The Impulsive Life of St. John of God

Today is the optional memorial of Saint John of God. I first heard of him through the Little Sisters of the Poor because the congregation has a big devotion to him. He had a great love of the poor and would do anything for them.

Image by Comunicacion.curia (2011) via Wikipedia, CC ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

What I didn’t know until recently was that he had a rebellious and wild streak to him. In fact, he was so impulsive that he was deemed insane and committed to mental institution for a while!

His Early Life

St. John was born in Spain and his propensity for living on the wild side manifested itself when St. John was eight. According to Catholic.org, St. John heard a priest give a talk when he was 8 years old so he ran away from home so he could live an adventurous life traveling with the priest.

After a few years, St. John became sick and was adopted by the family who cared for him. However, as John got older, the wild streak kicked in again and he ran off to fight with the Spanish army against the French. While a soilder, he lived a life of drinking, gambling and of sin.

Sometime after quitting the army, St. John turned his life to God. However, different accounts assert different stories as to when and how he converted. Some say it was while working as a shepherd, and others say he converted when he heard the preaching of St. John of Avila.

Living for God and the Poor

St. John’s impulsiveness did not disappear after his conversion. I think it actually grew worse! Apparently, after hearing a sermon from St. John of Avila, St. John went running through the streets crying, pulling his hair out, and ripping his clothes. Because of his strange behavior, he was forced into a mental institution for a time.

He also had such a love for God and for the poor that he would do anything for them. He would beg for food, clothes and other items to give to the poor. Catholic.org tells the story how St. John grabbed a bowl of food to give to some starving people he came across and almost got arrested, ran into a burning building (the very hospital he spent time in) to rescue the patients, and jumped into a flood to save a drowning man – which became the cause of his death. St. John of God died, while kneeling before the Crucifix, on March 8, 1550 due to complications related to a sickness he caught after saving the man.

What Can We Learn From St. John?

At first glance, the life of St. John of God seems nice but bears no relevance for our lives. Not true, that. First, we can learn what it means to love God. Like all the Saints, St. John committed his whole self to God and was willing to do anything for Him even if it meant ridicule, rejection or misunderstanding. How about us? Are we willing to do anything for God even if it means being misunderstood or accepted by others? Living a life for God today is a real challenge. Society is so backward in so many ways and if someone shows a commitment to God they are almost instantly labeled a fanatic or weirdo. Am I willing to be a weirdo for God?

Secondly, even though St. John was sometimes too impulsive he acted on what he believed were inspirations of the Holy Spirit. How many times have I heard the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to help someone in need or to offer encouragement or a kind word to someone going through a difficult time but failed to follow through? Too many times than I would want to admit, for sure. We can imitate St. John by opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit and his promptings. And even more importantly, we can imitate him by acting on those promptings.

Resources

To learn more about St. John of God, visit these sites:

Catholic.org

Catholictradition.org

Catholicsaints.info

Next Steps

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Tweetable: The Impulsive Life of St. John of God

St. Valentine, Priest and Martyr

Today, many people will be getting or giving candy and flowers and planning delicious meals (or going out to dinner) because of SAINT Valentine’s day. That’s right. Most people have taken off the “saint” part of St. Valentine’s day, and it has been hijacked as a “Hallmark holiday;” however, today is the feast of a priest who was martyred for his faith. Actually, it is believed that St. Valentine’s day commemorates several martyrs.

St Valentine

Image by David Teniers III (1600) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

We don’t know much about the St. Valentine that we celebrate today. We know that he was a priest in Rome who often gave comfort and support to those suffering persecution from Claudius II. He was arrested and sent to the emperor of Rome. Then, when he refused to renounce his faith, St. Valentine was beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14, 270 (or thereabouts).

However, there are other speculations about Saint Valentine. According to Wikipedia, the origins of St. Valentine are not confirmed and that there may have been many saints martyred on February 14:

“Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several (14 in all [2]) martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name “Valentine”, derived from the word valens (worthy, strong, powerful), was popular in Late Antiquity.[3] Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried on the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14, he was born on April 16. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969.[4] But “Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome” remains in the list of saints proposed for veneration by all Catholics.[5]”

Catholic Online gives us the origins of the celebration of “St. Valentine’s Day”

“Historian Jack Oruch has made the case that the traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day”, documented in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, had no such tradition before Chaucer.[18] He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here yet that the bishop was a patron of lovers.[19]”

Interesting isn’t it?  I encourage you to read more about St. Valentine and St. Valentine’s day over at Catholic Online. You’ll notice that none of it has to do with the secular celebration of romance and candy and flowers. etc. (Not that I’m opposed to candy or flowers, or romance, of course!)

BUT, it does have everything to do with real agape love – love of neighbor and love of God, even to the point of martyrdom!

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Tweetable: SAINT Valentine, Bishop & Martyr

The Presentation of Jesus

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” Luke 2:22-24

Image by Collinson (1878) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Tomorrow is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, formally known as “Candlemas.” In many cultures, the Presentation the Lord used to be the official ending of Christmas, therefore one of the traditions for this feast is to light lots of candles and decorate with greenery.

