Monday, March 16, 2015

IF THE SUN CANNOT SHI9NE

 
IF THE SUN CANNOT SHINE
ON THOSE CONSIDERED
THE LEAST OF MY BRETHREN
IF IT CANNOT QUICKEN THE4M
IF WE ONLY WISH THEM WELL
WHILE WORKING ON OUR TAN
 
THEN WE STAND IN DANGER
OF BEING WITH THE GOATS
AT RECKONING TIME
 
NOT FOR DEEDS DONE
BUT UNDONE
LIKE DIVES
BLIND TO LAZARUS
UNDER THE TABLE
 
THOSE WHO ARE BLESSED
WITH GOD’S GOOD
WHO SEE NO NEED TO SHARE
ARE GOAT CANDIDATES
 
THOSE WHO BELIEVE RICHES
BRING UNEARNED PRIVILEGES
WHO STRUT LIKE PEACOCKS
TO IMPRESS THE NEIGHBORS
 
THOSE WHO WOULD APPORTION
GOD’S LOVE
TO THOSE THEY FAVOR
THOSE WHO WOULD SPEAK FOR GOD
WITH TWISTED TONGUE
 
ALL STAND IN DANGER
OF BEING ONE WITH THE HERD
 
TO MY SHAME
I HAVE OFTEN BEEN ONE OF THEM
 
HELP ME GOD TO BE AWARE OF Y NEIGHBOR
IF ONE HURTS
WE ALL HURT
 
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR
ALL THAT THE FATHER
CREATED
 
FRANK A VOLLMER
 
 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

EXCRESCENCE DRAG

EXCRESCENCE  DRAG
 
 
 

 
IN MEDICAL TERMS
EXCRESCENCE
IS ANY ABNORMAL GROWTH ON THE BODY
SUCH AS WARTS
SKIN TAGS
GOITERS
BOILS
 
IN AIRCRAFT
SIMILARLY MEANS
ANYTHING WHICH PRODUCES DRAG
 
EXAMPLE
WHEN A PLANE TAKES OFF
THE PILOT
AS SOON AS HE CAN
RAISES THE LANDING GEAR
SO THE PLANE CAN HANDLE MORE EFFICIENTLY
ON LANDING
HE LOWERS THE GEAR
TO BLEED OFF SPEED
 
MANY WOULD SAY
THAT JESUS WAS REFERRING TO EXCRESCENCE
WHEN HE TOLD THE CAMEL AND EYE OF A NEEDLE STORY
 
WE’RE WRONG
IF WE TAKE IT LITERALLY
IT’S ALSO NOT A GATE IN THE WALL
OR A THICK ROPE
 
IT’S MIDDLE EAST HYPERBOLE
TO PROVE A POINT
 
IT TALKS ABOUT CLINGING TO THE WEALTH
WITH A MISER’S GRAB
WHETHER THAT WEALTH
IS MONEY
POWER
PRESTIGE
IF GOD REQUIRES IT
WE MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO
 
ESPECIALLY
IF OUR POSSESSIONS CAUSE PAIN
 
IF WE ARE SO HOLDING ON TO THINGS
THEN EXCRESCENCE
WHICH SOUND LIKE SOMETHING
YOU SCRAP OFF A SHOE
IS LITERALLY TRUE
 
 
FRANK A VOLLMER
 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

WINDCHIME

 
 
 
WINDCHIME

 
 
I BOUGHT MY SELF A WINDCHIME
I HAD CHRISTMAS MONEY
I SPLURGED
BOUGHT MYSELF A WINDCHIME
 
MY CHILDREN ARE SNICKERING
SAYING
I WONDER HOW MANY MOTHS ESCAPED
WHEN HE CRACKED OPEN HIS WALLET
SOME SAID PRY OPEN
 
CHIMES HAVE A LONG HISTORY
THEY’VE BEEN USED
TO KEEP BIRDS OUT OF FIELDS
TO PROTECT SACRED PLACES FROM DEMONS
AS A MECHANICAL PRAYER
 
I ENJOY THEM FOR THE BELL SOUNDS
AND MORE
THE SATORI EFFECT
 
THE UNEXPECTED SOUND
BROUGHT ON BY WIND’S VAGARIES
JOLTS THE MIND
LETS NEWNESS IN
 
A PROBLEM THOUGH
IT HASN’T RUNG
SINCE I BROUGHT IT HOME
 
I WONDER
IF I SHOULD PUT IT OUTSIDE
I DIDN’T WANT TO GET IT WET
 
FRANK A VOLLMER


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

KING'S HIGHWAY

 
 
