|Fr. Jacques de Lamberville, who brought salvation to Kateri|
July 14th, Feast of Bl. Kateri (in the United States)
As we celebrate today the memory of Blessed Kateri Takakwitha, we call to mind the importance of the missionary zeal in the life of the Church.
Bl. Kateri was born to a Catholic mother and a pagan father, but lost her parents to small pox at a young age – she herself was badly scarred by the disease. Living then with her uncle, who was not a Christian, she nevertheless maintained an interest in the Church and Christ Jesus.
When she was twenty years of age, she was baptized by Fr. Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary priest. Kateri entered the Church on Easter, 18 April 1676.
It is well known how Bl. Kateri mortified herself and grew in the spiritual life. Moreover, she suffered much persecution and ridicule from her clan, who did not understand her new faith. Ultimately she was forced to abandon her community and flee to a Christian community of Natives in Kahnawake, Quebec. In 1679, Kateri took of vow of chastity, consecrating herself as a virgin. She died on 17 April 1680, at the age of twenty four.
What is particularly striking about her story is the simple fact (which is more than a mere statement of history) that, if a Catholic priest had not brought the faith to her people, Kateri would not be a blessed. Moreover, if a protestant missionary had been the one to baptize Kateri, she would not be a blessed and we would not be celebrating her feast today.
The salvation of the “Lily of the Mohawks” really did depend upon the missionary work of the Catholic priest, Fr. Jacque de Lamberville. Kateri’s eternal salvation came through the real historical work of the Church, who spread the Gospel among the pagan natives of the Americas, baptizing them in the Name and instructing them in the one true Faith.
How great must be our zeal for Evangelization, it is a matter of eternal life and eternal death!