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Bld. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai
CatholicCulture.org ^ | 05-10-06 | CatholicCulture.org

Posted on 05/10/2006 8:36:19 AM PDT by Salvation

Collect:
Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

May 10, 2006 Month Year Season

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

 

"If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my word. And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me."


Bl. Damien of Molokai
Joseph De Veuster, the future Father Damien, was born at Tremelo in Belgium, January 3rd, 1840. His was a large family and his father was a farmer-merchant. When his oldest brother entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (called 'Picpus' after the street in Paris where its Generalate was located), then his father planned that Joseph should take charge of the family business. Joseph however, decided to become a religious himself. At the beginning of 1859 he entered the novitiate at Louvain, in the same house as his brother. There he took the name of Damien.

In 1863, his brother who was to leave for the mission in the Hawaiian Islands, became ill. Since preparations for the voyage had already been made, Damien obtained permission from the Superior General, to take his brother's place. He arrived in Honolulu on March 19th, 1864, where he was ordained to the priesthood the following May 21st. He immediately devoted himself, body and soul, to the difficult service of a "country missionary" on the island of Hawaii, the largest in the Hawaiian group.

At that time, the Hawaiian Government decided on a very harsh measure aimed at stopping the spread of "leprosy", the deportation to the neighboring island of Molokai, of all those infected by what was thought to be an incurable disease. The entire mission was concerned about the abandoned "lepers" and the Bishop, Louis Maigret ss.cc., spoke to the priests about the problem. He did not want to send anyone "in the name of obedience", because he knew that such an order meant certain death. Four Brothers volunteered, they would take turns visiting and assisting the "lepers" in their distress. Damien was the first to leave on May 10th, 1873. At his own request and that of the lepers, he remained definitively on Molokai.

He brought hope to this hell of despair. He became a source of consolation and encouragement for the lepers, their pastor, the doctor of their souls and of their bodies, without any distinction of race or religion. He gave a voice to the voiceless, he built a community where the joy of being together and openness to the love of God gave people new reasons for living.

After he himself contracted the disease in 1885, he was able to identify completely with them: "We lepers". Father Damien was above all, a witness of the love of God for His people. He got his strength from the Eucharist: "lt is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation..." It is there that he found for himself and for others the support and the encouragement, the consolation and the hope, he could, with a deep faith, communicate to the lepers. All that made him "the happiest missionary in the world", a servant of God, and a servant of humanity.

Having contracted "leprosy" himself, Fr. Damien died on April 15th, 1889, having served sixteen years among the lepers. His mortal remains were transferred in 1936 to Belgium where he was interred in the crypt of the church of the Congregation of Sacred Hearts at Louvain. His fame spread to the entire world. In 1938 the process for his beatification was introduced at Malines (Belgium): Pope Paul VI signed the Decree on the "heroicity of his virtues" on July 7th 1977.

In Father Damien, the Church proposes an example to all those who find sense for their life in the Gospel and who wish to bring the Good News to the poor of our time.

Excerpted from SSCC Website

Patron: Lepers.

Things to Do:

  • Be adventurous and prepare a Hawaiian luau in honor of Bl. Damien.


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KEYWORDS: blessed; catholiccaucus; catholiclist; damienjoseph; deveuster; lepers; leprosy; molokai; saints
For you inspiration. What a story of service to mankind.
1 posted on 05/10/2006 8:36:23 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: All
Catholic Forum

