“The Holy Land is everywhere.” ― Black Elk
“Human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
“Water is sacred to all Human Beings. If you do not have water, you cannot have life. I always remember to honor and pour the water because it is traditional.” ― Autumn Morning Star
We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. – Pope Francis: Laudato Si, no. 49)
Featured Feast Day, July 14, 2017: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Patroness of Ecology and Environment ~ Birth 1656, Death 1680
Kateri Tekakwitha was orphaned at age 4 after a smallpox epidemic took the lives of her Christian Catholic Algonquin mother, her Mohawk Chief father, and her baby brother. She survived the epidemic but was left weak, fragile, her eyesight impaired, and ugly scars were on her face. She was adopted by her aunt and uncle.
In 1676, she was baptized at St. Peter’s mission in Caughnawaga (now Fonda, NY). In 1677, she was encouraged to travel to a Mohawk Village near Montreal, Canada, where she could practice her Christian faith with greater openness and freedom. She devoted herself to teaching prayers to children and helping the sick and aged until she herself became sick, frail, and died at the age of 24. A few minutes after her death, witnesses at her bedside saw the sudden disappearance of the ugly scars on her face.
Kateri was declared Venerable in 1943, Blessed in 1980, and Saint in 2012. She is patroness of creation, ecology, the environment, people in exile, and native Americans.
This month, as we celebrate summer days and the lushness of nature, we also face how much our Mother Earth is taken for granted. Native peoples everywhere in our world demonstrate an incredible respect for all of Creation and plead with us to cease the ways we are destroying our environment and shortening the life of our earth. Our readings, prayers, and meditations this month draw us to stand in awe before the wonders of creation. We are called to be advocates for ecology and care of the environment.
Lectio Divina: Scripture for spiritual reading and meditating
Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-3 ~ The Story of Creation
Job 12:7-12; 36:14-33; 37:1-24; 38:1-41. God’s Majesty
After reading sections of Job, walk in nature and ask your own questions about Creation and environment all around you. Then, in quiet meditation, let God respond to you. You might invite someone to go on this quest with you.
Audio Divina: Music to celebrate Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Visio Divina: Art for prayer and meditation
“Visual images are another doorway to sacred awareness. They can touch into our desire to grow in intimacy with God. So, we encourage one another to let ourselves be touched by the colors, shapes, figures and symbols that capture our attention most as we are praying. While gazing at an image ~ a painting, a photo, an icon, a sculpture, a piece of pottery … something may leap out at us, calling our attention to something of God just waiting to reveal itself to us.”
(Ideas inspired by Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman in their book, Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction. See also Abbey of the Arts.)
“The Great Tree of Peace” by Oren R. Lyons ’58, faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation
For Spiritual Reading: to learn more about Kateri Tekakwitha and care for creation, ecology, and the environment
Featured Conference: Tekakwitha Conference
The Vision Statement of the Conference as found in its literature is: “The Tekakwitha Conference is the Voice, Presence and Identity of Indigenous Catholics of North America under the protection and inspiration of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.” The members’ Mission Statement calls them to “renew [their] faith and reaffirm [their] baptismal call as followers of Jesus to proclaim the Good News.” The Conference facilitates an integration of faith, spiritual traditions, and culture. It enables indigenous communities to advocate for peace and justice within their communities. It strengthens the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Catholic Church and it focuses on the empowerment of Catholic Indigenous People as leaders within their communities and Church. For additional information see the national website at: http://tekconf.org/
(Sr. Kateri Mitchell, SSA, is executive director of the Tekakwitha Conference, a member of the Mohawk Nation, and a Sister of St. Anne.)