Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

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*This is a post that is from 2012 and it includes the prayer for the saints canonization:

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Prayer for the Canonization
of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the
same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s date of canonization is 21 October 2012
Memorial 14 July

Kateri was born in1656 of a Catholic Algonquin mother(Tagaskouita) and the Mohawk chief Kenneronkwa in the village of Ossemenon(Auriesville) along the Mohawk river in northern New York. A smallpox epidemic that swept through that region took the lives of Kateri’s(Catherine’s) parents and her  brother. This disease also left her with the diseases characteristic scars,limited vision , and also physically weak. She was adopted by her aunt and uncle(Chief of the Turtle Clan) at four years of age.Since Kateri’s mother was Christian, see encouraged that faith in Kateri. Her father however was of a Native American religion and had an opposite opinion on the subject. Her uncle too discouraged her interest in Christianity.The battle between Christianity,and her families Native American religion would be a source of friction for much of Kateri’s life.Kateri was a devout follower of Christ; she was baptized at the age of 20 by the Jesuit priest Father Jacques de Lamberville.On Christmas Day of 1677 Kateri received her first holy communion. In March of 1679 she professed her vow to perpetual virginity. She devoted her life to teaching prayers to children, helping the sick and aged. On 17 April 1680 she died at 24-years of age.The last words she uttered were “Jesus, I love you”: “lesos konoronkwa.” Shortly after her death her scars from smallpox began to disappear.

KATERI TEKAWITHA embraced Jesus Christ,even though many in her family and tribe rejected her for it. Kateri Tekawitha will be the first canonized Native American saint. She is a source of great pride among the many Native Americans who are devout Catholic’s. Her sainthood is an answer to their years of prayer in the past and she will certainly be a faithful intercessor for all Americans in the years to come. Throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada there are many Native American Tribes that enthusiastically embraced Christianity and they are active, vibrant, devout followers of Jesus and his Church today.The memorial and the canonization of Kateri Tekawitha, the “Lilly of the Mohawks” is an especially festive and joyous occasion for them as it is for all in her region.

Peter and Paul (recycled from 2012)

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The celebration of these two disciples seems to be a fitting summation of this past weeks readings.  It was Saint Irenaeus who was instrumental in guaranteeing the Apostles gospel message received from Jesus was faithfully transferred to the following generations. It was Paul that delivered this message outside of his own culture to a gentile people eager to understand Jesus teachings.It was Peter who was first instructed to tend to Jesus’s flock.  I continue to notice that Jesus did not preach to only one group, or one nationality.He preached to all who were receptive to Gods word. The teachings applied to all, and I keep taking away the message that the underlying message was that God is available to all, that Jesus continuously opens up the God of the Israelites to all people.

Peter and Paul,”Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church..” Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Peter is the one that walked with Christ while Paul’s experience was with the Easter Christ. Peter started out as a disciple, yet frequently stumbled in his faith. He grew into the faithful preacher of the Gospel and defended the word with his life. Paul started out as a persecutor of Christianity ,”Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” . Paul ends up preaching and defending this teachings of Jesus.Peter and Paul start out in different paths, yet reach the same destination.They enter the narrow gate and follow the narrow path. Peter who delivers this message to its original and intended Jewish  recipients ; and Paul who also delivers the message to its intended Gentile people.

A gospel faithfully preached to all nations as Jesus intended. Paul who seeks Peters guidance in delivering this gospel to a people likely unfamiliar with Hebrew culture, and Peter who counsels his colleague.Most importantly Peter who accepts Paul as a disciple even though Paul originally was his persecutor.Just as Jesus continued to accept Peter though he denied him three times!  It is through these traditions that this message was delivered to me.It was made available to me as it was to members of all nations. It was delivered faithful to Christ’s teachings. It also rests on a firm foundation so that this tradition can continue.

