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

Our Catholic Traditions: Weekly and Monthly Devotions

In order to help us grow in our faith, the Church encourages many different types of devotions and dedications. Our Mother Church also encourages us to use these devotions to delve deeper into our faith. One way She does this is by encouraging weekly and monthly devotions dedicated to a particular saint or article of faith.

Our Catholic Devotions: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

I first learned of many of these devotions when I was discerning a religious vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They had (and I assume still do) special prayers and practices for each day of the week or month of the year. After leaving that religious congregation, I discovered that it was universally practiced in the Catholic Church and not just their order.

Here are the weekly devotions:

Sunday: The Holy Trinity

Monday: The Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday: Our Guardian Angels

Wednesday: Saint Joseph

Thursday: The Eucharist

Friday: The Passion of Jesus (Divine Mercy) and/or The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

And the Monthly Devotions:

January: The Holy Childhood of Jesus

February: The Holy Family

March: Saint Joseph

April: The Blessed Sacrament

May: Our Lady

June: Sacred Heart of Jesus

July: The Precious Blood of Jesus

August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Assumption of Mary)

September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary

October: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary

November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory

December: The Immaculate Conception

Over the coming weeks and months, I will do my best to expound a little on the history and particulars of each devotion. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s a little primer on Why Honoring the Lord’s Day is Important and Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Day.

One more thing: for those of you who may want to know (or can’t ever remember) what days each of the Rosary Mysteries are prayed here they are:

Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

Monday: The Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries

Thursday: The Luminous or Joyful Mysteries

Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries (or Glorious Mysteries after 3pm)

A suggestion: This isn’t traditional, but over the years I have developed a habit of focusing on one Mystery over the seasons. For example: During Advent and Christmas I prayed the Joyful Mysteries every day. During Lent I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries everyday. During the Easter season I pray the Glorious Mysteries every day. And during Ordinary time I rotate the Mysteries as listed above.

Doing this has helped me enter deeper into the season and mystery that is being celebrated. You may want to give it a try to see if it helps you. 🙂

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Tweetable: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

St. Jeanne Jugan, Pray for Us!

Jeanne Jugan

St. Jeanne Jugan is one of my favorite saints; so, even though I mentioned her on her feast day last year, I feel compelled to do so again. Not only is she the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, she is a model of humility, faith, and love of God and the poor.

You see, Jeanne Jugan grew up poor – her father being a fisherman that was lost at sea and her mother did her best to take care of Jeanne and her siblings. When Jeanne Jugan was a young adult, she worked as a maid for a Christian family and thus grew in her love for the poor. On one fateful many many years later, she took in her first old woman, thus planting the seed for her new community.

As the congregation grew, Jeanne Jugan was elected superior; but after she was elected as superior a second time, she was removed from office by a priest who was delegated as an adviser to the community. She was put in charge of “begging” (the sisters rely solely on donations for survival). As she got older she lived in the Novitiate where she “formed” the candidates and novices with her humble, faithful example.

She suffered much in her life, and at one point she was no longer even recognized as foundress of her own community. Yet, through it all she trusted in God. You can learn more about her exemplary life here. As you can see, she not only a Champion of the Aged, but a champion of faith as well!

 “My good Jesus, I have only You.” – St. Jeanne Jugan

Here is the novena prayer to St. Jeanne Jugan:

Jesus, you rejoiced and praised your Father for having revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. We thank you for the graces granted to your humble servant, Jeanne Jugan, to whom we confide our petitions and needs.

 Father of the poor, you have never refused the prayer of the lowly, we ask you therefore to hear the petitions that she presents to you on our behalf….

 Jesus, through Mary, your Mother and ours, we ask this of you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

 Saint Jeanne Jugan, pray for us.

10 Prolife Charities Worthy of Support

We all know that Christmas time is a popular time for giving money to our favorite organizations. Right before the year’s end is usually someone’s last chance to donate in order to get his or her tax break. If this is you and you are looking for organizations, I’ve got some great suggestions. 🙂 All of these suggestions are for organizations either directly or indirectly support life in all its stages.

Prolife Charities Worthy of Support

Also, don’t forget to donate during other times of the year, too. These and all charitable organizations need help year round!

1. Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s no secret that I love the Little Sisters of the Poor, having spent time with them and can personally attest to them. 🙂

2. Sisters of Life. They do a wonderful work of taking in pregnant woman and giving them practical assistance. They also host retreats and other pro-life activities.

