Thursday, April 30, 2009


"The love of one's neighbor is essentially bound up with the love of God. St. John put the matter simply when he said: 'If any man say that he loves God and hateth his neighbor, that man is a liar and the truth is not in him.' Hence it would be a contradiction to profess love of God and at the same time to exclude a neighbor from our love. Therefore the love of neighbor imposes many positive duties upon us, such as almsgiving, correction, forgiveness, etc. each one of which is directed towards the well-being and happiness of our neighbor, at the same time it forbids certain sins which would bring unhappiness, spiritual or temporal, to a neighbor." (1)


Feast Day: May 10

Future Patron of Lepers (when declared a saint October 11, 2009)

Truly, Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC. epitomizes love of neighbor with his many years of spiritual, pastoral, physical, and emotional care for the lepers entrusted to him. He is called the Apostle of Charity.

"A man of enormous activity, Damien vigorously tackled every need, spiritual or physical, that he saw. He cleaned wounds, bandaged ulcers, even amputated gangrenous limbs. When a hurricane destroyed the exiles’ shabby huts, Damien petitioned the Board of Health for lumber and built three hundred houses for the sick. He laid a pipeline to a distant spring to supply water for the settlement. Previously, the dead had been thrown in a ravine or buried in graves so shallow that wild pigs ravaged the corpses. Damien dug graves, built coffins, and said funeral Masses. It is estimated that he built more than 1,600 coffins during his years at Molokai." (2)

Father Damien was born in Belgium. Young Jef, as his Flemish family called him, never anticipated a vocation of working with lepers whose noxious odor he initially tried to cover with tobacco fragrance from a pipe. He did consider a religious vocation as a young man. In his family of 9 siblings, 3 already had joined religious congregations.

He followed one brother into the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and, in spite of his lack of proper education, became a candidate for the priesthood. When his own brother became ill prior to his departure as a missionary to the Hawaiian Islands, "Le bon gros Damien" begged to go in his brother's place. In four years he completed a ten year course of study and was ordained. Father Damien's first Hawaiian parish area took six weeks to cover by canoe and horseback. After 8 years converting Hawaiians, learning Hawaiian, Spanish, and Portuguese, his bishop assigned him along with 3 other priests a rotation of 3 months stay each to the leper colony in Molokai. (3)

"Damien was the first to volunteer. However, within days of his arrival, having seen the desperate needs of the eight hundred exiles at Kalawao, he wrote back: 'I am bent on devoting my life to the lepers. It is absolutely necessary for a priest to live here. The afflicted are coming here by the boatloads.' For sixteen years, Damien threw himself into his work. He went as a priest to serve the spiritual welfare of the Catholics at Kalawao, but once he arrived, he became a father to everyone, no matter what faith they professed." (4)

Our Lord worked amazing accomplishments through his humble priest. Fr. Damien did build churches and houses. He requested funds from Catholics and Protestants. He distributed food and clothing to all his lepers.

"He dressed the lepers' wounds, tried out new treatments, and built orphanages for boys and girls. In order to give the patients something to do, Damien organized bands and confraternities. When his people died, Father Damien not only said the prayers over their bodies, but often also built the coffins that held them." (5)

"Knowing the kanakas’ love for festivities, he organized processions for the feast days and formed a choir and band. In time, the musicians became famous as they performed a Mozart Mass for the visiting bishop and serenaded Queen Regent Liliuokalani when she visited the island. After her visit in 1881, the queen honored Damien with the title of Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kalakaua.

" 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' is engraved on a monument to Damien on Molokai. Damien’s presence there made the world realize that those afflicted with leprosy were not 'unclean outcasts,' but vulnerable human beings whom God deeply loved and who were worthy of the same respect and dignity as anyone else. Damien’s life of sacrifice turned attention to caring for these unfortunate men and women all around the world. Father Joseph Damien de Veuster was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 4, 1995, and the state of Hawaii has honored him with a statue which stands in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building." (6)

Father Alfred Bell, whose work to canonize Fr. Damien will be realized on October 11, 2009, commented, "Father Damien's example helps us to not forget those who are forgettable in the world," he said.


