Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I have been wanting to visit the place where Kateri spent her life. I went to see it finally yesterday in Fonda, New York, where she was baptized and spent most of her teenage years. It was a hot afternoon typical of the month of August. It took us 2 hours and a half to drive up the Mohawk Valley and finally reach the Shrine at 3:00 pm. Fonda, NY is an old town, with old buildings and a railroad track on the way to the pilgrimage site. It wasn't difficult to imagine how it might have been in Kateri's time as I surveyed the vast open spaces, quiet running river and tall evergreens. There was practically no one at the shrine except for two ladies who were in the chapel and who didn't stay long after we got there. The place delighted me. The silence was deafening and the sound of wind chimes hanging outside the chapel, lulled me. What a beautiful, peaceful place! I walked the grounds with the green lawns and wooden buildings, explored the woods and walked up the hill of the Stations of the Cross. There were plaques of Native American sayings and passages from the Book of Daniel: "Ice and snow, bless the Lord, Light and darkness, bless the Lord. Mountains and hills, o bless the Lord.. earth and sea.. mountains and hills, rivers and seas, o bless the Lord!" dotting the uphill climb. The main chapel retained the looks and feel of a Native American house of worship. I prayed and lighted the votive candles for friends who requested to be remembered. I spent a lot of time browsing around the interesting museum. I felt very strongly the presence of Blessed Kateri. I thank God for allowing me to get to know Kateri. I feel very bonded with her and I admire very much her love of Jesus and the courage she showed in bearing witness to her faith. Her dying words "Jesus, I love you" are expression of my own sentiments. It is such an edification and wonder for me to think of how God's grace can penetrate the darkness of this pagan world and work wonders in the soul of this Mohawk maiden! She is a continuing reminder for me of how much Jesus would give himself to anyone who is ready to receive him.. even to a young girl of centuries past, in a savage and pagan world.
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