Antipathy

 

Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Chöling in Poolesville, MD

༄ In 2006, my aunt and uncle, who served in Mongolia with the US Diplomatic Service, took our family to a Buddhist temple—which would eventually become my Buddhist temple—for a Mongolian autumn festival. My parents were less than impressed, but I found the experience life-changing. I had been frolicking around the temple, thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, when I entered the prayer room and saw other people there sitting in the prayer room meditating in front of the altar to Padmasambhava (who, I later learned, had brought Buddhism to Tibet). I left the room and went to the last place I remembered seeing someone sitting like them: the little gift shop, where I saw statues of the Buddha in meditation postures known as “calling the World to witness” and the “lotus” posture. I immediately ran back (ran is perhaps accurate since I was 11 years old) when I sat down and crossed my legs and joined my hands in the lotus posture.

An amazing, miraculous calm came over me. Gone were the senses of anger and sadness from loneliness after my move to Maryland, and instead I breathed in fragrant air that was the most uplifting and rejuvenating I had ever experienced. My mind—normally keeping itself busy with youthful thoughts—was almost immediately decluttered.

A few minutes later, my mother came in the prayer room to tell me that our family was leaving. Someone stopped her on the way out and asked her if I had ever meditated before, and she said no—that our family was just visiting for the Mongolian autumn festival. The woman remarked that they had never seen something like it before, where a kid entered the prayer room with no background in Buddhism and in meditation and spontaneously started to meditate.

Today, though I tend not to use this term, I consider the experience nothing short of a miracle.

༄ What followed was a long journey of self-discovery and religious exploration. I figured that I was meant to be a Buddhist, and this intuition was reinforced when I learned about Buddhist philosophy. The same reason why I was called to be a Socialist—suffering and uplift of disadvantaged peoples—was reaffirmed by the basic tenets of Buddhism: (1) we suffer, (2) suffering is rooted in desire, (3) we can remove suffering by removing desire, and (4) we can remove desire by essentially following a thoughtful and ethical life. I was interested by Buddhism’s notion of compassion and the dedication which bodhisattvas show in helping other suffering sentient beings traverse the ocean of Samsara.

But I wanted to be sure, and not to be mistaken as choosing a new faith because it was novel—as was the case when people told me they thought my Socialist beliefs were “just a phase.” I spent the next three years exploring various religions and learning more about a variety of religious beliefs. I learned more about the tenets of Judaism and Islam, visited a mosque, and even revisited Christianity. In fact, I dabbled in so many religions that my few friends at the time thought I was fickle and was converting to a different religion every month. But I was not rash. I acted in a way uncharacteristic of someone who was less than thirteen years old:

I acted with restraint.

༄ It was the early morning of 12 April 2009. I was only 13 years old, but it was only three more days until my 14th birthday. I had spent the night before sitting in my bed, thinking about my religious faith, the Buddhist dharma, and how exactly does one formally converts to a different religion. I wanted to convert right then and there, but I decided I would wait until the morning when I woke up to see how I felt and what I would decide.

That morning, only my mother was awake. That morning, she sat and listened to me awkwardly explain how I wanted to become a Buddhist and to learn more about the religion. She was caring and told me, for example, how you don’t need to formally convert to being a Buddhist. You just are one. After I decided to covert, she would be the only one who would take me to my temple as often as she was willing to and let me attend youth classes. These classes were meant to culminate in your taking of bodhisattva and refuge vows, meaning you become a formal member of the tradition and receive a spiritual teacher—it’s a lot like being confirmed.

I only recently took refuge vows and received a new name, Tseten Dorjé, “Firm-” or “Stable-Life Vajra.” A vajra, “lightningbolt” and “diamond” in Sanskrit, means an instantaneous enlightenment. It is a very auspicious name, and it is my little silent prayer to become a bodhisattva.

༄ After I openly converted, which is to me a lot like coming out, quite a few people gave me their opinions and told me what they thought. I suppose one can expect some backlash, but I was not expecting quite as much when I decided to convert. I thought others would see how sincerely and delicately I had treated the matter, and still do. What follow are a few brief and real stories about responses I received, in no particular order.

