Grace to you!
I met a girl who feels disadvantaged because of the way she looks, constantly tormented by the belief that she isn’t what she thinks she should be. She feels some parts of her body are out of shape and this causes her a discomfort of a disproportionate nature.
Are you in any way not confident about yourself? Do you feel disadvantaged because of the way you look? Maybe a bad accident or a fire outbreak disfigured a part of your body or you have a hormonal problem, a hereditary trait or simply aging has made you more and more less confident in yourself?
Would it help you to realize that inner beauty is more profound than what the so-called models sell us through commercials? You know those commercials? The more you consume them, the less you discover your inner beauty.
If you would love a spiritually edifying story, the example of a native Indian of the Mohawk tribe could inspire you. She is popularly called the Lily of the Mohawks, a beautiful nickname, isn’t it? Her name is Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680).
Ever cherished is the beauty of the lily – one of the top five flowers used for gifts in the world. The lily (there are different species) symbolizes purity and refined beauty.
Refined beauty? Who doesn’t want to be seen as that? Such was the imagery employed in talking about the Mohawk girl, the first Native American saint in the United States of America and Canada. Her name is Kateri Tekakwitha. Look up her story. It’s fascinating. The aspect I want us to focus on is the symbolism of her name, Tekakwitha.
Her peers called her Tekakwitha because of a deformity she suffered as a child. She was a survivor of the smallpox epidemic that took the life of her parents and brother when she was four years old, and which left her body with scars as well as affected her vision. “Tekakwitha” means “she who bumps into things,” indicating that her poor sight made her vision blurry, causing her to constantly bump into things as she ambulates.
Despite her sight and skin condition, she found a deeper joy and beauty by discovering the source of beauty. When she embraced God in the Catholic Christian faith, her joy knew no bounds. Her life in the native tribe would not be the same.
Kateri was not only exceptional for a positive image of herself as a woman in a male-dominated native tribe—feminists take note—, she was also a symbol of beauty, purity and positive self-image for the Mohawks for many generations thereafter.
Nothing would stop her from being herself because she found true beauty. It wasn’t simply the color or smoothness of her skin or the curves of her body. It was deep, profound, from within her soul, her heart, and her inner core. Beauty is like spirit, neither tarnished from the outside nor simply mapped by molecular compositions. It trumps them all.
May what inspired this saint, the aesthetics of you being you in the beautiful world, the profound beauty in the God-human relationship, a relationship with the Christ who invites us to find rest in him (see Matthew 11:28), and the joy of being in God’s image, inspire you too when you are weighed down by the thought, “I am not beautiful.” Amen.
Hold on to this: You are beautiful! God’s precious.
Saint Kateri, pray for us.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin (1656-1680)]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.