Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

In general, we do not expect to hear the Prince of Peace declare “I come to bring not peace, but the sword.” If we hear that someone is a man of peace (to say nothing of the prince of peace), we tend to expect the peace to come fairly rapidly.  The casual observer, taking the short view, might be disappointed in such a statement from Jesus. This would be the same casual observer who might declare the Jesuit missions in North America to be a failure after the death of the North American Martyrs at the hands of the Iroquois.  But a short view like that would have overlooked completely the Iroquois St. Kateri.

The Iroquois made martyrs out of seven Jesuit missionaries and a lay missionary associated with the Jesuits.  14 years after the first of these martyrdoms, St. Kateri was born into an Iroquois family, and the Jesuits she knew helped to make her a saint–the “Lily of the Mohawks.” Baptized at 19, her commitment to the vow of chastity that she swore made her an object of derision among her family. She was one who experienced first-hand the division Jesus speaks of today. But just as the blood of the martyrs fertilized the soil which would produce St. Kateri, so too can her own sufferings fertilize other fields. But only in the long view, against the backdrop of salvation and the Last Things, could any of this make sense.

July 14th, 2014