March 22: Damien of Molokai, Pray for us! (Lent 4 A)

“Do you believe in the Son of Man? The blind man answered: Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus replied: You have seen him, and the one speaking to you is he.” John 9:1-41.

Along with the world community, the nation, and our state of California, with its 40 million citizens, we face a health emergency. Covid-19 is a pandemic, the likes of which we have never met before.


To find the right words or even a consoling sentiment may require the creativity of a poet or, perhaps, the endurance of a saint.

In today’s gospel, we learn Jesus himself was a healer of souls. I’ve been thinking how of how we might heal and offer a measure of spiritual comfort– to all of us challenged by this dreadful virus.


I’ve been giving thanks to God for the medical professionals, those nurses, physicians, scientists, first-alert teams, police officers, and National Guard. They are on the front lines at hospitals and laboratories. I pray for those of us whose lives must adjust to a new condition of working, learning, governing, leading, and, most of all, caring for one another.


While our churches and houses of worship may be closed at this time, the treasury of saints, their example, and their wisdom are open always, and they may help us see through this crisis.


Over the years, I’ve been an adherent of Pope Francis’s idea of “apostolic zeal” and how at Baptism, we are called to be Christ’s disciples.


No one exemplifies this more, for American Catholics, than Father Damien of Molokai, whose missionary work among the outcast lepers of Hawaii reminds us of our true vocation to serve unconditionally, and at times heroically.


Here is our prayer to an extraordinary figure whose holiness models for us how we might give care and comfort in these trying times.  


A Prayer to Saint Damien of Molokai


Saint Damien,

You ministered to those in despair and isolation.

I call upon you to open my heart and mind, to care for the poor, the sick, the weary, and those forgotten.

Bestow upon me the inner strength of faith and unconditional compassion to be a disciple of Christ.

Today, we come before you as humble servants of God,

Bless us with the spirit of your love

And instill in us the touch of healing and grace.

That you possessed. Amen.


Saint Damien of Molokai, pray for us.

A personal note:

In January, I was on Maui to enjoy my daily swimming and, of course, the beaches. Mostly, I had the pleasure of joining friends like Father Mike Driscoll, and his brother and sister-in-law, Eddie and Iris, and spending an evening over a glass of wine with artist Dale Zarrella.

At his home, Dale is an excellent chef, and our conversations are always a joy. You should know Dale is a world-renowned sculpture and artist. His artworks are in significant collections.

In this photo, Dale is giving the final touches to his most recent commission, a statue of Father Damien to be placed in the tiny Congregational Church in nearby Wailea. His more massive sculptures in bronze — of our Hawaiian saints, Damien of Molokai and Marianne Cope, are at the Vatican Museum in Rome. To read more about Dale Zarrella, please go to my short essay, which appeared in on January 26, 2017.

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

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