It is a lovely feast. We hear the words of Simeon who rejoices in seeing the Lord before he died. We hear the words of Anna who “spoke about the child.” These are glimpses of what is to come when Jesus begins his earthly ministry of our redemption. It is worth spending some time today, if you can, to reflect on the meaning of today’s feast.

To help you, here are some explanations and  meditations on this feast to check out:

Fisheaters

Churchyear.net

New Advent

celebrating candlemas

catholicculture.org

americancatholic.org

about.com

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Today’s feast is also a good lead in for this month’s devotion: The Holy Family. It is good for us, as Catholics, to strive to imitate our families after the Holy Family. It is good for us to pray to the Holy Family, asking them to bless our family and help us in our needs. I encourage you to go here for some prayers to the Holy Family to get you started.

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Tweetable: The Presentation of Jesus

Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, a wonderful and powerful saint. He was a great Apostle and missionary of the Lord. He is mentioned several times in the gospel. In fact, he brought Saint Peter to Jesus. I love that Saint Andrew told Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41) after only one encounter! Of course there were ups and downs in his relationship with the Lord, but after the Resurrection and St. Andrew receives the Holy Spirit he becomes a mighty instrument for the Lord!

Image by unknown author (13th Century) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Image by unknown author (13th Century) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Saint Andrew died a martyr on a cross that was in the shape of an X. He was not nailed, but bound, to the cross and suffered for two days before finally passing to the Lord. Saint Andrew is the patron of fisherman and the countries of Russia, Scotland, and Greece. He also has the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena named after him.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

The Saint Andrew Christmas novena starts today, November 30, and continues until Christmas day. The prayer is very short and simple. All you have to do is say the following prayer 15 times a day, every day from now until Christmas. (I promise you, it only takes a few minutes.)

“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of his Blessed Mother. Amen.”

By the way, you don’t have to say the prayer 15 times all at once. Some years I do, but some years, I break it up and say the prayer five times in a row, three times a day. I just added it to my prayers before meals. Some years, I break it up and say the prayer two times a day (7 times and then 8 times). Also, don’t be scrupulous if you miss a day or two, I’ve done that, too!

You can get a printable version of the prayer here. No opt-in required.

Resources

Here are some links to peruse and get to know Saint Andrew better.

AmericanCatholic.org

New Advent

Catholic.org

SaintAndrew.us

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Tweetable: Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena

Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Wow. Just wow. There are only a couple more days left before December. I am so NOT ready! Well, ready or not, here it comes, right?! And, of course, with a new month comes a new set of saint and feast days – the last one for the year.

Image by artemtation (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Image by artemtation (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Saints and Feasts

December 2: First Friday Devotions (optional)

December 3First Saturday Devotions (optional)

December 3: St. Francis Xavier, priest (obligatory memorial)

December 6: St. Nicholas, bishop (optional memorial)

December 7: St. Ambrose, bishop & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 8: The Immaculate Conception (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 9: St. Juan Diego (optional memorial)

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe (feast)

December 13: St. Lucy, virgin and martyr (obligatory memorial)

December 14: St. John of the Cross, priest & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 21: St. Canisius, priest & doctor of the church (optional memorial)

December 23: St. John of Kanty, priest (optional memorial)

December 25:  Nativity of Our Lord Merry Christmas! (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 26: St. Stephen, the first martyr (feast)

December 27: St. John, apostle and evangelist (feast)

December 28: The Holy Innocents, martyrs (feasts)

December 29: St. Thomas Becket, bishop & martyr (optional memorial)

December 30: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (feast)

 December 31: St. Sylvester I, pope (optional memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 (USA)

December 21: Winter Begins

December 26: Boxing Day (Canada)

You can print out a pdf version of this here (no opt-in required).

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Tweetable: Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Saint Martin de Porres, Pray for Us!

November 3 is the optional memorial of Saint Martin de Porres. If you are a regular reader here at Simple Catholic Living, you may know that Saint Martin is one of my favorite saints. In fact, I think I may mention him every year on his feast day. 🙂

Saint Martin de Porres, Pray for Us

Image by Anonymous (siglo XVII) via Wikipedia, CCO Public domain

I can’t help myself. He is a saint who suffered great poverty and adversity in his life. He faced rejection (from his own father!), racism, and injustice. Yet, he remained kind, charitable, and humble through it all. He gave what little he had joyfully and loved everyone. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Martin loved all animals, great and small – and they loved him back.

Saint Martin was also one of those saints that received extraordinary graces from the Lord, such as bi-location. However, they were never the focus. Prayer, penance, love. Those are the things that set Saint Martin apart.

Well, it is what sets apart all saints, isn’t it? They love, pray, and give more than the rest. But, since the day I learned about him I have been drawn to him. I want to love God as he did and serve my neighbor as he did.

He is a great model for us all. Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us!

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Tweetable: Saint Martin de Porres, Pray for Us!

Happy Feast of All Saints!

All Holy Saints in heaven, pray for us!

(Painting by Fra Angelico)

Here is a link to a video about All Saints that I posted last year.

Saint and Feast Days in November 2016

November is fast approaching so I thought that I would take a break from the 31 Days of Prayer series and post the saint and feast days for November.

