In spite of these obstacles and losses, the eyewitness accounts of Tekakwitha’s life give a clear picture of a cheerful, peaceful and kind person. She was happy with her own company, and throughout her whole life spent special time in the natural environment, experiencing a belonging with creation that kept her balanced and grounded. She ended up not getting interested in the things which interested other girls her age – singing and dancing. She seemed to have a perspective on the world which set her apart.
While her aunts and her uncle loved and cared for her, one thing that confused them was that Tekakwitha did not want to get married. The idea of a single life for an eligible and noble young woman was totally foreign to the Mohawk people, and when she was young, Tekakwitha’s marriage had in fact already been arranged. When introduced to her future husband, Tekakwitha simply refused to serve him food, which would have symbolized the sealing of the marriage.
This situation became more tense as Tekakwitha began to spend more time listening to “Black Robes”, Jesuit priests who came to speak about Jesus. The Mohawk, part of the Iroquois Confederacy, had already experienced war, invasion, disease and other threats which accompanied European incursion into their sovereign territory – Christianity seemed intricately connected to everything European, and so Tekakwitha’s uncle, with most of his people, deeply distrusted it.
Tekakwitha’s faith in Christ, first introduced to her by her mother, and then nurtured by a family friend who accompanied her, and finally confirmed by the missionary priests, had to be kept secret. She could not speak freely of the unity of nature, Mohawk tradition, and the love of Christ that she was discovering. In the end, her decision to be baptized was witnessed and recognized by her people, but still not understood, and at times even persecuted.
Today, we can feel trapped by illness, by appearance, by disability. St. Kateri Tekakwitha understands, and she also understands how God can reach into a life that looks broken and bring deep and lasting peace. When we are ill, when we do not feel beautiful, when we do things slower, we can look to St. Kateri’s life and call for her prayers. Through her, God can give us the strength to bear our weaknesses with peace and dignity, and in doing so live lives that are full of meaning and inspiration.
Today, we can feel confused and cornered in relationships. St. Kateri Tekakwitha understands, and she also understands that God created each of us to live in freedom, perfectly fulfilled. When we feel pressured to enter into a relationship we are not sure about, we can look to St. Kateri’s life and call for her prayers. Through her, God can show us his perfect love that means we never have to compromise and accept a future pushed on to us – we can live lives that are full of love without waiting for anyone’s permission.
Today, we might feel forced to keep quiet about what we believe and what we wonder about. St. Kateri Tekakwitha understands this, and she also understands that the conversation with God in each of our hearts is enough to grow a faith that will not pass away when the going gets tough. When we feel we have to pretend and hide what we know deep in ourselves, we can look to St. Kateri’s life and call for her prayers. Through her, God can come to be within us, no matter what misunderstanding or prejudices are around us.
With our eyes on St. Kateri Tekakwitha, let us pray.
Holy Spirit, Creator of the Universe,
You spoke to St. Kateri Tekakwitha in the quiet of her heart,
Fanning the quiet, hidden flame of faith within her.
We ask that, through her prayers,
we might have the same certainty and peace
especially when we face our limitations, fears, doubts,
and when we face misunderstanding, hostility and violence.
We know you bring the Peace of Christ with you
And the loving voice of the Father,
For you reign for ever and ever,
One God for everyone.
St. Kateri pray for us +