In St. Damien’s last letter to his brother before he died, he wrote these words: “As you know, it has been already quite a while that Divine Providence chose me to become a victim of this repugnant disease of ours. I hope to remain eternally grateful for this grace. It seems to me that this disease will shorten and narrow the way that will lead me to our dear homeland. In that hope I accepted this disease as my particular cross; I try to bear it as did Simon of Cyrene, following in the footsteps of our Divine Master.”
How do we look at the circumstances of our lives? Do we try to see them with an eternal perspective? So many times we experience painful situations and see them through eyes focused on this life alone. We often make choices and travel roads which only lead to earthly gain. But Jesus tells us: "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" (Matthew 16:25-26)
Do we live like we believe that this life isn't all we possess? St. Damien did. He actually called leprosy “this grace” and accepted it as "my particular cross". He came face to face with a disease which he couldn't overcome, except in the supernatural realm. By keeping his eyes focused on the life which Christ promises us, he was able to not only accept his fate, but continued to minister to the people he had been serving for sixteen years. When we face a situation in life which we cannot reconcile, we must keep the supernatural outlook which St. Damien had. May we, too, come to recognize that we are only travelers through this life, patiently journeying towards the Promised Land.
St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us!