hail to the chief, chieftain or is it chieftess???

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

Helen Keller


(a visit from the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2018)

And you thought I was going to write about President Bush again didn’t you??
Eh???

Well, whereas I am sharing about a visit from a commander and chief…
this particular commander and chief is more like a chieftess…
or whatever the female equivalent would be for chief.

Here we see the Mayor delightfully happy to be visiting with her constituents here
in the satellite Woobooville office. She happily surprised her “people”…
that being Polly Possum, Moe the Moose, lambie pie the sheep along with Percy and Peaches,
the real live cats who oddly disappear whenever the Mayor makes a visit.

And one might notice that the Mayor is having a slight hair issue with a strand of bangs that
nearly reaches to her chin. Her aides are constantly having to bush the hair from her face
lest she have a bit of a fit while rubbing her eyes red.

So with that being said…the Mayor had her first visit to a salon…note, that is not a saloon…
little politicians must make certain things very clear…but we digress…
It was time to have a bit of a trim.

And I might just add that a for a 10 month old, a trim may not be the most even or
neatest of trims…

And thus I am sorry to report that one of her chief aides is very disappointed with the
new little dutch-girl-pageboy look…
that aide being her dad…
And so it begins…that slow progression of growing up
that seems to tugs at the daddy’s heart most of all…

the very apprehensive before image

The after dutch little girl look

Wise men still blessedly seek and know…

“God desires to reveal His heart to us and to build His heart
into us as we seek His face.”

Bill Mills

Something I learned this past week that I didn’t know,
is that as soon as a President becomes President, the planning for his death and funeral
is set in motion.

Being President is such a huge role that it seems that it doesn’t matter when you leave the office—
not nearly as much as it does as when you leave this life.

Shortly after taking the helm, President 41 was approached by his aides that he would need
to sit down in order to write up his final wishes for his funeral service…
orchestrate it, if you will, down to every last detail.

Here he was just settling into the new job and when he’s told he needs to focus on his death.

An odd paradox to any new president to be sure.

Reluctantly President 41 agreed but forlornly mused that he doubted anyone would be
showing up.

He wasn’t being self-deprecating for show…he honestly thought no one would really
want to show up for such a thing as his funeral.

I admit– I hate funerals.
I attend them only if it is absolutely necessary.

I think that goes back to when I was 7 and my grandfather died unexpectantly.
I was crushed because he was so great, so grand, so special…so mine…
So when he died, I had to grow up fast enough to be a “big” girl throughout his
death and funeral.
I next had to witness the very visible downward spiral of my grandmother shortly following…

It was a hard time for a 7-year old little girl who adored her grandparents.

I’ve never cared for funerals since.

I buried my cousin, who was my best friend when I was 21; my mother when I was 26;
my grandmother when I was 26; my other grandmother when I was 29; my brother when I was 35;
my dad when I was 58; my aunt when I 58…
that doesn’t count the numerous friends and colleagues I’ve helped bury nor that of my
husband’s family…it just never seems to end.

So I can understand the reluctance in having to sit down and plan such a thing when such
thoughts seem to need to rest on a back shelf someplace else…
at least for just a little while longer.

I suppose the sense of urgency for a president to plan his own funeral may have come
from the assassination of a youthful John F. Kennedy.
I’ve not researched this so I could be wrong…it may actually go back much further than that
but I just figure after JFK, the suddenness of death didn’t seem so far removed after all.

Yet over the course of this seemingly long week of somberness and grief, I have
actually been sweetly blessed.
I have learned some important lessons.

Lessons such as… allowing one’s life, rather than ones’ words, to be the true witness of
how to live and of how to treat others.

I’ve learned how to be a servant.

I’ve learned how to be gracious in all circumstances.

I’ve learned how humor cures.

I’ve learned the importance of always being gracious and humble.

I’ve learned that there is hope in death.

I’ve learned that age is just a number.

I’ve learned that physical limitations should not be seen as a limitation to living but
rather as an opportunity.