My grandmother visited our family soon after, and I recall walking with her and my father around the national arboretum in Washington D.C., ironically, looking at the bonsai collection. I had flagrantly talked about converting, and she tried to tell me that Buddhism was not a good religion. She told me that “one day” I would find Christ and God again and that I would come back to church. My father sat silently and was pleased.

I once explained to a few other students in my science lab, in high school, that I was a Buddhist. Neither really understood what that meant, but one told me that I was going to hell and that I should accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and another told me I was possessed by demons.

On another occasion, I told my two Baptist best friends from my preteen days that I was a Buddhist. Thankfully, they were smarter and more aware about Buddhism than the two girls in my science lab—but they still told me I worshipped a rock, a statue, and not the living god.

On one occasion, in a French class, one person had assumed that I was Buddhist because it was novel and interesting, not because I had learned about the dharma and what it says about suffering—and had accepted it as valid.

I was once told by a relative that I should “go to Tibet and eat only saffron rice in a cave” if I did not like it here in the US and if I did not like being a Christian. Apart from just being racist, it is also impractical. Given, you know, how Tibet is occupied.

I have been called an idolater. And more than once! A Christian woman from Phoenix, AZ, has especially harassed me for several years about being a Buddhist.

During the Christmas season one year in high school, two religious boys in my year decided to give Christmas cards to everyone in our grade. The cards wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and, for the ones whom they knew were not Christians, an aspiration. They hoped that we would “accept Jesus into [our hearts].”

One Christmas, after I graduated from high school and was an adult, someone opined openly to a table of family and his academic colleagues that there was no “hope” in any other religion except Christianity. Now, it was an interesting occasion, considering our guests on this occasion were all non-Christian: several Muslims, a Jew, and a Buddhist. No one wanted to disagree with their host, but I was thoroughly disgusted—and he said this looking at me.

Most recently, for Christmas, I received two books from a rather zealous relative, trying to entice me back to Christianity. One was a more popular book on Christianity, while another was touted as a apologist’s book to “prove” Christianity. I read neither and threw them away.

These are only a few such typical examples. There are, of course, the few rare harassers and missionaries, who scream—as has happened to me—at you to tell you that you are going to hell and that you are satanic and demonic.

No, we do not worship a statue. No, we do not all sit on a mat and eat only rice. (an actual very racist opinion I have received from a relative) No, we are not the same as Hindus. But thank you for praying for me.

I will pray that you find peace and overcome the causes of your anger and ignorance.

Migyur Dorje

Altar to Terton Migyur Dorjé at KPC

༄ Christian holidays tend to frustrate me. I am still not committed to the idea of going home for them. On one hand, I love the glee and joy associated with them. I love the lights, the cookies, and the warmth, and so on. But, with both missionaries and the increasingly politicisation of Christian holidays, with the so-called “War on Christmas,” I have learned to dislike the whole lot. They are not my holidays.

For one, everyone assumes you are a Christian unless they know better (and they often don’t), and, when I out myself as a Buddhist to them, many seem repulsed or taken aback. I wish people would stick with the generic “happy holidays,” since then I won’t have to clarify and be the recipient of someone’s stunned, prejudiced gasp. It keeps us all from very awkward social situations, I think you would agree.

Second, the “War on Christmas” is a melodramatic fantasy. People saying “Happy Holidays,” as opposed to “Merry Christmas,” is polite, inclusive, and appropriately sensitive—and, frankly, less likely to make you into an ass when you learn the other person isn’t Christian. But, for me, it is especially pernicious as a Buddhist who cannot always celebrate their own holidays.

Case in point. I once took a day off from high school to celebrate the Tibetan New Year, Lösar, the most important Tibetan holiday. When I explained I took it off for a religious holiday, I was told I needed to say which one and that Lösar was not an appropriate, officially-classified holiday. My absence was unexcused.

I envy Christians for thinking that their holidays are under fire, when their holidays form some of the most important cultural holidays in the country. I can only imagine in the future trying to take of from work and class for holidays none of them will have heard of, like Lhabab Düchen, Lösar, Chökhor Düchen, or Saga Dawa—let alone to wait to have to explain to someone who might come at me with some sort of ignorant comment. (“Oh, like Chinese New Year?” No…) I imagine experiences like the one I had in high school will likely reoccur, and I will have to explain that, yes, the “Festival of the Descent from Indra’s Heaven” is a real holiday, as is the holiday commemorating “the time the Buddha first turned the wheel of the dharma.”

