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October 11th, 2009

St. Damien of Molokai – Kamiano

St. Damien of Molokai
St. Damien of Molokai

Today Father Damien of Molokai is becoming a saint. I learned that many don’t know about Father Damien. Let me try to help you.

As a priest, Joseph was called Father Damien. But to his friends, the people of Molokai, he was Kamiano. He lived a short but incredible life. At that time, all the lepers in Hawaii were sent to an island Molokai in Hawaii. He decided to see these people also as humans and treat them so. He wished to serve them.

Those were the days when the only cure to leprosy was death. Molokai island became the living hell of these diseased ones. The disease and fear of death made the lepers in Molokai just like animals, killing and fighting all the time. Even the dead bodies remained unburied.

It was at this time, that Father Damien’s brother, serving in Hawaii contracted leprosy. So Damien requested to allow him replace his brother and serve in Molokai. His wish was granted by the authorities and that marked the beginning of a revolutionary change in the island.

He found it hard at first even to touch the lepers. But slowly he found joy in applying medicines over the wounds of the lepers and indulging in friendly talks with them. His presence made life more and more comfortable for the diseased there. He taught them how to cultivate and do small scale businesses and live like ordinary men.

The true measure of his nature was his loving service as doctor when medical treatment and facilities were unavailable. He traveled the settlement of Kalaupapa and cleaned and dressed the wounds of the lepers, giving the best care and treatment he could provide. He spoke on behalf of those with leprosy, advocating for their rights as human beings, while the world beyond the shores of Molokai remembered little of the suffering of its people.

He contracted leprosy. But, through the pain and physical deterioration caused by the disease process, Kamiano built churches, homes, orphanages and whatever his family of islanders needed to live in dignity.

Father Damien’s life was one of courage. The romantic journey of a builder who believed all things were possible. He did not preach his journey, he walked it. He did not manage teams of workers. He was the carpenter, builder, ditch digger, pipe layer, and gentle doctor.

His was the spirit of unconditional love.

He died, surrounded by his beloved people, at the age of 49, due to leprosy.  More than a century has passed but he is still Kamiano. He is still with his Molokaii.

#### In a Mass that began at 10 a.m. today in Rome, Pope Benedict recited the formal words of canonization, and in reciting the names of Damien and the four others, made them saints of the Catholic Church.

March 19th, 2009

St. Joseph

St Joseph with Baby Jesus

St. Joseph – Patron of the Universal Church – Feastday : March 19 and May 1

Everything we know about the husband of Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). He wasn’t rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22)

We know Joseph respected God. He followed God’s commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus’ birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus’ public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.

Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.

Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.

We celebrate two feast days for Joseph :-

March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary  AND  May 1 for Joseph the Worker

There is much we wish we could know about Joseph — where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was — “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:18).

“Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.” – Pope John Paul II

Prayer:

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. Amen

O Glorious St Joseph, for the love of Jesus and Mary, come to my assistance.

March 19th, 2009

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

Saint Patrick – Patron of Ireland – Feastday : March 17

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when every one’s Irish. There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story —

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote :-

“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same.” “I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why a shamrock?Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been – the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.

While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the “Holy Wells” that still bear this name.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, the day that St. Patrick died.

Saint Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

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