Saturday, October 20, 2012

Canonization Eve

This is the only known portrait of the new Saint,
painted around 1690 by Father Chauchetière.  The 
image hangs from the facade of Saint Peter's Basilica 
Dear Brothers,

You are very much in my thoughts and in my prayers from the shadow of the Dome of Saint Peter’s this evening.  These days in Rome were planned long before I was blessed to be your rector, and I very much regret not being among you as I teach the Institute of Continuing Theological Education (NAC sabbatical program) and meet with the Vox Clara Committee.  However, one blessing which comes my way is the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, along with Mother Marianne Cope and three other blesseds.

It is a particular joy to be here for the Canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha since I was a deacon-seminarian, just days from being ordained a priest, when she was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 June 1980.  My dear friend, Father Joseph Busch, a fellow deacon-seminarian from Albany, was one of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s deacons for the beatification.  Father Busch, by the grace of God, is on sabbatical here in Rome all these years later and we will both take part in the canonization of the “Lily of the Mohawks” tomorrow morning.

On the day of her beatification, the Holy Father recalled how Kateri “spent her short life partly in what is now the State of New York and partly in Canada. She was a kind, gentle and hardworking person, spending her time working, praying and meditating. At the age of twenty she receives Baptism. Even when following her tribe in the hunting seasons, she continued her devotions, before a rough cross carved by herself in the forest. When her family urged her to marry, she replied, very serenely and calmly, that she had Jesus as her only spouse. This decision, in view of the social conditions of women in the Indian tribes at that time, exposed Kateri to the risk of living as an outcast and in poverty. It was a bold, unusual and prophetic gesture: on 25 March 1679, at the age of twenty-three, with the consent of her spiritual director, Kateri takes a vow of perpetual virginity.  As far as we know, this was the first time that this was done among the North American Indians. The last months of her life were an ever clearer manifestation of her solid faith, straight-forward humility, calm resignation and radiant joy, even in the midst of terrible sufferings. Her last words, simple and sublime, whispered at the moment of death, sum up, like a noble hymn, a life of purest charity: "Jesus, I love you..."


Tomorrow night, I will have dinner with Cardinal O’Malley, your Boston brothers at the NAC (Father Eric Bennett, Kevin Staley-Joyce, and Tom MacDonald) and Father Gaspar and Monsignor McRae.  

May we be one in prayer, across the miles, as the Church receives her newest saints tomorrow!

Monsignor Moroney