We are inundated with media that tells us to live a life contrary to the values of our faith. We are told that happiness is achieved through popularity, money, success, fame, sex, material wealth.
Sometimes it is easy to be consumed by our culture, to try and fill that void in our hearts with clothes, parties, relationships, sex. Or perhaps we begin to believe the lie that “I would be happy if…..” If I was skinnier, if I had more friends, if I was more athletic, if I was a better musician, if I was funnier.
I think it’s easy for our eyes become fixated on ourselves, we compare ourselves to everyone else, and suddenly, our eyes are no longer focused on the cross, on Jesus. We so quickly forget that He, and only He, can bring us true happiness, fulfillment, and peace.
Yes, it can be very hard to live a life of an authentic Catholic in our society today, especially as a young person. Even if our family supports us in our faith, it can often feel as though we are alone on this journey. But the reward for those who fix their eyes on the Cross, who choose to put Jesus above all else, is great. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
One young woman, who would later become a saint, was familiar with the challenge of living an authentic, Catholic life, despite facing opposition from her friends, family, and culture.
St. Kateri was born in 1656, in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon. In 1660 a smallpox outbreak swept through the Mohawk village, killing Kateri’s mother, father, and brother.
Kateri survived the disease but was left with scars all over her face and impaired vision. Now an orphan, Kateri was sent to live with her aunt and uncle.
Around the age of 11, Kateri befriended Jesuit missionaries. The Jesuits exposed Kateri to Catholicism and over time Kateri developed a deep devotion to the faith. As Kateri grew older, her aunt and uncle made arrangements for Kateri to be married, as was the custom for their culture, but Kateri refused. Instead, to the shock and disappointment of her tribe and family members, Kateri requested to be baptized Catholic.
On the feast of the Annunciation, at the age of 23, Kateri vowed to live as a Bride of Christ, as a virgin, forever. Father Cholonec, a priest who knew Tekakwitha, wrote that she said : “I have deliberated enough. For a long time my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary, I have chosen Him for husband and He alone will take me for wife.”
Kateri’s life was filled with suffering, she was an anomaly among her Mohawk village, and yet, she loved Jesus with her whole heart. When Kateri was 24-years-old, her health began to decline On April 17, 1680, Kateri died. Her last words were “Iesos konoronkwa”— “Jesus, I love you.”
Do we live our life in a way that shows people we love Jesus, even when it is difficult, even when we are misunderstood? Let us ask for the intercession of St. Kateri to give us the courage to follow Jesus without reservation.
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