The word for ‘generosity’ in the Lakota language begins with ‘heart.’ Generosity is considered one of the greatest virtues of the Lakota people.” The quote is from Fr. Jim Walters, SCJ. In commemoration of Native American Heritage Month, he and Fr. Yvon Sheehy, SCJ, teamed up last week for a lunchtime presentation on their years of ministry in South Dakota. The session was hosted by the Leo John Dehon Library at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.
Fr. Jim spoke of the beauty of the Lakota language, noting that much of its purpose is to communicate with God. “There are no foul words in Lakota, no curse words,” said Fr. Jim. “The worst that you can call someone is a ‘turkey.’ There are no F-bombs in Lakota, no words that would allow you to take God’s name in vain. The relationship with God in the language is both transcendent and immanent.”
Both SCJs reflected on the integration of Christian and Lakota traditions. When he was bishop of Rapid City, Archbishop Charles Chaput created a liturgical committee to identify indigenous practices that could be incorporated into the Catholic liturgy. One such example is the smudging ceremony, which serves as an act of purification. The Lakota language itself is now an accepted liturgical language.
Before concluding the presentation, Fr. Jim walked participants through the Sign of the Cross and Lord Have Mercy in the Lakota language before giving a final blessing in Lakota.
Click here to read more, view photos, and watch a video from the meeting.
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