Monday, May 10, 2010

Today is the feast day of Saint Damien of Molokai

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I feel an
immense joy and unlimited confidence in
contemplating the numerous favors which
You grant to those who with faith and
humility have recourse to You through the
mediation of Your beloved servant, Father
Damien, who, for love of You, overcame
the repugnance of his senses and gave himself up, body and
soul, to the care of the poor lepers of Molokai.
Impelled by confidence in his
power of intercession with You and
inspired by his ardent charity for all the
afflicted, through the Immaculate Heart
of Mary, I offer You with all the fervor
of which I am capable, this novena of
praise and petition to obtain the grace for
which I ask, if it be for Your greater
glory, and the good of my soul, or if not,
I beg for the grace to resign myself
entirely to Your adorable designs in this
request which I commend to You. Amen

Saint Damien once said: Here I am a priest, dear parents, here I am a missionary in a corrupt, heretical, idolatrous country. How great my obligations are! Ah! do not forget this poor priest running night and day over the volcanoes night and day in search of strayed sheep. Pray night and day for me, I beg You!

A tapestry depicting Damien hangs outside St. Peter's Basilica before Mass at the Vatican on October 11, 2009! "Not without fear and loathing," Pope Benedict underlined, "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." He continued, "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, Benedict XVI added, "teaches us to choose the good fight not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."
Saint Father Joseph Damien: thank you for your courage and bravery and marvelous work with the Lepers, remembering you today, happy feast day, you are truly a hero of mine in the Roman Catholic Church and its saints!

Throughout the Catholic church years, there are various days feast days of the saints while today is saint has a special bond with myself. I did a paper on him back in my sophmore year in college.

Today is the feast day of Saint Damien of Molokai was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was an missionary religious order. He won recognition for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. He is the patron saint of people with leprosy, people with HIV and AIDS, outcasts, the State of Hawaii.

There were calls for his canonization shortly after his death, but Father Damien's official cause for sainthood wasn't introduced until 1955. It took 40 more years for Damien to be beatified, given the title "blessed," the step before sainthood by the late great Venerable Pope John Paul II. When the news hit that Pope Benedict XVI is canonized Father Damien, President Obama said:"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." He is a true hero of mine!

Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai, SS.CC. (Dutch: Pater Damiaan or Heilige Damiaan van Molokai; January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889), born Jozef De Veuster, was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

He was a missionary religious order. He won recognition for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

After sixteen years caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, he eventually contracted and died of the disease, and is widely considered a "martyr of charity". He is the ninth person recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church to have lived, worked, and died in what is now the United States.

In both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, Damien is venerated as a saint, one who is holy and worthy of public veneration and invocation. In the Anglican communion, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for Hansen's disease, HIV and AIDS patients, and outcasts. As the patron saint of the Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaii, Father Damien Day is celebrated statewide on April 15. Upon his beatification by Pope John Paul II in Rome on June 4, 1995, Blessed Damien was granted a memorial feast day, which is celebrated on May 10. Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday October 11, 2009. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "the Apostle of the Lepers", and elsewhere he is known as the "leper priest".

In 1977, Pope Paul VI declared Father Damien to be venerable, the first of three steps that lead to sainthood. On June 4, 1995, Pope John Paul II beatified him and gave him his official spiritual title of Blessed. On December 20, 1999, Jorge Medina Estévez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, confirmed the November 1999 decision of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to place Blessed Damien on the liturgical calendar with the rank of optional memorial. Father Damien was canonized on October 11, 2009, by Pope Benedict XVI. His feast Day is celebrated on May 10. In Hawaii, it is celebrated on the day of his death, April 15.

Two miracles have been attributed to Father Damien's posthumous intercession: On June 13, 1992, Pope John Paul II approved the cure of a nun in France in 1895 as a miracle attributed to Venerable Damien’s intercession. In that case, Sister Simplicia Hue began a novena to Father Damien as she lay dying of a lingering intestinal illness. It is stated that pain and symptoms of the illness disappeared overnight.

In the second case, Audrey Toguchi, a Hawaiian woman who suffered from cancer, was completely cured after having prayed at the grave of Father Damien on Molokai: In 1997, Toguchi was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a cancer that arises in fat cells. She underwent surgery a year later. A tumor the size of a fist was removed from the side of her left thigh and buttock. Unfortunately, the cancer spread to her lungs. Her physician, Dr. Walter Chang, told her, 'Nobody has ever survived this cancer. It's going to take you.' The Toguchi case was documented in the Hawaii Medical Journal of October 2000.

In April 2008, The Holy See accepted the two cures as evidence of Father Damien's sanctity. On June 2, 2008, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican voted to recommend raising Father Damien of Molokai to sainthood. The decree that officially notes and verifies the miracle needed for canonization was promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI and Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins on Thursday, July 3, 2008, with the ceremony taking place in Rome, with celebrations in Belgium and Hawaii. On February 21, 2009, the Vatican announced that Father Damien would be canonized.

The ceremony took place in Rome on Rosary Sunday October 11, 2009, in the presence of King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Paola as well as the Belgian Prime Minister and several cabinet ministers, completing the process of canonization. Four other individuals were canonized with Father Damien at the same ceremony: Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Sister Jeanne Jugan, Father Francisco Coll Guitart and Rafael Arnáiz Barón. Damien's symbols are a tree and a dove.

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