And I’ve learned that as we grow older, we do indeed grow wiser.
Or so should be our hope.

We lose the smugness and arrogance of a more youthful self and we realize that there
are things that are truly greater than ourselves.

I watched many an older gentleman, this past week, speak of a dear old friend in terms
of a knowingness.

These men, most of whom hail from “the Greatest Generation”…
men who were once important and powerful, speak now of their smallness compared to the greatness
of their Creator, their Savior, their God…
He who is much greater than themselves.

I heard them speak of God and His greatness as well as His graciousness.
I heard them speak of humility and lessons learned.

These are men who lived large lives and yet remained grounded.

I told a blogging friend this past week that every time one more member of this Greatest
Generation dies, I feel a little less safe and little less secure.

That was until I heard and saw the visible lessons offered by our 41st president and those
who knew him best…throughout a life well lived and through a slow dying
of which ended with love and grace.

The reflection of a parish priest who witnessed the 60 plus years of a loving friend stroke
the feet of his dying friend.
Of how the President seemed to have slipped into that place between life and death
as those who gathered around him waited.

Yet James Baker stood at the foot of the bed and rubbed the feet of his friend and who
in turn, with eyes closed and no words spoken, smiled.

The priest thought of Jesus who after all had been said and done that Passover evening,
proceeded to wash the feet of his dear friends.

This oh so divided Nation that is rife with its fair share of smugness, arrogance, defiance,
and yes, even hate…a Nation I have been so fretful over…

Well, it was throughout this week that I was reminded that we are capable of being better
when we are needed to be.
We can rise above when necessary…

And so my friends, it is that time…it is the time that we hold ourselves accountable.
We must be wise and not foolish.
As it is imperative that we remember that there is something, Someone, so much greater
than ourselves.

He is our Creator and we are his created and it is time that we seek His grace.

CAVU, 41

CAVU
Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited

A common military acronym used primarily by pilots
and an acronym used throughout the life of the 41st President of the
United States of America, former WWII Naval pilot,
George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018


Image of President Georgh H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully who has been told that
his mission is now accomplished and well done.

One thing that we Americans do well, this mixed family of the very divided and
political adversarial…the good thing that makes us the people who we are…

Is the fact that we can actually come together in times of our collective loss and express
our gratitude to those individuals who have given so much of themselves to serve us, the people—

Those being our leaders…those being our presidents.

Yet not only do we say goodbye to our 41st president…
we also say goodbye to one more member of the Greatest Generation…
A military service member who deferred college in order to enlist.
Only to become the Nation’s youngest fighter pilot at the tender age of 19.

As a member of this greatest generation,
Bush is remembered not only as one of our Presidents but more importantly,
he is remembered as one of those who sacrificed so much of their own lives,
as some did with their very lives, in order to secure the future for our lives.

After having been hit during a bombing mission, with his plane on fire,
Bush told his crew to “abandon ship” while he stayed at the controls to complete
the bombing mission before bailing out himself.

Read the story here:
http://ww2today.com/2-september-1944-usnr-lt-george-h-w-bush-shot-down-in-dive-bomb-attack

And so during the next several days, we will gather together as a Nation along with a grieving
family in offering our gratitude to the service of our 41st President…
a man who was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, great-grandfather
as well as a Luetinent in The United States Navy…A man who would go on to
become a Congressman, an Ambassador, the Director of the CIA,
a Vice President and eventually, as most of us recall, the man who followed in the large
footsteps of Ronald Reagan in becoming the
Nation’s 41st President of the United States…George Herbert Walker Bush.

CAVU, Mr. President.

” America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle.
We as a people have such a purpose today.
It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”

George Herbert Walker Bush

the rocks will cry out

“In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit,
the children of God must discharge their responsibility.
They need to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in their life,
be willing to obey fully God’s will, and believe through prayer that
He will flood their spirit with His power.”

