Saturday, July 5, 2008

Following Jesus: Fr. Damien

Today I've read that one of my childhood heroes Fr. Damien De Veuster has been approved for the final step of sainthood by the Church. I had the habit as a girl of reading biographies of historical characters, saints and the like and Fr. Damien was one whose story left a deep impression. A missionary to a leper colony on the island of Molaki, he did all the works you might expect a missionary priest to do, but more than that he treated the people, despised by the rest of the world as lepers,with respect and love. He and others who followed to work there helped to give the people hope and got them involved in improving their lives. Fr. Damien's life can be read at

I know realize that his life like each person's involved struggle, temptations and times of great sorrow, pain and discouragement, involved the cross. Love always comes to the cross the points where it's necessary to know we can't do it without the help of God and that the great plans we made for our life and the lives of others in our lives may likely be changed in ways never anticipated.

This past month I had great plans for a month of retreat, attending a great workshop, visiting some sisters at some of our missions and visiting family. Instead, I spent it having a serious infection from a failed root canal that put me in the hospital and necessitating two oral surgeries . Not my plan.

Who knows why? Only God. For me it taught me some little measure of what its like to be so weak, you can barely get out of bed. So I let go and know what really matters is the relationships with Jesus, with the people in my daily path and those He puts in my life. Doesn't matter what gifts of health, wealth and fortune I've got, but that I use whatever I have to love. Like Fr. Damien, he served God and his people in good health and sickness, dying a leper at age 49.

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