Fr. Damien was harshly criticized after his death by a Protestant minister, the Rev. Dr. Hyde. In a letter to a friend, Dr. Hyde wrote that Fr. Damien was a coarse, dirty man, headstrong and bigoted.He had no hand in the reforms and improvements inaugurated. He was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the leprosy of which he died should be attributed to his vices and carelessness. It was a vilifying account of a saint, and worse still was written by a man who lived in a magnificent home in Honolulu and had never set foot on the island of Molokai.
Robert Louis Stevenson found out about the letter and published an open letter of his own rebutting every word that Rev. Hyde had written. One part of his letter said: And I take it that you are one of those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget the virtues and the real success which had alone introduced them to your knowledge. It is a dangerous frame of mind"
Dangerous, indeed. Judgment is meant for God alone, and yet unfortunately even we Christians often tear one another apart like lions in a Roman arena. St. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth: "Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God." (1 Corinth. 4:5) Only God can read people's hearts, and only He can judge our actions and our motives. When we judge others we are guilty of one of the greatest sins: pride. We should try to see others through the eyes of Christ and not, like Rev. Hyde,"have an eye for faults and failures".
When Christ comes to judge us, hopefully He won't find us speaking badly of our sisters and brothers. Each day may we wake up and ask for God's mercy on ourselves and on those around us, for we never know when that judgment will come.
St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us!Â