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Damien De Veuster (1840-1889)

A saint is one who doesn’t put themselves at the center, but rather chooses to go against the grain and live according to the Gospel, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this on Sunday, 11th October 2009 during the canonization Mass of five blessed — a bishop, two priests, a religious brother and a religious sister — held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Among the five canonized was Father Damien De Veuster, the first Hawaiian saint.

The Pontiff began the homily by asking the question posed to Christ by a rich young man in Sunday’s Gospel: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“The Divine Master looks at him with love,” the Holy Father continues, “and proposes the qualitative leap, he calls him to the heroism of sanctity, he asks him to abandon everything and follow him: ‘Sell what you own and give the money to the poor…then come, follow me!'”

“This is the Christian vocation that flows from a proposal of love by the Lord, and that can be realized only thanks to our loving reply,” he said. “Jesus invites his disciples to the total giving of their lives, without calculation or personal gain, with unfailing trust in God.

“The saints welcome this demanding invitation and set about following the crucified and risen Christ with humble docility. Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the center, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel.”

Benedict XVI then commented on each one of the new saints.

Jozef De Veuster (1840-1889), of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, “left his home in Flanders to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world, the Hawaiian Islands,” the Pontiff recounted. “His missionary activity, which gave him so much joy, reaches its summit in charity.

“Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who were there, abandoned by all; thus he exposed himself to the disease they suffered from. He felt at home with them. The Servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper with lepers, during the last four years of his life.”

“We recall, faced with this noble figure, that charity makes unity,” Benedict XVI continued. “It gives birth to it and makes it desirable. In following St. Paul, St. Damien leads us to choose the good battle, not those that lead to division, but those that gather together.

“He invites us to open our eyes to the lepers that disfigure the humanity of our brothers and today still calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence.”

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org)

Further information

Click on link to visit special website by the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii – www.fatherdamien.com