Saint Damien Novena

First day

Father Damian:

You who gave your life out of love for people who suffer from leprosy.

You gave continuous hope to the people who lead in the world.

   

Damian's life:

At the age of 23, Damien left Belgium, his homeland, to go to Hawaii as a missionary. Ten years later, he volunteered to Molokai, where the government separated people with leprosy (Hansens Disease) from the general population. He helped them in organizing their lives so that they knew what it was like to be a full person, filled with hope and faith. He died on April 15, 1889, due to leprosy.

 

MEDITATION

Damien was not a superman. He was an ordinary person, aware of his own flaws and limitations. God gives me the opportunity to reflect on my own limitations. He offers me the ability to deal with my own weakness, whatever it may be.  Damien discovered that overcoming limitations is a source of eternal love.

The key to understanding Damian's life is his intimacy with God. "He who stays in me, and I in Him," said Jesus, "will bear fruit in plenty."

Herein lies the secret of Damien's life: Participating in the Spirit of Christ every day, the living water of salvation.

Damien knew how to take advantage of Jesus' offer, in earlier times he had done the same to the Samaritan Woman.  "If you knew the gift of God and who is asking for drink, you would ask him and he would give you living water."  Damien lived from this living water, let us do the same.

 

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, let me be like Father Damien, an instrument of your love

           

           Where there is hate, let me bring love

           Where there is turmoil, let me apologize

           Where there is disagreement, let me bring harmony

           Where there are mistakes, let me bring truth

           If there is any doubt, let me believe

           Where there is despair, let me bring hope

           Where there is darkness, let me bring light

           Where there is sorrow, let me bring happiness

 

Lord Jesus, let me be like Father Damien, an instrument of your love

SECOND DAY  ********

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times)  

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   Childhood and Religious Vocation:      

            José of Veuster, the future Father Damien, was born in 1840 in Belgium, into a deeply Christian family. From a very young age he demonstrated a great love to God and of the poor.  At 13 years of age he had to leave school to help with the work on the family farm. Later, when he was 18 years old, with his father hoping that he would get involved in the grain business, he sent him away to study French.  It was during this time that Damien discovers his vocation.   He wrote to his parents: “I want to be a priest”.  Without much delay, he convinced them to allow him to enter the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This Community, born during the French Revolution, had as its purpose, to renew the world by proclaiming the love of Christ's Heart for the world. 

  

MEDITATION 

            In the living cemetery of Molokai, the heavy cross of every day: the proximity of death and the hope of heaven, were freeing Damien of any sectarian spirit. He was uncompromising and inflexible in the defense of the lepers.  He denounced injustice and demanded dignity for all, yet through it all he learned how to be open and tolerant, leading people to discover their own individual richness.

            For Damien, everone no matter who, was a brother.  Away with barriers, frontiers or prejudices! Like the Good Samaritan, in the parable, who along the way helped the wounded man who was not from his own country.  Damien’s “neighbour” is not the one who shares his culture, skin colour or religion. His neighbour is the one who needs him. Open and free, Damien is at the disposition of all. 

 

Period of Silent Reflection  

PRAYER      Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

.          

            Help me to be satisfied with what I have.

            Not seeking to be consoled, but to console.

            Not seeking to be understood, but to understand. 

            Not seeking to be loved, but to love. 

            Not seeking to receive but to give. 

            Not seeking to be forgiven but to forgive. 

            Not seeking for one self but for others. 

            That we may die, born to eternal life.    

 

                  Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

THIRD DAY 

 

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

   

Damien’s Life:      Missionary Vocation 

            In 1863, Damien’s older brother Pamphile, a religious of the same Community and a recently ordained priest, is chosen to go as a missionary to the Hawaiian islands. But he becomes seriously ill and is unable to leave for the Pacific islands. 

            Damien with his characteristic integrity, writes to the General Superior of his Congregation requesting that he go in the place of his brother.  Even though he has not finished his studies, his offer is accepted.   

 


MEDITATION 

            Damien felt alone over his years on Molokai as the only healthy person, among a multitude of lepers. His aloneness is added to, due to the fact that he is a foreigner in a strange land.  

            At a religious level he is also alone, as less than half the population on Molokai are Catholic and he becomes their leader, shepherd and guide.  He is alone and like the lepers, abandoned on Molokai.  Even his superiors are sometimes angry with him because of his excessive defense of the lepers. 

