"I am bent on devoting my life to the lepers," he said. The bishop granted him permission, and his lifelong mission of love, service, and comfort began.
"the happiest missionary in the world", a servant of God, and a servant of humanity.
Blessed Sister Marianne Cope, created a thriving faith community. For the first time, the residents of Molokai had proper medical care, religious instruction, and hope.
“I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” Despite being ill himself, he treated and counseled his fellow residents until the day before he died. "My face and my hands are already decomposing, but the good Lord is calling me to keep Easter with Himself," he wrote. Father Damien died at peace after a life of service and a struggle against the disease he had so long ministered against. His body, as requested, was buried in Kalaupapa, where some of his relics remain (others were returned to Belgium).
“But, sir, when we have failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succors the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honor - the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat - some rags of common honor; and these you have made haste to cast away… If that world at all remember you, on the day when Damien of Molokai shall be named a Saint, it will be in virtue of one work: your letter...”
“The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. ... It is worthwhile to look for the source of such heroism." Recently, President Obama declared, “Father Damien challenged the stigmatizing effects of the disease, giving voice to the voiceless and ultimately sacrificing his own life to bring dignity to so many. In our own time as millions around the world suffer from disease, especially the pandemic of HIV / AIDS, we should draw on the example of Father Damien's resolve in answering the urgent call to heal and care for the sick."
"Not without fear and loathing," Pope Benedict said of the saint, "Father Damian made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered. With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life. To follow Christ, Father Damian not only left his homeland, but has also staked his health so he, as the word of Jesus announced in today's Gospel tells us, received eternal life." The figure of Father Damian, Pope Benedict XVI finished, "teaches us to choose the good fight not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."
Selected writings of Father Damien of Molokai:
“The Blessed Sacrament is indeed the stimulus for us all, for me as it should be for you, to forsake all worldly ambitions. Without the constant presence of our Divine Master upon the altar in my poor chapels, I never could have persevered casting my lot with the afflicted of Molokai; the foreseen consequence of which begins not to appear on my skin, and is felt throughout the body. Holy Communion being the daily bread of a priest, I feel myself happy, well pleased, and resigned in the rather exceptional circumstances in which it has pleased Divine Providence to put me.”
“I find my consolation in the one and only companions who will never leave me, that is, our Divine Savior in the Holy Eucharist… It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength necessary in this isolation of ours. Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be unbearable. But, having Our Lord at my side, I continue always to be happy and content. . . . Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls who seek to please Him. His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures as to the greatest of them. Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him of your miseries, your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you, of your projects, and of your hopes. Do so with confidence and with an open heart.”
“Were it not for the constant presence of our Divine Master in our humble chapel, I would not have found it possible to persevere in sharing the lot of the afflicted of Molokai… The Eucharist is the bread that gives strength… It is at once the most eloquent proof of His love and the most powerful means of fostering His love in us. He gives Himself every day so that our hearts as burning coals may set afire the hears of the faithful.”
Saint Damien Prayer
Saint Damien, brother on the journey,
Happy and generous missionary,
who loved the Gospel more than your life,
who for love of Jesus left your family,
your homeland, your security, your dreams,
Teach us to give our lives
with a joy like yours,
to be in solidarity with the outcasts of the world,
to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist
as the source of our commitment.
Help us to love to the very end
and, in the strength of the Spirit,
to persevere in compassion
for the poor and forgotten
so that we might be
good disciples of Jesus and Mary.
Inspired by the origins and spiritual history of the Holy Rosary, we continue our meditation on the psalms, one each day, in order, for 150 days. Today's psalm reminds us that even in our bleakest moments, the Lord is never far from us.
Today’s Psalm: 16: God the Supreme Good
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."
3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Day 130 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Love for all, including those who are different from us; Unity in Christ; Hearts of service; For all the sick.
Requested Intentions: Recovery of a sick brother-in-law (K); Favor from the Lord in restoration of a life (K); End to Schizophrenia (A); For financial recovery and successful marriage (A); For restoration of a marriage (K); For financial security and housing for a son (B).
Psalm: Psalm 16: God the Supreme God