Blessed Kateri's TekakwithaA young girl rose quickly, leaving her cabin before dawn in the bitterness of the winter cold. Traveling through the depths of the snow she reached the chapel door, waiting for it to open so that she could spend time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. “Here is a wise and faithful virgin who went with lighted lamp to meet her Lord.”
On July 14 the Church celebrated the Feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the “Lily of the Mohawks.” Woven so beautifully in her life are two themes: devotion to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and fidelity to the life of consecrated virginity. The Holy Eucharist was as essential to Blessed Kateri’s life as the sun in the sky is to ours. For the Holy Eucharist, of which the Native American symbol is the sun, was the very heartbeat of her life. As Ruth Oswald writes, “in view of her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, she may also be called ‘Lily of the Holy Eucharist.’”
From an early age Blessed Kateri had a great love for God. Although her mother died when she was only four, it was from her that Kateri learned how to pray. Later, when the Jesuit Missionaries came to her home, the spark of love for God which burned within her heart became a Living Flame of Love. Kateri longed to be a Christian, and most of all, to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. The Jesuit fathers were highly impressed by the young woman’s love for God. When Kateri’s name arose in a conversation among them one day, Fr. Claude Chauche-tiere said “I do believe she is a Saint. She fairly lives in the chapel, spends every moment she can spare from her work before the Blessed Sacrament. On Sundays and Holydays she spends the whole day in Church, leaving only for meals. Though she has not yet made her First Holy Communion, her love for the Eucharist is astounding, to say the least. She is living for the day when she can receive the Eucharist.” Others were also drawn and inspired by the young woman’s love for Jesus in the Sacred Host, for later even “her neighbors sought to be near her when she received Holy Communion, as her manner excited devotion” (Oswald).
Following the reception of her First Holy Communion, Blessed Kateri met some Sisters and ardently desired to spend her life for Jesus as they did. She was unable to do so, but with encouragement from a friend took a vow of consecrated virginity. Like in the call to the religious life, a consecrated virgin is seen as “wed” to the Lord. As St. Ambrose wrote of this calling, “she is a virgin who is married to God.” Like the Church in its Liturgy for Virgins, the consecrated virgin prays “You Yourself, O Christ, are my all. For You I keep myself chaste, and holding aloft my shining lamp I run to meet You, my Spouse.” And this was certainly Kateri’s prayer.
In his 1954 encyclical “Sacra Virginitas” Pope Pius XII writes of the vocation of consecrated virginity and the central role of the Eucharist in such a call. For, “the more pure and chaste is a soul, the more it hungers for this bread, from which it derives strength to resist all temptations to sins of impurity, and by which it is more intimately united with the Divine Spouse; ‘He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood, abides in Me and I in Him.’” For this call which Kateri answered - the call to an espousal relationship, a personal intimacy and a mystical unity with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is given and open to us all.
It was through the beauty and the power of Jesus
in the Most Holy Eucharist that Blessed Kateri was strengthened to endure
the intense persecution for her choice of virginity, as well as, her great
sufferings which resulted from small pox. Jesus in the Most Blessed
Sacrament, Who is purity Itself, transformed her into His own image - the
image of the unblemished Lamb. Pope Pius XII explains in his
encyclical that such virgins and souls are described in Revelation as
those who “follow the Lamb [Who is Jesus Eucharistic] wherever He
goes.” And it is these same souls, he writes, who will sing the new
canticle, that is the song of those whose robes have been washed clean by
the Blood of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the unblemished Lamb
May we travel in the footsteps of Blessed Kateri - Lily of the Mohawks and Lily of the Holy Eucharist - to the Throne of the Eucharistic Lamb of Love, singing with her the song of the new day “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power!” (Rev. 4:11). For those who receive and adore Him, who are washed clean in the Holy Eucharist will be transformed into Lilies of the Eucharist, and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17b). And they will see the dawn of which “the glory of God is its Light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23b).
Lily of purity, consoler of the Eucharistic Heart
of Jesus, bright light for all Indians, courage of the afflicted, lover of
the Cross of Jesus, flower of fortitude for the persecuted who loved Jesus
in the Most Blessed Sacrament - pray for us.
Copyright 1998, M.B.S. All rights reserved.
Excerpts from the Catholic Network's biography of Blessed Kateri's Tekakwitha:
"Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass."
"Out from her Caughnawaga cabin at dawn and
straight-way to chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament, hear every Mass;
back again during the day to hear instruction, and at night for a last
prayer or Benediction. Her neighbors sought to be near her when she
received Holy Communion, as her manner excited devotion."
LITANY OF BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA
Lord, have mercy on us.
Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare
us, 0 Lord.
LET US PRAY
0 Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of
Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.