            But at the same time he experiences the joy of the companionship of God. Having the Lord by his side he can remain cheerful and find meaning, no matter what the difficulty.

            Damien also experiences the joy of the company of his new family, the lepers. 

His biggest happiness is to serve the Lord in these poor sick children, rejected by others. Abandoned on an island in the middle of ocean, he becomes as a lighthouse, a light to the whole world.  He is recognised as “the Apostle of the lepers’”, “hero and martyr of charity”.  Alone in the North Pacific, he becomes the guide and the motivator of a multitude of young people and children who look to him for direction. 

There is not anything hidden that will not be revealed” - Jesus said. Neither anything so secret that it doesn't end up becoming public. 

  

Period of Silent Reflection 

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

            Where there is hate, let me put love.  

            Where there is offense, let me put pardon. 

            Where there is discord, let me put union.

            Where there is error, let me put truth.

            Where there is doubt, let me put faith.

            Where there is desperation, let me put hope.

            Where there is darkness, let me put light.

            Where there is sadness, let me put happiness.

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

FOURTH DAY

 

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   The Island of the Damned 

Ordained priest in Honolulu at 24 years, the young missionary immediately takes possession of an extensive and difficult mission territory that the Bishop has assigned to him. Soon afterwards, the government of Honolulu, in order to restrict the spread of leprosy, decided to forcefully confine these sick people, on a rocky peninsula on the island of Molokai. In 1873, the bishop speaks to his priests of his concern and anguish for the people banished to the hell that was Molokai.  Damien responds that he was willing to live with these unfortunate poor.  He is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he died. The following week, with little possessions other than his clothes, he arrives on the island of Molokai, where he would die 16 years later.

   

MEDITATION 

Apart from a rare trip to Honolulu, on Molokai Damien was a prisoner, confined to the peninsula of Kalawao, between the massive vertical cliffs and the sea.  Young, healthy and strong, he dreamt of escaping. Condemned to a living death, sharing the destiny of the lepers he knew that outside of death, there is no hope of liberation. Damien also feels the weight of his daily work. “We, poor missionaries cannot have rest in this life…”  Finally he feels the weight of the claws of his terrible illness, just as Christ did, nailed to the timber of the cross.  His awful illness progresses quickly and terrifyingly. It threatens to hinder him in the celebration of the sacred mass.  Psychologically as a material and physical prisoner, he still feels an inward freedom. He is able to say that “I am very happy here” in the midst of poverty and misery. “God chooses to comfort me, in a way I could never have hoped for”. 

                 

Period of Silent Reflection 

 

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

           

            Where there is hate, let me put love.  

            Where there is offense, let me put pardon. 

            Where there is discord, let me put union.

            Where there is error, let me put truth.

            Where there is doubt, let me put faith.

            Where there is desperation, let me put hope.

            Where there is darkness, let me put light.

            Where there is sadness, let me put happiness.

 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

FIFTH DAY

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   The low sky to Molokai 

            Immediately he gets to work, armed alone with the power of the cross, without any resources other than the love of God and his generosity. Conquering the disgust that the horrible smell of rotting flesh caused him, little by little he becomes a nurse to his people as well as architect, engineer and their special pastor.  He provides drinkable water, constructs beautiful white colored houses, encourages the cultivation of the land and organizes an active social life on the island. He builds an orphanage to protect the children from exploitation. He opened a new cemetery, where before the bodies of the lepers lay on the spot where they had died. 

He identifies with the sick poor, giving them again a sense of their own dignity.  “We, the lepers…” he tells them, even though he still had not contracted the disease. In his preaching, he speaks to them of their dignity as children of God, communicating to them the hope of a better life:  “We lepers, we are the friends of God; one day we will enjoy a new body...”            The secret of Damien’s giving and his inexhaustible energy was Jesus whom he encountered in the Eucharist. “Without the permanent presence of our divine Master on the altar of our simple chapels” he wrote, “he would not have been able to stay there one day”.  Little by little, thanks to his dedication, Christ's cross produces the greatest of miracles: the hell of Molokai becomes a paradise.  