In comparison, I recently experienced for the first time a Buddhist holiday with my sangha, the same day I took refuge vows and received my new name. It was for Chökhor Düchen, the holiday which celebrates the first time the Buddha lectured on the dharma, and I had only received word of the schedule the day before. I immediately took off work and, the next morning, woke up early for the two-hour journey to my temple and back. The experience was unrivalled and awesome. From 10am to 8pm, I was praying and doing activities for my sangha. I was surrounded by kind and uplifting people, who could teach me about the dharma and who would understand my Buddhist humour! I met new kind people, and remet some friends from many years ago. Several anis (nuns) lit up when they saw me, stopped their practice, and came up and hugged me and asked how I was doing. Others recognised me from social media, and many others thanked me for my avid posting and appreciated my perspective on current events when I share it. I was surrounded by a loving community which many people take for granted—but one which, in the past four years, I have only experienced three times, and not for lack of wanting to visit. Two of them were in the past two months. If I could, I would visit every weekend, but I am not able to make an 80-mile journey without a car.

Even in the past two trips, however, I learned and achieved much. In addition to taking refuge, a big step for such a novice lay practitioner, I learned about ngöndro, a course of study and practice of the dharma, and learned about from a trained lama (teacher) about the dharma and how to practice it. This is just evidence of age-old wisdom in Buddhism: that you really do need a teacher.

Suffice to say, my association with holidays is interesting and frustrating thanks largely to others’ prejudices, assumptions, and

༄ The culmination of witnessing others’ aggression, ignorance, and prejudices, as well as having to frequently defend my faith has left a heavy toll on me, I feel. Today, many people around me are surprisingly unaware I am a Buddhist, even though it is such a major part of who I am. And this is not because I am not a practising Buddhist, but rather because I hide my faith in public. When others are talking about their churches and their events, I have not felt comfortable discussing my own. I live in a society where I am expected to learn about these others’ religion, but few take their time to learn about mine, apart from the time they tell me about how “peaceful” it is. Have you heard of dukkha? The Four Noble Truths? The Heart Sutra? I live in a society where apologists claim they can “disprove” my religion and can viscerally attack me personally, claim I have a mental disorder, and threaten me. All this and more for witnessing my faith.

I know I am not alone, either. I have heard similar stories and frustrations from many others in my sangha. I have heard others express their frustration, their antipathy, about their own experiences with this latent form of Christian supremacy, and I have heard others allude to their uneasiness about being Buddhist in public. Many of the majority have pushed back against me when I have couched our society as “Christian supremacist” and have lambasted missionary and evangelism. They say “They mean well,” or they tell me that “If you had such good news, would you not want to share it with others?”

That answer is no, and they might mean well but that does not absolve them from their harmful and oppressive deeds and behaviour. Assuming that anyone is unaware of Christianity in the US is absurd, and evangelical missionaries strip individuals of our their own agency when they try to convert them. They have disrespected me and my intelligence, claimed there is something wrong with me, or even have screamed in my face and harassed me. I did not unknowingly become a Buddhist any more than they unknowingly were born and raised in their Christian religion. We both were aware of what we were doing according to our beliefs, but they have decided to tell me and try to make me change my mind. How rude.

In Buddhism, we do not believe that our religion is the “only true” one. We believe that others follow their religions for perfectly valid reasons, and we hope that their beliefs bring them peace and an end to suffering. My religion does not tell me that I need to convince you that your religion is false. My religion tells me that is ignorance, driven by my own egotistical notions about my religion, which will only create suffering. My religion tells me that your religion makes you happy and fulfilled, and there is nothing wrong with that. Mine does that, too.

With the recent election, I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot sit by idly. President Trump’s commitment to making sure everyone can say “Merry Christmas” again politicises Christmas and religion even more, exacerbating already clear religious divisions, and it worries me that the sort of personal attacks I received as a kid will happen more frequently and, worse, to others. It has encouraged me to stand up even more fervently now for my religious faith, to make clear to others that I am a Buddhist, and to practice my religion even at times when it is conspicuous to others, where before I have kept myself in the closet. I am encouraged not to “fight” some sort of religious war, as the “War on Christmas” is purported to be, but I am encouraged to represent compassion and peace I know of as a Buddhist and to advocate for awareness of my religion and for inter-religious work and dialogue.