JOSEPH de VEUSTER

[Blessed Joseph de Veuster]
Also known as
Father Damien
Memorial
15 April
Profile
Son of a small farmer. Studied at the College of Braine-le-Comte. Joined the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Fathers) on 7 October 1860, taking the name Damien. Seminarian in Paris, France. Volunteered for missionary work while still in seminary, and was sent to Hawaii. Ordained in Honolulu on 24 May 1864. Missionary on islands where his single parish was the size of all of his native Belgium. Resident priest in the leper colony on Molokai where for years he worked alone to minister to the patients' spiritual and medical needs. His work turned a wretched dump for the unwanted into a real community with the best treatment of the day, and patients who lived strong spiritual lives. He contracted leprosy in 1885, and though severely crippled by the disease, Father Damien worked until the end.
Born
3 January 1840 on the family farm at Tremeloo, Belgium
Died
15 April 1889 at Molokai, Hawaii from leprosy; buried next to Saint Philomena Church, Molokai, Hawaii; interred in the cathedral at Antwerp, Belgium in 1936
Name Meaning
whom the Lord adds (Joseph)
Venerated
1977 by Pope Paul VI
Beatified
3 June 1995 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized
pending
Additional Information
Catholic Online
Find A Grave
Heroes Every Child Should Know
Catholic Encyclopedia
Kalaupapa National Historial Park
Saint Michael's Center
Saints Alive
New Catholic Dictionary

2 posted on 05/10/2006 8:40:23 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Saint of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint of the Day Ping List.

3 posted on 05/10/2006 8:44:24 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Blessed Damian exemplifies the heroicity of virtue and sacrifice that is the mark of a saint. I hope his canonization occurs soon.


4 posted on 05/10/2006 8:54:46 AM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN - 3rd Bn. Fifth Marines RVN 1969 - St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!)
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To: BearWash; Salvation; NYer; Warthogtjm

Father Damien's Order in India has been invloved in helping Lepers for the last 50+ years in Eastern India.

They are very popular in Calcutta that is the Congregation of the Sacred Heart.

Can I post a story of a Polish Missionary who passed away last week in Eastern India in his 90's. He was a Polish Divine Word Missionary who came to Eastern India in the 1930's only to serve the suffering lepers of Orissa and he did that for over 55 years till his death.

This Polish Missionary who passed away last week is called "The Apostle of Lepers of Eastern India".

Let me know whether I should post this story.


5 posted on 05/10/2006 9:02:30 AM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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To: Warthogtjm
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day


May 10, 2006
Blessed Damien of Molokai
(1840-1889)

When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy (Hansen's disease). By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

Forced to quit school at age 13 to work on the family farm, six years later Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, taking the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. When his brother Pamphile, a priest in the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to the Hawaiian Islands as assigned, Damien quickly volunteered in his place. In May 1864, two months after arriving in his new mission, Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu and assigned to the island of Hawaii.

In 1873, he went to the Hawaiian government's leper colony on the island of Molokai, set up seven years earlier. Part of a team of four chaplains taking that assignment for three months each year, Damien soon volunteered to remain permanently, caring for the people's physical, medical and spiritual needs. In time, he became their most effective advocate to obtain promised government support.

Soon the settlement had new houses and a new church, school and orphanage. Morale improved considerably. A few years later he succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Mother Marianne Kope, to help staff this colony in Kalaupapa.

Damien contracted Hansen's disease and died of its complications. As requested, he was buried in Kalaupapa, but in 1936 the Belgian government succeeded in having his body moved to Belgium. Part of Damien's body was returned to his beloved Hawaiian brothers and sisters after his beatification in 1995.

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, it selected Damien as one of its two representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

Comment:

Some people thought Damien was a hero for going to Molokai and others thought he was crazy. When a Protestant clergyman wrote that Damien was guilty of immoral behavior, Robert Louis Stevenson vigorously defended him in an "Open Letter to Dr. Hyde."

Quote:

During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said: "Holiness is not perfection according to human criteria; it is not reserved for a small number of exceptional persons. It is for everyone; it is the Lord who brings us to holiness, when we are willing to collaborate in the salvation of the world for the glory of God, despite our sin and our sometimes rebellious temperament."



6 posted on 05/10/2006 9:03:26 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Took Chris to Kaanapali (sp) when he was smaller and portable and we could see the Island Fr. Damian served on from our hotel room.

Ahhhhh memories of roasted pig and Poi Poi.

I also remember reading about the Nuns (nurses) who first arrived at the Island and found the horrid living conditions and all the work they did to clean up and make it habitable.

Don't remember the Sisters name.


7 posted on 05/10/2006 9:19:19 AM PDT by Global2010 (Life takes allot of Prayer and Grit)
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To: Global2010; Salvation; NYer; BearWash; All

This is the Article that I was talking about.