Watchman Nee


(Anchorage Daily News image of the latest damge from this past week’s earhtquake)

Remember yesterday how I shared that Twitter was attempting to ban both
The Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden
(well, they already did try with Gavin but I believe he’s been “reinstated”)
as well as the Scottish pastor David Robertson…??

And remember how I offered not only the link to David’s open letter to Twitter but I
shared this quote…part of David’s ending response in his letter…??

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

And it was that very last line that has stayed with me as I’ve ruminated over those words
since I read it…
“Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out.”

“the very rocks would cry out”…is a nod to the verse in Luke 19:40 when Jesus,
at what we now refer to as Holy Week, was entering into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey
while those around him laid palms at his feet, hailing him as a king…
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Well, the Pharisees rebuked these adulations…
they found such to be ill-fitting even sacrilegious telling Jesus to silence “his” people…
However, it was the response by Jesus that was so telling…
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I’ve thought a great deal about that line since having read it yesterday…
and of course, I’ve thought about it every time I’ve either read it or heard it.

Imagine that visual image.

Stones, rocks, boulders all crying out…crying out the greatness of the Lord.

Does not our earth already cry out with groanings that are so deep and beyond our understanding?
Cries which surpass our comprehension?

Such as the image above of the Highway in Alaska?

A road buckles, as the earth opens up with audible groans and physical cries.

Does the earth not open up…leaving us like frightened children,
looking for help which is beyond us?

Of course we call such opening up and such “crying out” merely plate tectonics.

Yet do we not, when those plates slide and collide, causing devastation to the surface,
do we not cry out in fear?
Do we not cry out to be delivered from that which we cannot control?

So who are we to say that the rocks are not currently crying out.
That the earth is not yielding to her Creator?

And so as we enter into this new year of the Chruch calendar, with the beginning of Advent,
we are reminded, once again, that all of creation slumbers in darkness awaiting
the light of Salvation…

Perhaps it would behoove us to listen to the earth and her cries…as the earth might be
more aware of the coming of the Redeemer than we are ourselves.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything,
and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Nehemiah 9:6

irrational ideology vs logos

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

David Roberston


(detail of Christ from Michaelangelo’s Final Judgement / The Sistine Chapel)

λόγος
Logos

According to Writingexplained.org, the Greek word Logos is a rhetorical device that includes
any content in an argument that is meant to appeal to logic.

In other words, Logos equates to a logical discourse when opposing sides engage in conversation
regarding the difference of opinions.

The explanation goes on…
Logos is one of the three Aristotelian appeals.
A writer utilizes the three appeals in order to convince his audience of his argument.
The other two appeals are ethos (ethics) and pathos (emotion).

Appeals to logos are those that involve or influence the logical reasons an audience
should believe an argument.

Logos often shows up in an argument in the form of facts and statistics.
However, any logical statement could be an appeal to logos.

According to Wikipedia…

Ancient Greek philosophers used the term in different ways.
The sophists used the term to mean discourse;
Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse “or “the argument”
in the field of rhetoric,
and considered it one of the three modes of persuasion alongside ethos and pathos.
Stoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading
the Universe. Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC – c. 50 AD)
adopted the term into Jewish philosophy.
The Gospel of John identifies the Logos,
through which all things are made, as divine (theos),
and further identifies Jesus Christ as the incarnate Logos.
The term is also used in Sufism, and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.

There was a time in the educating of children when the classics were the common line
of curriculum.

According to ARISTOI Classical Academy, a classical education consisted of the following:

Truth –
Classical education values knowledge for its own sake,
which is to say that the body of knowledge under study itself helps students to
discern that which is true and good and beautiful,
rather than having an external definition of these things imposed upon it.

Guidance for Modern Life –
Classical education holds that the study of the liberal arts should yield the
perspectives that ought to inform and provide direction to the sciences and to
social constructs, not vice versa.

Western Civilization –
Recognizing that “American Civilization” is the product of the
millennia-long project known as Western Civilization,
classical education teaches the standards of moral virtue and character that
created Western culture, and which allow students to assess and understand other cultures.

