Written by Sherry
Monday, 12 October 2009 09:38
Damien, the apostle to the lepers of Molokai, has been declared a saint. He was the Mother Teresa of his generation and famous for the same reason.
The canonization took place on Sunday with celebrations in Belgium and Hawaii.
I find it odd that the Hawaii media said they had sent to Belgium (where most of St. Damien is buried) for a relic. The reality is that there is a wonderful storehouse of relics in the islands.
Specifically the tiny labor-of-love "Damien museum at St. Augustine's parish on Waikiki in Honolulu (right on the beach and with a great view of Diamondhead - what a location!). This museum was run by a husband and wife team and contained nearly every existing relic associated with Damien: his pipes, chasubles, the prie dieu he built with his own hands and used for his own prayer.
I am told that a ceiling leak several years ago forced the collection out of that location and that it is now scattered. This will make the local Church wake up to its treasures, I hope.
I remember kneeling beside the saint's prie dieu (covered in plexiglass). I sensed, I felt the presence of the numinous, the presence of God in that place. Not only had Fr. Damien built it with his own hands but no doubt poured his own fear and pain and loneliness to God after contracting leprosy himself.
I also experienced something very similar in the historic parish Church in Lahina on Maui. As I walked down the aisle I was suddenly overcome with a utterly unexpected joy. I sensed that there had been some kind of struggle or tragedy in that place which was now being redeemed and restored. "Weeping endures for a night but joy cometh in the morning." was the verse that flashed to mind.
As I have learned to do when I have these experiences, I asked a local: "Has something wonderful happened here lately?"
He thought for a moment and then said "Well, the pastor, who was greatly loved, was recently removed because of a sexual scandal" and that was very hard on the congregation. But we've just been assigned a new pastor: one of Mother Teresa's priests, of the Missionaries of Charity."
"Ah" I thought "I'm picking up the presence of a saint."
But our guide went on: "And of course, Fr. Damien used to serve here as well."
The presence of two saints, it seems.