Isaac Jogues: Missionary and Martyr - Martin J. Scott

The Jesuits

Christ is the most loved and the most hated person in the world. We say is, not merely was, for Christ is living today. He is the most potent factor in the world. He influences more people than any living monarch. He is bitterly hated as well as passionately loved. From the day that His own people cried "Crucify Him!" down to present time, He has been persecuted and hated as no other being in the world's history. And all the while His response has been to do more for mankind, in every age, than the world's most lauded benefactors. In return for reviling He has showered blessings. He foretold that His followers would meet with the same ill-treatment that was accorded Himself. And down the centuries His followers in proportion to their closeness to Him, have shared His ignominy and borne His cross.

None so loved by mankind as Christ, none so hated by mankind as Christ. A paradox; but only apparently. Christ foretold that there should always be enmity between Himself and the world. By the world He meant not the material earth, but those persons who limited their aims, aspirations, and careers to the short span of mortal life. Christ taught that this world is not the goal but the starting point of man. The world teaches that this life is the beginning and the end of man. Its motto is "Let us enjoy ourselves while we may, for the flower that once has blown forever dies."

Christ says that this life is but the first stage of man's career. He tells us that life is probation and that the grave is not the end but the beginning of real life. Hence there is bound to be antagonism between Christ and the world. Christ stands for the spiritual and the eternal. The world stands for the material and the temporal. These two standards are diametrically opposed. That is why the world hates Christ. That is why good men love Christ. That is why Christ is so loved and so hated.

We must not be surprised therefore when we see the virtuous persecuted. God allows the wheat and tares to grow up alongside until the harvest. He permitted evil to work its malicious course against His Only Divine Son on Calvary. He permits the forces of evil to work their course even now against His Church and His faithful followers. It has always been so. Persecution has been the badge of those loyal to Him. The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. Perhaps no other organization in the Church of Christ has met with the love and hatred, the admiration and condemnation which has been the portion of that Order of which the heroic and blessed Jogues was a member.

Some time ago a young man who was studying for the ministry in a Protestant Seminary came to see a priest with regard to matters concerning the Catholic Church. The priest asked him how he became interested in Catholicism. His reply was that he had heard so many attacks on Catholicity by his professors that he concluded that it must be something powerful to inspire such opposition. Then he added that people do not hate what is weak and insignificant. Such things they despise. Hatred implies an opponent of strength and power. So he came because he wanted to know something about that Church which was so hated. Eventually this young man became a Catholic and is now a priest.

The Jesuit Order from the beginning has received the highest approbation and encomiums of the Church of God. It has also drawn down upon itself the direct wrath of the opponents of God's Church. The greatest glory of the Jesuit Order is that it has been from its beginning the target for the deadliest shafts of the enemies of Christ's Church.

No one has done so much for the world as Christ. No one has been so hated by the world as Christ. No institution has done so much for the civilization of the world as Christ's Church. No institution has been so persecuted by the world as Christ's Church. The Jesuit Order has been and is persecuted and maligned. The Jesuit Order could readily win the admiration and love of the world if it would turn from the ideals of Jesus Christ to those of the world. But it has ever worn the livery of Christ and hopes to wear it unto the end.

Now what is the Jesuit Order? What is there about it that draws upon it the assaults of the world in spite of the fact that as an Order it has done so much for the world? This is an interesting study and we hope to show why the world hates it, in spite of the fact that it has done so much for the world and given birth to many heroes like Jogues whom the world admires and praises.

The proper name of the Jesuit Order is The Society of Jesus. It was founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish nobleman and valiant soldier. Loyola gathered about him a band of men most conspicuous for learning and virtue. One of these was St. Francis Xavier, who is considered the greatest apostle of Christianity since the Twelve Apostles. Loyola presented himself and his company of disciples to the Supreme Pontiff to be employed as a sort of flying squadron in the campaign the Church was then engaged in against the assaults of the sixteenth century Reformers.

Loyola, having been a military man, gave the efficiency of military organization to his followers. In the beginning he called them a company, and since Christ was their Model and Leader it was named by him "The Company of Jesus" with Christ as its Head and Captain. The Company, by its brilliant achievements for the repression of heresy and the spread of truth, soon attracted the attention of Europe. In proportion as it loyally served the Vicar of Christ it drew upon itself the enmity of the various forces arrayed against the Church of Christ.