 

 
THERE IS A ROAD ON MAUI
BUILT IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
BY THE THEN KING
PI'ILANI
 
IT'S A HIKING TRAIL NOW
A ROUGH TRACKING TRAIL
THE ROAD HAS BEEN ABANDONED
 
IN THIS LENTEN SEASON
IT BRINGS TO MIND THE BAPTIZER'S WORD
 REPAIR THE ROYAL HIGHWAY
 
HOW OTEN HAVE WE ABANDONED
THE KINGS HIGHWAY
FOR SOME EXIT
THEN GOT LOST
 
THE HIGHWAY GREW GRASS
WHICH NO ONE ATTENDED
 
ISAIAH SAYS
"A highway will be there—yes, there— and people will call it 'The Holy Way'. As for unclean people, they will not journey on it, but it will be for whomever is traveling on that Way— not even fools will get lost.
 
THIS IS THE HIGHWAY WE SHOULD TRAVEL
BUT THIS HIGHWAY NEEDS REPAIR
 
THERE ARE MANY SIDEROADS
PROMISING ATTRACTIONS
BUT THEY LEAD AWAY
 FROM THE ROAD
WE NEED TO REPAIR
AND TRAVEL
 
FOR THIS IS THE ONLY ROAD
THAT LEADS THROUGH THE CROSS TO EASTER
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE
TO GET BACK ON THE ROAD
EVERY LENTEN BYPASS LEADS BACK
 
WE ARE TASKED TO WALK IT
WHILE THERE IS STILL LIGHT
WE ARE ASKED TO NOT WALK ALONE
BUT TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS
BY EXAMPLE
 
FRANK A VOLLMER


Sunday, January 25, 2015

headdress

HEADDRESS



NO MATTER THE HEADDRESS
POINTED
COILED
KILLING IN THE NAME OF GOD
IS AN OXYMORON
THE GOD WHO CREATED MAN
WHO CONSIDERED THE BLOOD OF LIFE
SACRED TO HIM
RELIGION
AT ITS ROOT
MEANS TO HOLD FAST
WE ARE TASKED
TO HOLD FAST TO GOD’S DICTUM
THERE SHALL BE NO KILLING
ON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN
OF WHAT USE
ARE THE MAIMED
THE SCATTERED BODY PARTS
OF THOSE
UNFORTUNATE
TO BE IN THE WAY
SHALL THE WIND MOAN AT THEIR PASSING
BECAUSE NO MOANERS ARE LEFT
FOR ALL ARE BUSY FIGHTING
FOR REASONS UNCLEAR
BEWARE
BEWARE
THE TRUMPETS BLARE
IT’S NOT GOD’S HARMONIOUS VOICE
BUT THE DISCORDANT NOISE OF HATE
 CALLING US TO FORGET
THAT WE ARE PEARLS
OF GREAT PRICE
AND EACH ONE’S PRICE WAS THE SAME
FRANK A VOLLMER


Friday, January 23, 2015

DAMIEN...LEPER PRIEST


MY HERO IS NOT FROM THE BIBLE

BUT HE LIVED BY BIBLICAL ETHICS
HE IS COMMONLY KNOWN
AS DAMIEN
THE LEPER PRIEST OF MOLOKAI
 
BUT FIRST
A BIT OF HISTORY
 
THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
WERE RELATIVELY UNKNOWN
UNTIL DISCOVERED BY CAPTAIN COOK
IN 1778
HE CALLED THEM THE SANDWICH ISLANDS
 
IN EARLIER AGES
IT HAD BEEN POPULATED
BY POLYNESIANS
FROM OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDS
IN OTHER WORDS THEY WERE ISOLATED
IN THEIR LITTLE PARADISE
 
 
THE KINGDOM OF HAWAIʻI WAS SOVEREIGN FROM 1810 UNTIL 1893 WHEN THE MONARCHY WAS OVERTHROWN BY RESIDENT AMERICAN (AND SOME EUROPEAN) BUSINESSMEN. HAWAII WAS AN INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC FROM 1894 UNTIL AUGUST 12, 1898, WHEN IT OFFICIALLY BECAME A TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES, RATIFIED A STATE IN 1959.[57]
 
