Monday 22 October 2012

A New Saint: Kateri, A Witness to Beauty

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


There is something exciting about celebrating the canonization of a new saint. Yesterday, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven new saints; a Jesuit and two others with Jesuit connections were among this group. They are Saint Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit missionary; Saint Peter Calungsod, a lay Catholic from Cebu, Philippines who travelled with Jesuit missionaries; and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who became the first Native American saint.

In 1677, Kateri travelled from present day’s New York state to a place called Kahnawake that is just outside of Montreal, in order to practice her faith more freely. This journey of more than 200 miles led her to the Jesuit mission where she spent a life of prayer, care for her fellow natives and communion with God, especially in adoration of the Eucharist.

Like many of us, Kateri endured through tragedy, illness and the alienation from her community. Her family died of smallpox when she was very young. The smallpox also affected her eyesight and caused other health-related complications in her life. Through prayer, she learned to surrender completely to Christ, and eventually she committed herself to live a life of celibacy for the kingdom of God. Because of this, she was constantly mocked, harassed and bullied. She endured through it all because she wanted to offer all her sufferings as a reparation for sins, and as a token of love to Jesus, “from whom all Beauty comes”.

As she grew in the spirit of innocence and humility through prayer, she would say, “Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?” Upon hearing the Jesuit missionaries constantly preaching about living for the greater glory of God, Kateri desired to find the most pleasing thing she could do for God. She wanted to be a faithful, loving and generous Christian, even though she knew this would bring her much suffering.

Her great desire to love and serve the Father led her to do the same to her brothers and sisters in Christ. This was the source of her inner beauty. The more she gave herself in love and service, the more attractive her life became to those around her. She attracted many natives to the faith through her simplicity and humility. Her charisma inspired many to lead a life of prayer and penance. They called her the Lily of the Mohawks, or the Most Beautiful Flower among the native people.

Kateri died as a result of her poor health. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love you.” Kateri is an inspiration for all of us. She reminds us that Jesus brings deeper meaning to our sufferings and joys. He is the source of all that is good, beautiful and true. Insofar as we can live in communion with him, we are transformed and we can communicate goodness, beauty, truth and love to the world. In living this out, we are fulfilling the world’s greatest needs. Our joy in living out our relationship with Jesus is what will attract others to desire a deeper relationship with him. Kateri reminds us that being witnesses to faith, hope and love is the best evangelization and the truest way to transform the world. Let us pray, that in imitating Kateri, companion of Jesus and friend of those who search for him, we learn to imitate him and long for deeper communion with the Triune God. 

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Kateri, consoler of the heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, bright light for all Indians, pray for us.
Kateri, courage of the afflicted, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of the cross of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, flower of fortitude for the persecuted, pray for us.
Kateri, unshakeable in temptations, pray for us.
Kateri, full of patience in suffering, pray for us.
Kateri, keeper of your virginity in persecutions, pray for us.
Kateri, leader of many Indians to the true faith through your love for Mary, pray for us.

Kateri, who loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of penance, pray for us.
Kateri, who travelled many miles to learn the faith, pray for us.
Kateri, steadfast in all prayer, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved to pray the rosary for all people, pray for us.
Kateri, example to your people in all virtues, pray for us.
Kateri, humble servant to the sick, pray for us.
Kateri, who by your love of humility, gave joy to the angels, pray for us.
Kateri, your holy death gave strength to all Indians to love Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, whose scarred face in life became beautiful after death, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

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