I have also included a Link from the original article. If you all want can read it at the original link.

http://www.theindiancatholic.com/news_read.asp?nid=1598

May 3, 2006

Polish Missioner Buried Hailing Decades Of Service In Hindu Temple City

BHUBANESWAR, India (UCAN) -- Church leaders and local people are mourning the death of a Polish missioner whose decades of work among leprosy patients in eastern India moved many hearts.

Divine Word Father Marian Zelazek was 88 years old when he passed away on April 30, following a massive cardiac arrest at the facility he built for leprosy patients in the outskirts of Puri, a Hindu holy city in Orissa state.

His Karunalaya (house of mercy) Leprosy Center is 70 kilometers south of the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, which is 1,745 kilometers east of New Delhi.

About 600 people attended the missioner's funeral on May 2 in Jharsuguda, about 300 kilometers northwest of Bhubaneswar. He was buried there in the cemetery attached to the provincial house of the Divine Word Society.

During the requiem Mass, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, a Divine Word Society confrere, eulogized the Polish missioner as a saintly witness of Christ's love to the poor and an example to other priests.

Soon after receiving word that Father Zelazek had died, the archbishop told UCA News that Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese had "lost a living saint ... an ideal priest who truly lived Gospel values."

Archbishop Cheenath recalled Father Zelazek saying he "died many times" during the five years he spent in Dachau concentration camp in World War II. The archbishop reported the missioner as also saying God gave him "yet another 50 years of life," so why should he "worry about anything, even death."

Father Zelazek was born on Jan. 30, 1918, in Poznan, Poland. He entered Religious life during World War II and, as a novice, was seized by the Nazis and sent to the Dachau camp. More than 30,000 people sent there reportedly were killed or died from the treatment they received in the camp during the war.

In 1950, two years after his ordination, Father Zelazek reached India. According to his confreres, he quickly established himself as a zealous missioner, skillful teacher and efficient vocation promoter, particularly among tribal Christians, with whom he worked at the Sambalpur mission.

in 1975, Father Zelazek was transferred from Sambalpur to work in a parish in Puri, in Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese. People afflicted with leprosy and fisher folk, both relegated to the bottom of society, were living there.

Father Zelazek decided to eradicate leprosy and to rehabilitate people with the disease then living along the roadsides. He eventually set up a "colony" or a settlement area for leprosy patients, and 1,500 people now live there.

Until he died 31 years later, the priest remained in the colony to take care of the people's spiritual, material and medical needs. Some of those cured of the disease while at the colony now live with their respective families.

Local Hindus once explained to UCA News that the Catholic priest had cured their misconception that leprosy, or Hansen's disease, is a curse from God and its victims are untouchables.

The priest set up a school for children of leprosy patients and a hospital. He also initiated income-generating programs such as bandage making, brickmaking, gardening, poultry raising, rope making, sewing and weaving.

In recognition of his work with leprosy patients, Father Zelazek was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and 2003 but he did not win it.

Residents of the colony are grieving his passing. Nabarang Nalua, 52, describing the priest as their "savior and living god," told UCA News, "We have lost him forever, so we have lost our emotional support."

Others who also told UCA News how much they appreciated Father Zelazek include a Divine Word confrere, Father Richard Vaz, who said the Polish missioner won a place "in the hearts of the deprived lepers just as Jesus became the hope for the poor in his time." Father Joseph Topno, the Divine Word superior, called the late priest his society's "perfect follower of Christ." The provincial superior explained that "the Word was accomplished through him in the hearts of lepers," for whom he "gave his whole life."

B.C. Roy, president of the local Rotary Club, told UCA News that Rotary members were "shocked by the sudden demise of our beloved" fellow member. Roy described Father Zelazek as "a servant of God and friend of the poor."


8 posted on 05/10/2006 9:23:32 AM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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To: MILESJESU

Thanks for that article!


9 posted on 05/10/2006 9:25:31 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: MILESJESU

Just went to the link for the recipe on the suggested menu for the day from what Salvation posted about our Saint for the day and boy oh boy wish I did not live 4hrs away from Portlands China Town as they have Roasted Suckling Pork.