All suffering comes from wanting your own happiness.
Complete awakening arises from the intention to help others.
So, exchange completely your happiness
For the suffering of others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Even if you have done nothing wrong at all
And someone still tries to take your head off,
Spurred by compassion,
Take all his or her evil into you — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Even if someone broadcasts to the whole universe
Slanderous and ugly rumors about you,
In return, with an open and caring heart,
Praise his or her abilities — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Even if someone humiliates you and denounces you
In front of a crowd of people,
Think of this person as your teacher
And humbly honor him — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

— 37 Practices of a Bodhisattvas by Togmé Zangpo (1297-1371)

By this effort, may all sentient beings be free of suffering. May their minds be filled with the nectar of virtue. In this way, may all causes resulting in suffering be extinguished, and only the light of compassion shine throughout all realms.

— Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

OM MANI PADME HUNG

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ཚེ་བརྟན་རྡོ་རྗེ

Tshe’brtan’rDor’rjé
Tseten Dorjé

Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola has received a new name, Tseten Dorje, following þess formal taking of refuge in Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo and the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The name, which means “firm” or “stable life vajra” (a ritual object and name for a “lightning-bolt” and “diamond”), is auspicious for the Sôgmô’s long life and realisation of enlightenment. The name is so auspicious, in fact, that Jetsunma noted that the name was “His Holiness’s [Pema Norbu Rinpoche] name” when she gave það the name.

Dharma Name Tseten Dorje

The paper given to the Sôgmô which states þess dharma name Tseten Dorje and, on the reverse, the meaning of the name: “Firm Life Vajra.”

Taking refuge in a teacher of the lineage has been þess long-term goal as a Buddhist, since það converted to Buddhism on 13 April 2009 when það was 13 years old. Refuge in a teacher marks a Buddhist’s confirmation as a member of the lineage and the Buddhist community. According to Buddhist doctrine, one must have a teacher to guide them to enlightenment, and the ceremony makes Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo the Sôgmô’s guru.

During the ceremony, Jetsunma, who is also the first western woman to be recognised as a tulku, or reincarnated teacher, led students to meditate and visualise the thousands of buddhas, bodhisattvas, teachers, and dharma-protectors above and ahead of them, before the entire retinue dissolved into light. The practice represents the student’s accepted membership into the Palyul lineage of the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Sôgmô’s regnal name will remain unchanged as Gaius Soergel Publicola, which has been þess regnal name since the start of þess reign in 2011, but það will use the name Tseten Dorje in personal business and in official capacity as Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotum.

Chokhor Duchen.png

The Collegium Sacerdotum’s official poster for Chökhor Düchen.

The ceremony took place on 27 July 2017 on the occasion of Chökhor Düchen, a holiday which commemorates the Buddha’s first teaching of the Dharma at Sarnath. The Sôgmô published this personal message on þess new name:

I have a new name! It is Tseten Dorjé (Firm-Life Vajra), or Tsedor for short.

Today on Chökhor Düchen, which commemorates when the Buddha first taught the Dharma at Sarnath, I have completed an eight-year-long aspiration: I have taken refuge vows with my Buddhist teacher Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo, the first Western woman to be recognised as a reincarnated tulku, and in the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

On 13 April 2009, I converted to Tibetan Buddhism and sought out my sangha, Kunzang Palyul Chöling, which I discovered through my Uncle Mark when I was 11 years old. The personal reaction I had, and ever since—and especially today, is nothing short of miraculous. I sporadically visited the temple and infrequently pursued the teen class, but I am glad that I have remained a part of the sangha and that I have continued to come to KPC over the years to study and learn even more about the Dharma.

It has long been my goal to take refuge vows (which is more or less analogous to a Christian’s confirmation), but this aspiration was all the more pressing now that I am moving away from the sangha with which I have grown up. I had told myself that I wanted to take these vows this summer, and it was remarkable (perhaps, even, a miracle) that several factors combined so that I could make it to my temple and spend all day there on Chökhor Düchen!