The Company was erected into a Religious Order with Constitutions and Rules which are the admiration of the world. Men of culture and piety from every nation of Europe sought admission into it% ranks. Within a few years it was established in every country of Europe and numbered thousands of members. The very heart of the new Order was the Spiritual Exercises, which consist of the practical study and imitation of Christ, the Model and Leader of Christian perfection.

Christ came not only for the salvation of mankind but also for its sanctification. He proclaimed that in His Father's house there were many mansions. He offered to mankind not only eternal life but a particular glory therein. To all mankind He proclaimed: "If thou wilt enter eternal life keep the Commandments." That was His proclamation to all who were seeking salvation. He made a special proclamation to generous souls, to those of lofty ideals. He knew that there are those, and not a few, who are not content with doing only what they *Mt do in a good cause, but in their generosity desire to do all that they can do.

Such persons are not satisfied with doing only what is obligatory, but seek to show magnanimity and devotion to the cause by offering themselves unreservedly to it. We see this spirit in what we term patriotism. Patriots are those who serve their country disinterestedly and generously. Christianity also has her patriots, those holy men and women, saints of God, who are the heroes of the Kingdom of Christ. These souls, in response to the invitation of Christ to ascend higher than the way of the Commandments, are drawn to special service in His cause by those words of His: "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and come, follow Me."

The Commandments are the way to salvation. The Counsels of Christ are the way to special sanctification and consequent distinction in God's eternal Kingdom. The Commandments are the law of life which everyone must observe in order to be saved. The Counsels of Christ are His invitation to generous souls to draw close to Him, to be associated with Him in His mission of extending the Kingdom of God on earth, to be His near companions in this life, in order to be very near to Him in eternal life. In other words, Christ offers man the opportunity of distinguished service in His cause.

This service calls for a closer following of the Master, a participation in the manner of life He led. Its motive is personal love of Christ who so loved us. Christ for love of us left His heavenly home and embraced a life of poverty and subjection. He appeals to those who desire to make Him a generous return of love, to do so, not by words, nor by what is of obligation, but by the voluntary renunciation, for love of Him, of what He renounced for love of them. For love of mankind He embraced poverty, obedience and self-denial. Those who respond to His invitation to draw close to Him likewise choose what He chose.

This higher life of the Counsels may be practiced in every walk of life from that of the king on his throne to that of the peasant in the field. Saints have worn crowns and have also been clothed in rags. Every career of life is open to close imitation of Christ. But in a special way what is called the religious life is adapted to the practice of the heroic virtues counseled by Christ. Members of a religious order bind themselves by vow to a life of close fellowship with Christ. They hearken to those words of His: "If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" '(Mark VIII. 34.) The religious vows are in a special way the cross of Christ, and he who observes them is truly carrying a cross after Christ. The Jesuit takes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and in the fulfillment of them finds his way of the cross, his Calvary, his crown.

Every religious order has its own spirit and distinctive features. The Jesuit Order is characterized by its apostolic obedience. At a word from the Supreme Pontiff, the Order will send its members to any part of the world where the cause of Christ needs defenders or promoters. At a word from its own Superior, who is called the General of the Order, its members are prepared to undertake any kind of work, and to go to any part of the world where the interests of God's Church call them. A statesman is reported to have said: "Give me the Constitutions of the Jesuits and I will rule the world." He over-looked something. The Constitutions are indeed a wonderful body of legislation but they are nothing without the men to abide by them.

This brings us to an intimate view of the formation of the Jesuit. What is it that makes the Jesuit so pliant in the hands of Superiors? What is it that causes men, who for the most part are rulers of men, to be as submissive as children to orders which at times make most heroic demands on human nature? The answer is the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Jesuit Order is the embodiment of the Spiritual Exercises. These are a brief set of meditations on the Eternal Truths of Revelation, arranged in a particularly practical manner. They are the work of the Founder of the Jesuit Order, and are the very basis and motive of the Society of Jesus.

Briefly, the Spiritual Exercises, which form or transform a man into an ardent follower of Christ, are a series of considerations on the End of man, the means to the End, and the obstacles to the End and the fate of those who miss the End. These are the basic meditations of the Spiritual Exercises and form their first part. Once a man realizes that the great object of life is to attain eternal life, the next step is to present Christ as Model and Leader of those who aspire to generous and devoted service in His Kingdom on earth. The second period of the Exercises is taken up with consideration and study of the life of Christ, with a view to know, love and imitate Him.

