Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Robert Louis Stevens and St Damian de Veuster de Molokai (1840-1889) “The Martyr of Molokai”

Robert Louis Stevens and St Damian de Veuster de Molokai (1840-1889)

“The Martyr of Molokai”

Father Damien had become internationally known before his death, seen as a symbolic Christian figure caring for the afflicted natives.   His superiors thought Damien lacking in education and finesse but knew him as “an earnest peasant hard at work in his own way for God.”   News of his death on 15 April was quickly carried across the globe by the modern communications of the time, by steamship to Honolulu and California, telegraph to the East Coast of the United States and cable to England, reaching London on 11 May. Following an outpouring of praise for his work, other voices began to be heard in Hawaiʻi.

Representatives of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in Hawaii criticised his approach.    Reverend Charles McEwen Hyde, a Presbyterian minister in Honolulu, wrote in August to fellow pastor, Reverend H. B. Gage of San Francisco.    Hyde referred to Father Damien as “a coarse, dirty man,” who contracted leprosy due to “carelessness”. Hyde said that Damien was mistakenly being given credit for reforms that were made by the Board of Health.    Without consulting with Hyde, Gage had the letter published in a San Francisco newspaper, generating comment and controversy in the US and Hawaiʻi. People of the period consistently overlooked the role of Hawaiians themselves, among whom several had prominent roles of leadership on the island.

Later in 1889 Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his family arrived in Hawaii for an extended stay. He had tuberculosis, then also incurable, and was seeking some relief. Moved by Damien’s story, he became interested in the controversy about the priest and went to Molokaʻi for eight days and seven nights.   Stevenson wanted to learn more about Damien at the place where he had worked.    He spoke with residents of varying religious backgrounds to learn more about Damien’s work.    Based on his conversations and observations, he wrote an open letter to Hyde that addressed the minister’s criticisms and had it printed at his own expense.    This became the most famous account of Damien, featuring him in the role of a European aiding a benighted native people.

In his “6,000-word polemic,” Stevenson praised Damien extensively, writing to Hyde:

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 to the Reverend H. B. Gage.

Stevenson referred to his journal entries in his letter:

“…I have set down these private passages, as you perceive, without correction; thanks to you, the public has them in their bluntness.    They are almost a list of the man’s faults, for it is rather these that I was seeking: with his virtues, with the heroic profile of his life, I and the world were already sufficiently acquainted.    I was besides a little suspicious of Catholic testimony; in no ill sense but merely because Damien’s admirers and disciples were the least likely to be critical.    I know you will be more suspicious still;   and the facts set down above were one and all collected from the lips of Protestants who had opposed the father in his life.    Yet I am strangely deceived, or they build up the image of a man, with all his weakness, essentially heroic and alive with rugged honesty, generosity and mirth.”



In 1977, Pope Paul VI declared Father Damien to be venerable.    On 4 June 1995, Pope John Paul II beatified him and gave him his official spiritual title of Blessed.   On 20 December 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 canonised on 11 October 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.    His feast day is celebrated on 10 May.    In Hawaii it is celebrated on the day of his death, 15 April.

Two miracles have been attributed to Father Damien’s posthumous intercession.    On 13 June 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 a rare form of cancer, had remission after having prayed at the grave of Father Damien on Molokaʻi. There was no medical explanation, as her prognosis was terminal.   In 1997, Toguchi was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a cancer that arises in fat cells.    She underwent surgery a year later and a tumor was removed but the cancer metastasized to her lungs. Her physician, Dr. Walter Chang, told her, “Nobody has ever survived this cancer. It’s going to take you.” Toguchi was surviving in 2008.

In April 2008, the Holy See accepted the two cures as evidence of Father Damien’s sanctity.    On 2 June 2008, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican voted to recommend raising Father Damien of Molokaʻi to sainthood.    The decree that officially notes and verifies the miracle needed for canonization was promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal José Saraiva Martins on 3 July 2008, with the ceremony taking place in Rome and celebrations in Belgium and Hawaii.    On 21 February 2009, the Vatican announced that Father Damien would be canonised.   The ceremony took place in Rome on Rosary Sunday, 11 October 2009, in the presence of King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Paola as well as the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman Van Rompuy, and several cabinet ministers, completing the process of canonisation.    In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama affirmed his deep admiration for St. Damien, saying that he gave voice to voiceless and dignity to the sick.



