The patient and humble endurance of the cross

Thursday, March 03, 2016

 The patient and humble endurance of the cross
St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955)

It's always interesting to me to reflect on saints who lived in my life time and saints who used their money to help people whom, otherwise, society would never help.  Katharine was born in Philadelphia  in 1858 and as a rich young lady, she had a grand debut into society.  However, when she nursed her stepmother through a 3-year terminal illness, she realized that the "Drexel" money could not buy her way out of pain and death, she began to think about life in a new way.  Sparked by what she learned about the American Indians in a book by Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor,  Katharine, asked Pope Leo XIII to send more missionaries to Wyoming to work with the Indians.  The Pope suggested "Why don't you become a missionary?"  After discernment with the Bishop of the Dakota's, she wrote to him “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored." She began a Congregation of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored and opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.
 
At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.

"The patient and humble endurance of the cross—whatever nature it may be—is the highest work we have to do." "Oh, how far I am at 84 years of age from being an image of Jesus in his sacred life on earth!"
(St. Katharine Drexel)
"It is a lesson we all need – to let alone the things that do not concern us. He has other ways for others to follow Him; all do not go by the same path. It is for each of us to learn the path by which He requires us to follow Him, and to follow Him in that path."
 (St. Katharine Drexel)

Reflection
In the reading from Jeremiah today, we are told  “Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people.”  Katharine listened to the voice of God and facilitated the call of God to many who became “his people.”



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