Thursday, July 14, 2005
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha: Extraordinary Holiness in the midst of ordinary circumstances  

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of the diocese of St. Louis has written beautifully of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in one of his recent weekly columns. He makes the point that she is a saint for today because she lived a life of holiness in the midst of ordinary daily activities and through a life marked with tragedy, suffering, and persecution.

A brief description of her life from Catholic Forum:
Daughter of a Christian Algonquin woman captured by Iroquois and married to a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Orphaned during a smallpox epidemic, which left her with a scarred face and impaired eyesight. Converted and baptized in 1676 by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary. Shunned and abused by relatives for her faith. Escaped through 200 miles of wilderness to the Christian Native American village of Sault-Sainte-Marie. Took a vow of chastity in 1679. Known for spirituality and austere lifestyle. Miracle worker. Her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists.
Archbishop Burke writes that she led this life of holiness with the aids given to each of us through Holy Mother Church:
Although Kateri always carried out faithfully her daily duties in the mission, she led a disciplined life of prayer and took every occasion to receive further instruction in the faith. Daily Mass, eucharistic visits and Vespers, and private prayer, especially the rosary, marked the pattern of her daily living. During the hunt, she would spend time in the woods before a cross which she carved into the bark of a tree or made with the sticks she found there. In the life of Blessed Kateri, we see the central place of devotion, inspired by communion with Christ through the Holy Eucharist and preparing for communion with Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Bishop Burke adds in his article that through the apostolic letters Novo millennio ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae and the encylical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, John Paul the Great has laid out a pastoral plan for the Church. This plan is exemplified in the life of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha:
In short, the pastoral plan which is life in Christ ("Novo millennio ineunte"), relying upon the example and constant intercession of the Mother of God, who leads us to Christ and helps us to come to know Him and love Him ("Rosarium Virginis Mariae"), reaches its fullness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia"). The Holy Eucharist is the source and the highest expression of our life in Christ. To the degree that our faith is true, we are in constant wonder and gratitude before the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, rightly called the Mystery of Faith.

Studying the life of Blessed Kateri, we come to understand the pastoral plan of Pope John Paul II. More importantly, we are inspired to put his pastoral plan in action, through the study of the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation (the mystery of the Cross), through prayer and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, and through the careful and loving fulfillment of the duties of our daily life. Pondering the life of Blessed Kateri, we discover the extraordinary nature of our ordinary Christian living and are filled with new enthusiasm and energy to transform our personal life and our world with the love of Christ.
The late Holy Father beatified and canonized many men and women who lived this same type of life of holiness in the midst of ordinary circumstances. Through the examples of these men and women, we see that we, too, can follow God and remain faithful to Him no matter what are the difficulties that we face in this life. It is comforting that God would show us the way through his disciples. Some suggest that in the situations we face that we ask, "What would Jesus do?", and I believe that this is valuable prayer which God will answer. However, in my more thoughtful moments, I consider that I should ask Him, "What would You have me to do?" I have a specific vocation which has been given specifically to me by God. The saints show us that we can live out that vocation even in our very lives marked with tragedy and suffering in this valley of tears. God is fully aware of what He has given me and what He has permitted to occur to me. I need to accept my circumstances as part of the answer to the question of "What would You have me to do?" He wants me to be a faithful Christian, right here, right now with the resources I have at hand.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Interesting site, by a relative of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

Picture: Kateri On-line

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