ST. DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI
1 Samuel, Chapter 12, Verse 14
If you FEAR and serve the Lord, if you listen to the voice of the Lord and do not rebel against the Lord’s command, if both you and the king, who rules over you, follow the Lord your God—well and good.
These were the word of the Priest Samuel at the coronation of King Saul and just like Eli Saul and his family did not listen to the voice of the Lord and rebelled. Our only King was crowned not with gold but with thorns. It was His afflictions which prepared us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure. Hear His voice. Receive His body with true devotion. Approach Him in the tabernacle with reverence. Honor Him with your life.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials—Chinese proverb.”
THE Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before the Ascension are observed as days of solemn supplication, and are called Rogation Days. These three Rogation days serve also as a preparation for the feast of the ascension, which reminds us that we have the most powerful intercessor in our savior, who is now enthroned at the right hand of the father. Since 1929 many churches in the United States have observed Rogation Sunday as Rural Life Sunday, or Soil Stewardship Sunday. Services on this day examine the religious aspects of rural life. In 1969 the Roman Catholic Church cancelled the Rogation Days. In their place Church authorities instituted days of prayer for human needs, human works, and the fruits of the earth. Local bishops may now set appropriate dates for these observances in their dioceses.
Things to Do:
Rogation Days are a Roman Catholic "baptism" of the Robigalia, a pagan procession to gain favor from the Robigo, the Roman god of grain. Since the Church had no objection to praying for the harvest, it threw out Robigo while keeping the procession and prayers. Today would be a good day to reflect on what we want to harvest this fall; so like farmers we must till the soil of our soul reflecting this day on our use of our TIME and look at in what ways we may offer our time to Christ to help build a harvest for His Kingdom
Sunday: The Holy Trinity – Sunday is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. This is entirely fitting as Sunday is the first day of the week and the day when we offer God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.
Monday: The Angels – Monday is the day in which we remember the angels. Angels are powerful guardians, and each of us is protected by one. Many of the saints had a great devotion to the angels in general and to their guardian angel in particular.
Tuesday: The Apostles – The Catholic Church is apostolic. That is, it is founded on the authority and teaching of the apostles, most especially that of St. Peter to whom Jesus gave the keys of his kingdom. Each bishop is a direct successor of the apostles.
Wednesday: Saint Joseph – Saint Joseph is known as the prince and chief patron of the Church. As the earthly father of Jesus, he had a special role in protecting, providing for, and instructing Jesus during his earthly life. Now that Christ is ascended into heaven, St. Joseph continues his fatherly guardianship of Christ’s body, the Church.
Thursday: The Holy Eucharist – Our Lord instituted the most holy Eucharist on a Thursday, so it is fitting that we remember this greatest of sacraments on this day. The Eucharist is the greatest gift of God to mankind, as it is nothing less than Jesus himself. What gift could be greater?
Friday: The Passion – Jesus was scourged, mocked, and crucified on a Friday. Because of this, the Church has always set aside Fridays of days of penance and sacrifice. While the U.S. sadly does not require abstinence from meat on Fridays, penance is still required in one form or another. This day should always be a day of repentance and a day in which we recall Christ’s complete self-sacrifice to save us from our sins.
Saturday: Our Lady – There are a number of theological reasons Saturdays are dedicated to Our Lady, perhaps the most significant is that on Holy Saturday, when everyone else had abandoned Christ in the tomb, she was faithful to him, confidently waiting for his resurrection on the first day of the week.
January: The Holy Name of Jesus – There is no name more powerful than the name of Jesus. The Catechism sums up the power of this name beautifully: “The name ‘Jesus’ contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray ‘Jesus’ is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him” (CCC #2666)
February: The Holy Family – The Holy Family is an earthly reflection of the Holy Trinity. By meditating on the Holy Family, we can learn the meaning of love, obedience, and true fatherhood and motherhood. We are also reminded that the family is the foundational unit of both society and the Church.
March: St. Joseph – St. Joseph is the icon of God the Father: silent but active and perfectly providing for the needs of all. The Church constantly invokes the protection of St. Joseph, admonishing us to ite ad Joseph, go to Joseph.
April: The Blessed Sacrament – Holy Church is the guardian of
the Holy Eucharist. For two thousand years, she has guarded this treasure, administering it to the faithful and proclaiming that it is nothing less than Jesus himself. We can never be too devoted to the Blessed Sacrament or show it too much honor.
May: The Blessed Virgin Mary – Our Lady has long been associated with the beauty of flowers and the coming of spring. This is fitting because she is both beautiful and the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the life of the world. In May, the Church remembers our glorious lady with crownings and processions in her honor.
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus – The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the revelation of God’s immense love for us. It is often depicted as a fiery furnace, pierced and broken, but beating with love. The Sacred Heart is also a profound reminder of the humanity of our Lord, for his heart is not a mere symbol, but a true physical reality.
