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In the Footsteps of Saints

In the Footsteps of Saints

 
By:  Mission Team October 19, 2020
#AmazingNation, #Faith, #God, #Jesus, #Winning

There have been times in my life when I am overcome with a sense that I am on holy ground. My heart is moved with a deep sense of the presence and nearness of our Lord and in my heart I hear an echo of the same words God spoke to Abraham through the burning bush,

“...the place you are standing is holy ground...I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob''(Exodus 3:5-6).

We are always in the presence of our Heavenly Father, but it is moments like these in which this truth takes on a whole new meaning, becoming clearer than ever. As I become aware of this divine presence, so too do I become aware of our Lord’s love, for “God is Love'' and to know God is to know love itself (1 John 4:8).


The nearness and reality of this love is a fire that inflames my heart with Love for God. I have been hit with this reality when I reached the end of the Camino in Spain and prayed before the relics of St. James. I am sometimes overcome with this sense as I enter a chapel for adoration, or during mass. There are also times when I walk through the woods and pray or even gaze at a single leaf of creation when the nearness of God and His love is tangible. In all of these times I am left in awe of His beauty. On September 30, at the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, I was overcome yet again with this awe and wonder of the nearness and beauty of God and His love.


On September 30, on the grounds of this beautiful shrine, in the very woods St. Rene Goupil, one of our dear patrons, was buried by St. Isaac Jogues (another of our dear patrons), myself and 17 new missionaries committed our lives to Christ and to the Mission He has set out before us. We’ll talk about Rene’s beautiful story later. Anyways, I will never forget seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ, who I had been living with through trials and joys for the past two months, finally take the shirt of a fully Commissioned Missionary. And what a place to be commissioned!


The National Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs is truly a rare place filled to the brim with the peace of our Lord. It is found on the top of a hill in Fultonville NY, overlooking the Mohawk River Valley. It is a beautiful place filled with trees, streams, and a stunning church, with statues and relics. The sacredness of this place is truly reflected in its physical aspects. The shrine sits on the once Mohawk village of Ossernenon, and is now a sacred pilgrimage site where St. Isaac Jogues, St. René Goupil, and St. John de La Lande were all Martyred. The shrine is also only 6 miles down the road from the location of St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s shrine where she was baptized. If you are ever in Central New York make sure to stop in, you won’t regret it.


St. Isaac Jogues, who is also my Confirmation saint, was a French Jesuit priest and Missionary who traveled to the “new world” to work and minister among the native americans. His feast and the feast of his companions is celebrated on October 19. During his mission work Jogues was captured, tortured, and enslaved. He would eventually escape and travel all the way back to France thanks to some Dutch merchants. But, because of Jogues’ love and fire for Christ he returned back to the new world and back to his mission. He would eventually die the death of a martyr in 1646 at the hand of those he ministered to. Jogues was but one of eight others who gave their life for Christ, and who we celebrate on the 19th of October.


One of his other companions, who I mentioned earlier, was St. Rene Goupil. Rene was a French physician, who after leaving the Jesuit novitiate, became a lay missionary for the society of Jesus. This basically means that he became a lay missionary instead of a religious missionary for the Jesuit order. Rene would go to the “new world” and eventually accompany St. Isaac in his missionary journeys. In 1642, after making the sign of the cross over a Native American child, St. Rene would die by the blow of a tomahawk at the age of 35. This would make him the first of the eight North American Martyrs to be killed.


As me and my team walked the woods that St. Rene was buried, we read the beautiful account of his martyrdom by St. Isaac. My heart was stuck with the sacredness of the ground with which we walked and the utter love of Rene. He was a young man completely in love with Christ. And isn’t that what we all ought to be? We all ought to be completely in love with our beloved, and give Him everything. This giving of ourselves may not come in the form of a tomahawk straight to the dome as it did for Rene, but it does mean we can die to ourselves as he did. This is how we find true freedom. Rene was free, he was a lover freed by love, for “Love casts out all fear” (1 Peter 4:18). René truly did live out Matthew 16:26, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” This young saint lived everyday as if it were his last. St. Isaac talks about how Rene would go to confession every other day to dispose himself for a holy death. We also ought to live everyday as if it were our last. If we all truly do this we will all be saints.


These Saint gave up everything for our Lord just as he did for them, and what an adventure they lived. How could we not desire this adventure, to live as they lived? To live with their whole heart in. What an honor it was to walk those sacred grounds where they gave up their life out of love. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs reminded me to strive to give up my life out of Love for Christ just as the saints have, it will always have a special place in my heart and I hope to visit it again soon.

“Jesus Jesus Jesus”
-Last words of St. René Goupil

 

Learn more at ourladyofmartyrsshrine.org!



About the Author Mission TeamThe mission team is made up of writers within the HN team who serve for a time with our ministry to Awaken the World to the Power of God's Love. Through their efforts, their vision of making a world where no one suffers alone is an encouragement to many hurting people of all ages. 


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