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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WE LEPERS





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 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

Monday, December 22, 2014

CLOP

 
 
CLOP
 
 
 
THROUGH THE STREETS
OUTSIDE MY MIND
ECHOED THE SOUND
OF A DONKEY WALKING
 
AND THE CRY
NOW HOARSE
ROOMS
ANY ROOMS
MY WIFE IS WITH CHILD
ROOMS
ANY ROOMS
 
UNTIL A GOOD MIDWIFE
TOLD HER HUSBAND
WHAT HE THOUGHT
SO HE OPENED THE BARN
 
NOT MUCH
BUT THE ANIMALS KEEP IT WARM
THE STRAW IS SOFT
 
THE GOOD MIDWIFE SAW THE SIGNS
SHOOED THE MEN OUT
TO DO MEN USELESS THINGS
 
THEN MARY AND HER
DID THE AGELESS BALLET
OF BRINGING A CHILD INTO THE WORLD
OF BRINGING GOD INTO THE WORLD
 
FINDING A HORSE BLANKET
IT WAS ALL SHE HAD
SHE TOLD THE NUMB FATHER
KEEP THEM WARM
 
THEN PATTING
THE NEW MOTHER
ON THE CHEEK
SHE SAID
YOU DID GOOD GIRL
PROUD OF YOU
 
THEN WHILE MARY AND THE BABY SLEPT
JOSEPH KEPT GUARD
AS HE WOULD
THE REST OF HIS LIFE
 
JOSEPH
JOSEPH
HUSBAND
PSEUDO FATHER
 
FAITHFUL JOSEPH
CARING MIDWIFE
BRIMMING WITH PROMISE MARY
 
HOW LONG WILL I STAY
IN MY QUARTERS SAFE
UNINVOLVED
WHILE JOSEPH
CRIES HIMSELF HOARSE
 
HOW LONG WILL I HEAR THE DONKEY’S CLOP
AND NOT CARE