Heart of an Heiress: Weekly Message for 03-03-2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

March 3 is the feast day of St. Katharine Drexel, one of the most remarkable women to emerge in 19th-century America. 

The daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia banker, she came into control of millions of dollars at the death of her father. 

But instead of being lured into a lavish lifestyle, the heart of the young heiress was moved by the plight of minorities. 

With the help of her spiritual director, she eventually discerned a call to become a religious and dedicated herself to working with American Indians and African-Americans. Later, she founded a congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

In many ways, her life encapsulated that kind of balance between opposites that is so common in the Church. 

Her riches and privileged education didn’t blind her to the plight of the poor.  Rather, she used her God-given talents and gifts to bring hope to the downtrodden. And amid the many struggles she herself faced, she drew deeply on the Eucharist for nourishment.

Fittingly, St. Katharine’s feast comes in Lent, which is in itself is a season of contrasts. It’s a time when we dedicate ourselves to penance and sacrifice, bracing ourselves for the rigors of the sacred triduum beginning on Holy Thursday, but with the expectation of a joy that awaits us at Easter.

The triduum can be a microcosm of life. For being a Catholic means learning to cope with the hardships of day-to-day life, even as we keep alight the fires of optimism for the ultimate victory in Christ. 

To help nourish your own optimism, you might consider making the book Journey to Joy: Reflections on the 7 Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary part of your Lenten reading.

It can be a reminder that the darkness of the world can’t extinguish the light of Our Lord.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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