As a result of these meditations of the second period, a man perceives that the close following of Christ means the appreciation and acceptance in life of what Christ esteemed and valued. Christ so valued the soul that He declared it of more value than the whole material world. He so valued suffering and privation that having joy and abundance placed before Him He chose sorrow and poverty. What Christ chose must certainly have been wisely chosen. He who chooses what Christ chose is making a good choice. Consequently the knowledge and love of Christ, developed by prayerful study of His life and character, lead to the desire to imitate Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. That the following of Christ entails self-denial, self-conquest and self-oblation is forcibly inculcated by the third period or phase of the Spiritual Exercises which deals with Christ in conflict.

In this part we behold Our Divine Lord on the bloody field of His Passion, enduring excruciating pain and dreadful shame. He died in agony that we might live in eternal glory. He is the great Captain of the soldiers of the cross, going before His troops, saying to them, "Follow Me." When a devout follower beholds his Captain, Christ, enduring calumny, stripes and mortal anguish, he must feel that to desire better treatment than his Lord's is unworthy of one who aims at fellowship with Him. Hence the disciple formed on the model of Christ in the Spiritual Exercises is prepared to carry cheerfully with Christ and for Christ whatever cross the duties of life may lay upon him.

When we see, as we shall see, Jogues and others of his Order, bearing tortures which cause the stoutest heart to quail, we shall know whence came the strength and virtue to bear them with such patience and fortitude as to win the admiration of the savages themselves. When we see, as we shall see, Jogues carving the cross on the bark of trees, and constructing it out of sticks of wood, we shall understand that it was from his Master, Christ on the Cross, that he drew his courage to endure what humanly speaking was beyond endurance.

Finally in the fourth period of the Exercises, Christ is presented triumphant, Victor over death and the grave, the glorious Captain of all the soldiers of the cross. This phase of the Exercises animates the lovers of Christ to follow Him cheerfully in conflict, knowing that they who suffer with Him shall reign with Him. The Indians were at a loss to understand the disinterested labors of the missioners, and their great capacity for suffering. The cross of Christ and the love of Christ give the explanation. The Exercises of St. Ignatius do not merely give a portrayal of Christ, but cause the one who makes them to put on Christ, as it were. Christ becomes a vital factor of life, a dominant motive of action. It is their marvelous power to influence conduct that gives them their efficacy.

Jogues began his life as a Jesuit by making the Spiritual Exercises for a period of thirty consecutive days. After that, in the Jesuit Order there follows a period of two years of what is called probation or novitiate. During this time the candidate for permanent membership in the Order must give proof of capacity and virtue. He also studies the principles of the spiritual life, and endeavors to form himself on the ideals of Christian perfection. The two years of probation ended, he is permitted to take the simple vows of the Order. He now begins a course of study to fit himself for the priesthood and the apostolate. The duration of this time of study depends on the previous education of the individual.

Ordinarily a young man who desires to be a Jesuit must after college studies, spend in the Order about fifteen years of preparation and study before he is ordained to the priesthood. Jesuits, during the period of study and preparation for the priesthood are called Scholastics. After taking his first vows the Scholastic spends two years reviewing his studies and acquiring so thorough a knowledge of the classics that he will be able to teach them later in one of' the Jesuit colleges. Following this classical course he takes up the study of philosophy and science for a period of three years.

He has now been a member of the Order for seven years, of which two were devoted to the novitiate, two to the review of classical studies, and three to the study of philosophy and the physical sciences. By this time the average Scholastic is twenty-five years old. He now interrupts study for a period of teaching. One really never knows a thing until one can impart one's knowledge to others. Teaching is the best way to obtain clear and accurate knowledge. It also matures and develops the mind. This period of teaching is of the greatest benefit as a preparation for the study of Theology, the Queen of Sciences.

After three or five years of teaching, and at about the age of thirty, the Jesuit Scholastic begins the study of Theology, bringing to it a maturity of mind and character which helps greatly in the proper comprehension of this sublime subject. Four years are given to Theology, but at the end of three years, and usually at the age of thirty-three the Scholastic is ordained to the priesthood. He makes his final year of Theology as a priest. All his studies completed, the Jesuit priest now devotes one year to the cultivation of the spiritual life exclusively. By this long regime of some sixteen or seventeen years the Jesuit has endeavored to fit himself morally, intellectually and spiritually for every emergency of apostolic life.

For the most part the life of a Jesuit is devoted to educational and missionary work. At the time when Jogues left France for North America the Jesuits were virtually the educators of Europe. Their colleges and universities dotted every part of the continent. Thousands of members of the Order occupied chairs of philosophy, theology, science and languages in the foremost educational establishments of the age. At this period they were also renowned preachers and stout defenders of the Faith. With voice and pen they stood forth the champions and propagators of the true religion.

