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.



  1. Dear Sr. Annette,
    Having read some of St. Katharine Drexel's writings it is very clear that she had a deep love for and relationship with Jesus. Every joy and sorrow was seen as an integral connection to the will of God. Thanksgiving and acceptance were constants with St. Katharine. She saw Christ in everyone she served as well as in those who threatened her for her work with people they considered to be beneath them. Her courage came from her trust in God. With all the violence in our world today we could certainly benefit from striving to see others as part of the Mystical Body of Christ. Of course to see Christ in others we need to be aware that Christ is alive in us and mindfully apply that Christ Presence to our thoughts, words and actions. Only then will we begin to experience the peace that being a member of the Body of Christ offers.

  2. Dear Pat,
    Yes, St. Katharine is a model for us all: thanksgiving is the appropriate response for all the Lord is and provides for us. By acceptance, we imitate the our Savior who said "Yes" to His Father in the good and difficult aspects of His life.
    At the Last Supper before Jesus died, He prayed that we would all embrace one another as brothers and sisters of the same heavenly Father/Mother. The Eucharist illustrates that oneness. Many grains of wheat make the one bread. Many grapes become the one cup of wine. Jesus' deepest desire was that we might all be as one. St. Katharine spent her life trying to overcome racism and bring peoples together. The SBS and ASBS Community symbol of the Eucharist in the center and the different colored hands embracing it speaks to that dream. As Sisters, Associates, lay apostles, and friends, we continue to strive to make that dream a reality