Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pere Pierre Cholenec, S.J., Pere Claude Chauchetière, S.J. And The Lily Of The Mohawks

Lily of the Mohawks
The Jesuits’ record of  Catherine or Kateri Tekakwitha states that she was a shy and modest girl who avoided social gatherings and wore a blanket over her head because of the small pox that had destroyed her skin as a child. After smallpox killed her mother, father and brother and scarred her face she was adopted by family members. Tekakwitha was very skilled with traditional women’s work, which included making clothing, belts, mats, baskets, boxes, and preparing food, and a part of seasonal planting and intermittent weeding. Pressured to consider marriage around age 13, she would not agree to it and ran away. Although she had to suffer greatly for her faith, the young woman remained devout. Rejected at by her family and neighbours, Tekakwitha went to Kahnawake, the new aboriginal Christian colony in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at 4 a.m. and remained there until after the last mass. She was devoted to the eucharist (communion) and to Jesus crucified. Claude Chauchetière and Pierre Cholenec were Jesuit priests who played important roles in Tekakwitha’s life. Both were based in New France, an area which was considered dangerous and unappealing, due to wars with the Iroquois and the cold weather. Cholenec was present in New France before Chauchetière, having left for Canada in 1672. Both Chauchetière and Catherine arrived in Kahnawake in 1677. Chauchetière was the first to write a biography of Tekakwitha’s life, followed by Cholenec Chauchetière wrote that he was very impressed by Catherine. He had not expected an aboriginal to be so pious and he was certain Tekakwitha was a saint. 
Jesuits then believed that natives needed the guidance of Christians in order to be set on the right path. Chauchetière says that such close contact with natives in Kahnawake changed some of his set notions about aboriginals – mainly his ideas about human difference.
Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, at 24. Devotion to Tekakwitha is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the U.S.A. and Canada. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Tekakwitha erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today and she is also honoured at the yearly Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage.
Link (here) to  Mayerthorpe Freelancr


Katy Anders said...

I always enjoy it when you share interesting people from history like this.

I had never heard of her, but how amazing!

Anonymous said...

Maria said...


Here is a well done video by Salt and Light about Blessed Kateri Tekawitha who will be raised to the altars as Saint Kateri Tekawitha on October 21, 2012

"As you read the story of the widespread conversion of the natives to Christianity in sixteenth century America, you are struck by its remarkable similarity to the rise of Christianity in the first three centuries after Christ. What especially attracted the pagans of Rome was the example of chastity and charity by the believing Christians. These two virtues were always seen together. They were especially remarkable among the unmarried who preserved their chastity and some even died in defense of their virginity. Among the married, the pagans were struck by the Christian commitment to a lifetime fidelity of the spouses to each other and their absolute rejection of contraception, abortion and infanticide that were the rule in the non-Christian Roman Empire.

An exact parallel to this phenomenon was the dramatic change in morals among the Christian converts after the evangelization which followed on Columbus' discovery of the Indies. One Papal document after another to the bishops of the New World in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries assumes that those who had embraced Christianity were also living their Christian faith, especially in their practice of chastity and marital morality. A classic example of the spiritual heights that the former pagans could reach is the story of Kateri Tekakwitha. Born in what is now Auriesville, New York in 1656 (?), she died in Southern Canada in 1680. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who was taken captive by the Iroquois and made the wife of a pagan chief of the Mohawk tribe. Tekakwitha was one of two children born of this coerced marriage. At the age of four, the girl was taken into the home of an uncle after she lost her father, mother and brother in a smallpox epidemic. The disease left her disfigured and with impaired eyesight. In 1667, she met her first Christian missionaries. But fear of her uncle kept her from taking instructions. Finally, in 1675 she was instructed in the Catholic Faith and baptized on Easter Sunday 1676. She took the name of Kateri or Katherine. Her conversion and virtuous life stirred up so much opposition that she had to flee for her life to a Christian Indian village two hundred miles away. Her life of extraordinary charity was joined with a private vow of chastity which placed her under superhuman pressure from those with whom she lived. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Her popular name of "Lily of the Mohawks" testifies to her heroic practice of chastity and the influence that her charity had in bringing her fellow Indians to accept the Gospel of Christ.

As we look at our own day, the lesson this should teach us is both sobering and inspiring. It is sobering when we see the dregs of immorality to which so many of our fellow-Americans have fallen. It is inspiring because we know that part of the responsibility for the unchastity and uncharity in our society is due to our failure, as Catholics, to be the channels of grace to our fellow-Americans that Our Lord expects us to be."

Maria said...

The long quotation above belongs to Servus Dei John Hardon SJ

Katy Anders said...

Thanks, Maria! I have the clip marked for after work, but the quote is great.

I'm nowhere close to an expert on 16th century Catholicism, but I've read material about how impressed the pagans (in the imperial cult) had been about the EXAMPLE set by Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Quotes where pagans said, "Hey, I wish we could make as good an impression as those Christians do."

Blow 'em away by example, you know?

Maria said...

That's right, Katy. I fall down, a lot. But God is so good to us. He always gives us a way out. He gave us Confession ;)

Anonymous said...

"The long quotation above belongs to Servus Dei John Hardon SJ"

Oh, that's a surprise now, isn't it?! I wonder how one can quote from someone whose credibility is in tatters after the documented story on Fr. Hardon's harboring of a sexual predator.

Maria said...

Maria said...

Excerpts from the Catholic Network's biography of Blessed Kateri's Tekakwitha:

"Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass."

"Out from her Caughnawaga cabin at dawn and straight-way to chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament, hear every Mass; back again during the day to hear instruction, and at night for a last prayer or Benediction. Her neighbors sought to be near her when she received Holy Communion, as her manner excited devotion."


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Kateri, consoler of the heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, bright light for all Indians, pray for us.
Kateri, courage of the afflicted, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of the cross of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, flower of fortitude for the persecuted, pray for us.
Kateri, unshakeable in temptations, pray for us.
Kateri, full of patience in suffering, pray for us.
Kateri, keeper of your virginity in persecutions, pray for us.
Kateri, leader of many Indians to the true faith through your love for Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of penance, pray for us.
Kateri, who traveled many miles to learn the faith, pray for us.
Kateri, steadfast in all prayer, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved to pray the rosary for all people, pray for us.
Kateri, example to your people in all virtues, pray for us.
Kateri, humble servant to the sick, pray for us.
Kateri, who by your love of humility, gave joy to the angels, pray for us.
Kateri, your holy death gave strength to all Indians to love Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, whose scarred face in life became beautiful after death, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.


O Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of purity, teach all men to love purity, and to console your immaculate Mother Mary through the lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, and your Holy Cross, Amen.

Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.