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akateriToday is the feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, whom we New Yorkers claim for our own. Kateri  was born in 1656 in what is now Auriesville, New York and died only 24 years later. The daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquin mother, she became an orphan at age four when a smallpox epidemic claimed both her parents and her brother. Her short life was one of generosity and holiness, influenced by Jesuit missionaries and her own deep faith.

In our day, we have learned to celebrate the spirituality of Native peoples who understand more clearly than most inhabitants of our beautiful land that we are not here to take advantage of the natural world but rather to protect and honor it. As Chief Seattle wrote, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect…”

Today would be a good day to pray in gratitude for the gifts of the natural world and for those who work to protect it. A question to consider in our reflection might include our assessment of ourselves as environmentalists. Do I walk softly on the earth, trying never to disturb the balance of nature? Am I aware of my “carbon footprint” and taking steps to reduce it? Do I recycle and work to keep our waterways pure? The list goes on…How can we be kinder to our Mother Earth, each of us doing our part?

May you walk in beauty today.