: )


10 posted on 05/10/2006 9:38:48 AM PDT by Global2010 (Life takes allot of Prayer and Grit)
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To: Global2010; BearWash

You too, live in the State of Oregon. I had gotten the mistaken impression that you were from Texas.

I was initially surprised that you sent me this comment about this recipe, since I am a guy.

I don't cook too much at all. But, sometimes I help my Mom as long as it is not a complicated dish to be prepared.

I like Pork related stuff to eat but not too much of it because like Beef it is a red meat and can lead to a high level of Cholestrol and Triglycerides too.

I love a Sausage Pizza as well as some Local Pork related Recipes and dishes where I am originally from.

I am sort of Health conscious and more so for the last few years.

But, Yes -- "Roasted Suckling Pork" sounds yummy.

I am familiar with Salem, Oregon Yakima which is in the State of Washington, Seattle, and I have some freinds who live near Baker, Oregon.

Have you ever tried "Portuguese Chorizo" ?

Here is the Recipe -- if you are interested.

http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/pork-crock-pot-recipes/portuguese-chorizo-peppers.htm

Portuguese Chorizo and Peppers

2 pounds chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
2 tablespoons crushed garlic

In a slow cooker, combine the sausage, green pepper, onion, tomato paste, wine, water and crushed garlic.
Stir so that everything is evenly distributed. Cover and set on low.

Cook for 8 hours. Uncover the pot and cook an additional 2 hours to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.

Serve over rice or with Portuguese bread.

Makes 8 servings.





11 posted on 05/10/2006 10:03:24 AM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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To: MILESJESU

MMMM Chirizo!

Me to MilesJesu on the health side.
I put my diabetes in remission and lowered the Cholesteral to normal with losing wieght, walking and following the American Diabetes Assc. eating guidelines.

But one can dream. For Easter I was craving Peking Duck. Again thank God I live so far from Portland.

My splurge living on the Coast is Crab and Morro Bay Shrimp with Pica Del Gallo Salsa and fresh cilantro with a 1/2 of an Avacado. Salsa is a free food in the health watch diet choice.

OK now sorry to get off the subject here of our Daily readings and Prayers.


12 posted on 05/10/2006 10:15:00 AM PDT by Global2010 (Life takes allot of Prayer and Grit)
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To: Global2010; Salvation

As, long as Salvation does not get upset with us -- I guess it is ok regarding this Recipe Stuff.

My Mom always tells me quite often that it is Jesus and Mary specially Jesus Christ who inspires her what to cook for a certain day and most of the time it will not be what she had planned at the start of the day.

Salvation may also be interested in this recipe that I posted. it is served in those parts of the United States where there are a lot of Portuguese Americans who run Restaurants/Eateries specially in a place called "New Bedford" Massachussets.

There are a lot of Portuguese Americans who live on the East Coast specially in MA.

I personally love the Pacific North West specially Oregon, Washington, and Northern California but unfortunately these areas are not very Catholic and are in need of urgent evangelization.


13 posted on 05/10/2006 10:56:26 AM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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To: MILESJESU

You posted:
I personally love the Pacific North West specially Oregon, Washington, and Northern California but unfortunately these areas are not very Catholic and are in need of urgent evangelization




I thank God just about everyday for Salvation and her dedication.

Things are moving along and spreading beautifully in the faith because of it and I see others embracing it.

: )


14 posted on 05/10/2006 11:15:48 AM PDT by Global2010 (Life takes allot of Prayer and Grit)
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To: Global2010; MILESJESU

I like to eat too! LOL! And some of those recipes really do celebrate the culture in which the saint grew up. Or, for example, the culture of the season -- the Seder meal recipes during Holy Week!

No problem here.


15 posted on 05/10/2006 11:49:11 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: MILESJESU

** these areas are not very Catholic and are in need of urgent evangelization**

Exactly why Kevorkian and the leftist killers got the Assisted Suicide law passed in Oregon!


16 posted on 05/10/2006 11:50:46 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

When I was in Law School in the United States, I had written a paper on the prevalent "Health Care Law" but from a Catholic Perspective.

Part of my paper included my perpective on Euthanasia,Assisted Suicide etc.

