Presta Atenciõn! The Lenten Journey of Attention
I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Saint Kateri was the first Native American woman to be canonized. She was daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Alongquin Indian woman who had converted to Christianity — Saint Kateri was born in present-day New York in 1656. A smallpox epidemic in 1661-1663 left her an orphan with a badly scarred face and impaired eyesight. Because of her poor vision, Saint Kateri was named “Tekakwitha,” which means “she who bumps into things.” She was taken in by her uncle, who was bitterly opposed to Christianity. As a young girl, in accordance with Iroquois custom her foster family paired her with a young boy who they expected she would marry. However, Saint Kateri chose to dedicate her life to God.
Taking the name Kateri (Catherine) at baptism, two years later she escaped to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier, a settlement of Christian Indians in Canada. The village in Canada was also named Caughnawaga and called “the village of the praying Indians.” Here she was known for her gentleness, kindness, and good humor. Saint Kateri taught prayers to children and worked with the elderly and sick. Saint Kateri as a model of “charity, industry, purity and fortitude.” During the last years of her life, she endured great suffering from tuberculosis. She died on April 17th, 1680, shortly before her 24th birthday and was buried in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada. Her final words were “Jesus — I love you.”
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I can tell a storm by the way the trees are whipping, compared to when quiet, against my trembling windows, and
I hear from afar things whispering
I couldn’t bear hearing without a friend or love without a sister close by.
There moves the storm, the transforming one,
and runs through the woods and through the age, changing it all to look ageless and young:
the landscape appears like the verse of a psalm, so earnest, eternal, and strong.
How small is what we contend with and fight;
how great what contends with us;
if only we mirrored the moves of the things and acquiesced to the force of the storm, we, too, could be ageless and strong.
For what we can conquer is only the small, and winning itself turns us into dwarfs;
but the everlasting and truly important will never be conquered by us.
It is the angel who made himself known
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
for whenever he saw his opponents propose to test their iron-clad muscle strength,
he touched them like strings of an instrument and played their low-sounding chords.
Whoever submits to this angel, whoever refuses to fight the fight,
comes out walking straight and great and upright, and the hand once rigid and hard
shapes around as a gently curved guard.
No longer is winning a tempting bait.
One’s progress is to be conquered, instead, by the ever mightier one.