The first part of my name, Tseten, means “Firm” or “Stable Life,” while “Dorjé” means “thunderbolt” or “vajra” in Tibetan. The symbolism behind the vajra is related to enlightenment itself, since being enlightened is the abrupt change of state from living “asleep” in suffering to being awake.

Happy 10 Million Day!

This article, and hopefully those which will follow it on Sacerdotium, is an introduction to a series which will have to do with my personal antipathy for the majority religion in the United States: Christianity. I have chosen the term “antipathy” because I have found other synonyms to be too strong. It is not a “loathing” or “hatred” for the Christian majority. “Repugnance” was a close synonym, but again was too strong. Instead, the best word to describe it was “antipathy,” a term which I think captures the psychological aversion to and the emotional sense of being against the Christian cultural hegemony. What follows is a personal and truthful depiction of the internal anger and dislike for Christianity because of what can be best described as its hegemonic cultural role in the United States.

antipathy

[an-tip-uh-thee]
noun, plural antipathies.

1. a natural, basic, or habitual repugnance; aversion.
2. an instinctive contrariety or opposition in feeling.
3. an object of natural aversion or habitual dislike.

I was inspired to write about this topic based on a series of conversations I have had over the years with my close friend Adam von Friedeck, a citizen and ally of my micronation, who is also a Mormon. I have often asked him about the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and he periodically asks me about Buddhism. I have also shared similar conversations with many others, like my roommate, Mark—raised in the evangelical and charismatic church of Sovereign Grace Ministries—, and my close friend from Second Life, Pet Karu—a mystic Christian pastor and counsellor. This emotional “antipathy” often arose when discussing Christianity or religion in general, but I practised to transform this anger and frustration into a meditative practice to cultivate understanding and remove ignorance.

Full disclosure: I was not always successful. I often became angry and I often let that anger fester, instead of nipping it in the bud.

But, in my religion, the practising of the Dharma is a path, and I am still afloat in the Ocean of Samsara, so it would be wrong not to acknowledge that there were some setbacks.

This series of articles is intended to discuss this antipathy for a wide-ranging audience, but often couched in Buddhist terms. (like “practising the Dharma”) After all, I know I am not alone in this antipathy—and, ironically, I know that there are even some Christians who face it too!

First, however, I must describe my personal story and context, since this is very much a personal story and commentary. Then, I want to try to capture in writing the internal logic and reasoning of this antipathy by providing some notable examples from my own personal life. Next, I will address the topic of abuse by evangelicals, well-intentioned or not, and how good intentions are nice but not the complete barometer by which actions are measured. (This goes both ways.)

Finally, this antipathy is in many ways a tool for future development. I have often found that this anger and frustration can be transformed into a personal and social tool. It has been a tool, for example, by which I have formed my own independence as a young adult. It can also be a meditative tool for Buddhists to better understand and cope with the world around them—a world sometimes hostile to the sangha or often just ignorant of the Buddhist community. Finally, the last two elements of this “tool” of antipathy are social and political. Like conflict in general, this antipathy can be used as a tool for solidarity with other minority religions and to be used as a platform for future cross-cultural and interfaith work. But this does not mean that Christians are barred from the circle, because the following article addresses a wider picture of “Christendom.” (a concept some Christians still use!) Instead, this small series will finish with a discussion of breaking down monolithic “Christian” narratives. In part, I will have to address some denominations’ and theologians’ exclusive understanding of the term “Christian.” As an outsider looking-in, I will tend to lump together different Christian sects into the name “Christian,” but a few radicals speak fervently against this practice of lumping Orthodox, Catholics, mainstream Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, and some other fundamentalist and charismatic churches together. Understandable—given the incredible divergence in beliefs—but this antipathy is a useful heuristic device for religious outsiders and minorities AND a good political tool when “Christianity” is used as jargon by the Religious Right.

