July 14 is the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), the Lily of the Mohawks. Her mother was Algonguin and her father a Mohawk chief. Her parents had died from small pox when she was a child; Kateri’s face was scarred by small pox. Her uncle’s family adopted her. Kateri was baptized by Jesuit missionaries when she was about twenty years old. Her uncle did not approve of her becoming a Christian. Kateri went about her duties, praying while she was working in the fields. When she would not work on a Sunday, she was told she could not eat that day. Kateri escaped to Canada where she could live as a Christian. Shortly after her death in 1680, Kateri’s face, pockmarked by small pox scars, became clear and luminous. In 1904, Mother Katharine visited Caughnawaga, Quebec, near Montreal, where Kateri had lived, visiting Kateri’s shrine. In 1937, Mother Katharine wrote that the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha would show that there is no distinction with God as to persons and that no race had a monopoly on sanctity. Mother Katharine hoped that at that time all would be truly seen as the children of God. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Kateri on October 21, 2012, the first Native American saint in the United States and Canada.
July 16 is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On that day in 1891 Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan of Philadelphia blessed the cornerstone of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The inscription on the cornerstone read: “and it shall be in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people; there they shall be called the sons of the living God” (Romans 9:26).
On that day but in an earlier, private ceremony, the Archbishop blessed the new habits of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. They had been wearing the habit of the Sisters of Mercy while in Pittsburgh; now they wore their own habit.
July 26 is the feast day of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Their efforts to raise Mary in a faith-filled environment led to her “Fiat,” Mary’s acceptance of her role as the mother of Jesus.
Family life was important to Jesus; He spent thirty years as a member of the Holy Family, hidden from public view. Mother Katharine called Jesus’ home “His first apostolate.” By living the life of an ordinary family member, Jesus sanctified “the ordinary way of family life.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the family the “original cell of social life” (#2207). As children we first learn how to interact with others within our family. Education in the faith begins when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life (#2226). We begin to learn how to be Christian within our family.
This summer may our families continue to cultivate the seed of a deep faith and confidence in God. May we truly see all people as children of God.
Stephanie Morris, ASBS