Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Journey Toward Sainthood

     In 1656 a young girl was born in the Mohawk fortress of Ossemenon in upstate New York.  Her parents were a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Algonquin woman whom her father had saved during a raid, and her name was Kateri Tekakwitha.  At the age of four she was the only one of her immediate family to survive smallpox, although it left her scarred and with limited eyesight.  She was adopted by her uncle, who was chief of a clan.  Despite a number of offers of marriage, she decided after having received instruction in the Faith from Jesuit missionaries to live her life not only as a Christian but as a Christian virgin, which was not readily understood by her peers.  She was baptized at the age of twenty, and received death threats and persecution for her decision in life.  To escape this hostility, she went to the Christian community in what is now Quebec, where she lived her life in prayer and mortification until she died at the age of twenty-four.  Her holiness and courage came to be known and admired, and Kateri, who was known as the "Lily of the Mohawk", was modeled and her cause championed by many.  On June 22, 1980, Pope John Paul II beatified her, and today the Church in the United States recognizes this first Native American raised to the altar.

     I mention her because of her feast day today, because of the award in her honor that is given in Catholic Scouting for girls, and most of all because her cause has been approved and she will be canonized as a saint in October of this year, adding to the number of American Saints that we can be inspired by.  I do a little item in our bulletin each week that looks at the saints whose feasts are celebrated in the coming days.  I call it "Companions on the Journey", for that is indeed what they are.

     The Collect proper for the days says:

O God, who desired the Virgin Kateri Tekakwitha
to flower among Native Americans
in a life of innocence,
grant, through her intercession,
that when all are gathered into your Church
from every nation, tribe and tongue,
they may magnify you
in a single canticle of praise.

Soon to be Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us!

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