Civic-Minded –
Classical education upholds the value of responsible contribution
toward family, community, and governments.
Students are able to connect the civic life and political experiences of historical
societies to present-day cultures.

Eloquence –
Classical education teaches standards of excellence in communication
that are embodied in the great literary works of the Western canon.
For generations, these works have exemplified greatness in that they present important
events and persons, and interpret these events and persons through abiding values and concepts
in language marked by precision, beauty, and power.

Unity of Knowledge –
Classical education trains students to recognize the relationships between the various fields
of inquiry and knowledge (such as history, science, and literature)
and to organize these varied fields into an integrated,
logical and systematic framework.

And as a former Art teacher, it should be noted that the Arts…be that music,
the visual arts, drama, as well as classical languages such as Latin and Greek
which were also included in a well rounded “classical” education.

Then at some point during the educational course of children, something happened…
we dumbed down the curriculum while we convinced ourselves it was greater, broader
and grander.

Yet in this fallacy, which we sold ourselves, over the expansion and re-do of education,
we actually dumbed down our curriculum which in turn lessened the learning and in turn
shortchanged our kids.

And in so doing we now have a culture that has no idea how to converse regarding their
thoughts or ideas…nor do they even have the whereto all to have original thoughts let
alone the knowledge of how to defend them with logic versus their go to brute force of
bullying and intimidation.

I say all of this after having read the latest offering by our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson and of his being recently banned by Twitter.

My other favorite across the pond, tell it like it is cleric, the former Church of England
Bishop Gavin Ashenden has also been banned from Twitter…
each for their Christian hate-speak.
Did you read that…Chrisitan hate speak…
If ever there was an oxymoron that is it…Christian + Hate + Speak…

Oh those Christians…they’ll get you every time.

As I am not one to tweet nor foray out into social media other than this little blog,
I say be glad and don’t look back…
brush the dust from your feet as you press forward fighting the good fight.

As David reminds us in his open letter to Twitter…
he will go forward…forward in both love and logic—and the love of Logos…

Dear Twitter – Why Have You Banned Me?

Lunacy followed by the real story of Rudolph

“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think,
and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…
Do justly.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly.
This is enough.”

John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams


(one of my most treasured items from childhood…my Rudolph snow globe/ Julie Cook / 2018)

I love today’s quote.
It is from one of my all-time favorite presidents.
And it is a powerful reminder of what is really important and what truly matters in
this upside down world of ours…
especially during these surreal days and time.

I needed to read and heed such wisdom today after reading the following story
that is linked below.

It’s a story about an article that was offered by the liberal media outlet
The HuffPost.
It seems that the HuffPost and their minions of readers
(or is that ‘bloodthirsty’ followers??),
have recently set their wreckless sights on finding fault with a beloved Christmas
children’s classic story and cartoon.

It seems that even poor ol’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not exempt from
the attacks of a rabid progressive liberal society that is riding chaotically on one
rail while careening rapidly out of control.

This quasi-news outlet offers a story, along with a video, explaining why Rudolph is
not the long thought moral tale that we have all loved and known since 1939.
Rather it is their opinion that this children’s classic is subversive and is totally
out of step with the current mindset of liberal’s everywhere.

I was 5 years old in 1964 when the animated version hit the airwaves.
It was an integral part of our family’s annual gearing up to the Christmas season.
Mother made certain we had had out baths and were dressed in our pjs while
Dad found the right channel on the television console as we settled in as
a family to watch this iconic Christmas classic.

However, the HuffPost is now telling us that Rudolph is not as we thought.
It is not a tale of overcoming a perceived handicap while rising above
life’s obstacles only to become the hero of the day,
but rather the HuffPost offers a twisted view of this classic children’s tale of
both innocence and Christmas…

They’ve twisted innocence and something for children into something sinister.

Then they add insult to injury…they provide the hate-filled and bizarre remarks
made by their readers.

Read the following words carefully.

“Among those observations was the suggestion that the TV classic was a story about racism
and homophobia, while calling Santa Claus abusive and bigoted.