I had done a lot of research on Dr. Killer Jack Kevorkian.

Sad to say my paper was not accepted by my major Law Professor. He asked me even to drop the course midway through the Semester.

He felt that I was some sort of Bible Belt Fundamentalist simply because I was Pro Life and did not agree with his Perspective.

He was an Ultra- Liberal Jew and hated all the Teachings of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church period.


17 posted on 05/10/2006 4:30:03 PM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: MILESJESU

Good grief, where were you going to law school? My son is at Gonzaga, and if something like that had happened, I am sure I would know about it!


19 posted on 05/10/2006 10:20:15 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Global2010

Different churches do different things. It's called a neophyte class. That's what the newly baptized, confirmed and accepted for the Communion of the Lord are called.


20 posted on 05/10/2006 10:23:41 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; BearWash

I was in Law School in Philly also known as Philadelphia from 1997-1998.

That is almost 8 years back. It was a Law School in an Inner City Area which you could say was highly crime ridden. I will send you the name of the Law School via Freep Mail if you or Freeper Bearwash are interested.

I say this because both of you all as well as Freeper NYer are my best friends as well as other Catholic Freepers I am getting to know like Freeper Straight Vermonter, Nihil Obstat,Tax -Chick, Knitting a Conundrum, Sandyeggo, etc.

But, more importantly The Law School was run by Ultra Liberal Jews and Ultra Liberal African Americans who had issues with any student (J.D. or L.L.M.) who wrote any papers from a Conservative/Catholic Perspective.

They would harass them to no end and ultimately force them to write the papers from their Liberal Perspective.


21 posted on 05/11/2006 4:20:14 AM PDT by MILESJESU (CATHOLICISM ROCKS. BLESSED BE JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.)
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To: Salvation

My grandfather's German cousin joined this same order in Louvain with the express purpose of following Fr. Damien to Molokai. He was not a priest, but a brother of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart. He arrived on Molokai in 1895 after Damien's death, but he served the lepers for 45 years, the longest serving missionary on the island. He retired in Hololulu and never contracted the disease.

It's amazing for me to discover this link to Molokai in my own family since I have been fascinated with Damien deVeuster since I was a small child. Only after I began family history research did I link up to my German ancestors and their progeny. Which is how I discovered this link. Later I found a small 2-sentence item in the local newspaper which mentioned my great-grandfather receiving a letter from his nephew on Molokai about the mission there. Since then I try to convey to my younger relatives the importance of serving and how their cousin served the lepers of Molokai. Today's children really need to learn about true heroes.


22 posted on 05/11/2006 5:13:06 AM PDT by Gumdrop
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To: All
By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Father Damien: an open letter to the Reverend Dr. Hyde of Honolulu

23 posted on 05/11/2006 10:23:46 AM PDT by dighton
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To: Gumdrop

What a fantastic heritage you have in the story of your grandfather's cousin! Blessed indeed was he!

Bump to your idea of passing on the notion of serving others! God bless you!


24 posted on 05/11/2006 10:41:54 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
There is a new book about Molokai that they discussed recently on C-Span. It includes information about Damian.

Molokai

And the head of the sisters who went there to nurse is also up for canonization.

25 posted on 05/11/2006 3:30:11 PM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
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To: LadyDoc

BTTT on the Optional Memorial of Blessed Damien de Veuster, May 10, 2007!


26 posted on 05/10/2007 9:48:32 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

My husband and I took the mule ride down into Kalaupapa a few years back and took the tour of the place. What an experience! I’m not Catholic, but even I was rooting for the guy for sainthood when we finished the tour. It’s a beautiful spot, hard to imagine the horrors that occured there in years past. The entire day was the closest I’ve had to a true religious experience in years.


27 posted on 05/10/2007 9:55:17 AM PDT by Spyder
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To: All

Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC.

Apostle of the Eucharist

Young Father Damien

Father Damien, known the world over as the priest of the lepers on the island of Molokai, was truly an apostle of the Eucharist. This love he had for the Eucharist was transmitted to the lepers. He brought them to closer union with their Maker through the beautiful liturgies he organized, frequent Benediction, and Eucharistic Processions.

