Today is the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk woman who lived in the 17th century. A young convert forced to flee her village at the age of 18, Blessed Kateri lived most of her young life as a servant to others and in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She suffered from a serious illness during the last years of her life and died a virgin at the age of 24.
In an address to the Native Americans who traveled to Rome for her beatification in 1980, Blessed John Paul II said:
All of us are inspired by the example of this young woman of faith who died three centuries ago this year. We are all edified by her complete trust in the providence of God, and we are encouraged by her joyful fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a true sense the whole Church, together with you, declares in the words of Saint Paul: “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever."
The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.
Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism God has chosen each one of us "to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence." Holiness of life - union with Christ through prayer and works of charity - is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.
My brothers and sisters, may you be inspired and encouraged by the life of Blessed Kateri. Look to her for an example of fidelity; see in her a model of purity and love; turn to her in prayer for assistance. May God bless you as he blessed her.
The “Lily of the Mohawks” is set to be canonized on October 21 this year by Pope Benedict XVI, making her the first Native American Saint.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Pray for Us!