“Yearly reminder that #Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a parable on racism and homophobia
w/Santa as a bigoted exploitative prick,” read one comment shared by HuffPost.
“Santa’s operation is an HR nightmare and in serious need of diversity and inclusion training.
#Rudolph,” read another.

The video also suggests it was problematic that Rudolph’s father verbally abused him by forcing
him to wear a fake nose to be accepted by others.

Some eagle-eyed social media critics also said the cartoon is sexist because Rudolph’s
mom was snubbed after she wanted to help reindeer husband Donner to search for their son
after he goes missing.
“No, this is man’s work,” Donner says.

But HuffPost’s effort to highlight the perceived bigotry of the beloved movie attracted
tens of thousands of negative comments, most of them mocking the video.

And if I were one who tweeted, or facebooked, or opted to read the HuffPost, then I would join
those thousands who offered negative commentaries.
I would stand on a rooftop and shout how this is nothing but a bunch of dribble.
Ridiculous idiocy and anyone who buys into it is so totally lost and oblivious to reality…
Because obviously there must not be enough really important news if they’re resorting to
writing about the ills of a classic children’s tale.

And dare I say I saw another lead-in story to the ills of Charlie Brown’s Christmas…
does this culture of ours, a culture that has lost its mind, not have enough lunacy
already on its plate before it sets into attacking Charlie Brown???

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/liberal-outlet-mocked-for-saying-classic-rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-is-sexist-and-bigoted

However, according to the History Channel—there is actually a “real” story behind Rudolph.
A story of real human perseverance.
A story of overcoming the depths of sorrow and difficulty while finding real hope.

Perhaps if the HuffPost had actually bothered to read the back story of Rudolph
and that of Rudolph’s original creator, Robert May, they may have opted to back off…
as Rudolph has always been a tale of hope…despite their now post Christian,
post Christmas spin.

Balsam wreaths and visions of sugarplums had barely faded in the first weeks of 1939,
but thoughts inside the Chicago headquarters of retail giant Montgomery Ward had
already turned to the next Christmas 11 months away.
The retailer had traditionally purchased and distributed coloring books to children
as a holiday promotion, but the advertising department decided it would be cheaper
and more effective instead to develop its own Christmas-themed book in-house.

The assignment fell to Robert May, a copywriter with a knack for turning a
limerick at the company’s holiday party. The adman, however,
had difficulty summoning up holiday cheer, and not just because of the date on the calendar.
Not only was the United States still trying to shake the decade-long Great Depression
while the rumblings of war grew once again Europe,
but May’s wife was suffering with cancer and the medical bills had thrown the family into debt.
Sure, he was pursuing his passion to write,
but churning out mail order catalog copy about men’s shirts instead of penning
the Great American Novel was not what he had envisioned himself doing at age 33
with a degree from Dartmouth College.

Given the assignment to develop an animal story,
May thought a reindeer was a natural for the leading role
(not to mention that his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, loved the reindeers every time
she visited the zoo). As he peered out at the thick fog that had drifted off Lake Michigan,
May came up with the idea of a misfit reindeer ostracized because of his
luminescent nose who used his physical abnormality to guide Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas.
Seeking an alliterative name, May scribbled possibilities on a scrap of paper—
Rollo, Reginald, Rodney and Romeo were among the choices—before circling his favorite.
Rudolph.

As May worked on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” through the summer,
his wife’s health worsened. She passed away in July 1939.
Now a widower and a single father, May refused the offer of his boss to give the
assignment to someone else.
“I needed Rudolph now more than ever,” he later wrote.
Burying his grief, May finished the story in August.

The 89 rhyming couplets in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” borrow from
Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” right from the story’s opening line:
“Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills /The reindeer were playing…
enjoying the spills.”
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling”
also inspired the storyline as did May’s own childhood when he endured taunts from
schoolmates for being small and shy.
“Rudolph and I were something alike,” the copywriter told Guideposts magazine in January 1975.
“As a child, I’d always been the smallest in the class.
Frail, poorly coordinated,
I was never asked to join the school teams.”

