I woke up this morning and began my usual routine.
Wash my face. Brush my teeth. Saunter downstairs for my morning Spark drink. Feed Helen. And then I begin morning prayer, where Helen often joins me with one of her many friends.
This is what I expect to do tomorrow too. And the next day. And the day after that.
Every once in awhile though there is a surprise tucked in there, something just a little ‘different’ that I’m not expecting. Like Cuppycake using the last of the toothpaste and I must search the linen closet for a fresh box. Or maybe I’ll chose a different flavor of Spark than my normal Pink Lemonade. Today I was surprised when I sat down to pray, as I opened my Breviary to recite Morning Prayer & discovered that today was the Feast of Saint Katherine Drexel! Immediately a smile stretched across wide enough to reach my heart and I was transported in mind & spirit to when I’d visited her in Philadelphia during my pilgrimage to see Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families!
The Catholic Church assigns one date out of the year for each and every canonized saint — known as the saint’s feast day. The saints are remembered on their individual feast days with special mention, prayers, and possibly a scripture reading.
A saint’s feast day can be the day of their actual death or a day assigned by the Church. Typically, the Church only assigns a day when the day of death is unknown or if several other saints are already assigned to that day. The number of canonized saints, however, is greater than the number of days in a calendar year. So two or more saints often share the same feast day. Because overlap often occurs, and the Church isn’t sure of the date of death of some saints, other calendar dates are sometimes chosen — such as the day that the saint was canonized. -What is a Catholic Saints Feast Day for Dummies.
Katharine Mary Drexel was born Catherine Mary Drexel in Philadelphia on November 26, 1858, the second child of investment banker Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable fortune. She was born into a tradition of philanthropy. Her uncle was the founder of Drexel University.
When her family traveled to the Western states in 1884, Katharine Drexel saw the plight and destitution of the native Americans. She wanted to do something specific to help. Thus began her lifelong personal and financial support of numerous missions and missionaries in the United States.
In January 1887, the sisters were received in a private audience by Pope Leo XIII. They asked him for missionaries to staff some Indian missions that they had been financing. To their surprise, the Pope suggested that Katharine become a missionary herself! Although she had already received marriage proposals, after consulting her spiritual director, Drexel decided to give herself to God, along with her inheritance, through service to American Indians and Afro-Americans.
She took the name Mother Katharine, and joined by thirteen other women, soon established a religious congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The order continues to pursue their original apostolate, working with African-Americans and Native Americans in 21 states and Haiti.
The process of canonization for Katharine was begun by John Cardinal Krol who officially introduced her Cause in Rome in December 1964. On January 26, 1987, Mother Katharine was declared Venerable. On October 1, 2000, in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, during the solemn celebration of Mass, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Mother Katharine Drexel, “Saint Katharine Drexel.”
And today I was delightfully surprised to be whisked back to my time spent at her National Shrine and the very blessed experience to have prayed in The Shrine area, which holds the entombed remains of Saint Katharine Drexel. During the World Meeting of Families the National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel attracted more than 200 large busloads of people! Thousands visited the Motherhouse grounds, the Mission Center and Shrine. (Imagine how surprised the Sisters & Volunteers were when, at one point that Weekend, one bus was scheduled and SIX buses arrived instead and 50 persons poured out of each!)
The National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel & The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament’s Motherhouse.
Saint Katharine’s former student, Mary! She frequently volunteers at the Shrine now & was one of the over 200 volunteers wearing chartreuse shirts helping to be sure everything went smoothly! (Mary & her family were invited to the Vatican when Blessed Katharine was Canonized.)
I can only imagine how Sr. Patricia, Sr. Agnes, and Sr. Annette, all Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, must have been smiling today too! And oh what a joy it was to have prayed, even so far away, this same prayer with all of them too…
Ever-loving God, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the African American and Native American peoples.
By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and the oppressed, and keep us undivided in love in the eucharistic community of your Church.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
hugs n’ blessings for all the surprises that life often brings us!