I have decided to write about my experience for a multitude of reasons. First, I think this sort of journalling is good practice for writing and for collecting one’s thoughts. It helps me to think more clearly and to express myself more coherently with others. Second, I am sure I am not alone in this antipathy. I think I have “sensed” it in other religious minorities like me. Third, I hope that others will connect my personal experience to other social phenomena to broaden my own social scientific awareness. Finally, if this personal commentary on my own life growing up as a Buddhist convert can be of benefit to anyone, I hope that it will help others who are struggling or who have struggled with these same emotions and sentiments and that it will help others of the “religious majority” to think about about their prejudices and assumptions.

Articles Planned:

  • My personal story
  • Why Antipathy? and How a few Well-Intentioned Abusive Evangelicals are self-defeating
  • Using this Antipathy: Start by Claiming your Independence
  • Using this Antipathy: Antipathy as a Meditative Tool
  • Using this Antipathy: Forming Interfaith, Minority-Religious Solidarity
  • Using this Antipathy: Breaking down Monolithic “Christian” Narratives

Caveats:

  • I do not completely vouch for the implications of everything I write, but I am willing to discuss them to hone my meaning. I caution against extrapolating meaning and applying to other contexts and other people. Life is complex and people are difficult to understand.
  • This series is not meant to place blame on Christians or any religious majority, but instead is my own personal discussion of my experience as a Buddhist convert. I may use the term “Christian privilege” or “privilege of the religious majority,” meant here to mean the same thing. But, as all/most conceptions of “privilege” go, this does not negate lack of privilege in other areas.
  • I do not avow that these articles will be high-brow. Those of you familiar with my more academic musings might be thoroughly disappointed. This is more of a think-piece.
  • I will only tolerate some abuse and trolling. Once I reach my limit, I will freely delete, block, and ban as needed—on whatever medium. Sorry.

 

About the Author

Gaius Soergel Publicola is the Sôgmô of the State of Sandus, a micronation in the United States of America. Það is the leader (Sacer Flamen) of the Collegium Sacerdotum, of which Sacerdotium is a publication. Soergel Publicola was raised in the Episcopal Church of America by a Catholic-raised mother and a Presbyterian-raised father, but rejected the faith at a young age. As a young adult, the Sacer Flamen decided to convert to Tibetan Buddhism in April 2009 after three years of searching for a religious path.
A month later, það founded the State of Sandus.

The feast day of Sandus’s patron saint, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, is coming up on 14 July. In this coming week, Sandus prepares to celebrate the feast day with prayers and to develop cultural traditions for the feast day.

FeastDay Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.png

About Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri or Catherine, the Lily of the Mohawks, was born along the Mohawk River at Ossernenon before she moved to Caughnawaga (‘On the Rapids’) in around 1656. She later moved to the Saint Lawrence River and to a Jesuit village of the same name, Kahnawake. Her Abenaki mother, Tagaskouita, was captured by the Mohawks and she eventually married the Mohawk chief of Ossernenon, Kenneronka. In her young life, since she only lived into her early twenties when she died in 1680, she was a victim of smallpox, an epidemic which ravaged Native American peoples. Both of her parents and a brother died as a result of the disease, and she was taken care of by her father’s sister and her husband.

Forced to welcome Jesuit missionaries into their village after a successful campaign by the French against the Mohawk, Tekakwitha converted to Christianity and shunned the social world and even an arranged husband. She eventually joined the religious community at Kahnawake in modern-day Québec, across the river from Montréal, and befriended a woman named Marie-Thérèse. Both wanted to become women religious, but were considered too young by the Jesuit priests, and so they continued to develop their close spiritual relationship together.

On Holy Week 1680, Saint Kateri’s health began to wane. She passed away on Holy Wednesday in the arms of her friend Marie-Thérèse. Her last words were, “Jesus, Marie, I love you.”

The villagers and priests who attended to her noticed her face, scarred by smallpox, had cleared and had become beautiful and white. She appeared to her sisters spiritual, including to Marie-Thérèse to whom she said that she was going to heaven.

Her sainthood is commemorated in both the United States and Canada. In Canada, she has been honoured at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake since 1684, where many have made and continue to make pilgrimages for Saint Kateri’s healing miracles. In the United States, she is honoured at a shrine near Fonda, New York, just down the hill from the site of Caughnawaga. In Canada, her feast day is 17 April, the date Tekakwitha passed away, but in the US her feast day is 14 July.