 
THE 1778 ARRIVAL OF BRITISH EXPLORER JAMES COOK WAS HAWAIʻI’S FIRST DOCUMENTED CONTACT WITH EUROPEAN EXPLORERS. COOK NAMED THE ISLANDS THE "SANDWICH ISLANDS" IN HONOR OF HIS SPONSOR JOHN MONTAGU, 4TH EARL OF SANDWICH. HE PUBLISHED THE ISLANDS' LOCATION AND REPORTED THE NATIVE NAME AS OWYHEE. .
COOK VISITED THE ISLANDS TWICE. UPON HIS DEPARTURE DURING HIS SECOND VISIT IN 1779, A QUARREL ENSUED, INVOLVING COOK'S TAKING OF TEMPLE IDOLS AND FENCING AS "FIREWOOD",[64] .  COOK AND FOUR MARINES WERE KILLED .
AFTER COOK'S VISIT AND THE PUBLICATION OF SEVERAL BOOKS RELATING HIS VOYAGES, THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS RECEIVED MANY EUROPEAN VISITORS: EXPLORERS, TRADERS, AND EVENTUALLY WHALERS WHO FOUND THE ISLANDS A CONVENIENT HARBOR AND SOURCE OF SUPPLIES.
THESE VISITORS INTRODUCED DISEASES TO THE ONCE-ISOLATED ISLANDS AND THE HAWAIIAN POPULATION PLUNGED PRECIPITOUSLY[66] BECAUSE NATIVE HAWAIIANS HAD NO RESISTANCE TO INFLUENZA, SMALLPOX, AND MEASLES, AMONG OTHERS. BY 1820, EURASIAN DISEASES, FAMINE, AND WARS AMONG THE CHIEFS KILLED MORE THAN HALF OF THE NATIVE HAWAIIAN POPULATION.[67] DURING THE 1850S, MEASLES KILLED A FIFTH OF HAWAIʻI'S PEOPLE.[68]
..
IN THE EARLY KINGDOM, PROTESTANT MINISTERS IN A SHOW OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY FORCED THE KING  TO MAKE CATHOLICISM ILLEGAL, DEPORT FRENCH PRIESTS AND IMPRISON NATIVE HAWAIIAN CATHOLIC CONVERTS.
FRANCE SENT A WARSHIP TO HAWAII. UNDER THE THREAT OF WAR,THE KING  SIGNED THE EDICT OF TOLERATION ON JULY 17, 1839 AND PAID $20,000 IN COMPENSATION FOR THE DEPORTATION OF THE PRIESTS AND THE INCARCERATION AND TORTURE OF CONVERTS,  THE KINGDOM PROCLAIMED:
THAT THE CATHOLIC WORSHIP BE DECLARED FREE, THROUGHOUT ALL THE DOMINIONS SUBJECT TO THE KING OF THE SANDWICH ISLANDS; THE MEMBERS OF THIS RELIGIOUS FAITH SHALL ENJOY IN THEM THE PRIVILEGES GRANTED TO PROTESTANTS.
 FATHER DAMIEN ARRIVES IN MOLOKAI IN 1873. THE BELGIAN PRIEST DIED OF LEPROSY IN 1889. IN 2009, FATHER DAMIEN WAS CANONIZED.
 
THE WORD LEPROSY IS FROM OLD FRENCH, FROM LATE LATIN LEPRA, FROM GREEK LEPROS, MEANING SCALY, FROM LEPIS, SCALE
 

FATHER DAMIEN

IN THE MID 1800S, WAVES OF FOREIGNERS INTRODUCED A SERIES OF DISEASES THAT RAVAGED THE NATIVE PEOPLE OF HAWAII.1 AMONG THE CRUELEST OF THESE DISEASES WAS LEPROSY, NOW KNOWN AS HANSEN'S DISEASE, FOR WHICH THERE WAS NO KNOWN CURE.2
AS THE SEVERE DEFORMITIES SYMPTOMATIC OF HANSEN'S DISEASE SPREAD, SO DID FEAR. IT WAS DECIDED THAT THOSE AFFLICTED SHOULD BE FORCIBLY OUTCAST ON A REMOTE PENINSULA ON THE SMALL ISLAND OF MOLOKAI. THIS PENINSULA, NOW HOME TO THE SETTLEMENT OF KALAUPAPA, IS BATTERED ON THREE SIDES BY A ROARING PACIFIC OCEAN AND CUT OFF FROM THE REST OF THE ISLAND BY ONE OF THE WORLD'S TALLEST AND SHEEREST OCEAN CLIFFS.
THE SOULS OUTCAST HERE BECAME PRISONERS IN THEIR OWN LAND, HARSHLY KICKED FROM BOATS, WASHING ONTO SHORE WITHOUT ADEQUATE SUPPLIES, INFRASTRUCTURE, MEDICINE, OR TOOLS. FAMILIES ON SURROUNDING ISLANDS, POWERLESS TO HELP, MOURNED FOR THE CRUEL FATE OF THEIR LOVED ONES.