Posted in SAINT of the DAY

10 May – The Memorial of St Damian de Veuster de Molokai

10 May – The Memorial of St Damian de Veuster de Molokai SS.CC. Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – Martyr of Molokai – (1840-1889) Religious Priest, Missionary – known as “Martyr of Molokai”, “Martyr of Charity”, “Apostle to the Lepers” – Patron of lepers.

St Joseph de Veuster was born in Belgium on January 3, 1840.    While at college, he decided God was calling him to be a priest.   He joined the same community his brother had joined and took the name Damien. Damien’s brother had dreamed of being a missionary overseas.   But he became ill and was unable to go.   Damien offered to go in his place.   He traveled to Hawaii and was ordained in Honolulu.

For nine years, Damien served the people in different villages around Hawaii.    While working, he heard about a settlement of lepers on the island of Molokai.    He was told that life on the island was terrible for the lepers.   They were very poor and there was not one doctor or priest on the island.   Father Damien thought he was needed there.   He went to Molokai to work with the lepers.

Those who could walk came to meet Father Damien’s boat.   They wanted to see this priest who had come to work with them.    They were sure he wouldn’t stay long when he saw what life there was like.    Lepers often have unpleasant sores and even lose fingers and toes.    Because there were no laws or police on the island, many who were not very ill lived wild lives.

Father Damien got busy right away.    He cleaned up huts, nursed those who were very sick and tried new medicines.    Those able to help were put to work building better houses.   Father Damien preached and offered Mass but he also built roads, water systems, orphanages and churches.    He even started a choir and a band.    He made the lepers feel that they were people with dignity.    They learned to better respect themselves and one another.

Father Damien always began his homily with “My dear lepers.”    One Sunday he stood before his congregation and began his homily by saying “My fellow lepers.”   At first, it was very quiet.    Then people began to sob.    Their beloved Father Damien had gotten the disease.    Even though he was ill, Father Damien carried on his work.    Eventually, a group of Franciscan sisters from New York, under the leadership of St  Marianne Cope, came to help. Father Damien died when he was 49 years old.

St Damien on his deathbed
St. Marianne Cope standing beside Father Damien’s funeral bier (image reversed)
The leprosy patients of Molokaʻi gathered around Father Damien’s grave in mourning
Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 10 May

Quote/s of the Day – 10 May

“A single ‘Blessed be God!’ when things go wrong, is of more value than a thousand acts of thanksgiving, when things are to our liking.”


“Turn yourself round like a piece of clay
and say to the Lord:
I am clay, and you, Lord, the potter.
Make of me what you will.”

turn yourself round-stjohnofavila

“Your life consists in drawing nearer to God.
To do this you must endeavour to detach yourself
from visible things and remember that
in a short time they will be taken from you.”

St John of Avila – Doctor of the Church


“The Blessed Sacrament is indeed
the stimulus for us all,
for me as it should be for you,
to forsake all worldly ambitions.”

St Damian de Veuster – St Damian of Molokai



Thought for the Day – 10 May – the Memorial of St John of Avila (1499-1569) Doctor of the Church

Thought for the Day – 10 May – the Memorial of St John of Avila (1499-1569) Doctor of the Church

St Teresa of Ávila, herself a Doctor of the Church, praised John of Ávila for his mastery of elements of the spiritual life.    While he remains a little known and quoted figure, one saint celebrated among many, Master Ávila stands before us today as a witness to the need for continual reform, a commitment to reflection and renewal within the Church and for each one of us as followers of Jesus.

He understood that it is only through a spirit-filled engagement with the Word of God and a steadfast commitment to the pursuit of virtue that individual Christians would be able to fulfil the demands of the Gospel.    In one of his sermons for Pentecost, John of Ávila asked his hearers,  “What effect did the coming of the Holy Ghost have on the Church?   What did the Holy Ghost accomplish in the hearts of those believers to whom He came?   He gave them life, gave them gifts of infinite value, strengthened them and brought them near perfection.”    St John of Ávila, in his life, his teachings and in his legacy, reveals that the Holy Spirit remains at work in the Church and, in this lesser known saint (sadly one who needs to be studied by all) of more than four centuries ago we discover a man, a saint, whose heart burned so purely with the fire of this same Spirit that he remains a light for us today.    (BROTHER HENDERSON, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.)

