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Monsignor Yennock on Two Saints for the Year of Mercy 2016 (First Sunday of Lent Homily)

Feb 25, 2016

TWO SAINTS FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY 2016

JESUS SAID TO THE WOMAN AT THE WELL: “WHOEVER DRINKS THE WATER THAT I SHALL GIVE WILL NEVER BE THIRSTY AGAIN: THE WATER THAT I SHALL GIVE WILL TURN INTO A SPRING INSIDE OF HIM, WELLING UP TO ETERNAL LIFE. (Jn. 4:14)  

THAT SPRING OF WATER THAT JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT IS THE SOURCE OF HOLINESS AND MERCY FOR ALL OF US. THAT SPRING OF WATER IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST FROM HIS SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS. THAT SPRING OF WATER IS THE BLOOD OF EVERY LEPER OF EVERY AIDS PATIENT, OF EVERY PERSON WHO SUFFERS MENTAL ILLNESS. THAT BLOOD OF CHRIST IS MINGLED WITH THE BLOOD OF EVERY PERSON WHO SUFFERS DISEASE, POVERTY AND OPPRESSION.

THE BLOOD OF CHRIST RUNS THROUGH THE VEINS OF THE MEN AND WOMEN THAT WE CALL SAINTS. THESE MEN AND WOMEN WERE NOT PERFECT. THEY HAD TO WORK HARD TO TRANSFORM THEIR LIVE TO ACHIEVE HOLINESS. WE THINK OF FRANCIS AND TERESA OF AVILA, CAMILLUS, AND IGNATIUS.

WITH THE BLOOD OF CHRIST TO STRENGTHEN THEM, THEY MADE SUPERHUMAN EFFORTS TO OVERCOME THEIR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS. THEY ROSE ABOVE MORAL MEDIOCRITY AND THEY BECAME SAINTS. THEY TRANSCENDED THE HUMAN CONDITION AND BECAME SAINTS.

NO ONE OVERCAME MORE OBSTACLES AND LIMITATIONS IN HIS LIFE THAN JOSEPH DE VEUSTER. THE WORLD KNOWS HIM AS FATHER DAMIEN. HE WAS BORN IN BELGIUM IN 1840.

THERE IS A BRONZE STATUE OF FR. DAMIEN IN THE STATUARY HALL IN                                                             WASHINGTON, D.C. HE IS THE SECOND ONLY REPRESENTATIVE FROM HAWAII IN STATUARY HALL AT THE U.S. CAPITOL. FATHER DAMIEN IS THE PATRON OF LEPERS AND HIV/AIDS VICTIMS. HE IS ALSO THE PATRON OF HAWAII.

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 HE VOLUNTEERED TO GO THE HAWAIAN ISLANDS WHEN HIS BROTHER WHO WAS ALSO A PRIEST WAS TOO ILL TO TAKE THE ASSIGNMENT.   

 

 

AT THAT TIME ONLY A FEW PEOPLE IN EUROPE HAD ANY FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE OF LEPROSY ALSO KNOWN AS HANSEN’S DISEASE. BY THE TIME HE DIED AT THE AGE OF 49 PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD KNEW ABOUT THIS DISEASE BECAUSE OF FATHER DAMIEN. 

WHEN PATIENTS WERE FOUND TO HAVE LEPROSY THEY WERE SENT TO THE ISLAND OF MOLOKAI FOR ISOLATION. CERTAIN KINDS OF LEPROSY ARE CONTAGIOUS. AT THAT TIME IN THE 1880'S THE MEDICAL PROFESSION DID NOT KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT HANSEN'S DISEASE AS THEY DO NOW. WE KNOW NOW THAT HANSEN'S DISEASE IS A BACTERIAL INFECTION THAT EVENTUALLY DISFIGURES AND DESTROYS THE BODY. IT IS NOW CONTROLLED WITH ANTI-BIOTICS AND OTHER TREATMENTS.  

SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT DAMIEN WAS A HERO FOR GOING TO MOLOKAI AND OTHERS THOUGHT HE WAS CRAZY. HE WAS OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD AND MALIGNED. 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."

FATHER DAMIEN NEVER LEFT MOLOKAI; HE NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE. HE WAS A VERY SIMPLE MAN. HE SAID HUMBLY: “THE PEOPLE HERE LIKE ME, I THINK, AND I AM SURE I LIKE THEM.” HE SAID: “I WOULD NOT LEAVE MY LEPERS FOR ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.”

BEFORE HIS DEATH ON MARCH 26, 1931, HE SAID: “THIS HAS BEEN A HAPPY PLACE—A HAPPY LIFE.”

WHEN HE FINALLY CONTRACTED LEPROSY FOUR YEARS BEFORE HE DIED, HE WENT INTO THE PULPIT ONE SUNDAY AND ADDRESSED THE PEOPLE AS “WE LEPERS.”

THE CEREMONY OF CANONIZATION TOOK PLACE IN ROME ON OCTOBER 11, 2009, IN THE PRESENCE OF KING ALBERT II OF THE BELGIANS AND QUEEN PAOLA AS WELL AS THE BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER AND SEVERAL CABINET MINISTERS.. 

AFTER FATHER DAMIEN DIED MOTHER MARIANNE AND THE SISTERS STAFFED THE SCHOOL FOR BOYS AND THE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS ON MOLOKAI. FROM THAT TIME ON THE SISTERS CARED FOR 8000 LEPERS.

WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD MANY BLESSINGS FOLLOW. VOCATIONS CAME IN GREAT ABUNDANCE TO THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS AFTER THEIR MOLOKAI VENTURE. TODAY ONE FIFTH OF THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS ARE FROM HAWAII.

MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE WAS A BRITISH JOURNALIST, A TV PERSONALITY AND PRODUCER. HE DIED IN 1990 AT THE AGE OF 87.

