Monday, July 13, 2009

Take Heart

July 14, 2009

Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

By Beth DeCristofaro

A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank…(the Pharoah’s daughter) was moved with pity for him and said, "It is one of the Hebrews' children." (Exodus 2:1-3, 6)

See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, take heart! (Psalm 69:33)

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! (Matthew 11:20)


Kateri, favored child, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, We admire the virtues which adorned your soul: love of God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us and help us. Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen. (From Novena Prayer to Blessed Kateri)


Today’s memorial of Blessed Kateri, recognized as the patroness of ecology and the environment, is an opportunity to praise God for the gift of faith and to renew our awareness of our world’s health.

Kateri survived smallpox as a small child but lost her parents. She was almost blinded by the illness yet grew into a shy, kind young woman. She remembered the faith of her mother, a Catholic Algonquin, and as a young adult began to visit a Jesuit missionary for instruction over the protest of her adopted family who opposed this new religion. Kateri was devoted to penitential practices, helping the poor in her village and teaching, especially about her love and faith in God. It was said that people loved to spend time with her and listen to her stories because they felt the presence of God when with her.

Threats against her increased after her baptism. Kateri left her home and walked for almost two months to a Catholic mission near Montreal. In her short life she dedicated herself to God, spent time in prayer, especially in the woods, alone, and received Eucharist as often as possible. Always in bad health, Kateri died at the age of 24.

If Kateri had lived in either Chorizin or Bethsaida, perhaps Jesus would not have had to reproach the unrepentant citizens. Perhaps because there was no Kateri to give them a model of loving humility and obedience Jesus needed to warn these arrogant and hard-hearted people in the most severe terms. He loves those who seek God, however. Kateri brought out good in those around her; witnesses at her death said that her final words were “Jesus, I love you.”


Take an opportunity today to look at nature – the sky, a tree, a hawk or perhaps even a very busy ant. Use that moment to praise God for the gifts of life of good people such as Kateri who reminds us God’s love in our lives. Savor the humility of knowing that you are but one of God’s creatures and take heart that you are one of God’s chosen. To whom are you a model of loving service, humility and obedience?