And to help us along the way, that is the only way, the way of the Cross of Christ, perhaps this practical bit of advice left us by St John of Avila, will be of assistance in our spiritual growth.   St John of Avila, please pray for us for we all wish to join you as Saint in heaven!

This Doctor and Teacher of our Faith, St John of Avila divides the week into stages of the Passion of Christ:

• Monday think of our Lord’s agony in the garden and what passed in the house of Annas and Caiphas

• Tuesday, of the accusations, the removal from judge to judge, and the flagellation

• Wednesday, of the crowning with thorns and the mockery

• Thursday, of the washing of the feet, and the Blessed Eucharist

• Friday, of the sentence, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion and death

• Saturday, of the piercing of the side, the taking down from the cross, the burial, and the grief of the Blessed Virgin

• Sunday, of the resurrection and the state of future glory.


Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 10 May

One Minute Reflection – 10 May

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” ………Luke 9:23-25

LUKE 9-23,25

REFLECTION – “Dear brothers and sisters, I pray God may open your eyes and let you see what hidden treasures He bestows on us in the trials from which the world thinks only to flee. Shame turns into honour when we seek God’s glory. Present affliction become the source of heavenly glory. To those who suffer wounds in fighting His battles God opens His arms in loving, tender friendship. That is why He (Christ) tells us that if we want to join Him, we shall travel the way He took. It is surely not right that the Son of God should go His way on the path of shame while the sons of men walk the way of worldly honour: “The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the servant greater than his master.” – from a letter by Saint John of Avila


PRAYER – Holy God, teach me to accept my cross and to follow Your Son’s way wihout fear or weakess. Grant me he couage to accept the trails I face for the glory of Your Kingdom. Let me learn and understand that in the persecution You allow, You show me Your love! St John of Avila pray for the whole Church, pray for us all, amen.



Our Morning Offering – 10 May

Our Morning Offering – 10 May

SAINT BERNARD (1090-1153)

Mary, our Mother,
the whole world reveres you
as the holiest shrine of the living God,
for in you the salvation of the world dawned.
The Son of God was pleased
to take human form from you.
You have broken down the wall of hatred,
the barrier between heaven and earth
which was set us by the
disobedience of Adam and Eve.
In you heaven met earth
when divinity and humanity
were joined in one person – the God-Man.
Mother of God,
we sing your praises,
but we must praise you even more.
Our speech is too feeble to honour you as we ought,
for no tongue is eloquent enough
to express your excellence.
Mary, most powerful,
most holy, and worthy of all love.
Your name brings new life,
and the thought of you inspires love
in the hearts of those devoted to you. Amen


Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 May – St John of Avila

Saint of the Day – 10 May – St John of Avila (1499-1569) – Priest, Doctor of the Church, known as the Apostle of Andalusia, Mystic, Author, Preacher, Scholastic teacher, Founder of Schools and Universities – Patron of  Andalusia, Spain, Spain, Spanish secular clergy, World Youth Day 2011.   His Relics are  interred in the Jesuit church at Montilla, Spain.

A portrait by El Greco (1580)

St John was born in Almodóvar del Campo, in the Province of Ciudad Real, to Alfonso de Ávila, of Jewish converso descent and Catalina Xixón (or Gijón), a wealthy and pious couple.    At the age of fourteen, in 1513, he was sent to the University of Salamanca to study law;   he withdrew in 1517, however, without receiving a degree.

Returning home, Ávila spent the next three years in the practice of austere piety.    His sanctity impressed a Franciscan friar journeying through Almodóvar, on whose advice he resumed his studies.   Thereafter, he undertook the study of philosophy and theology, in which he was fortunate to have as his teacher the noted Dominican friar Domingo de Soto.    It appears that Ávila earned his bachelor’s degree during his years at Alcalá and then left without completing requirements for the licentiate degree.