AT SOME POINT IN HIS LIFE HE BECAME CONVINCED THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS REALLY THE SON OF GOD. HE BELIEVED WHOLEHEARTEDLY IN THE INCARNATION OF THE SECOND PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY. HE SINCERELY BELIEVED THAT THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US IN JESUS CHRIST.

HE WAS A CHRISTIAN IN HIS BELIEF BUT HE DID NOT BELONG TO A CHURCH.

HE WAS ASKED WHY HE DID NOT JOIN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH. HIS ANSWER WAS A CHALLENGE TO ALL CHRISTIANS. HE SAID HE HAD NOT YET MET A REAL CHRISTIAN IN ALL OF EUROPE. SOMEONE SAID TO HIM. I SUGGEST THAT YOU GO TO CALCUTTA AND MEET MOTHER TERESA.

MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE WENT TO INDIA AND SPENT TIME WITH MOTHER TERESA. HE WAS SO IMPRESSED WITH HER THAT HE BROUGHT HIS TELEVISION CREW FROM ENGLAND TO CALCUTTA. MOTHER TERESA CONSENTED TO DO AN INTERVIEW WITH HIM. HE WOULD LATER BROADCAST THE INTERVIEW ON BRITISH TELEVISION. HE CALLED IT SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD. HE PUBLISHED A BOOK BY THE SAME NAME.

SOME TIME AFTER HE RETURNED TO ENGLAND HE ENTERED THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. IN MOTHER TERESA HE HAD FOUND EVIDENCE OF HOLINESS. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST COULD INDEED BE CALLED HOLY BECAUSE HE HAD DISCOVERED AN EXEMPLARY MEMBER OF THE CHURCH WHO WAS A CREDIBLE HOLY CHRISTIAN.

HAD MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE LIVED IN THE 1880’s INSTEAD OF THE 1960’s HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOLD TO GO TO MOLOKAI IN HIS SEARCH FOR A CREDIBLE CHRISTIAN. HE WOULD HAVE DISCOVERED BLESSED MOTHER MARIANNE COPE. IN KALAUPAPA HE WOULD HAVE ENCOUNTERED A HOLY SOUL WHO WAS DOING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD IN HER LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD.

FOR CENTURIES THE CHURCH HAS BEEN DOING BEAUTIFUL THINGS FOR GOD IN HER SCHOOLS, HER MISSIONS, HER INTERNATIONAL CHARITIES, HER HOSPITALS, HER CLINICS AND LEPROSARIA. THE WORK OF THE CHURCH IS TO RAISE UP SAINTS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SANCTIFICATION OF SOCIETY. WE ARE THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE SAINTS. WE ARE CALLED TO WALK WITH THEM IN THE CHURCH OF THE SAINTS.

SOMEONE SAID ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO BE A SAINT IS TO WANT TO BE ONE. MOTHER MARIANNE HAD A STRONG DESIRE TO BE WITH GOD.

SHE SAID: “I DO NOT EXPECT A HIGH PLACE IN HEAVEN—I SHALL BE THANKFUL FOR A LITTLE CORNER WHERE I MAY LOVE GOD FOR ALL ETERNITY.”

HER DESIRE TO LOVE GOD WAS THE BEGINNING OF HER JOURNEY TO SAINTHOOD. 30 YEARS IN MOLOKAI GAVE FLESH AND BLOOD TO THAT DESIRE. RIGHT THERE IN KALAUPAPA SHE FOUND A LITTLE CORNER ON EARTH WHERE SHE COULD LOVE GOD. SHE DID SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD IN THE WAY SHE TREATED THE LEPERS.

HOLINESS AND CONTEMPLATION DO NOT PRECLUDE PRACTICAL SENSE AND COMPETENCY. MOTHER MARIANNE WAS A SUPERVISOR OF ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL IN SYRACUSE.

WHEN SHE WENT TO HAWAII SHE QUICKLY CLEANED UP AND ORGANIZED A HOSPITAL FOR 200 PATIENTS IN O’AHU. SHE MANAGED A HOSPITAL AND SCHOOL IN MAUI.

WHEN YOU ARE FACING LEPROSY, GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND THE SMELL OF HUMAN FLESH, SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT IS HARDLY YOUR MOTIVATION.YOU HAVE TO BE MOTIVATED BY A DEEP LOVE AND AN EXTRAORDINARY FAITH. BLESSED MOTHER MARIANE HAD THAT KIND OF FAITH.

MOTHER MARIANNE DIED IN HAWAII OF NATURAL CAUSES ON AUGUST 9, 1918. HER REMAINS ARE INTERRED AT THE BASILICA CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF PEACE IN HONOLULU.  

  1. MARIANNE COPE WAS CANONIZED ON OCT 21, 2012 BY POPE BENEDICT XVI.

BLESSED MOTHER MARIANNE COPE FOLLOWS A LONG LINE OF WOMEN WHOSE MINDS ARE BIG ENOUGH TO INCLUDE HEAVEN AND WHOSE HEARTS ARE LARGE ENOUGH TO HOLD THE WORLD + GOD—WOMEN LIKE CLARE AND LOUISE DE MAURILLAC, ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, MOTHER CABRINI, ELIZABETH ANN SETON, MOTHER TERESA AND ALL THOSE ANONYMOUS SISTERS WHO WERE EDUCATORS, NURSES, DOCTORS AND MISSIONARIES. 

YES WE ARE PROUD TO BE THE CHURCH OF THE SAINTS. WE NEED THE SAINTS TO INSPIRE US TO LIVE LIKE JESUS. THAT IS WHY WE REFLECTED TODAY ON THE LIVES OF FATHER DAMIEN AND ST. MARIANNE COPE.

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