Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Kateri - First Native American Saint!

July 14 - Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha - First Native American Saint

1656 - 1680
In April 1656, a baby was born in an Iroquois village situated along the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York. Her mother was a Christian and wanted her to be baptized, but her father was chief of a tribe who opposed the French Jesuit priests. "Little Sunshine" was a ray of joy to family and friends, but joy and love in the family didn't last long. When she was four years old, smallpox swept through the village. Her father, mother, and baby brother died, leaving Sunshine pock-marked and almost blind. Her uncle adopted her and she was renamed Tekakwitha ("she who pushes with her hands") due to her having to feel her way around as a blind person.

As her childhood passed, her eyesight improved. She became very skilled in Indian embroidery, beading, and wood carving. She worked hard, but in her free time she liked to walk in the woods or stroll along the river, where she could be alone and think about God. As her new family was not Christian, she was not to pray or talk with the missionaries who worked among the Indians. When she was eighteen, she announced that she wanted to become a Christian. Her family was furious.

She attended lessons at the mission and on Easter Sunday, 1676, she was baptized with the name Kateri (Katherine). After this she was treated cruelly by her family, but she never showed her misery. Eventually, two kind Christian Indians helped her escape across the St. Lawrence River to a Christian community in Canada, where she received her First Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1677. There she carried water, cooked, sewed, and attended every Mass. She spent all her free time in the love and service of the Lord.

On a trip to Montreal to sell Native American handicrafts, Kateri met a religious order of nuns and realized her calling. On March 25, The Feast of the Annunciation, Kateri privately pronounced her vows. From then on, she devoted her life completely to God.

Her private penances and hard work left her often ill. She suffered greatly during the winter of 1680 and on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24, Kateri died. Almost immediately her face turned beautiful and shining. All the pockmarks from her disease disappeared. A smile appeared on her lips. Everyone was astonished. The wonderful transformation remained until burial the next day on Holy Thursday.

The Lily of the Mohawk was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is celebrated on July 14.

Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology, as is St. Francis of Assisi. On October 21, 2012, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.  The miracle attributed to Kateri's canonization is the story of Jake Finkbonner. Jake was so close to death after flesh-eating bacteria infected him through a cut on his lip that his parents had last rites performed and were discussing donating the 5-year-old's tiny organs. His cure in 2006 from the infection was deemed medically inexplicable by the Vatican, and became the "miracle" needed to propel a 17th century Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, on to sainthood. Jake is fully convinced, as is the Catholic Church, that the prayers his family and community offered to God through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of a Kateri relic on Jake's leg, were responsible for his survival. Jake, now 13 and an avid basketball player and cross-country runner, was present at the canonization; along with hundreds of members of his own Lummi tribe from northwest Washington State and indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada.

Statue at Cathedral Basilica ~ Santa Fe, NM

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

In honor of St. Benedict . . .

Prayer of St. Benedict

Gracious and holy God,
give me wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power
of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ
our Savior.

Image by Doris Klein, CSA

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Blessing Prayer . . .

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we will live deep in our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people and the earth, so that we will work for justice, equity, and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer so we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain and sorrow into joy.

And may God bless us with the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in the world, so we will do the things which others say cannot be done. (Author Unknown/ A Franciscan Blessing)

Prayer for the Day . . .

Gracious God,
thank you for the gift of today.
Refresh me . . . Invite me . . .
to discover Your Presence in each person
that I meet, and every event encountered.
Teach me when to speak and when to listen,
when to ponder and when to share.
In moments of challenge and decision attune my
heart to the whisperings of Your Wisdom.
As I undertake ordinary and unnoticed tasks,
gift me with simple Joy.
When my day goes well, may I rejoice!
When it grows difficult
surprise me with new possibilities.
When life is overwhelming
call me to Sabbath moments
to restore Your Peace and Harmony.
May my living today
reveal your goodness.
(Author Unknown)

A Spirit Prayer of Healing and Whole-ing!

Spirit of Love, who moves with creation, drawing the threads to color and design, life into life, you knit our true salvation: come work with us, and weave us into one. 

Though we have frayed the fabric of your making, tearing away from all that you intend, yet to be whole, humanity is aching; come work with us, and weave us into one.

Great loom of God, where history is woven, you are the frame that holds us to the truth;  Christ is the theme, the pattern you have given: come work with us, and weave us into one.

World Council of Churches Assembly

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The River Speaks . . .

Once upon a time there was a town that was built just beyond the bend of a large river. One day some of the children from the town were playing beside the river when they noticed three bodies floating in the water. They ran for help and the townsfolk quickly pulled the bodies out of the river. One body was dead so they buried it. One was alive, but quite ill, so they put that person into the hospital. The third turned out to be a healthy child, who they then placed with a family who cared for it and who took it to school.  

From that day on, every day a number of bodies came floating down the river and, every day, the good people of the town would pull them out and tend to them – taking the sick to hospitals, placing the children with families, and burying those who were dead. 

This went on for years; each day brought its quota of bodies, and the townsfolk not only came to expect a number of bodies each day but also worked at developing more elaborate systems for picking them out of the river and tending to them. Some of the townsfolk became quite generous in tending to these bodies and a few extraordinary ones even gave up their jobs so that they could tend to this concern full-time.  And the town itself felt a certain healthy pride in its generosity. However, during all these years and despite all the generosity and effort, nobody thought to go up the river, beyond the bend that hid from their sight what was above them, and find out why, daily, those bodies came floating down the river. 

This story is often used to have the listener reflect on the difference between charity and justice. Author and storyteller, Megan McKenna, would frequently pose the following questions after she told a story: 1) How does the story make you feel? 2) What is disturbing for you in the story?   3) What is true in that story?  I’m sure you are pondering these questions right now in light of COVID-19 and the call for justice throughout the world.  That’s a good thing.