Image by MK1_FIESTA (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by MK1_FIESTA (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Saints and Feasts

November 1All Saints Day (solemnity)

November 2: All Souls’ Day (commemoration)

November 3: St. Martin de Porres, religious (optional memorial)

November 4:  St. Charles Borromeo, bishop (obligatory memorial)

November 4: First Friday Devotions (optional)

November 5: First Saturday Devotions (optional)

November 9: Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (feast)

November 10: St. Leo the Great, Pope & doctor of the Church (obligatory memorial)

November 11: St. Martin of Tours, bishop (obligatory memorial)

November 12: St. Josaphat, bishop and martyr (obligatory memorial)

November 13: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin (obligatory memorial)

November 15: Saint Albert the Great, bishop & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

November 16: St. Margaret of Scotland, virgin (optional memorial)

November 16: St. Gertrude, virgin (optional memorial)

November 17: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious (obligatory memorial)

November 18: Dedication of the Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul, Apostles (optional memorial)

November 18: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, virgin (optional memorial)

November 20: Christ the King (solemnity)

November 21: The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (obligatory memorial)

November 22: St. Cecilia, virgin & martyr (obligatory memorial)

November 23: St. Clement I, Pope & martyr (optional memorial)

November 23: St. Columban, abbot (optional memorial)

November 23: Bl. Miguel Agustin Pro, priest & martyr (optional memorial)

November 24: St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest & companions, martyrs (optional memorial)

November 25: St. Catherine of Alexandra, virgin & martyr (optional memorial)

November 27: First Sunday of Advent

November 30: St. Andrew, apostle (feast)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

November is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

November 6: Daylight Savings Time Ends

November 8: Election Day (USA)

November 11: Veteran’s Day (USA) & Remembrance Day (Canada)

November 24: Thanksgiving Day (USA)

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You can print out this list here. (No opt in required.)

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Tweetable: Saint & Feast Days in November 2016

Saints and Feasts Days in October 2016

Wow, this month really got away from me! Andrew started 6th grade and it is the most demanding year so far (for him and for me).

In other news, I will be doing a blogging challenge this October which I will write about more on Friday. Until then, here are the saints and feasts for October:

Image by karigamb08 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by karigamb08 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Saints and Feasts

October 1St Therese of the Child Jesus, virgin & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

October 2: The Guardian Angels (Not celebrated liturgically this year because it falls on a Sunday)

October 4: St. Francis of Assisi (obligatory memorial)

October 6: St. Bruno, priest (optional memorial)

October 6:  St. Marie-Rose Durocher, virgin (optional memorial)

October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary (obligatory memorial)

October 14: St. Callistus, pope and martyr (optional memorial)

October 15: St. Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

October 16: St. Hedwig, religious (optional memorial)

October 17: St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop & martyr (obligatory memorial)

October 18: St. Luke, evangelist (feast)

October 19: St. John de Brebeuf & Isaac Jogues, Priests, and companions, martyrs (obligatory memorial)

October 20: St. Paul of the Cross, priest (optional memorial)

October 22: St. John Paul II, pope (optional memorial)

October 24: St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop (optional memorial)

October 28: Sts. Simon & Jude, apostles (feast)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

October is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

October 10: Columbus Day (USA)

October 10: Canadian Thanksgiving Day

October 17: National Boss Day (USA)

October 31: Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve)

You can download a printable version of this list (no opt in required) by clicking here. God bless!

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Tweetable: Saints and Feast Days in October 2016

Saint and Feast Days in September 2016

Tomorrow is September 1st and it is time for the list of saints for the month. I can’t believe school will be starting back up in just a few days (for us in NJ). We had a wonderful summer this year and I hate to see it end! Still, I am looking forward to fall and all that comes with it. 🙂

Saint and Feast days in Septmember 2016

Image by LoggaWiggler (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Saints and Feasts

September 2: First Friday devotions (optional)

September 3:  St Gregory the Great, Pope & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

September 3: First Saturday devotions (optional)

September 8: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (feast)

September 9: St. Peter Claver, priest (obligatory memorial)

September 12: The Most Holy Name of Mary (optional memorial)

September 13: St. John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

September 14: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (feast)

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows (obligatory memorial)

September 16: St. Cornelius, Pope and Cyprian, bishop, martyrs (optional memorial)

September 17: St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the church (optional memorial)

September 19: St. Januarius, bishop and martyr (optional memorial)

September 21: St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist (feast)

September 23: St. Pius of Pietrelcina, priest “St. Padre Pio” (obligatory memorial)

September 26: Sts. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (optional memorial)

September 27: St. Vincent de Paul, priest (obligatory memorial)

September 28: St. Wenceslaus, martyr (optional memorial)

September 28: St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, martyrs (optional memorial)

 September 29: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels (feast)

September 30: St. Jerome, priest and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

September 5: Labor Day (USA and Canada)

September 11: Patriot Day (USA), Remembrance of the attack at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania.

September 11: Grandparents day

September 22: Autumn begins

For a printable version of this list click here. (No login required)

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Tweetable: Saint and Feast Days in September 2016