St Kateri Tekakwitha
I'm excited to introduce #SaintSaturday! Once a month we will be focusing on a female saint as an additional source of inspiration, guidance and intercession in our journey towards Christ.
Today we'll be looking at the life of St Kateri Tekakwitha and how her story is relevant to ours.
St Kateri (Catherine), also known as “Lily of the Mohawks”, was born to Native American parents in New York, and named Tekakwitha. Tragedy hit her life early as she lost her parents, her brother and half of her sight, to smallpox, at a very young age. She was also left with scars on her face due to the disease.
Experiencing death of loved ones did not stop St Kateri from chasing Christ as this desire would soon ignite in her and set her soul on fire. It was the visiting of Jesuit missionaries that placed this seed in her, and this seed kept on growing, and would turn into hours of prayer and intense fasting, despite the strong opposition from much of the community, including her guardians.
St Kateri declined a proposal of getting married “believing that she was married to God and that no man could take God’s place in her heart”(3). How beautifully worded and applicable to all of us. Regardless of our vocation, no human can fill the places of our hearts that are made only for Christ.
At around age 19, St Kateri was baptized, as Kateri, and was greeted with strong disapproval from her village. Nevertheless, St Kateri persevered in her devotion to Christ. She eventually moved to Montreal so that she could safely practice her faith. One source states that her journey from New York to a Christian Indian village in Montreal was done in over 300km by foot (1).
Even when it was harder to chose Christ, St Kateri still chose him.
Though her life was threatened by her choice to follow Christ, St Kateri “was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.” For St Kateri, the broken nature of humans did not change Who God was and how His children deserve to be treated.
At age 23, St Kateri died of tuberculosis, with some sources reporting the smallpox scars immediately disappearing after her death (1)(3).
After multiple miraculous cures and answered prayers through her intercession, St Kateri Tekakwitha was first made venerable, then beatified, and finally canonized in 2012.
Walking 300km is not exactly practical for all of us, so what does choosing Christ look like on an average day?
Let’s go back to the topic of vices and virtues that we reflected on in the past few weeks.
Choosing Christ looks like this: forgiveness, charity, kindness, perseverance, chastity, temperance, humility.
Not choosing Christ looks like this: anger, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, pride.
How far will I go to follow Christ? How easily do I give up? Lord, give me the strength to chose You like St Kateri did, in my daily doings. When I start to give in and look for an easier path, open my heart to see You, and help me surrender. St Kateri, pray for us.
(1) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-kateri-tekakwitha/ (2) http://mnnews.today/church/2018/27971-20-women-saints-who-made-a-mark-on-the-catholic-world/ (3) http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/church-in-canada-and-world/catholic-church-in-canada/indigenous-peoples/3263-blessed-kateri-tekakwitha