Monday, December 8, 2014

Longing for Holy Communion

It is easy to see why there was this reluctance to admit the Iroquois to Holy Communion. It was known that they had certain gross and perverted ideas in their heads, into the terms of which they might translate the Christian doctrine. It cannot be forgotten that Indians from Ossernenon had cut off slices of Jogues's flesh while Jogues was still alive, and had devoured them. They were Mohawks who had eaten the heart of Br├ębeuf after it had been torn from his mutilated body, while he hung from the stump of a tree in burned St. Ignace. More recently Father Bruyas had discovered his Oneidas roasting slowly to death a woman of the Anastes, a people of their own stock, with whom they had been engaged in an annihilating war. Such tales make us dizzy with sickness. It did seem—did it not?—that the thoughts of the Iroqois had become so tarnished, and their lips so polluted, that a long purification of lips and thoughts would have to take place before they could see the doctrine of the Blessed Eucharist, as a child without preconceptions may see it.

Yet even then it must be acknowledged that the Iroquois had been longing very particularly for Holy Communion. The very mirages they had followed showed them famished for it. They had always tried to raise themselves higher than they were by joining themselves somehow to sufferings. And here were the sufferings of Christ with which they could unite themselves. Also the Iroquois had been tormented with the desire of girding themselves into a single body, which was greater than the sum of them all as individuals. In all their wars they had, like imperialists, fought for an ultimate peace to be enjoyed in the unity of a long-house which was The Long-House.

The union with God, and with the splendor of the saints, and with the heroisms and weaknesses of the Church Militant, made possible by the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, was the very thing for which all their wars had been fought, and all their dreams had been dreamed.

— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 204–205.