SEND ME

FATHER DAMIEN, BORN JOSEPH DE VEUSTER ON JANUARY 3RD OF 1840 IN BELGIUM, WAS ONE OF EIGHT SIBLINGS. WHEN HE WAS OLD ENOUGH, JOSEPH'S FATHER, A FARMER, SENT HIM TO COLLEGE TO PREPARE HIM FOR A COMMERCIAL PROFESSION. IT WAS THERE THAT JOSEPH, THROUGH A SOCIETY OF MISSIONARY PRIESTS, DECIDED TO BECOME A PRIEST HIMSELF, TAKING THE RELIGIOUS NAME DAMIEN.
SEVERAL OF DAMIEN'S SIBLINGS HAD ALSO PURSUED RELIGIOUS CALLINGS, INCLUDING HIS OLDER BROTHER AUGUSTE. IT WAS, IN FACT, AUGUSTE WHO ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO GIVE HIS LIFE TO THE MISSION IN HAWAII. BECAUSE OF ILLNESS, AUGUSTE WAS PREVENTED FROM GOING. HAVING PRAYED DAILY TO BE USED BY GOD AS A MISSIONARY, DAMIEN SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY. HE ASKED TO AND SUCCEEDED IN TAKING HIS BROTHER'S PLACE.
AFTER THE NECESSARY PREPARATION, DAMIEN ARRIVED TO THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS IN MARCH OF 1864 AND WAS SUBSEQUENTLY ORDAINED A PRIEST AT THE CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF PEACE, WHICH STILL STANDS IN HONOLULU TODAY.
SOME YEARS AFTER DAMIEN'S ARRIVAL TO HAWAII, HIS BISHOP WAS LOOKING FOR A FEW BRAVE VOLUNTEERS FOR A SHORT-TERM TRIP TO MINISTER TO THOSE WITH HANSEN'S DISEASE EXILED ON MOLOKAI. DAMIEN IMMEDIATELY VOLUNTEERED. KNOWING THE RISK OF INFECTION, HE WAS WARNED BY THE BISHOP HIMSELF TO PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
YOU MUST AVOID ANY FORM OF CONTAGION. IF THEY PASS AROUND A PIPE [A COMMON CULTURAL OCCURRENCE] YOU MUST REFUSE IT. ABOVE ALL, YOU MUST NOT JOIN IN MEALS AND EAT FROM THE COMMUNAL POT WITH YOUR FINGERS, AS OTHERS DO. EVEN THE SADDLE THAT A LEPER HAS SAT UPON MUST BE TABOO TO YOU, AND I FORBID YOU TO SLEEP IN THE HUT OF A LEPER.3