July: The Precious Blood – The blood of Christ saves us from sin. It is the blood of Christ that gives us the hope of heaven. St. Paul tells us that Jesus reconciled “to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20). Without the blood of Christ shed for us, all would be lost.
August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary – The heart of Mary is a motherly heart, a heart full of love and mercy for her children. The heart of Mary is also the channel through which all the graces of God flow down to us. She is “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.”
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary – Aside from Jesus, no human being has suffered more than our Blessed Mother. In perfect obedience to the will of God, she consented to her son’s torture, humiliation, and brutal executed for our salvation. As any parent knows, watching one’s child suffer is the greatest suffering of all. She still bears the sufferings of her divine Son in her heart.
October: The Holy Rosary – The rosary is one of the most powerful weapons the Church possesses. We are constantly exhorted by saints, popes, and Our Lord and Our Lady themselves to pray this simple yet profound prayer. Accordingly, Mother Church has set aside a whole month to the promotion of this prayer.
November: The Souls in Purgatory – The souls in purgatory are suffering a great deal, and they cannot pray for themselves. They are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the body of Christ, we must pray and offer sacrifices for those who have gone before us, asking that they may rest in the light of God’s presence.
December: The Immaculate Conception – The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a profound mystery. In the Immaculate Conception, Mary was without sin from the first moment of her conception. She is perfectly united forever to her spouse, the Holy Spirit. Their fruitful union produced a wedding of heaven and earth in the Godman, Jesus Christ. We will meditate on these truths for all eternity.
Time is a Gift
The Church takes seriously the call to sanctify all things, even time. The Catholic significance of days and months is a profound reminder that our lives are finite, and that time should not be squandered. As the Psalmist said, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). But more than anything, it reminds us that time is a gift from God, and with him and through him, all things are holy, and nothing is without meaning.
St. 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), his father planned that Joseph should take charge of the family business. Joseph, however, decided to become a religious. 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 Father Damien 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. He was canonized on October 11th, 2009.
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.
Things to Do:
Be adventurous and prepare a Hawaiian luau in honor of St. Damien.
A story about Father Damien the leper shows us how no one or anything should stop us from making a humble confession. One of Father Damien's greatest sufferings after he left for Molokai was his inability to go to confession. Two months after his arrival on the island, the Honolulu Board of Health ruled that no one on Molokai would be allowed to return, even temporarily. This was a cruel blow to a man of such delicate conscience as Father Damien, accustomed to receiving the grace of the sacrament of Penance weekly. Since he was forbidden to leave, it seemed someone must come to him. In September, a steamer stopped outside the shore settlement of Kalaupapa with the usual load of provisions, patients banished from the mainland, and this time with Father Damien's provincial, Father Modeste, who knew the young priest was longing to see him. As he prepared to land, Father Modeste was confronted by the captain. "I have formal orders to stop you," he announced. There was nothing left but for Damien to come out to the ship. He did, in a small boat rowed by two of his leper friends and prepared to board. "Stay back! Stay back!" shouted the captain. "I've been strictly forbidden to let you see anyone!" Father Damien stood in the little boat, so near and yet so far. Quickly he made up his mind. "Very well, I will go to confession here." And with his provincial leaning over the railing on the deck, the priest confessed his sins and received absolution. It is said no one on board knew French. Nevertheless, one cannot help feeling that in this case the walls, the very skies, had ears. It was truly heroic: a man making the choice between human respect and sacramental grace. There is no comparison. Penance is the torrent that will cleanse us. Let neither pride nor human respect prevent our making a humble confession.
Memorial Day Build Up
Every day from now to Memorial Day I ask your prayers for each service and all of our defenders to include police and fire on Memorial Day.
John Barry, an Irish Catholic, was the "Father of the American Navy." He has been forgotten by all but a few historians, but he outranks John Paul Jones and was the official father of the Continental and U.S. Naval forces. He went to sea at a young age in Ireland and settled in Philadelphia. In October 1775, John was given command of the Continental Congress vessel, the Leviathan, and his commission, the first issued, was dated Dec. 7, 1775. When the war began, John Barry served in a spectacular manner. If his ship was shot out from under him, he and his crew battled on land. They were with George Washington at Trenton and Princeton. At the end of the war, Congress enacted on March 27, 1794, a law establishing the U.S. Navy. The U. S. Senate issued the appointments of officers made by George Washington, and John Barry's commission reads: "Captain of the U.S. Navy...to take rank from the 4th day of June, 1784...registered No. 1." With victory in hand at the end of the Revolutionary War, Americans in cities, towns and villages chanted a new ditty:
"There are gallant hearts whose glory
Columbia loves to name,
Whose deeds shall live in story
And everlasting fame.
But never yet one braver
Our starry baner bore,
Then saucy old Jack Barry,
The Irish Commodore."
Please pray for the intentions of my dear friend from my South Pole adventure and the Godfather of my daughter Claire, the eminent Navy Chief James Grace.
· Eat waffles and Pray for the assistance of the Angels
· Monday: Litany of Humility