Those familiar with only the 1964 animated television version of
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which remains the longest-running Christmas special
in television history a half-century after its debut on NBC,
might not recognize the original tale.
There is no Hermey the elf, no Abominable Snow Monster,
not even the Land of Misfit Toys.
While Rudolph was taunted for his glowing red nose and disinvited from reindeer games
in May’s story, he did not live at the North Pole and was asleep in his house
when Santa Claus, struggling mightily with the fog, arrived with presents and realized
how the reindeer’s radiant snout could help him complete his Christmas Eve rounds.

Montgomery Ward had high hopes for its new 32-page, illustrated booklet,
which would be given as a free gift to children visiting any of the department
store’s 620 locations.
“We believe that an exclusive story like this aggressively advertised in our newspaper
ads and circulars,” the advertising department stated in a September 1939 memo,
“can bring every store an incalculable amount of publicity…
and, far more important a tremendous amount of Christmas traffic.”

The retailer’s holiday advertisements touted “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
as “the rollicking new Christmas verse that’s sweeping the country!”
That wasn’t just hype.
Children snapped up nearly 2.4 million copies of the paper-bound book in 1939.
Plans to print another 1.6 million copies the following year were shelved
by paper shortages due to World War II, and Rudolph remained on hiatus until
the conflict’s conclusion.
When the reindeer story returned in 1946,
it was more popular than ever as Montgomery Ward handed out 3.6 million
copies of the book.

In the interim, May married a fellow Montgomery Ward employee and became
a father again, but he still struggled financially.
In 1947, the retailer’s board of directors, stirred either by the holiday
spirit or belief that the story lacked revenue-making potential,
signed the copyright for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” over to May.
In short order, May licensed a commercial version of the book along with a full
range of Rudolph-themed merchandise including puzzles, View-Master reels,
snow globes, mugs and slippers with sheep wool lining and leather soles.

In 1949, songwriter Johnny Marks, who happened to be May’s brother-in-law,
set Rudolph’s story to music.
After Bing Crosby reportedly turned down the chance,
singing cowboy Gene Autry recorded the song, which sold 2 million copies
in the first year and remains one of the best-selling tunes of all time.

The song and merchandise sales made May financially comfortable, but hardly rich.
After leaving Montgomery Ward in 1951 to manage the Rudolph commercial empire,
May returned to his former employer seven years later.
He continued to work as a copywriter until his 1971 retirement.
By the time he died five years later, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
had become a piece of modern folklore and a metaphor for overcoming obstacles,
embracing differences and recognizing everyone’s unique potential.

May we, the rational and sane who still find the magic of Christmas that is so entwined
with the everlasting gift of Hope that was offered so long ago to all of mankind in a
simple stable in the tiny town of Bethlehem, continue to seek the truth rather
than the sensationalized mania that heavily blankets our current world.

Here’s the Rudolph and to all the joy he has inspired since 1939
and here is to the Christ Child who continues to offer Hope and Salvation
to such an ailing world….

the saint of the outcast…a martyr of charity

“Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls who
seek to please Him.
His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures
as to the greatest of them. Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations,
to tell Him of your miseries, fears, worries, of those who are dear to you,
of your projects, and of your hopes.
Do so with confidence and with an open heart.”

St. Damien of Molokai


(two images of the priest, now saint, Damien of Molokai—images both with and without leprosy)

Are you aware that one of the most dreaded diseases, a centuries-old disease,
that being leprosy, continues to affect people around the world to this day?

At least 150 people yearly, just in the United States alone, are still diagnosed
with Leprosy otherwise known as Hansen’s disease.

Did you know that there are actually 700 functioning leper’s colonies still in operation
in India alone?

Are you aware that there actually remains a leper’s colony in Hawaii?

Yes, on those beautiful tropical islands of Hawaii there is actually an active leper’s colony
which has existed for the past 145 years.