As a saint, her patronage also includes the environment, Native Americans and First Peoples, orphans and loss of parents, healing, people in exile, and people ridiculed for their piety.

the Feast Day in Sandus

Sandus celebrates the feast day common in the United States on 14 July, rather than on 17 April as in Canada. There are no traditional activities in Sandus to commemorate the feast day, though this year preparations are being made for the first time. Since Sandus is not a Catholic country and the Εκκλησία of Sandus is ecumenical and non-denominational, however, efforts this year have been made to celebrate the feast day and to make cultural traditions for the holiday in the future since Saint Kateri is the Sandum patron saint.

The Sôgmô in þess capacity as Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotum has asked that Bishop Sisenna Melville prepare a devotional for the feast day and has requested flamines of the Collegium to celebrate the feast day, if it is part of their religious tradition. In Kremlum Sandus, the Sacer Flamen and the Bishop of the Εκκλησία will celebrate the feast day together with appropriately-themed food, praying and conducting a religious service appropriate for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, and celebrating the feast day with merriment and revelry for the Pure Lily of the Mohawks.

Various prayers, attached below, are to be recited on the feast day this year, and Sandus’s traditional three sisters (corn, beans, and rice—which replaces squash, common in Eastern Woodlands cooking), barley crêpes, and other treats will be prepared for the feast.

Sandus shares Saint Kateri as our patron saint with our friendly Francophone ally, the Republic of Saint-Castin, where her feast day is commemorated on 17 April.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Icon.jpg

An Icon of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Prayers

Litany of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Kateri, consoler of the heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, bright light for all Indians, pray for us.
Kateri, courage of the afflicted, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of the cross of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, flower of fortitude for the persecuted, pray for us.
Kateri, unshakeable in temptations, pray for us.
Kateri, full of patience in suffering, pray for us.
Kateri, keeper of your virginity in persecutions, pray for us.
Kateri, leader of many Indians to the true faith through your love for Mary, pray for us.

Kateri, who loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of penance, pray for us.
Kateri, who traveled many miles to learn the faith, pray for us.
Kateri, steadfast in all prayer, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved to pray the rosary for all people, pray for us.
Kateri, example to your people in all virtues, pray for us.
Kateri, humble servant to the sick, pray for us.
Kateri, who by your love of humility, gave joy to the angels,
pray for us.
Kateri, your holy death gave strength to all Indians
to love Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, whose scarred face in life became beautiful after death,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

LET US PRAY
O Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of purity, teach all men to love purity, and to console your immaculate Mother Mary through the lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, and your Holy Cross, Amen.

Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, our elder sister in the Lord, discreetly, you watch over us;
May your love for Jesus and Mary inspire in us words and deeds of friendship, of forgiveness and of reconciliation.
Pray that God will give us the courage, the boldness and the strength to build a world of justice and peace among ourselves and among all nations.
Help us, as you did, to encounter the Creator God present in the very depths of nature, and so become witnesses of Life.
With you, we praise the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Amen.

Holy founders of the Church in North America. Pray for us.

Prayer of Thanksgiving to St. Kateri Tekakwitha

God our Father, Whom Kateri Tekakwitha liked to call the Great Spirit (Raweni:yo),
We thank you for having given us this young woman as a model of Christian life.
Despite her frailness and her community’s resistance, she bore witness to the presence of Christ.
With her companions, she drew close to the elderly and to the sick.
Every day, she saw in nature a reflection of your own glory and beauty.
Grant that by her intercession we may always be close to you, more sensitive to the needs of those around us, and more respectful of creation. With her, we shall strive to discover what pleases you and endeavour to accomplish it until that day you call us back to you.
Amen!

The Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotum, the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola of the State of Sandus, has published the annual speech for the Regifugia, the Sancta New Year. The speech is traditionally given in the third official, or “cultural,” language of the State of Sandus, which is Latin. Ante Ianuarium MMXIV (prior to January 2015), however, the third official language was Sancta, a constructed language unique to Sandus based off of Latin, French, and English.

Click here for the text of the speech in the three official languages of Latin, English, and French.

The Sacer Flamen will give the speech and its associated rite at þess private residence in Kremlum Sandus Province later this evening.