"...I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ. That is why, in preaching, I say 'we lepers'; not, 'my brethren....'" Letter to his brother 6 months after arriving on the island. (7)

"The Lord decorated me with his own particular cross—leprosy." Fr. Damien's response years after he had been decorated with the Cross of the Royal Order of Kalakaua by the Hawaiian government. He had accepted the award but rarely wore the medal. (8)

“It is the memory of having lain under the funeral pall twenty-five years ago--the day of my vows--that led me to brave the danger of contracting this terrible disease in doing my duty here and trying to die more and more to myself… the more the disease advances, I find myself content and happy at Kalawao.” Letter to his bishop in 1885. (9)

"Be severe toward yourself, indulgent toward others. Have scrupulous exactitude for everything regarding God: prayer, meditation, Mass, administration of the Sacraments. Unite your heart with God.... Remember always your three vows, by which you are dead to the things of the world. Remember always that God is eternal and work courageously in order one day to be united with him forever." Father Damien's spiritual counsel to himself, lacking a confessor and priest companion, until the last year of his life. (10)

Father of mercy, in Blessed Damien, you have given a shining witness of love for the poorest and most abandoned. Grant that, by his intercession, as faithful witness of the heart of your Son Jesus, we too may be servants of the most needy and rejected.We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,One God, for ever and ever. (11)

Prayer to Blessed Damien: Oh Blessed Damien, enlightened by the Holy Spirit and moved by the sorrows of the poor, you dedicated yourself tirelessly to the service of the lepers and became one like them. In doing so, you enhanced their God-given dignity to the last minutes of your priestly life, regardless of many trials and sufferings. Since then, your name has become a great inspiration for countless people throughout the world. We, touched by your self-sacrifice, beseech you to help us follow your footsteps in sharing our time, energy, talents, and other God-endowed gifts with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Now you have been glorified with Jesus Christ in the Heavenly Kingdom. We ask you to continue interceding for us before our loving and caring God, that we may have the gift of faith in Him, humility and the courage to bring love and healing to our poor brothers and sisters in the world. AMEN (12)

1. Rev. Donald F. Miller, Catholic Treasures - Issue No. 88-89
2. Catholic Saints and Other Heroes On-line
3. Modern Saints, Ann Ball - Tan Books, 1983
4. Catholic Saints and Other Heroes
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Fransicans of St. Anthony Guild on
8. Ibid.
9. Catholic Saints and Other Heroes
10. Francisans of St. Anthony Guild on
11. Opening prayer for Blessed Damien's liturgy (
12. Archdiocese of Los Angeles Mission web-site

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


"God has made a special commandment out of the natural duty and obligation of respecting His Name. That this should be necessary sometimes strikes as as very strange. God is Father, Provider, Preserver of us all; He became Man and died for us on the Cross, He resides in the tabernacles of our churches to be near us, and He wanted to regard us all with a happiness that will never end. "...we are bound to love God with all our heart and souls and mind and will, and love is diametrically opposed to disrepect, irreverence, scorn and contempt in using a lover's name." (1)

Saint for April:

St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

Life 1347-1380 Feast Day, April 29
Patron of Nursing Service, Women Involved in Catholic Action, and Fire Prevention

Reverence for God filled Catherine’s short life of 33 years. She was 6 when she first experienced a vision of Our Lord seated in glory with St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John. At 16 she became a Dominican Tertiary, and she lived a humble life in her family home.

Her extraordinary love of God and work as a Tertiary in hospitals motivated her to tend to the dying and the sufferers of plague, as well as to visit those condemned to execution. Our Lord blessed her with abundant graces and revelations.

She reconciled enemy factions, wrote to all the rulers in Europe, persuaded the Holy Father to return to Rome from “captivity” in Avignon, France, and worked to end the Great Western Schism. She received the Stigmata in 1375; it was visible only after her death.

