At home my oldest daughter, Maria, and myself, are very excited that Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha will now be canonized a Saint. I discovered the news while reading Spiritdaily.com. Ever since, I have been writing and re-writing my blog trying to put into words the happiness we have in our heart for this young ”Lily of the Mohawks” woman, who loved, enjoyed serving others without complaint, who through all of her suffering, accepted it without complaint, and instead continuously offered it all to Jesus. What a beautiful role model for our young girls today.
Maria, at the age of 18 yrs. old, is blossoming into young adulthood as a beautiful young woman, both inside and out. From the day she was born, at 36 weeks, she knew what she wanted and rarely let anything get in her way. Maria, after permission from our parish Monsignor, took the name Kateri for her Confirmation name. We needed permission from the Monsignor, due to the fact my daughter was the first child they could remember who wanted a Blessed name vs. a Saint name for Confirmation. There is that individuality spirit I have come to know so well, and love, and at times reminds me of me, which in turn sometimes becomes ogada for us both.
As I watched Maria grow, I saw the most beautiful, imaginative, creative child ever (of course, she’s my child!). Believing Maria would be our only child, her and I spent five years together doing everything and anything I or we could think of that would be cherished moments for us, along with the feeling that she was receiving the opportunities to become a well rounded child, which would eventually help her in adulthood. We did much together, and had a blast.
I so loved teaching her our Catholic faith, and I now enjoy the adult conversations we have regarding our Catholic faith. Even though Maria doesn’t have many memories of her childhood, I have an abundance of memories that I will treasure forever as I continue to grow into my “senior” years. One day, when I get to all the pictures I have taken of everything my children have accomplished in their young lives, I pray it will jog some of their memories!
When Maria was 2 or 3 years old, Pocahontas, the movie, was released by Disney. We both fell in love with this movie, and this began our journey into the history of Native Americans. It is, as though, Maria could just as easily be Native American as she is German, Irish, Polish, and Italian.
Hence, our introduction to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. We searched high and low for information on Bl. Kateri, and inhaled as much knowledge as we were able regarding her life. Maria was very drawn to Bl. Kateri, as I write this I wondered if she saw something in herself that Bl. Kateri represented in her.
I asked my daughter tonight “I know we discussed this before Confirmation, but, I want to review it again….tell me why you chose Bl. Kateri?”
Her response: ”I love the culture of the Native Americans, I was intrigued by her life story….even though her family died and she was scarred from smallpox and her vision affected, she still continued to do God’s work. When she was running away from her uncle who wanted to marry her off, to me it was a suspense and adventure story, that she had to hide until her uncle gave up the chase, and then she was able to continue on to where she would be safe and be able to live her faith.”
For the largest part of Maria’s childhood, and even today, Native American history was and has been a big part of both of our lives. We still both enjoy learning and visiting Native American sites. In 1999 we flew out to Nevada for my oldest brother’s wedding. My husband and I decided we would make a side trip to Hoover Dam and on to the Grand Canyon. We never expected to be able to travel to the west coast, for us this was a miracle to have this opportunity, and we took it with gusto! Thank you, Lord!
The two days we spent at the Grand Canyon, were breathtaking. Walking the paths and looking down into this majestic wonder that God created is something neither of us will ever forget. Although, we did beg Maria to “please, just look at the big hole in the ground, once, please!”.
Maria’s biggest memory of the Grand Canyon was the Native American village we came upon in our walk. It was breathtaking! We learned about the Native American homes, and community they lived in, and even had the opportunity to enter multiple homes and buildings, taking our time looking around, delving deeper into the life of the Native Americans.
We also watched performances of certain Native American rituals and dances, in the outfits that would be worn during special occasions. The colors of the outfits, and how the colors were obtained through nature were mind boggling to me. To learn how everything the Native Americans used by God had a specific purpose was inspiring to me, and at the same time I felt extremely guilty as I sat there changing my 4 1/2 month old’s disposable diaper, and thinking of the wardrobe she had at home that definitely was more then a week’s worth of clothing! Hmmm, a lesson to be learned here regarding the stewardship of our country.
Maria’s second biggest memory of the Grand Canyon………..her walking stick, which we still have to this day! I still need to varnish it, and place it on a rack in her room to display. It is definitely a family story told again, and again, and each time I get to see a glimpse of that ecstatic little five year old from 1999.
Now, the task at hand of discovering everything Native American had begun! Once home, we absorbed together as much as we could regarding this culture. Maria’s first American Girl doll was Kayla, all the accessories, and the first set of books, she loved them! Little House on the Prairie books was another favorite of hers, moving into the Rose Years, the Caroline Years, and so forth. One was only limited by their imagination in our quest for any information regarding the history of Native Americans.
In third grade, Maria learned about the Lenape Native Americans that lived on the East Coast. That year for her birthday, Maria’s Nana, gave her a Native American Nativity Set, it is absolutely beautiful and we all enjoy placing both Nativity’s side by side each year. (As soon as I figure out how to place pictures on my blog, I will. So far, I have not been successful!). The deeper we delved into the East Coast Native Americans, we discovered Blessed Kateri Tekakawitha, and she has stayed with us ever since!
Tonight as I was working on my blog, I was searching for more information regarding the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakawitha and the miracle that has brought her to sainthood.
I discovered that Blessed Kateri interceded on the behalf of a little boy of Native American ancestry from the Lummi tribe of the Pacific Northwest, from a flesh eating bacteria that was attacking his face.
God is absolutely awesome……of course, it would make sense that a child of Native American ancestry would be blessed by the intercession of Bl. Kateri. Does anyone miss how his disease was reflecting Bl. Kateri’s disease as a young child? Bl. Kateri survived smallpox, yet had residual effects from this awesome disease, her face was scarred as his would have been from the treatment of his disease, along with the multiple surgeries he would need to even be able to have his face restored to the way it was prior to his disease, Bl. Kateri survived smallpox because of Our Lord. The rest of her family had perished during this epidemic. God obviously had big plans for the “Lily of the Mohawks”. The chances of this child surviving from this flesh eating disease, I’m sure were very poor, and yet God answered the prayers of so many people, who were praying for this little boy to be healed and cured, and that it be through the intercession of Bl. Kateri. What a beautiful gift to this little boy and his family, and what a gift to all of the individuals who have been praying for the canonization of Kateri for years. What a beautiful miracle to be accepted for her canonization. Praise God!
Since we have discovered Bl. Kateri, I have heard that the shrine in Auriesville, NY is a very special shrine. Many miracles and cures have taken place there. I have heard it described at times as even “sacred ground”. I pray that one day I will be blessed to be allowed to visit this wonderful shrine, along with my daughter, Maria. I believe it will be one of those wonderful mother-daughter times in our life’s that we will always remember and cherish together.
I would like to end my blog with a very special Happy Birthday to my niece, Faith who turns 12 years old today. Dear Lord, you have sent our family Faith, we thank you. She is a joy to all of us. Please continue to shower your graces upon her, and asking Our Blessed Mother, Mary to keep her protected and covered under her mantle. Amen.
I would also like to take the time to remember the Holy Soul of Earl “Big Red” Hill, who died in 2007 from kidney failure. He was a gentle giant and, for me, his death was unexpected. I believe his youngest is the same age as my son, 12 years old. Eternal rest grant unto, Earl, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. Amen. Please continue to give Earl’s family strength and guidance during this time, and please guide his son’s to grow to be an honor to you Lord.
God’s peace to all of you!