Saint Kateri Tekakwitha’s Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
on Jul 14, 2022
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
We rejoice in the perfect union of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the Most Sacred Heart of her Divine Son; for, from the moment of her conception, Mary’s heart was preserved from every stain of sin, so that she would be prepared to conceive God the Son in her womb at His coming into the world to save us from our sins. By God’s special favor, she shared beforehand in the grace of the salvation which her Divine Son would win for us by His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. She was always totally for Christ. As God promised, through the Prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel which means ‘God is with us.’” (Is 7, 14).
At the moment of Mary’s “fiat” in response to the Announcement of the Archangel Gabriel, God the Son, by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, took our human nature—uniting it to His divine nature—in the womb of the Virgin Mary. God the Son took a human heart, His Most Sacred Heart, under her Immaculate Heart. Thus, Mary became the Mother of God Incarnate, and, at the same time, His first and best disciple. This is the great Mystery of Faith, the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation.
Accordingly, we can never speak of the Mystery of Faith, of the mystery of God’s immeasurable and unceasing love for us which has its fullness in the Redemptive Incarnation of His only-begotten Son, without speaking of the Blessed Virgin Mary whom God chose, from all time, to be the Mother of His Incarnate Son. For she draws our hearts to her Immaculate Heart; she leads us to reflect more deeply upon our relationship with Christ, the Son of God and her Son, in the Church; and she reminds us that God’s covenant—with us—of faithful and enduring love is the greatest treasure in our lives. There can be nothing more important to us. Everything else in our lives is only good to the degree that it serves our communion with God the Father in God the Son Incarnate, Our Lord Jesus, through the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our souls from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus. Our daily life indeed is life in Christ, Our Lord Jesus.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, whose memory we honor this month, on July 14th, by an extraordinary gift of grace, possessed a seemingly innate understanding of, and a deeply personal appreciation for, our relationship, as Christians, with Our Blessed Mother. She followed faithfully the maternal counsel of the Virgin Mary whom she daily invoked through the praying of the Holy Rosary. When her own people would not permit her to live freely her life in Christ, she abandoned everything to live at the Jesuit mission at Kahnawake, south of Montreal. In that place, she offered her virginity to Our Lord for consecration and died a most holy death on April 1, 1680, at the age of 24. Saint Kateri trusted completely in the promise of salvation which Our Lord made to her in the Church, even as He also makes the same promise to us.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe honors this memory of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in two important ways.
First, on July 30, 2008, four years before she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012, the then-Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was memorialized at the dedication of an outdoor devotional area. In this area, nestled between the trees among exquisitely natural surroundings on the Pilgrim Trail, is a bronze statue sculpted by Cynthia Hitschler of Celebration Studios in Wildwood, Missouri. The sculpture depicts the essence of the spiritual life of this Native American. Having gone to the woods to be alone with Our Lord, as she frequently did, she cradles in her left arm a cross fashioned together out of fallen branches she found there, while wrapped around her right hand and arm is a Rosary. When you come to the Shrine on pilgrimage, I encourage you to spend time in prayer at this devotional area, and to ask Saint Kateri to intercede for you and your family. Ask her, in particular, to give you a great love of the Virgin Mother of God and, therefore, of her Divine Son, Our Savior, through the praying of the Holy Rosary.
The second way in which the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe honors Saint Kateri’s memory began after the dedication of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha outdoor devotional area, when, on July 31, 2008, I officiated at the dedication of the Shrine Church. During that ceremony, I installed first-class relics of Blessed Miguel Pro and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha into the altar of the Shrine Church, according to our Church’s “ancient tradition” (cf. Can. no. 1237 §2; Rev 6, 9). Thus, after you spend time in prayer at the outdoor devotional area dedicated to Saint Kateri, attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, assured that she, along with the Communion of Saints, “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), intercedes for you.
Two important facts underpin the reason why Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was especially chosen to be a particular patroness at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. First of all, she is a Native American, she is one of the first flowers of heroic sanctity in North America. Secondly, her sanctity was nurtured and strengthened by a strong devotion to the Mother of God and especially by a strong devotion to the Holy Rosary.
However, there is a third important point to consider when you come to the Shrine on pilgrimage. Saint Kateri is, as commonly known, the patron of Native Americans, but her patronage also extends to children whose parents have died. This is a fitting contrast to another important stopping-place along the pilgrim path, found farther up the hill, near the Shrine Church, where unborn children are memorialized; for, while the Memorial to the Unborn is dedicated to parents seeking spiritual healing as they mourn God’s tiniest children who, at the very beginning of life, have died in the womb or in childbirth, the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha outdoor devotional area is, in a certain sense, dedicated to children seeking spiritual healing as they mourn the death of their parents, not unlike Saint Kateri Tekakwitha herself, whose parents, together with her little brother, died when she was four years old.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a sacred place of pilgrimage for families. The Shrine is here for the needs of parents as much as it is here for the needs of children, for we are all the spiritual children of the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose image miraculously imprinted by the hand of God upon the tilma of Saint Juan Diego depicts our Blessed Mother with her waist bound by a black band and bow, signs of pregnancy and motherhood. The Shrine’s mosaic of this miraculous image on the tilma, which was crafted by peerless artists at the Vatican Mosaic Studio, and which is located behind the altar in the sanctuary of the Shrine Church, is, in a very real way, a declaration of Mary’s absolute fidelity to families.
Like Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, lift up your heart to our Blessed Mother and place your heart, one with her Immaculate Heart, into the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, which remains ever open to receive our hearts, to heal them with His saving mercy and to inflame them with His pure and selfless love. Let us, one with the Virgin Mother of God and Mother of the Church, give our hearts completely into the Heart of Jesus. May we, one in heart with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, keep in our hearts always the great mysteries of our salvation which we are privileged to witness today, in which we are privileged to participate in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ of which we are living members.