(These photos were taken on my most recent visit to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Auriesville. This is the spot or near the spot in the Mohawk village where the Jesuit martyrs were tortured and martyred. It is called the torture platform and it was covered up for repairs on the previous visit. I think this is the reminder that Jesus travels with us regardless of everything else. These were a few of my journal entries and thoughts while I was sitting there in contemplation.)
The air is cool, crisp, not cold but damp. It is just as quiet as the first time. I’ve come today for two things – to see the museums and the wayside crucifix. Unfortunately, the museums are closed for the season and the crucifix is gone – it came down last year and needs replacing.
I’m still content.
The torture platform is out in the open this time. Easily enough sad and imposing – again, I describe this place as idyllic and pastoral but Father Jogues and LaLande, his companion were tortured there for days. We think of our parents and teachers as tortuous and unfeeling. We cannot imagine what it means to be tortured for anything, let alone our belief in Jesus.
It’s more than a duality, more than two sides of the same coin. How do I describe something so at odds with the other? Even the trees dying are filled with burning, blazing colors and that is under a cloud-filled sky; overcast, wanting to burst with rain.
You know how people say music and singing is like praying twice? What is writing then if not the same thing? Writing is often my prayer; my hug, my comfort. All things can be done with a little prayer; however it is that we pray.
I’m still not sure what to call my Shrine visit. Since I live so close, about an hour, it feels odd to call it a pilgrimage, but really what else was it? Retreats have leaders and in my mind, they last more than one day or part of one day. It was a few weeks ago that I went on a day pilgrimage to the Shrine of North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY [Technically, it’s the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs]. I couldn’t believe how close it was, practically in my backyard. It is so much of what I run away from home looking for and all the things I picture a shrine should be: pastoral, bucolic, natural, historic. Should I use serene? That seems cliche but it does fit. Strolling the grounds costs nothing but time, and it’s beautiful and quiet, and yes, serene, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. It is the perfect place to think and to pray and to reflect and contemplate on anything; everything.
These grounds are a reliquary to the North American Martyrs, St. Isaac Jogues and his Companions, St. Rene Goupil and St. John LaLande. In 1642, the same year Rene Goupil was martyred, the first known recitation of the Rosary was prayed here. This was also the birthplace ten years later after St. Jogues and St. Lalande’s martyrdoms, of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
The view of the Mohawk Valley and River from the Shrine Grounds
Three Crosses bearing the names of the North American Martyrs at the Entrance, at the edge of what was the Mohawk village.
Unfortunately, I’ve been ill all morning so I wasn’t able to post what I intended today; the reflection from my visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs. I am hoping to push my usual dailies down by a day, and start my week tomorrow.