Both his parents died while Ávila was still a student, and after his ordination in spring 1526, he celebrated his first Mass in the church where they were buried.     He then sold the family property and gave the proceeds to the poor.    He saw in the severing of natural ties a vocation to foreign missionary work and prepared to go to Mexico.    He, therefore, traveled to Seville to await departure for the Indies in January 1527 with the Dominican friar, Julián Garcés, appointed the first Bishop of Tlaxcala.    While waiting in Seville, his unusually great devotion in celebrating Mass and his skills in catechesis and preaching, attracted the attention of Hernando de Contreras, a local priest, who mentioned him to the Archbishop of Seville and Inquisitor General, Alonso Manrique de Lara.    The archbishop saw in the young cleric a powerful instrument to stir up the faith in Andalusia, and after considerable persuasion Juan was induced to abandon his journey to America.

The basement of the family home of John of Ávila in Almodóvar del Campo, Ciudad Real, Spain

John seems to have lived in the initial years after 1526 in a small house in Seville with another priest, probably Contreras and disciples gathered around him, in a loosely structured fraternal life.    It was at the request of the younger sister of one of these disciples, Sancha Carrillo, that he began in 1527 to write the Audi, filia (Listen, Daughter), a work he continued expanding and editing until his death.

Apostle of Andalusia
John’s first sermon was preached on 22 July 1529 and immediately established his reputation.    During his nine years of missionary work in Andalusia, crowds packed the churches at all his sermons.    However, his strong pleas for reform and his denunciation of the behaviour of the aristocracy meant that he was denounced to the office of the Inquisition in Seville in 1531 and put in prison in the summer of 1532.    He was charged with exaggerating the dangers of wealth and with closing the gates of heaven to the rich. The charges were refuted and he was declared innocent and released in July 1533.

Around the end of 1534 or the beginning of 1535, John of Ávila was incardinated into the Diocese of Córdoba, from which he received a small benefice.    This city became his base for directing his disciples and moving around Andalusia, preaching and establishing schools and colleges in various neighbouring cities such as Granada, Baeza, Montilla and Zafra.    It is thought that during this time Ávila received the title of Master of Sacred Theology, probably in Granada around 1538.

Of special importance was the University of Baeza, established in 1538 by a papal bull of Pope Paul III.    Ávila served as its first rector and it became a model for seminaries and for the schools of the Jesuits.

Ávila stayed in Granada from 1538-9, where it appears some kind of community was taking shape.   Likewise, during the years 1546 to 1555, John lived with about 20 disciples in Córdoba, making it seem that he intended to begin some kind of formal foundation of apostolic priests.    However, the foundation and fast expansion of the Jesuits meant that these ideas never came to fruition;   from early 1551, when Ávila began to experience poor health, he began actively encouraging his disciples who so desired to join the Jesuits (around 30 in total seem to have joined).

From early 1551 Ávila was in constant ill-health.   He spent the last years of his life in semi-retirement in the town of Montilla, in the Province of Córdoba.    He died there on 10 May 1569 and in accordance with his wishes was buried in that city, in the Jesuit Church of the Incarnation, which now serves as the sanctuary to his memory.


St John of Ávila was declared Venerable by Pope Clement XIII on 8 February 1759 and beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 15 November 1893.    On 31 May 1970 he was canonized by Pope Paul VI.

Pope Benedict XVI named him a Doctor of the Church on 7 October 2012, the Feast of the Holy Rosary.   The proclamation of the two new Doctors of the Church was made by Pope Benedict before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.   During his homily, Pope Benedict said that John of Ávila was a “profound expert on the sacred Scriptures, he was gifted with an ardent missionary spirit. He knew how to penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church”.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saints – 10 May

St John of Avila – Doctor of the Church

St Joseph de Veuster – St Damian of Molokai (Optional Memorial)

St Alphius of Lentini
Bl Amalarius of Metz
Bl Antonio of Norcia
St Aurelian of Limoges
Bl Beatrix d’Este the Elder
St Blanda of Rome
St Calepodius of Rome
St Catald of Taranto
St Comgall of Bangor
St Cyrinus of Lentini
St Dioscorides of Smyrna
St Epimachus of Rome
St Felix of Rome
Bl Giusto Santgelp
St Gordian the Judge
Bl Ivan Merz
St Job the Patriarch
St Palmatius of Rome
St Philadelphus of Lentini
St Quartus of Capua
St Quintus of Capua
St Simplicius of Rome
St Solange of Bourges
St Thecla
Bl William of Pontnoise