Friday, May 27, 2016

Reflections on the Feast of Corpus Christi

Feast Day of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

    This is a special day for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Katharine Drexel, the foundress of the Community, and her family were very devoted to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. They even had a chapel in their home where daily they spent time in adoration of the Lord. However, Kate, as she was called by her family, had a broader view of the Eucharist than many of her contemporaries. She saw in the Eucharist the mystical body of Christ, including all peoples.  

    Often, missionaries came to her home to ask for money for the Indian Missions which were in dire need. Her family regularly helped to support the missions and Catherine* had a special concern for the spiritual and physical welfare of the Native peoples. They were suffering from having their lands taken from them and being placed on Reservations, where it was sometimes difficult to grow food and obtain other necessities.

    At Kate's time in history, slavery had recently been abolished, but the slaves had little education and could not find jobs. Some even went back to work for their former owners. Several days a week, she and her sisters helped to distribute food, clothing, rent money, etc. to those in need. Thus, at a young age, she and her sisters became aware of the plight of many African Americans in Philadelphia and other parts of the country. 

  On a trip to Europe, Catherine had an audience with Pope Leo XIII  during which she begged him to send more missionary priests to help the Native American people. The Pope's response to her was "Why don't you yourself become a missionary?" Catherine had been considering becoming a contemplative nun, but had not thought about becoming a missionary. However, she took this suggestion as a sign that God was asking her to care for His suffering children. Thus, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored Peoples. The Community is dedicated to the building of unity and community among all peoples.

*St. Katharine Drexel was born Catherine Mary Drexel, and later chose the name Sr. Mary Katharine as her Religious Name.