Although she had no formal education and did not write, she was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Catherine was one of the most gifted literary persons of her day and had one of the most brilliant theological minds in the Church. She dictated all of her works, including 400 letters to Popes, rulers, family, acquaintances, and strangers. Her most mystical work “The Dialogue” was dictated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Together they form the body of her spiritual doctrine which expresses immense reverence for God. (2)


Catherine's letters to great personages whom she did not know are, as would be expected, less searching and fresh than the many written with a more personal inspiration, but they afford at least an interesting testimony to the breadth of her interests. This letter to Charles V. was evidently written during her stay at Avignon, where she formed relations with the Duke of Anjou, and received his promise to lead in the prospective Crusade.

Avignon was a centre of intellectual life and of European politics, and Catherine must have been quickened there to think more than ever before in large terms and on great issues. To think of a matter is always, for her, to feel a sense of responsibility toward it; she writes, accordingly, to Charles V, urging him to make peace with his brother monarch:

"For so," says the maid of Siena serenely to the great King--"So you will fulfill the will of God and me. In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary: Dearest lord and father in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you observe the holy and sweet commands of God, since I consider that in no other way can we share the fruit of the Blood of the Spotless Lamb. Sweet Jesus, the Lamb, has taught us the Way: and thus He said: 'Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita.'

"He is the sweet Master who has taught us the doctrine, ascending the pulpit of the most holy Cross. Venerable father, what doctrine and what way does He give us? His way is this: pains, shames, insults, injuries, and abuse; endurance in true patience, hunger and thirst; He was satiate with shame, nailed and held upon the Cross for the honour of the Father and our salvation.

"With His pains and shame He gave satisfaction for our guilt, and the reproach in which man had fallen through the sin committed. He has made restitution, and has punished our sins on His own Body, and this He has done of love alone and not for debt. This sweet Lamb, our Way, has despised the world, with all its luxuries and dignity, and has hated vice and loved virtue. Do you, as son and faithful servant of Christ crucified, follow His footsteps and the way which He teaches you: bear in true patience all pain, torment, and tribulation which God permits the world to inflict on you.

"For patience is not overcome, but overcomes the world. Be, ah! be a lover of virtue, founded in true and holy justice, and despise vice. I beg you, by love of Christ crucified, to do in your state three especial things. The first is, to despise the world and yourself and all its joys, possessing your kingdom as a thing lent to you, and not your own. For well you know that nor life nor health nor riches nor honour nor dignity nor lordship is your own. Were they yours, you could possess them in your own way. But in such an hour a man wishes to be well, he is ill; or living, and he is dead; or rich, and he is poor; or a lord, and he is made a servant and vassal.

"All this is because these things are not his own, and he can only hold them in so far as may please Him who has lent them to him. Very simple-minded, then, is the man who holds the things of another as his own. He is really a thief, and worthy of death. Therefore I beg you that, as The Wise, you should act like a good steward, made His steward by God; possessing all things as merely lent to you. " (3)



Love of Jesus, Fill us. Holy Spirit, Guide us. Will of the Father, Be done.Power of the eternal Father, help me! Wisdom of the Son, enlighten the eye of my understanding! Tender mercy of the Holy Spirit, enflame my heart and unite it to yourself!(Prayers, 48)

(And in a longer variation) You, Godhead, one in being and three in Persons, are one vine with three branches if I may be permitted to make such a comparison. You made us in your image and likeness so that, with our three powers in one soul, we might image your trinity and your unity. And as we image so we may find union: through our memory, image and be united with the Father, to whom is attributed power, through our understanding, image and be united with the Son, to whom is attributed wisdom; through our will, image and be united with the Holy Spirit, to whom is attributed mercy, and who is the love of the Father and the Son. (Prayers, 42)



1. Examination of Conscience for Adults by Rev. Donald F. Miller, C.SS.R.