Remembering the faithful witness of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14, 2021): EX 3:1-6,9-12; PS 103:1-2,3-4,6-7; MT 11:25-27
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
On a priest’s advice, Kateri walked two hundred miles to a Christian mission near Montreal. She lived there for the rest of her short life, practicing penance and fasting as well as spending long periods in prayer.
Like so many saints, Kateri Tekakwitha endured great hardship living as a follower of Christ. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who died of smallpox in 1660 when her daughter was only four. The little girl also suffered from the disease that left her face with pockmarks and her eyesight damaged. Raised by Mohawk relatives, she known as Tekakwitha which means “one who walks groping her way.” Attracted by the faith taught by Jesuit priests who sometimes visited her community in northern New York State, she eventually asked to be baptized. Some of the people around her made life difficult after she became a Catholic. On a priest’s advice, Kateri walked two hundred miles to a Christian mission near Montreal. She lived there for the rest of her short life, practicing penance and fasting as well as spending long periods in prayer. She also acted with great charity to others, especially those in greater need than she was. She had long determined not to marry and in 1679 she openly professed her virginity. Kateri is quoted as saying: “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.”
By spring of 1680, St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s health was failing and she received Last Rites. After her death her face is said to have been transformed so that all signs of disfigurement disappeared. She was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Today she is honored as patron of ecology and the environment as well as of Native Americans. .
Suggested missionary action: Today, we can pray to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, asking her to help us grow in our faith in Christ, especially when it is difficult. We can also seek her guidance in appreciating and caring for God’s good earth.