The release of the six white doves was swift and beautiful, as they soared into the heavens. It took place on Earth Day and celebrated the blessing of the new bronze statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in the preserve named after her in Calvary Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio. As the birds disappeared into the clouds, I wondered what happened to them, symbols of innocence and the environmentally-friendly environment around the statue.
Later I asked the bird’s owner, known only to me as “the Bird Man”, where they went. Happily, he told me that they returned to their nesting places at his home, some miles away. Curious as to the perils they might encounter on their journey home, I said, “Do they all make it?” His smile turned sad, as he indicated that some do not. He replied, “They don’t get lost or wander off, but sometimes hawks and other birds of prey get them. It is especially dangerous for them around my home, for the hawks often sit there in the trees, waiting to swoop down on the unsuspecting, innocent birds.”
As I listened, my thoughts turned to innocent people, taken advantage of by human birds of prey. We find them everywhere – in schools, neighborhoods, at work, and even in some homes. Their presence reminds us of Jesus’ words, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt. 10:16)
Whether we are children, youth, or adults, we need to be constantly on guard and self-motivated to stay on the right path. We cannot conquer evil human hawks seeking to devour us, by ourselves. We need the help of God’s grace; we need to ask for it in prayer.
As we reflect on the innocent doves, released in front of the St. Kateri statue, let’s remember to be vigilant with our children and wise ourselves, lest the voracious hawks of this world overcome us. Pray to St. Kateri, asking her to intercede with God for us. Through her intercession, may we receive the grace to keep us strong amidst the temptations and struggles of life.
Order Fr. Hater’s latest book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.