While many of the Order were thus serving the Church of Christ by teaching, preaching and writing in Europe, others in distant India, China, South America and elsewhere were bringing the light of the Gospel to those who dwelt in darkness and error. Portraying the Jesuits in North America, Parkman thus describes their missionary labors: "A life sequestered from social intercourse, and remote from

every prize which ambition holds worth the pursuit, or a lonely death, under forms perhaps, the most appalling these were the missioners' alternatives. Their maligners may taunt them, if they will, with credulity, superstition, or a blind enthusiasm; but slander itself cannot accuse them of hypocrisy or ambition."

Again he says: "More Jesuits crossed the sea to urge on the work of conversion. These were no stern exiles, seeking on barbarous shores an asylum for a persecuted faith. Rank, wealth, power, and royalty itself, smiled on their enterprise, and bade them God-speed. Yet withal, a fervor more intense, a self-abnegation more complete, a self-devotion more constant and enduring, will scarcely find its record on the page of human history. Later, after having enumerated perils and sufferings unsurpassed in human annals, he adds: "In all the copious records of this dark period, not a line gives occasion to suspect that one of this loyal band flinched or hesitated. Eulogy from Parkman is praise, indeed, for of all men he is the last to be suspected of bias in their favor.

Guizot, in speaking of the Jesuits and their work at the time of the Reformation, says: "Everybody knows that the principal power instituted to contend against the Reformation was the order of the Jesuits. . . . Every thing, in short, was against the Jesuits, both fortune and appearances; reason, which desires success, and imagination, which requires éclat, were alike disappointed by their fate. Still, however, they were undoubtedly possessed of grandeur; great ideas are attached to their name, their influence, and their history. The reason is that they were fully and clearly aware of the principles upon which they acted, and of the object which they had in view. They possessed grandeur of thought and of will; and it was this that saved them from ridicule which attends constant reverses, and the use of paltry means."

Macaulay, although bigotry led him to affirm against the Jesuits the false accusation that the end justifies the means, could not, nevertheless, refrain from enthusiastic admiration of their achievements: "There was no region of the globe, no walk of speculative or of active life, in which Jesuits were not to be found. . . .They wandered to countries which neither mercantile avidity nor liberal curiosity had ever impelled any stranger to explore. . . . Yet, whatever might be their residence, whatever might be their employment, their spirit was the same, entire devotion to the common cause. . . . If he was wanted in Lima, he was on the Atlantic in the next fleet. If he was wanted at Bagdad, he was toiling through the desert with the next caravan. If his ministry was needed in some country where his life was more insecure than that of a wolf, where it was a crime to harbor him . . . he went without remonstrance or hesitation to his doom."

Parkman, Guizot and Macaulay were Protestants. Were we to quote Catholic writers on the subject it might seem like courting praise for the Order.

A recent writer, Henry Dwight Sedgwick, a non-Catholic, in the preface to his Life of Ignatius Loyola, says: "The greatness of the Order is plainly measured by the host of enemies that banded together to pull it down. And yet, in spite of all its enemies, it rose again, and to-day its colleges and schools continue to maintain and propagate the Holy Catholic Faith, Apostolic and Roman, in every quarter of the globe . . . the great heritage that our world of to-day has received from Spain . . . is the civilization of South America; and in that civilization, as I am told, the Order of Jesus has been the chief individual factor. . . . Readers of Parkman know what they did for the civilization of Canada; and if any one is curious as to the place that the Society occupies in the United States to-day, he has but to visit the Colleges of the Jesuits in New York, Boston, Washington, Worcester, and many another city, or, if he prefer, their schools and churches scattered all over."

As educators at home, and missioners abroad, the Jesuits have left their impress wherever they have labored. The long years of study and discipline are well spent, as the event proves. It may interest the reader to know what constitutes the daily round of duties of a Jesuit living under normal conditions. The Jesuit rises ordinarily at five o'clock in the morning. From five-thirty to six-thirty he spends in prayer and meditation, studying the life of Christ, with a view to reproducing the spirit of Christ in his own life. Meditation is followed by Mass. Before priesthood, the Scholastics, as those are called who are in their period of preparation for priesthood, receive Holy Communion every day.