There was a time, much like with the plague, when those affected with leprosy were
forced to wear warning bells announcing their proximity to others…
Upon hearing the bell, all those within ears reach, knew to avoid the oncoming individual.

Leprosy, being highly contagious, eventually forced officials to isolate those afflicted—
hence the colonies of the lepers.
Yet thankfully today, caught early, Leprosy is treatable and is even curable.

Today’s quote is by a man who spent his entire adult life caring for those afflicted
individuals on the island of Molokai who were suffering from the ravages of this horrific
disease.
Not only did they suffer physically, knowing death would be slow, deforming and painful,
they also suffered from the social stigma that went along with living with leprosy…
that being a life of total isolation and expulsion from society.

Father Damien offered those who suffered a sense of belonging,
importance and unconditional love.

Looking past the fear, the deformity, the stigma…
Fr Damien offered the gift of humanity as well as dignity back to those who had been
looked upon as less than.

There is no greater pain to a human being than to be stripped of one’s humanness.
To be regarded as less than…even less than that of an animal.

Father Damien saw past the disease and saw human beings…who were hurting.
He brought back to these individuals the gift of hope…

After 11 years of caring for the colony, Father Damien also contracted the disease.
Yet despite his growing illness, Fr. Damien worked even harder on behalf of his
charges procuring recognition by the Hawaiian government to provide basic
services for the colony.

Father Damien died at the age of 49.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II and was later canonized by Pope Benedict 2009

He is honored to this day not only by the Catholic Church but also by the state of Hawaii
for his service to her people.

Father Damien reminds me a great deal of Mother Teresa…a woman who also spent a life
of caring for and tending to those with leprosy as well as other debilitating
and isolating disease.

These two saints took the example of Jesus literally by living and giving their lives
to the service of those in the deepest of need.

And so it only seems natural during this season of gifts and of giving that we recall those
who have given their all for the betterment of others…

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i’s Story

When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

Forced to quit school at age 13 to work on the family farm, Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, taking the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. When his brother Pamphile, a priest in the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to the Hawaiian Islands as assigned, Damien quickly volunteered in his place. In May 1864, two months after arriving in his new mission, Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu and assigned to the island of Hawaii.

In 1873, he went to the Hawaiian government’s leper colony on the island of Moloka’i, set up seven years earlier. Part of a team of four chaplains taking that assignment for three months each year, Damien soon volunteered to remain permanently, caring for the people’s physical, medical, and spiritual needs. In time, he became their most effective advocate to obtain promised government support.

Soon the settlement had new houses and a new church, school and orphanage. Morale improved considerably. A few years later, he succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Mother Marianne Cope, to help staff this colony in Kalaupapa.

Damien contracted Hansen’s disease and died of its complications. As requested, he was buried in Kalaupapa, but in 1936 the Belgian government succeeded in having his body moved to Belgium. Part of Damien’s body was returned to his beloved Hawaiian brothers and sisters after his beatification in 1995.

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, it selected Damien as one of its two representatives in the Statuary Hall at the US Capitol. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.

Reflection

Some people thought Damien was a hero for going to Moloka’i and others thought he was crazy. When a Protestant clergyman wrote that Damien was guilty of immoral behavior, Robert Louis Stevenson vigorously defended him in an “Open Letter to Dr. Hyde.”
Franciscan Media.

Later in 1889 Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his family arrived in Hawaii
for an extended stay. He had tuberculosis, then also incurable,
and was seeking some relief.
Moved by Damien’s story, he became interested in the controversy about the priest
and went to Molokaʻi for eight days and seven nights.
Stevenson wanted to learn more about Damien at the place where he had worked.
He spoke with residents of varying religious backgrounds to learn more about Damien’s work.
Based on his conversations and observations,
he wrote an open letter to Hyde that addressed the minister’s criticisms
and had it printed at his own expense.
This became the most famous account of Damien,
featuring him in the role of a European aiding a benighted native people.
(Wikipedia)