Optional Memorial of St. Katharine Drexel, Virgin (USA)

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“The patient and humble endurance of the cross whatever nature it may be is the highest work we have to do.”

Today the dioceses of the United States celebrate the optional memorial of St. Katharine Drexel. Born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, Katharine took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of African and Native Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, and opened mission schools in the West for Native Americans and in the South for African Americans. In 1915 she founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At her death, there were more than 500 sisters teaching in 63 schools.

via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year.


Daily Scripture Readings


First Reading: Sirach 42:15-25

Now will I recall God’s works; what I have seen, I will describe. At God’s word were his works brought into being; they do his will as he has ordained for them.
As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the LORD fills all his works;
Yet even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the LORD, Though God has given these, his hosts, the strength to stand firm before his glory.
He plumbs the depths and penetrates the heart; their innermost being he understands. The Most High possesses all knowledge, and sees from of old the things that are to come:
He makes known the past and the future, and reveals the deepest secrets.
No understanding does he lack; no single thing escapes him.
Perennial is his almighty wisdom; he is from all eternity one and the same,
With nothing added, nothing taken away; no need of a counselor for him!
How beautiful are all his works! even to the spark and the fleeting vision!
The universe lives and abides forever; to meet each need, each creature is preserved.
All of them differ, one from another, yet none of them has he made in vain, For each in turn, as it comes, is good; can one ever see enough of their splendor? (NAB)


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (6a) By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.

R. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.

For upright is the word of the LORD
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

R. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as in a flask;
in cellars he confines the deep.

R. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all who dwell in the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.

R. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.


Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

via USCCB NAB – March 3, 2011.


St. Katharine Drexel

Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.

She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by reading Helen Hunt Jackson‘s A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.

Back home, she visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Native American missions.

She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of Saint Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!”

After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of African American Catholic schools in thirteen states, plus forty mission centers and twenty-three rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established fifty missions for Native Americans in sixteen states.

Two saints met when she was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her order’s rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first university in the United States for African Americans.

At seventy-seven, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost twenty years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at ninety-six and was canonized in 2000.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Things to Do:

  • St. Katharine had a great love for the Eucharist, the center and source of her activity. Make a family visit to the Blessed Sacrament today.
  • St. Katharine became a spiritual mother of African Americans and Native Americans, fighting for equal rights for these neglected ethnic groups. She was particularly concerned with achieving a quality education for these people. Find out about nearby educational programs for underprivileged inner city children (an excellent parent organization concerned with this is Youth Service International) and look for ways to support them. If you cannot give any of your time, consider making a small donation.
  • St. Katharine grew up in a wealthy home but her parents instilled in her the understanding that her wealth belonged to her only on loan so that she could share it with others. She gave generously and with full trust in God. Do you tithe on a regular basis? Do you encourage your children to be generous with their allowance money?
  • Visit this website about Katharine Drexel that features many photos, a history and information about her shrine.

via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year.

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