After Mass come the duties of the day. But the duties, no matter how pressing, are interrupted at intervals by prayer, recollection, examination of conscience and various devotions which tend to cultivate the supernatural life. The trend of everything they do is to make them men of supernatural virtues, crucified to the world, and living for Christ. Their attitude towards life is that although they must live in this world they must not live for it. This does not mean that they neglect the duties and obligations of life, but that they rate them at their proper value.

The best way to live for eternal life is to discharge properly the duties of the present life. The best way to fill one's station in life is to realize that it is a means to everlasting life. The Jesuit terminates his day of prayer, study and other duties by a final examination of conscience. It is thus by a round of study and prayer, day after day, that he is formed into a soldier of the cross, prepared at the bidding of his superior to go gladly anywhere and to undertake cheerfully any duty that may be assigned him to promote the honor and glory of God and extend the Kingdom of Christ on earth. To work with and for Christ is the life of a Jesuit.

The spirit of the Order founded by Loyola may be expressed by the phrase he himself so frequently used: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam  (A.M.D.G.) which means, doing everything for the greater glory of God. We have presented, of course, the Jesuit ideal. We are all human and have our limitations. But Many, very many members of the Order have attained the ideal. Not least among them was Jogues, of whom Parkman wrote: "Isaac Jogues was one of the purest examples of Roman Catholic virtue which this Western Continent has seen." Such tribute coming from a historian who was not of the Catholic Faith, carries its own encomium.

Loyola, in his Constitutions and Rules aimed at having the members of his Order imbued with the spirit of Christ, esteeming what Christ esteemed, and desirous of sharing with Him and for Him, suffering ignominy and ingratitude. The Jesuit missioners among the North American Indians had frequent occasion of displaying in heroic degree the lofty virtues inculcated by the spirit of their Order. As we behold Jogues in torture, and wonder how a human being could endure what he suffered, it will help us to understand his fortitude and patience and forgiveness if we recall the spiritual formation he received by years of the study and imitation of Jesus Christ, his Model and Leader.

To know Christ is to love Christ. To know Christ intimately is to love Him ardently. Ardent love inspires and accomplishes the impossible. It was the strong and personal love of Christ which impelled Jogues and his companions in martyrdom to leave civilization, home and lifelong associations in order to bring Christ into the lives of far-off savages. As Christ left heaven and became man, and suffered and died, in order to show His love for them, so they for love of Him were glad to leave all that was dear to their hearts, and to embrace everything that the heart of man shrinks from.

Unless we understand the underlying motive that inspired Jogues in his apostolic career among the most ferocious savages of a savage country, we shall miss altogether the sublimity of his sacrifice. If one should look upon Christ in His passion without knowing who Christ was and why He was suffering, one might indeed marvel at the spectacle, but would at the same time fail to realize its significance and its tremendous import. So with Jogues. Unless we realize in him the sensitive, cultured man, and the ardent lover of Christ, living and suffering to make Christ known and loved, and willingly giving his life that he might bring eternal life to those for whom Christ died, we shall fail to perceive aright his way of the cross and his Calvary.

Merely as a man and as a hero Jogues stands out conspicuous among the heroes of all time. But he is more than that. Jogues has been raised to the Altar of God, proclaimed Blessed by the Voice of God on earth, and is numbered among those of whom Christ has declared "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John XV. 13.) Jogues after living for Christ, died for Christ. But as Calvary was not the end for Christ, so the tomahawk that split the skull of Jogues was not the end but rather the beginning for him. "But they that shall be accounted worthy . . . . of the resurrection . . . neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God." (Luke XX. 35-36.)

It was to bring this divine life to the savages that Jogues sacrificed his life. It was the love of God, and a realization of the value of the human soul, that impelled him to engage in the marvelous enterprise and career of suffering which we are about to narrate. He was one of the most heroic figures of that heroic band of apostolic men who left the peace and culture of Europe to embrace a life of hardship and disgust amidst the savages of far-off North America. No greater contrast is conceivable than that of Europe and North America in the early seventeenth century. It is necessary to keep this in mind if we would appreciate the heroism of these men of refinement who not only dwelt among the savages but shared their life, except its vices, in all its most repulsive details.

Jogues, as we shall see, endured privation and torture which caused his very torturers to marvel at his fortitude and constancy. He is another illustration that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians, for the land that witnessed the shedding of his blood is now filled with people and clergy of his faith; and the cross, then so hated, now adorns many noble temples dedicated to the worship of Him to make whom known and loved was the main object in the life of Isaac Jogues.