Skip to comments.How A ‘Mohawk Saint’ Can Inspire Us All
Posted on 07/14/2014 7:19:37 PM PDT by Salvation
Recently canonized Saint Kateri Tekakwitha obviously has a special meaning for Native Americans, but she’s already being held up as a powerful inspiration for other faithful Christians in many other ways.
One is reminded of St. Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 9 that he had “become all things to all, to save at least some.” Much the same could be said about St. Kateri regarding the many ways she can inspire Christians at different points in their faith journeys—based on reactions to her canonization in the Catholic News Service and First Things magazine:
Courage to be a Christian in a Hostile Culture: Converting to Catholicism as a Native American in the seventeenth century had to have been an extraordinary act of courage. And, as might be expected, St. Kateri was ostracized by her community. Her fellow tribesmen pelted her with stones when on her way to a local chapel and she was calumniated as a “sorceress and seductress,” according to First Things. She eventually had to go into exile. “I think many young people today are embarrassed about embracing the Catholic faith because they live in a secular culture that’s hostile toward religious experience,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, himself of Native American descent.
An Inspiration to Women: For some, it’s not her Native American heritage as much as it is her lowly position as a woman in her society that is inspiring their faith. As one Cree woman from Canada told the Catholic News Service: “Kateri inspires me because she’s an aboriginal woman. According to sociologists, aboriginal women are at the lowest (social) strata, and for the church to raise up to the communion of saints an aboriginal woman is so awesome and wonderful.” (Certainly Mary, as an unwed pregnant Jewish teenager, comes to mind as a parallel figure.)
Sanctity in the Small Things: Kateri did not found any new religious orders, she held no formal office in the Church or in secular institutions, and she did not leave any major writings or spiritual works. Instead, her life is a lesson in how sanctity can be achieved in the “small things.” “Saints don’t have to do extraordinary things, they just have to love,” said Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec. It reminds one of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her teachings about the “little way.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence that both saints have floral epithets: St. Therese was also known as the “Little Flower of Jesus” and St. Kateri has been called the “Lily of the Mohawks.”
The Beauty of Holiness: Kateri survived the smallpox epidemic, but was left disfigured and visually impaired. (For those readers not familiar with the terrible scars left by smallpox, I’ll leave it to you to find this for yourself on Google.) As if the ravages of disease were not enough of a cross for her to bear, she also reportedly would lie down on a bed of thorns as a practice of corporal mortification—identifying with the crucified Christ. On her deathbed, her followers reportedly saw the “scars on her face miraculously” fade away moments after she passed, according to a story in First Things.
Longing for Christ: Before Jesuit missionaries had set foot in her village, Kateri displayed what one First Things writer describes as “pre-Christian tendencies.” Her mother, who apparently was Catholic, passed on some teachings of the faith to Kateri, who embraced them wholeheartedly, reportedly going out into the woods for periods of long contemplation, “listening to God’s voice within her heart,” according to First Things.
Truly St. Kateri is a wonderful reminder—in more ways than one—that the Catholic Church is authentically catholic, i.e. universal.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on “Saints and Seekers” on Oct. 23, 2012 and is reprinted for the saints feast day.
Something we could all imitate.
Saint of the Day Ping!
One of the ways to "trace" Indian heritage is to recognize their problem with alcohol, the same problem that all oriental Asians have.
SO, being the FIRST Americans is their heritage, NOT being native or indigenous. We are ALL immigrants to the Americans.
TRULY an inspirational woman.
I know a lady named Kateri and she is quite a lady.
Kateri’s parents died from smallpox. She was born in America.
I recognize that photo as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.
Pray for us. Amen.
Smallpox, the scourge of the world. It was from filth. Since MOST places on the planet wallowed in filth and didn't know it was SUCH a bad thing, MOST countries of the world had small pox.
It started, of course, in China, the world's filthiest place. I used to think it was the Chinese people who were filthy, but it's NOT the people, it's the culture, as Singapore, 100% Chinese is spic and span. Same race of people, TOTALLY different culture.
It's all about what is important to the culture. The Chinese in China have priorities and MONEY is one of those priorities. Cleanliness COSTS. The culture spends its money on what it deems important, education, for one, but NOT on what it deems UNimportant--that is, COSTLY CLEANLINESS.
She is wonderful!
She had trouble with her eyesight due to the smallpox she had.
I read somewhere today, that as she died all the smallpox scars left her face.
The lives of the saints amaze me. History is replete with these obscure individuals who respond to Christ with heroic love. Individuals who would normally be lost in history find an endearing place in our hearts because of their enduring love. Their love relationship and suffering in union with Christ transcend time and space. In the darkness of their nights when the solace of Christ was not present they endured. In Christ’s plan they had no idea that many years later their suffering for love would provide us with such great inspiration. I look forward to meeting them and now ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for me that I too might endure.
Via what I think became known as the Bering Strait.
Native Americans are just that. Applying your definition to Europe, Asia, and Australia there are no natives of those places either. Native Americans are intermediate between Europeans and East Asians because they decend from the same population as those groups. They do have problems with alchohol but it has nothing to do with Asians.
This is an interesting article. I recall reading an anthropology study that used a priests journal about the movements of his flock which I recall was also Mohawk. That tribe was nomadic and the priest went from camp to camp.
As for the alcohol problem, that was part of their oriental Asian heritage. Again, it's information that is NOT new or startling. Even I knew about the Asian oriental problem with alcohol.
American Indians are the FIRST Americans, NOT natives. This country had only animal natives. NONE of this is new.
As for the field of archeo-genetics, it is new. The DNA studies started in the 1990’s and most are more recent. Anyone interested should read the work of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza who is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science.