The Sancta New Year is I Martii mensis (1 March) in imitation of the ancient Roman calendar established by the second legendary king Numa. The Regifugia marks the last day of the Sancta year, when the Sôgmô gives the speech on Sandum activity in the last year in Latin. The Matronalia, which is held on I Martio, is a festival dedicated to Juno Lucina and to mothers, a holiday similar to Mother’s Day celebrations in Sandus, and also marks the beginning of the new Sancta year. Both festivals are based off of Roman festivals but, like all imitation, are uniquely Sandum. They speak more to Sandum values and concerns than to Roman history, exempli gratia the date of the Sancta Regifugia has been moved ab XXIV Februario (from 24 February) ad XXVIII Februarium (to 28 February).

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The Sacer Flamen, the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola, has announced the creation of a new sodality in the Collegium Sacerdotum (College of Priests) which is intended to represent and to serve Christians in the State of Sandus. The new sodality, the Sandum Ecclesia (ἡ Ἐκκλησία Σανδῆς), will be led by Sandum citizen Sisenna Melville as bishop, who has been charged with creating a synod for the Church in Sandus and with officiating major Christian holidays in the Sancta calendar.

The Sacer Flamen has appointed her on the Feast of the Epiphany in recognition of her charitable service to Sandus and in recognition of her acceptance to Princeton Theological Seminary, which she intends to pursue in the coming academic year. She has been granted access to major State media, including the Sacerdotium, with the hope of sharing news about Christian holidays in Sandus and commentaries on the Christian faith. Melville has become the fifth member of the College and has been granted the rank of flamen.

The Ecclesia has been charged with being an ecumenical church in the State of Sandus. The Bishop, though a Presbyterian, will execute functions related to all Christian faiths and sects. The Ecclesia will lead services in recognition of Lent, Easter, and Christmas, as well as other Sandum Christian holidays such as Pioneer Day and the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who is the patron saint of Sandus.

Sodalities, as confraternal groups, were established in a by-law adopted by the Sacer Flamen on XIX Iunii MMXIV (19 June 2014). They are organisational groups which meet within the structure of the Collegium and which are charged “with a focus.” The Ecclesia’s focus is Christianity in the State of Sandus.

The Sacer Flamen, Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola, has added the monthly Tibetan Buddhist holy days to the calendar of the Collegium Sacerdotum. The addition means that, to a certain extent, a fourth calendar will be exercised in the State structure of the State of Sandus, in addition to the Gregorian, Sancta, and Administrative calendars. The holy days are numbered by the day following the New Moon. So, as the Full Moon for Ianuarius MMXVI (January 2017) falls on XXVII Ianuarii (27 January), then XXVIII Ianuarii (28 January) will begin the last month in the Tibetan calendar. This practice is the opposite of the Administrative Calendar’s reckoning, since the Administrative Calendar begins instead on the Full Moon.

The holy days are:

  • 8th: Medicine Buddha Day, dedicated to Sangye Menla
  • 10thGuru Rinpoche Day, dedicated to Padmasambhava who introduced Buddhism to Tibet
  • 15th: Amitabha Day (Full Moon), dedicated to the Buddha of longevity and awareness of the emptiness of phenomena
  • 25th: Dakini’s Day, dedicated to the feminine spirits of the Dharma
  • 29th: Dharmapalas Day, dedicated to the protectors of the Dharma
  • 30th: Buddha Shakyamuni Day (New Moon), dedicated to Siddhartha Guatama

In addition to these holy days, the Collegium already celebrates the four major Tibetan Buddhist holidays of Lösar, Saga Dawa Düchen, Chökhor Düchen, and Lhabab Düchen. In amending the Tibetan Buddhist calendar practised by the Collegium Sacerdotum, það has added a fifth Tibetan Buddhist holiday to the calendar which has been so far neglected: Chotrul Düchen, or the Festival of Miracles, held on the fifteenth day of the New Tibetan Year. Lösar, or Tibetan New Year, will be held on XXVII Februarii MMXVI (27 February 2017) this year. Chotrul Düchen then will be held on XII Martii (12 March).

This year, ahead of the New Tibetan Year, the Sacer Flamen will release the projected calendar of Buddhist holidays, including all Tibetan Buddhist monthly holy days.