Indian, Martyr, Healer, Saint

Reporter Alyssa Newcomb penned a deeply embarrassing bit of silliness at ABCNews.com yesterday.

First American Indian on Track Toward Sainthood

Jake Finkbonner was near death for months with a flesh eating bacteria, but made a miraculous recovery that the Vatican credited to The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, marking the second miracle for the 17th century Mohawk-Algonquin woman and clearing the way for her to become the first American-Indian saint.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree Monday approving the miracle attribute to the intercession of the woman, and she could be canonized as soon as February. The Vatican said it believes that the prayers Finkbonner’s family directed to Tekakwitha were responsible for bringing the boy back from the brink of death.

The shrine to this proto-saint is less than an hour’s drive from me, so if I ever contract flesh eating bacteria, I’m gonna rocket over there and get cured. I probably won’t even need the extensive hospital care, or the 29 surgeries Jake Finkbonner received.

Because everybody knows all this “modern medicine” don’t make a lick of difference. As Mother Finkbonner says, “It’s unexplainable as to why he lived.”

At the urging of the family’s priest, the Finkbonners began praying to Tekakwitha, who converted to Christianity when she was 18 and became a fervent follower. Her face was scarred by smallpox as a child, but it is claimed that the scars disappeared after she died in 1680 at the age of 24.

The commenters nailed it:

The Catholic Church lies about the raping of young boys, why not this?

Give me a break. If it were a miracle none of the surgeries would have been necessary. The infection would have completely cleared up and he would have been left without a trace of injury or otherwise. I swear…the church is so full of it.

Isn’t it funny that billions of prayers have been said for a cure for cancer, yet god helps Tebow win football games?

There’s more about “Blessed Kateri” here: The White Martyrdom of Kateri Tekakwitha

One day, Kateri was along in her family’s longhouse when a man burst through the door. He raged at her, brandishing a club. He threatened to kill her if she did not renounce her baptism. Kateri showed no fear in the face of his wrath. She quietly told him he could take her life if he wished, but she would never let him take her faith. As Kateri bowed her head and entrusted her soul to God, it seemed as if she would indeed face red martyrdom. Instead, her serenity unnerved her would-be killer. He threw aside his weapon and fled in the face of that gentle courage.

Reading it as a Christian, it sounds absolutely lovely. Reading it as a non-believer, the same words come across as an ugly tale of an Indian girl seduced away from her people by the liars of Christ.

From her earliest days as a Christian, Kateri Tekakwitha had two great desires. One was to do what was most pleasing God. The other was to receive the Eucharist. We don’t know exactly what the missionaries and Kateri’s mentors taught her of Holy Communion. But we do know that their lessons, like the seeds in the parable, found very fertile ground in Kateri’s heart. From her earliest days as a Christian, she was drawn to the sacrament and eagerly awaited the day she might receive Our Lord herself.

Only a couple of months after her arrival at the Mission, Kateri was permitted to receive the Body of Christ for the first time. Her joy at that moment was beyond description. From then on, having fortified her soul with the Bread of Angels, Kateri began to gradually withdraw from the world and its concerns.

Speaking as a writer, I can appreciate the pleasant fiction they spin about her in these paragraphs. But as someone who respects humanity, I hate the fact that they killed her again by taking her real life and turning her into a mere story, and a silly goddy one at that.

Kateri was strong in character and spirit but, from childhood, she had always been frail in body. She had never let this physical weakness stand in her way, especially in matters of devotion. Now, barely a year after her sublime vow, her indifferent health gave way to constant illness. She could no longer visit her dear chapel; the sickness confined her to her sleeping mat, too weak to move. Days and weeks went by in pain and solitude, but she welcomed this. She tenderly offered her suffering up to the Lord in place of her usual Lenten penance and spent the long, lonely hours in prayer, simply talking to Jesus and Mary.

Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, her last words – Iesos Kononronka – declared her love of Christ. The friends who knelt in prayer at her side then witnessed a wondrous transfiguration. The smallpox scars, the traces of her long illness, the remainders of all her sufferings vanished. Her features became beautiful, reflecting the radiance of her heavenly joy.

Yeah, like THAT really happened.

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For so many reasons, I’m always irritated with these godly-miracle stories. ONE reason is that the life of the real person at the center of the story is obscured by the hooting and back-slapping of the Jesus crowd.

Here’s a reminder to me and others that there’s a handsome, courageous little boy forced to be in this story: Jake’s Site

Jake’s Site reminds us, rightly so, that none of this is his doing, or the doing of his parents.

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