Friday, July 15, 2011

Marianist Renewal Program - Day Five

Yesterday we blessed the statute of a woman at Founder's Hollow who was rejected by her own, but managed to live a grace-filled life.
We might call her a saint. Or, as in the case of Kateri Tekakwitha, a blessed.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be beatified. She was the only survivor from her family of origin when small pox infected her village. That's was the norm back in the ole days, before the age of vaccines and antibiotics. European settlers to the Americas had not only brought their trade and their Christian faith, unfortunately, they also brought their diseases.

Born in 1656 in the Mohawk River Valley near what would become Auriesville, New York, Tekakwitha had a Christian Algonquin mother and a pagan Mohawk warrior father. Tekakwitha's battle with the small pox left her face pock-mocked and scarred, and with very poor eyesight.

A Christian mission was erected by the Jesuits, when Tekakwitha was a teenager. She secretly began taking religious instruction with "the black robes." She was baptized in 1676, at the age of 20, and given the name Kateri.

Kateri's joy at becoming a Christian faced open hostility from the members of her tribe. Despite this rejection, she was devoted to Christ and, knowing nothing about religious life, pledged her life to Christ as a virgin, foregoing marriage and security, making her a certain outcast among her tribe.

Kateri's own words describe her courage in her adversity: 

I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I'll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.

From Blessed William Joseph Chaminade -

God is strong for our defense; but we must desire to be defended. Your salvation and your peace are in his hands; ask for them (Spirit 2, § B495).