Triduum of All Hallows

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This is  recycled from a few years back:

Sometimes it is hard to think of Halloween as the start of a Christian Triduum, but it is. It is the beginning of Hallomas and the eve of All Saints Day , which is followed by All Souls Day. Halloween many times takes on the feeling of paganism, and its customs and solstice link do indeed trace back to many pre-Christian festivities. Christians were not the first to be concerned with the spirits or souls of the departed. Halloween as commemorated reflects much of the incorporation of ancient festivals with Christian beliefs. Commercialism too, has shaped this modern holiday just as it has distorted Christmas into a shopping season, and Saint Patrick’s day into a celebration of alcohol.

Many times Hallomas ends on its first day, Halloween. It is the costumes and parties and candies that are advertised; and it is the remembrance of the deceased that is forgotten. The traditional belief of Halloween is that the veil between the material and spiritual world becomes thin. Oddly that day of candy from a religious standpoint was traditionally a day of fasting. Halloween borrows from many traditions around the world though so it is easy to see how that fast got misplaced. It also east to see how, especially in northern climates how this day is associated with the thinning of the veil between life and death. It is the transition of the long days of light to the dark days of winter. It is the trees shedding their leaves. It is the harvesting of the last harvest of the season. It is the cycle of life that is so visible in most northern European climates. One only has to look around to see how that veil is thinned. That change in nature does take on its own spiritual quality and the commercial and pedestrian celebration of Halloween is a festive acknowledgement of that change. But if one only celebrates that end of fall or change of season, Halloween becomes dead as winter. Halloween is not the celebration, it is after all just the beginning of the celebration.

Halloween translates to “the eve of All Saints day” where the church celebrates all saints. It acknowledges all of those faithful who have led exemplary lives. It is a day of remembrance for those who have not been canonized, or for those who do not have a recognized day of their own. It is a day for famous, and those known only by a few family members. It is that celebration of the communion of saints, a day to ask for those saints to intercede for us, to pray for us, and us to offer our prayers and petitions to them. It is a day dedicated to saints,the holy innocents, and martyrs. It is a day of church triumphant. It is good to remember those who have been triumphant on their journey, those who have had a bountiful harvest and who were victorious over “the evil spirits” that are so humorously portrayed on Halloween.

The third day of All Hallows pays tribute to the souls that perhaps stumbled a bit on their journey. Those that perhaps did not make all of the right choices, the ones that were perhaps tricked in life. All Souls day is one for those that struggle and the consolation that even a sinner is loved. It is a day devoted to those souls in purgatory, those that hope to be raised to heaven and those who depend on our prayers and intercessions.

The Triduum is a look at  all souls, all the faithful departed whether saints or sinners, serious topics thankfully lightened by a very festive celebration; but it is easy to get tricked into ignoring these souls while being bribed by candy. In that Halloween phrase “trick or treat”, perhaps there is an echo of both the day of all saints and souls; it is the saints that did not fall for life’s tricks, while perhaps some souls were a bit to attached to the treats that they lost sight of the perils. The disguises of Halloween do after all mimic the disguises and deceptions of life. Art does indeed imitate life.Trick or treat can be rephrased to the more sober and biblical “I present to you a blessing and a curse.” Jack-O-Lanterns with their candles do illustrate body and soul and the procession of masked characters is a drama of the procession of life as most everyone eventually realizes their season for collecting treats has passed. Eventually one must pass from one side of the door to the other, from asking the questions to giving the replies or simply observing and growing in these seasons of life.

(note: I know the word triduum isn’t being used 100% correctly here, it is being used to draw similarly to the Easter triduum. I guess trilogy might have been the correct choice, but that word doesn’t have the same effect.)

In defense of the taxman

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Lk 18:9-14
Please, let me argue for the taxman. No one likes the tax collector, they didn’t like him in the first century we don’t like them in the twenty first. Tax collectors are unpopular. What can we say about the Pharisee today, can we comment about what he said in the front of that temple? Certainly we read his words, but can we really dislike him as much as the tax collector? Where are our experiences, where do we draw our empathy? Sure, his prayer is boisterous and superficial. He pats himself on the back, and he certainly does not grovel? He was held in esteem in life, and prays like a person privilege. He says thank you a lot, he is polite. He doesn’t say pardon me, and he doesn’t say help me. But what of the taxman?

‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

The taxman had no self-esteem, he was esteemed by no one. He took money from the poor and gave it to the rich. The rich didn’t care much for him because of the prejudices by which he made his livelihood. They didn’t like money handlers much, such a dirty profession. His own people didn’t care for him either. First, he took their money. Second he gave it to an invader. Third those coins had the image of a pagan god. Finally the taxman profited from the tax transactions: he skimmed a little for himself. So, how can anyone defend him? The taxman is despicable without a single redeeming quality. Right?

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

Well, what if that man had not taken those taxes? Would the emperor accept that, would the peasants get to keep their money? Would a massive army do battle for free? The taxman kept the peace. He was the broker between the invading empire and the conquered people. He collected enough tax for the emperor to keep the armies at bay, and not so much for his kinsmen to riot or revolt. Upon paying taxes, his neighbors might have made a snide remark but they did not draw their swords. The taxman had to carefully strike a balance, and to do so he had to be a great observer with eyes and ears always open. He could not rely on the words coming from the emperor’s camp, and he could not focus on the response of the taxpayer. Who then could he have turned to? That might give reason for his presence in that temple. His was a prayer of necessity and he had no to turn to but God. In his prayers he explains his plight, of doing what had to be done, no matter how unpopular. He prayed that he made the right choices, because neither side would offer the correct response. That is the reason for a broker, and why a broker would pray to hone their skills. To hone those skills did not infer the taxman would increase their wealth. If the taxman lived in luxury, then the emperor suspected a cheat. The prayer was for balance, and good judgement, and forgiveness; that is what he needed to survive. Now, what did that Pharisee pray for?

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 150

Father Isaac Jogues, Father John de Brébeuf and their companions.

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“Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.”

In the Acts of the Apostles Luke tells of the beginning of the spreading of the New Testament throughout the ancient world. While spreading this gospel message had its difficulties, the Apostles were familiar with the variety of cultures and philosophies and languages of that day.It was the world they knew, even though it was about to undergo the miraculous transformation that is the New Testament. In the light of these Acts of the Apostles, ponder the “acts” of Father Isaac Jogues,  Father John de Brébeuf and their companions.

They were Jesuit Priests from France, bringing the New Testament to a new continent,and a new world of which they had no experience. North America of the 1600’s was entirely different from Europe. It was a vast wilderness sparsely colonised by small groups of Europeans. It’s indigenous peoples were so culturally different from  Europeans. The Iroquois and Huron Indians of New York and New England had a cultural lifestyle different from anything in Europe. Their language was totally unrelated from the languages of the Jesuits, and their clothing like nothing they had ever seen.

In Luke’s  Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles could present Christ to the pagans in their own language, and explain Christ to people with cultures and beliefs they knew. Saint Isaac Jogues did not have this luxury, yet knew these people were children of God and worthy of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Knowing that, they were determined to use every resource to deliver that message. In delivering that message they were tortured, and imprisoned. Isaac Jogues wrote of his torture: “These tortures are very great, but God is still greater, and immense.” To prevent Fr. Jogues from consecrating the host his captors cut off several fingers. Escaping torture and being sent back to France, St. Jogues still had the need to deliver the gospel of Christ to these Indian people despite the language  and cultural barriers. Despite a hostile reception and despite torture.

In the return trip to the new world Fathers Isaac Jogues,  John de Brébeuf and their companions were eventually martyred. Yet in death, they were not defeated. Ten years later, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in the same village where Isaac was martyred. She is Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a young woman born of Indian heritage. Saint Kateri was also ridiculed for desiring to follow that gospel message Isaac Jogues and his companions had delivered. She is the Jesuit victory, the victory of Christ. Many of the Indian tribes, especially in eastern Maine, embraced that Gospel of Jesus delivered by  saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brébeuf ,and their companions; and they continue to follow that gospel today. Those Jesuits knew these indigenous people of a new world were children of God and worthy of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.