I am deeply honored that the cousin of Blessed Kateri approves of "Holding on to Faith." When I mention "miracle," there are really several, in my humble estimation...The first is that, prior to this painting, I never had any fine art painting experience and acted on a very strong inspiration....after futile attempts to resist, for obvious reasons.
I had no preliminary drawing or visual aid to work from and just trusted that if it was a true inspiration, it would be evident. The experience was truly humbling...as if watching someone else work....starting with her face...all seemed to flow organically...the composition came without forethought. Yet, I had to do quite a lot of refining, which all told, took about 7 weeks.
When I was about 1/2 way through, I received a call from Fr. Steve Kranz, a holy priest, asking me to speak at an annual Catholic Indian conference, which astonished me, since he did not know about the painting and I wasn't sure why I was being led to paint it! I always had an affinity for the Native people...As a young girl, the nuns taught us about Kateri and I remember thinking how brave she was. I had never before spoken at any other than secular events...though I always found a way to share my faith in the course of the talks. I was thrilled to have such an honor as Father was extending to me.
By the time I went to give the talk (last June) I had finished the painting of Blessed Kateri and another one which I felt again, strongly compelled to paint...that of Jesus in the womb of Mary, Our Blessed Mother. Of course, I used Kateri as a role model for the virtues of Humility, Chastity, obedience to the will of God etc. and urged attendees to introduce her to their children and Grandchildren...encouraging them to become active in the effort to build the culture of Life with this little saint's guidance and intercession. The talk was well received (My audience was so gracious and many wanted the prints of both paintings.) but I knew there was a definitive connection between the two paintings. So, on my way home, I prayed for the answer. What came to me nearly made me pull off the road. I saw Native people standing up together for the Unborn, where babies are dying...and that it was nation-wide. I was quite frightened at this, since I have no native blood... How could I do anything about this, I asked God...
The Light of Life
Copyright © 2008 by Nellie Edwards
"The Light of Life" followed right after Blessed Kateri but took me 9 months to finish. It was quite a spiritual exercise and I realized that the painting progressed - parallel with my spiritual progress in preparing for Total Consecration to Our Lady, as prescribed by St. Louis de Montfort in "True Devotion to TBVM." I did not stop to think how long it had been since I began until I was making the last refinements....9 months = Full Term!
Mary's garments are unlike her earthly attire, since this is intended to convey the reality of her being Jesus' Mother in Heaven for all eternity - not just on Earth. The rose petal-likeness around her neck reflects the fact that her will is entirely meshed with that of her divine son..."The Rose of Sharon." The mantle has a water-like effect and flows like from a fountain...Mary, being a true fountain of Life for we, her spiritual children. I have found this to be a great tool in my outreach to non-Catholics...who invariably show enthusiasm for seeing Jesus in the womb of His mother. A large percentage of those I share with, want the print for their home....("To Mary through Jesus" in a twist from "To Jesus through Mary.") I make a point to show them Blessed Kateri and they always marvel at her story.
... I quickly realized that God, who used a non-painter, could use a non-Indian to unfold his plan. A few days later I knew I needed spiritual direction and the priest I asked was kind to consent. He knew Chief David Brien of the Chippewa, here in North Dakota and gave him the prints...asking him to pray. David (goes by "Doc") was impressed with the prints and said he would indeed pray. Meantime, Sr. Kateri Mitchell of the Nat. Tekakwitha Conference ordered the prints and published an article about all this in the national "Cross and Feathers" newsletter. An author friend of mine wrote it with me and I gave it the title; Blessed Kateri - Role Model for ProLife Activism....because she stood up to the lawful authority over her, when it went against God's plan...even though it meant extreme hardship for her. Clementine Hernandez, the founder of Indians for Life, called me, very excited about it. She said, "this is a sign from God, since I tried many times to have them publish abortion related articles and was always politely refused." She is a very humble and holy Catholic woman (Sioux tribe) and has prayed for years, that the loosely organized Indians for Life would get "to the next level...one of a visible presence at abortuaries."
I continued to pray, that God's will be done and that those who are supposed to help make this a reality, will discern as the Holy Spirit leads. Doc called me a month ago and told me about attending a national tribal leaders conference. He took along the print of Blessed Kateri, thinking he would give it to someone, not sure whom. Out of hundreds there, who should sit at his table...but the co-chiefs of the Mohawk! He was very excited to realize how God arranged this. They knew who she was right away and said how much they liked it and how grateful they were to receive it. Chief Brien gave me the good news, that he is starting the 1st Indians for Life in the state of North Dakota and will do all he can to encourage other tribal heads to do the same! To me, this is a great miracle! (He is also writing up a constitution and guidelines for the National IFL, which they have never had. Doc has a solid ProLife foundation...having been active in the movement in his college years.
I now fully believe that what I saw is going to happen and the media will not ignore it as they do so many ProLife events, since it will be an extraordinary occurrence...Indians standing together, doing prayer vigils for the Unborn. It won't be lost on journalists, that the Indian is traditionally a great respecter of creation, and the Creator. I believe that will help to make society look much deeper at what we are doing to our own children...and of course, the harm being done to their mothers as well.
In the spirit of Blessed Kateri and her saintly mother,
Novena Prayer to Blessed Kateri
Kateri, favored child, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, We come to seek your intercession in our present need: (mention it here).
We admire the virtures which adorned your soul: love of God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us and help us.
Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen.
In thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Kateri: one Our Father, Hail Mary and three Glory Be's.
Kateri, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us.
From Fr. Lovasik's book: KATERI of the MOHAWKS.
A Child's Prayer to Kateri
Kateri, loving child of God and Lily of the Mohawks,
I thank God for the many graces He gave you.
Help me to be more like you in my love for God and for people.
Give me a great love for the Holy Eucharist and the Mother of Jesus.
Make me ready to make sacrifices for Jesus
that I may save my soul and be happy with you in heaven.
Kateri, I love you. Always be my friend.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.