  

MEDITATION 

            After a hard days work during the night, when he rested, when the town of the lepers and the children of the orphanage slept, Damien was alone with God. He sometimes travelled to the cemetery, where most of his people rested, more numerous than the survivors.  “I have had more than 200 deaths in one year...”  He prayed reflecting on the activities of the day... in the distance the waves twinkled by the light of the moon and of the stars.  He entrusted all, alive and dead, to the mercy of God.  He begged for the physical health of those that he had visited and assisted during the day, mainly for their eternal health. Because he knew that we are in a passing world:  “We have not here a lasting city” he said. Let us imitate Damien as our intercessor.  But also, now that he is in the glory of God, let us invoke him. Just as in his ministry Damien interceded for the lepers, and continually requested assistance for his mission, will he not now intercede for us? 

Period of Silent Reflection 

 

PRAYER: 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

            Where there is hate, let me put love.  

            Where there is offense, let me put pardon. 

            Where there is discord, let me put union.

            Where there is error, let me put truth.

            Where there is doubt, let me put faith.

            Where there is desperation, let me put hope.

            Where there is darkness, let me put light.

            Where there is sadness, let me put happiness.

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

SIXTH DAY    

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

  

Damien’s Life:   Leper among the lepers 

            Nine years after their arrival to Molokai, the first symptoms of the leprosy appeared in his legs. In 1884, a medical examination confirmed the presence of the terrible disease. The following year, the disease attacks his face; four years later he is dead. Damien, the good shepherd, identified completely with his sheep, sharing their illness. Just as Jesus became one with us, embodied in our sinful humanity, Damien became one with his people. Yet extraordinary, he feels happier than ever. 

My eyelids begin to fall; soon my face will be deformed. I am calm and resigned and I feel happy amidst my people”. 

 

MEDITATION 

            On Molokai, everything had to be done. In spite of all the obstacles and countless failures, with his partners in captivity Damien undertakes, harnessing water for cleaning and drinking, initiating a proper sewer system as well as the construction of houses. Until search the physical cure of the tremendous illness… 

            A hope grounded in God, allowed Damien to live and to fight without being discouraged. Alone, He gives him the energy to continue the undertaking when the result is not visible, when he loses the crop or the fishing is fruitless. 

            There are supernatural virtues that God provides to the believer.  In Molokai faith and the charity were not enough; hope was indispensable in such circumstances. The person who has no hope is depressed and abandons the fight. Or perhaps that person becomes agitated in vain. Or they resort to escapes in eating, violence etc. in order to try to cope with their lack of hope. On the contrary, the person who hopes waits for the help that God has promised both in the here and now and in the world to come.  Such a person is not discouraged but rather fights continually because they know that they are not alone. 

 

SILENCE 

  

PRAYER 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

.          

            Help me to be satisfied with what I have.

            Not seeking to be consoled, but to console.

            Not seeking to be understood, but to understand. 

            Not seeking to be loved, but to love. 

            Not seeking to receive but to give. 

            Not seeking to be forgiven but to forgive. 

            Not seeking for one self but for others. 

            That we may die, born to eternal life.    

 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

SEVENTH DAY

   

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   Death and repercussions 

            In his last weeks of life, he can no longer leave to visit the sick.  Now it is they who come to him, full of concern to see him for the last time. On the 15th of April 1889, on the Monday of Holy Week, he dies aged 49, amid the cries of those who considered him as their father. The news spread throughout the whole world... and from that time, Damien’s example continues to be an incentive in the fight against all the «leprosies» which exist in our world.  His example continues to motivate young and old, to respond to serving in total surrender, the neediest of our world 

 

MEDITATION 

 

            In Molokai there were no sensations or even miracles... But a bigger wonder was visible, namely the revelation of the love of God manifested in Damien. 

Me here, amidst my dear lepers. They are very horrible to look at, but they have redeemed souls paid for by the blood of our Divine Saviour”.  

            He lived entirely for others, in a way that was not complicated, ostentatious, calculated and devoid of personal interest. He gave and he didn't request anything in return. For him, to serve was worth more than the health, more than the life.  There is no greater love that this: to give one’s life for one’s friends. 

            Although we should look for the material progress, the values of the spirit will always be our highest priority. Although Damien could not satisfy all the material necessities of the lepers, particularly a cure for their disease, he was able, in his role of disciple, to offer the bread of life for those excluded and offer his life for the needy. 

 

Period of Silent Reflection 

 

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

           

            Where there is hate, let me put love.  

            Where there is offense, let me put pardon. 

            Where there is discord, let me put union.

            Where there is error, let me put truth.

            Where there is doubt, let me put faith.