THE DYING SHED

KALAUPAPA GREETED DAMIEN WITH DEVASTATION. HE WALKED AMONG THE LIVING DEAD. EVERYWHERE HE LOOKED WAS GROTESQUE DISFIGUREMENT, BLEEDING AND OOZING SORES, RAMPANT DISEASES OF VARIOUS KINDS, AND PERHAPS WORST OF ALL, HOPELESSNESS. DAMIEN STRUGGLED TO CELEBRATE HIS FIRST MASS.
THE BUILDING WAS FULL AND IT WAS BOILING HOT. DAMIEN WAS CONFRONTED WITH ALL THE PHYSICAL UNPLEASANTNESS OF LEPROSY. THERE WERE TOO MANY PEOPLE WITH SUPPURATING SORES, SO THAT THERE WAS A STENCH OF ROTTING FLESH. MOREOVER, ONE OF THE SYMPTOMS OF LEPROSY IS THAT THE SUFFERER SALIVATES EXCESSIVELY. THE PEOPLE WERE CONSTANTLY COUGHING, CLEARING THEIR THROATS AND SPITTING ON THE GROUND. DAMIEN HAD TO TURN AWAY IN ORDER NOT TO BE SICK. HE WENT TO THE OPEN WINDOW, BUT THE BUILDING WAS SURROUNDED BY ILL PEOPLE WHO HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET INTO THE CHURCH.3
DAMIEN WAS MOST IMPACTED BY HIS VISIT TO THE "DYING SHED," WHERE THOSE SWIFTLY APPROACHING DEATH WERE TAKEN. WHEN HE ENTERED, HE MET THE EYES OF A DESPERATE YOUNG MAN. HIS FACE WAS SWOLLEN. HIS BODY LAY FRAIL AND TREMBLING ON A DIRTY SHEET. DAMIEN COULD SEE MAGGOTS CRAWLING THROUGH HIS OPEN SORES. ALTHOUGH THE BISHOP HAD FORBIDDEN HIM TO TOUCH THE PATIENTS, DAMIEN BEGAN TO STROKE THE BOY'S NECK, WHERE THE SKIN WAS STILL UNTAINTED. HE SPOKE TO HIM OF HEAVEN AND GOD'S WELCOME THERE, AND ANOINTED HIM. AS DAMIEN TOUCHED HIM AND PRAYED, A SPASM WENT THROUGH THE YOUNG MAN'S BODY AND HE DIED IN THE LOVING PRESENCE OF THE YOUNG PRIEST.4
BY THE END OF HIS THREE MONTHS AT KALAUPAPA, DAMIEN CAME TO THE CONVICTION THAT GOD WAS CALLING HIM TO DEDICATE HIS LIFE TO THE SUFFERING PEOPLE THERE. HE WROTE TO HIS SUPERIORS, "I WISH TO SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR THE POOR LEPERS. THE HARVEST HERE SEEMS RIPE."5
DAMIEN'S WISH WOULD BECOME REALITY. THIS WAS TO BE HIS MINISTRY UNTIL THE END. INDEED, THE MINISTRY WOULD EVENTUALLY COST HIM HIS LIFE.

WE LEPERS...

"MISSIONARY WORK REQUIRES, FIRST AND FOREMOST, BEING PREPARED FOR MARTYRDOM…"6
WHEN DAMIEN RETURNED TO THE COLONY, HE BEGAN HIS FIRST SERMON WITH "WE LEPERS..." THOUGH THERE WAS NOT YET ANY SIGN OF INFECTION IN HIS BODY. DAMIEN HAD RECOGNIZED THAT IF HE REALLY WANTED TO WIN THE HEARTS OF HIS NEW FLOCK, HE HAD TO BE WILLING TO TOUCH THEM, TO EAT WITH THEM, TO SMOKE THE COMMUNAL PIPE AS ONE OF THEM. ALL THE WHILE HE KNEW THAT INFECTION WAS A DEATH SENTENCE. FATHER DAMIEN WOULDN'T DIE FOR ANOTHER FIFTEEN LONG YEARS, BUT THE DAY HE IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS ONE OF THE AFFLICTED WAS THE DAY HE TRULY GAVE HIS LIFE AWAY.
DAMIEN HAD FOUR DISTINCT OBJECTIVES IN HIS MINISTRY.
HE SOUGHT TO MEET THEIR SPIRITUAL NEEDS. WHILE THE PHYSICAL NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE WERE DAUNTING, THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS WERE EQUALLY PRESSING FOR DAMIEN. IN THE FACE OF DEATH, SOME CAST OFF MORAL RESTRAINT, TURNING TO SEX AND DRINK. AS HE MINISTERED, DAMIEN FACED COVERT BUT PREVAILING WITCHCRAFT AMONG THE EXILES, A LEGACY OF THEIR FORMER RELIGION. THE GOSPEL OFFERED HOPE WHEN ALL OTHER HOPE WAS LOST.
HE WANTED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL CARE. IN ADDITION TO HANSEN'S DISEASE, THE PATIENTS SUFFERED FROM ALL KINDS OF SECONDARY INFECTIONS: LICE AND TICK INFESTATIONS, SCABIES, LUNG INFECTIONS, ULCERATED SORES, DIARRHEA, COUGHS, ETC. HE WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE ALLEVIATION OF ALL THESE NEEDS, OFTEN IN THE FACE OF INDIFFERENCE, DELAYS, AND EVEN OPEN OPPOSITION FROM THE OUTSIDE. HE CLEANED THE ULCERS, PUT OINTMENT ON THEM, AND BANDAGED HIS PATIENTS UP. HE DID HIS OWN RESEARCH, USING A CONTROL GROUP TREATED WITH PLACEBOS TO DOCUMENT THE SUCCESS OR INEFFECTIVENESS OF THE NEW METHODS HE READ ABOUT.
HE WAS TO BE A FATHER TO THE FATHERLESS. THERE WERE MANY ORPHANS LEFT TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES. IN TIME HE WAS CARING FOR MORE THAN 100 ORPHAN BOYS HIMSELF. IN ADDITION TO SPIRITUAL TEACHING, HE INVOLVED THEM IN HIS BUILDING PROJECTS.
DAMIEN WAS DETERMINED TO RAISE THE LIVING CONDITIONS. DAMIEN SET ABOUT HELPING THEM ERECT THEIR COTTAGES. HE WORKED TO BRING IN AN ADEQUATE WATER SUPPLY. HE INSISTED ON BETTER FOOD RATIONS AND ADEQUATE CLOTHING. HE DUG THEIR GRAVES AND MADE THEIR COFFINS. HE NOT ONLY HAD TO WORK AS A PRIEST, BUT AS A DOCTOR, ARCHITECT, AND BUILDER AS WELL. HE BUILT ORPHANAGES, HOMES, CHURCHES, AND MORE. DAMIEN ALSO RAISED AWARENESS AMONG THE PUBLIC, HE WAS A TIRELESS ADVOCATE OUTSIDE THE COLONY FOR THE EXILES WITHIN.

