Sunday, March 08, 2009

March 8th: St. John of God

Find out here why St. John of God (1495-1550) is the patron of booksellers, publishers, hospitals and hospital workers, the sick, and firefighters.

He should also be the patron of those who are crushed beneath a load of debt. Here, from the Office of Readings for March 8th in the Proper of Saints, is an excerpt from one of his letters. (I'm sure he is quite content to have this second Sunday of Lent supercede his feast.)

If we look forward to receiving God's mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever He has given to us, we shall receive according to His promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! Who would not entrust his possessions to this best of merchants, Who handles our affairs so well? With outstretched arms He begs us to turn toward Him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin.

So many poor people come here that I very often wonder how we can care for them all, but Jesus Christ provides all things and nourishes everyone. Many of them come to the house of God, because the city of Granada is large and very cold, especially now in winter. More than a hundred and ten are now living here, sick and healthy, servants and pilgrims. Since this house is open to everyone, it receives the sick of every type and condition: the crippled, the disabled, lepers, mutes, the insane, paralytics, those suffering from scurvy and those bearing the afflictions of old age, many children, and above all countless pilgrims and travelers, who come here, and for whom we furnish the fire, water and salt, as well as the utensils to cook their food. And for all of this no payment is requested, yet Christ provides.

I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, Who knows my heart. And so I say: "Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ." Whether you like it or not, you will grow apart from men, but Christ is faithful and always with you, for Christ provides all things. Let us always give thanks to Him. Amen.

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Prayer to St. John of God

Saint John of God, help us to act out of love as soon as we feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help us learn to fight the little voices in our heads and hearts that give us all sorts of practical reasons to wait or delay in our service of God. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Anita, just what so many Americans need right now, a holy example of trust from a saint who understood the weight of debt. For so many who find themselves oppressed by debt through no fault of their own, but are victims of the vagaries of Wall Street, St John of God, pray for us!