Today it is my turn once again to lead Morning and Evening Prayer and to celebrate Mass for the community. It is the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 – 1680). Blessed Kateri is the first American Indian woman to be named Blessed.
Her life was lived in an extraordinarily difficult time. Apart from the difficulty of living as an indiginous woman in a land filling with European settlers, there were considerable tensions between local American Indian tribes. When she was four her family (and many others) were inflicted with smallpox. Her parents and brother died. Kateri was left with severe facial scarring and limited sight. She was raised by an uncle and encountered the witness of Jesuit missionaries when she was eleven. From that moment she gave her life to living with and for God. At 20 she was baptised and she died at 24.
From that encounter with God in Catholicism Kateri wanted to be a saint. She focussed on this life firmly aware of her own difficult reality. For her (as for any saint) the life of God is not an escape from the struggles of human reality, but a way of living with ultimate purpose in the midst of human reality.
Before five o’clock these thoughts will hopefully form a brief homily!