his own written journals describing the horrific events that happened in Ossernenon (modern day Auriesville, New York). As you begin the trek down into the ravine, there are signs posted every ten feet or so. On the signs are written the very words of Isaac Jogues.