            Where there is desperation, let me put hope.

            Where there is darkness, let me put light.

            Where there is sadness, let me put happiness.

 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

St Damien.jpg

EIGHT DAY  

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times) 

 

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   Convictions of Damien 

            1. I work unceasingly without depression because I believe that God always                      accompanies me and he is always at my side. 

            2. I make every effort to build the Kingdom of God on earth, but I dream  continually of a             radically new world that God has invited us to share in. 

            3. I always intend to give priority to the weakest, abandoned and excluded. 

            4. I want to be the voice of the voiceless ones.

            5. I discover the beauty of a person not in the exterior, but in the interior. 

  

MEDITATION 

            Damien is a man of God: God is the priority for his life and work.  “What I ask is to find value in everything, everywhere and always, His sacred will; in him is all our life.”  God as a priority in his life led Damien to sacrifice his own family and to go to serve others.  

            This same priority also took him, feeling young and healthy, to make the decision of go to serve the lepers of Molokai: “Here I am ready for living death with these unfortunate poor people”.   With this decision, he renounced his freedom, well being and health in the hope of a greater life and affirmed his belief in superior values: that confinement, illness and even death for the love of God and neighbour, are worth more than passing things.  A greater wealth and freedom comes from serving God and others rather than the possession of worldly goods.  This is not of course, to deny a search for material progress and personal development as the word of God also speaks to us of development and growth:  “Grow, multiply, fill the earth and subject it”.  And Damien demonstrated this, with his work to endow the lepers with worthy living conditions. It is to affirm that mundane goods are a means not an end, nor the secret of a full life. Joy, love and peace are the fruit of the total giving of self.      

 

Period of Silent Reflection 

 

  

PRAYER 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

.          

            Help me to be satisfied with what I have.

            Not seeking to be consoled, but to console.

            Not seeking to be understood, but to understand. 

            Not seeking to be loved, but to love. 

            Not seeking to receive but to give. 

            Not seeking to be forgiven but to forgive. 

            Not seeking for one self but for others. 

            That we may die, born to eternal life.    

 

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.

NINTH DAY

   

Blessed are you Damien, you who gave your life out of the love you had for your people suffering from leprosy. (3 Times)   

Blessed Damien, you continue to give hope to the suffering people of the world. (3 Times) 

 

Damien’s Life:   Other convictions of Damien 

            6. I don't judge, neither do I condemn, neither do I exclude anybody, rather I    make an effort to understand and to welcome all. 

            7. Like Jesus, I want to serve in a completely disinterested way, because           whoever loses their life for Him and their neighbour, will be saved. 

            8. To discover the gift to love the excluded, daily turning to Jesus the     source of divine love.   

            9. What I fear in life is not poverty, nor illness, neither failure, but the lack of      faith, love. 

            10. Although the work is hard and exhausting and the illness is invading my        body, I am the happiest man in the world. 

   

MEDITATION    

            Damien is a brother who lives in solidarity with this people: “Although I am not yet a leper, I make myself a leper with the lepers. When I preach, I use the expression: “Us, the lepers.” 

            Damien is a sure companion:  He doesn't offer support from a distance, with nice words. He shares the work and daily engages in conversation with the lepers. He shares their food, when they invite him to their humble habitations. He is the family friend received as their guest.  But Damien was not just a companion along the way, but also their guide and shepherd. He doesn't just share words: he organizes, he motivates, he drives.

            Before the authorities who give help to outcasts, Damien is the advocate of his sheep, risking ill-will, being criticized and sometimes rejected.  But this criticism eventually gives rise to initiatives and promises of help from brothers of his Congregation who join him, doctors who take turns to work on the island, material help that arrives from all over the world and finally the arrival of  religious to continue the work.

            As a good shepherd, he confronts the wolf that is hiding in his flock.  He builds orphanages for children and girls who were exploited and violated.  Let us follow Damien. With him, we learn how to follow Jesus, the only and true good shepherd.  

Period of Silent Reflection 

   

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love. 

            Where there is hate, let me put love.  

            Where there is offense, let me put pardon. 

            Where there is discord, let me put union.

            Where there is error, let me put truth.

            Where there is doubt, let me put faith.

            Where there is desperation, let me put hope.

            Where there is darkness, let me put light.

            Where there is sadness, let me put happiness.

Lord Jesus, make me be like Damien, an instrument of your love.