We could say that St. Isaac is the true standard bearer of the faith in a new land, carrying the banner of Christ into unchartered territory. In this he followed in the footsteps of Christ himself, laying down himself in sacrifice out of love for others, even those who despised him, and in doing so became a pioneer in the truest sense: “Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:2). This deliberate following of Christ can be seen in a consecration of himself that Jogues made while still safely within his Huron mission in French Canada. Fr. Francis Talbot, S.J., in his monumental biography of Jogues, Saint among Savages, recounts this incident: “He begged and demanded of God that he would be immolated, would be sacrificed as a victim of Divine love. He offered himself, body, soul, will, mind, memory to God, that God might do with him as He pleased.” Like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, this prayer ought to be considered one of the foundational statements of America. This This willingness to endure death at the hands of savage torturers helped birth a new Christian realm in this continent. Interestingly enough, during his captivity Jogues had a dream in which his ministry and martyrdom appeared to him as a tour through a large city, built upon the exact spot as the Mohawk village of his imprisonment. He describes his first sight of the city as follows: “I had gone out of our village as I usually did…. When I returned, everything seemed changed. The tall palings that surrounded our village on all sides were transformed into very beautiful towers, battlements, and walls…. some savages…came out and assured me that it truly was our little hamlet.” Entering the first wall of this city he saw a slain lamb over the gate. Passing through a second gate he encountered a garrison and was apprehended and brought to a palace. Outside the gate of the palace Jogues saw many people who knew from France. He was taken in and judged and punished by the king of this city in a manner similar to how the Mohawks had tortured him. Jogues interpreted his judgment of suffering as the price he had to pay to abide in this city. He does not, however, provide us with an explanation of the rest of the dream. Could this great city be an image of the new realm of Christendom which was formed in the continent of America? What strikes me most about the city is that it combines images from America, France, and Heaven with Christ as king ruling over all. The city was placed on the site of the Mohawk village, with the natives outside of and exiting the outer ring; the second ring that of his fellow Christians and guarded by angels; and finally the palace, the seat of Christ. To me it seems that from the palace Christ’s reign would extend to the outer circle through the mediation of the more interior one. Thus, we can see Christ’s plan for the extension of his domain, creating a unity that draws all together, but through the mediation of Christian suffering.
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