It was when he set up numerous adoration chapels that he experienced the depth of the lepers' faith and devotion. Related to the establishment of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration on the island, Father Damien wrote to his provincial in 1888, "This is the fifteenth year we observe night adoration..., all of us lepers."

Father Damien lived for the Eucharist. It was this strong apostleship that filled the lives of the lepers. Their Eucharistic adoration was an edifying homage to the Lord. He wrote to his brother, "Without the constant presence of our Divine Master, I would never be able to cast my lot with that of the lepers."


28 posted on 05/09/2008 9:13:58 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

For Those Whose Lives Have Not Turned Out As They Planned

Memorial of Blessed Damien of Molokai, Priest

primopiano_beato_damiano_di_molokai.jpg

I posted this reflection for the feast of Blessed Damien last May 10th, but in reviewing it, I see that its message has become, if anything, even more relevant to my own life. New readers of Vultus Christi may find it helpful.

When Providence Writes One's Life

Blessed Damien is, I think, a very suitable patron for those who lives have not turned out as they planned. By the time a child has reached adolescence, he has already dreamed dreams and nourished hopes for his life. The vivid reveries of little boys and girls take shape in a kind of autobiography written in the imagination and lived ahead of time in a world of fantasy. In that world no desire is broken, no hope dashed, no dream unfulfilled, but rarely do the life stories we write for ourselves correspond to those written for us by Providence. Events and circumstances — illness, loss, changes in fortune, failure — shatter dreams, close some doors and open others. The chance encounter with one person or the discovery of a particular book can change the direction of a life, leading to unexpected twists and turns.

The Designs of the Heart of Jesus

God intervenes in a thousand little ways, and sometimes dramatically, to realize in every generation “the designs and thoughts of His Heart” (cf. Ps 32:11). “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8-9).

Yes to the Plan of God

The life story of each of us written in the Heart of God surpasses by far anything we could have imagined or written for ourselves. When one realizes that one’s life is not unfolding as one thought it would, two responses are possible. One can refuse the path opened by God, “kicking against the goads” (Ac 26:14), or one can say “Yes” to it.

Blessed Damien said “Yes” to God’s astonishing plan for him, a plan that led him from Belgium to Hawaii and, after ten years, to the dreaded leper colony of Molokai. The suffering Christ called Damien to a costly, sacrificial love, and to configuration with himself. He became “as one from whom men hide their faces” (Is 53:3), identified fully with the suffering Christ and with the lepers he served.

A Benedictine Without A Monastery

As a religious of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Father Damien’s life was based on the Rule of Saint Benedict. Without living in a monastery and without the benefits and protection of the cloister, Father Damien found himself living the Rule of Saint Benedict on Molokai in ways prepared for him by the Providence of God. “To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick. To bury the dead. To give help in trouble. To console the sorrowful. To avoid worldly behaviour. To set nothing before the love of Christ” (RB 4:14-21). “The care of the sick,” says Saint Benedict in another place, “is to be given priority over everything else, so that they are indeed served as Christ would be served, since he himself said, ‘I was sick and you visited me’” (RB 36:1-2).

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Eucharistic Adoration

Father Damien was magnetized by the mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament. He drew the strength to love and to serve the suffering members of his Mystical Body from adoration of the Eucharistic Body of Christ. To his brother he wrote, "Without the constant presence of our Divine Master, I would never be able to cast my lot with that of the lepers." Father Damien built chapels all over Molokai; he established perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament there. In 1888 he wrote to his provincial, “ This is the fifteenth year we observe night adoration . . . all of us lepers.”

Never To Despair of God's Mercy

In the end, all the “thoughts and designs” of the Heart of Christ were realized in the life and death of Blessed Father Damien. His feast invites us to say “Yes” to our lives, not as we would have them be, but as it has pleased to God to write them and as He is writing them even now. Say “Yes” to the triumph of love in your heart and in your life. Say “Yes,” and following Blessed Damien in Saint Benedict’s “school of the Lord’s service” (RB Pro: 45), “never despair of God’s mercy” (RB 4:74).


29 posted on 05/09/2008 4:58:58 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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