CONFESSIONS OF A SAINT

WHILE HE OFTEN WROTE OF THE UNIQUE JOY THAT COMES WITH SERVING GOD AND THOSE WHO WERE MOST NEEDY, FATHER DAMIEN WAS NO STRANGER TO LONELINESS, DEPRESSION, TEMPTATION, AND MORE. IN ONE JOURNAL ENTRY, HE CONFESSES,
ANGRY ON SUNDAY THREE TIMES BEFORE MASS. IMPURE THOUGHTS, THE FURIES. LISTENED TO TITTLE-TATTLE AND GOSSIP AND DID THE SAME MYSELF... TWO OR THREE TIMES ALLOWED SOMEONE TO DIE WITHOUT THE SACRAMENTS, VANITY, HATRED, GRUMBLING AT OTHERS, INFLEXIBILITY.7
AS DAMIEN POURED OUT HIS LIFE IN SELFLESS LOVE IN A WAY SEEMINGLY BEYOND THE AVERAGE PERSON'S ABILITY, IT'S REFRESHING TO READ OF HIS PLAIN HUMANITY.

EASTER IN HEAVEN

"GREATER LOVE HAS NO ONE THAN THIS: TO LAY DOWN ONE'S LIFE FOR ONE'S FRIENDS."8
AFTER TWELVE YEARS AMONG THE EXILES OF MOLOKAI, DAMIEN BEGAN TO NOTICE SYMPTOMS IN HIS FOOT. ONE DAY, WHILE PREPARING A BATH, HE UNKNOWINGLY PLACED HIS FOOT INTO SCALDING WATER. HIS SKIN BLISTERED, BUT HE FELT NOTHING. FOR WHAT WOULD BE THE LAST THREE YEARS OF HIS LIFE, HANSEN'S DISEASE RAVAGED DAMIEN'S BODY. WHAT STARTED AS PAIN IN HIS FOOT TURNED TO OPEN SORES ON HIS LEFT HAND AND DISFIGUREMENT OF HIS FACE. ALL THE WHILE, HE CONTINUED HIS PRIESTLY WORK, PUSHING THE LIMITS HIS DETERIORATING BODY IMPOSED. AS HIS CONDITION WORSENED, HE RESIGNED TO DEATH WITH A MEASURE OF PEACE. "I AM HAPPY THAT I CAN CELEBRATE EASTER IN HEAVEN," HE WROTE AS THE END DREW NEAR.
FATHER DAMIEN DIED OF HANSEN'S DISEASE AT 8:00 A.M. ON APRIL 15, 1889, AT THE AGE OF 49. .
DAMIEN SERVED THE EXILES ON MOLOKAI FOR OVER FIFTEEN YEARS BEFORE HIS DEATH. IT WAS LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A MORE MODERN HOSPITAL, THE ARRIVAL OF AN ORDER OF NURSES TO CARE FOR THE SICK, SOMEONE TO CARE FOR HIS ORPHANS, AND EVEN A RESIDENT PHYSICIAN. INDEED, IT WAS LONG ENOUGH TO TENDERLY STROKE THE NECK OF A BOY ON HIS DEATHBED. IT WAS LONG ENOUGH TO TEACH THE WORLD HOW TO LOVE LIKE CHRIST.
 
I WROTE THE FOLLOWING POEM ABOUT DAMIEN

WE LEPERS

 

BY THESE WORDS

DAMIEN

LET HIS FLOCK KNOW

HE HAD CONTRACTED LEPROSY

 

A DISEASE

WHICH AT THAT TIME

WAS CONSIDERED HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS

POSSIBLY TRANSMITTED BY CONTACT

MAYBE SEXUAL

 

IT WAS CONSIDERED AT THAT TIME

A CURSE BY GOD

FOR IMMORALITY

 

DAMIEN

KNEW HE WAS PURE

HE OFFERED HIS BODY

TO BE CHECKED FOR SIGNS OF STDS

TO PROVE HIS OWN INNOCENCE

PLUS THAT OF HIS FLOCK

 

LEPROSY WAS BAD ENOUGH

WITHOUT CALUMNY

 

WE OFTEN DO THAT TO OUR HEROES

DENIGRATE THEM

BY STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE

TO DILUTE THEIR MESSAGE

CHRIST WAS SAID TO HAVE A DEVIL

LUTHER TO BE A HERETIC

KING TO BE AN ADULTERER

BONHOEFFER A TRAITOR

DAMIEN TO HAVE HAD SEXUAL

RELATIONS WITH A LEPER

 

IGNORE THE MESSAGE

DEGRADE THE MESSENGER

AS DONE BY REV HYDE

WHEN HE INFERRED

 

THAT DAMIEN MISSION WAS A FAILURE BECAUSE HE NEEDED A BATH

PROBABLY TRUE

HE WAS MORE CONCERNED WITH HIS FLOCK THAN HIMSELF

ASK A MOTHER OF A SICK TODLER

WHAT HER PRIORITIES ARE

 

“In answer to your inquiries about Father Damien, I can only reply that we who knew the man are surprised at the extravagant newspaper laudations, as if he was a most saintly philanthropist. The simple truth is, he was a coarse, dirty man, headstrong and bigoted. He was not sent to Molokai, but went there without orders; did not stay at the leper settlement (before he became one himself), but circulated freely over the whole island (less than half the island is devoted to the lepers), and he came often to

Honolulu. He had no hand in the reforms and improvements inaugurated, which were the works of our Board of Health, as occasion required and means were provided. He was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the leprosy of which he died should be attributed to his vices and carelessness. Others have done much for the lepers, our own ministers, the government physicians, and so forth, but never with the Catholic idea of meriting eternal life.”

 

REV HYDE

 

 

BUT IN DAMIEN’S CASE R. L. STEVENSON

WROTE IN HIS DEFENSE

 

 

R l Stevenson to rev Hyde

 

But, sir, when we have failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour – the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat – some rags of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away

 

 

Some say he wasn't a scholar

But he mastered Latin

To become a priest

 

He mastered Hawaiian

To serve his flock

 

Which displayed two attributes

Which characterized Damien

Persistence

Bulldog determination

 

 

He fought the state for more money

 

He fought the church

For the money

Sent for Leper's care

Siphoned off for other religious work

 

 There was much denominational bitterness in Hawaii

It didn't bother Damien

He had stateside denominations helping him

 

Which led to church and state complaining

That it put them in a bad light

 

Though they weren't adverse

To bragging

About the little they did

Or proclaiming first rights to the doing

 

None of which helped the leper

Who was ignored in the fight

 

He was warned

About physical contact with the lepers

But he soon learned

That he couldn't be a shepherd at a distance

So he treated their wounds

Comforted the dying

Buried the dead

Fought the strong

For the week's share of food

 

 

 

 

I think what I admire most about Damien

Is that he lived out

What Bonhoeffer said about facing evil

 

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

 

Frank a Vollmer