3. March for Life. They are the organization the organizes and runs the annual march for life each January in Washington, DC.

4. American Life League. ALL tackles all aspects of pro-life issues and offer how-tos, news, and ways to get involved in the pro-life movement.

5. Life Legal Defense Foundation. As its name suggests, Life Legal Defense Foundation is an organization of volunteer attorneys who deal with life issues from a legal standpoint.

6. Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is a well-known Christian ministry dealing will all issues of family life.

7. Human Life International. HLI is one of the largest pro-life organizations in the world. It is a teaching apostolate that empowers local pro-life leaders around the world.

8. Priests for Life. Priests for Life is a wonderful organization, founded by Father Frank Pavone. Their website is a wealth of information regarding all things pro-life.*

9. Rachel’s Vineyard. Rachel’s Vineyard is a healing ministry for those who have been affected by abortion: the women who have had them, the fathers, the grandparents; all those who are secretly mourning the loss of the aborted child.

10. Citizen Link. Citizen Link (an affiliate of Focus on the Family) is a family advocacy group. They empower everyday people to let their voice be heard about critical issues regarding the sanctity of human life.

Your turn: what are your favorite charities?

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Tweetable: Prolife Charities Worthy of Support

*A reader, in the comments, expressed her negative experience with Priest for Life so I looked up their charity rating: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6438#.VfwLuJcer-s. My experience with them have always been positive, but use your own discretion in deciding to support this group or not.

Saint Martin de Porres

“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

This week we will be celebrating two big feasts of the church: All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. However, instead of focusing this post on one of them, I want to mention another (optional) memorial that’s this week: Saint Martin de Porres.

Saint Martin has a special place in my heart. I was first introduced to him when I first got involved with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Then when I became a novice and took my religious name, it was Sister Elizabeth Martin – after Saint Martin de Porres.

He had to endure a lot of injustice in his life. He was the son of a free black woman and a Spanish Grandee; but, his father did not recognize St. Martin as his son until St. Martin was eight. He lived in abject poverty; but, never let the scars of life embitter him. He trusted in the Lord. He gave to those who were poorer than himself. He was goodness and kindness personified.

Saint Martin was also one of those saints that received extraordinary graces and even had the gift of bi-location. How cool is that? 😉 More importantly, he lived a life of prayer and penance, was charitable, and so humble that when he eventually sought entrance into the Dominican order, he didn’t think himself worthy enough to become a brother. He asked to be a lowly lay helper (although the community “made” him become a brother several years later).

We can strive to imitate many of his virtues and ask him to help us to trust in the Lord when we are faced with injustice or difficulties in life. St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!

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Tweetable: St. Martin de Porres

Fearless Friday: Prayer for Vocations

{Come share your prayer request every Friday at Free Spirit Haven.}

It’s no secret that we are are in dire need of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. That is why I am dedicating this day to pray for vocations. Praying for vocations is dear to my heart because, like I mentioned before, I spent time discerning a vocation to religious life with the Little Sisters of the Poor before discovering that my real vocation was marriage and family.

We need men and women who are witnesses to Christ and who are willing to dedicate their lives to Him. We need their dedication to the people of God and His Church, to the poorest of the poor, and the the weakest of the weak.

We also need parents who are willing to support their children who may have a vocation! As parents we need to be willing to talk about vocations.  We need to be bold and willing to encourage vocations when we see them in our young people!

To all you parents, let me ask you: Are you open to your child having a vocation to the priesthood or religious life?

Let’s pray together for vocations:

“Loving God, you call all who believe in you to grow perfect in love by following in the footsteps of Christ your Son. Call from among us more men and women who will serve you as religious. By their way of life, may they provide a convincing sign of your Kingdom for the Church and the whole world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(Prayer found at the USCCB.)

Saint Jeanne Jugan: Champion of the Aged

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of God.” Matthew 5:3

Today (August 30) is the feast of an amazing woman: Saint Jeanne Jugan. She isn’t very well known yet, but deserves to be! She dedicated her life to taking care of the elderly poor and in doing that, she founded the religious congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

What a lot of people reading this don’t know is, I spent eight years with the Little Sisters of the Poor discerning a vocation with them. It was a wonderful experience, and even though I am called to marriage and family, I have never regretted the time I spent with the Sisters. It was there, of course, that I got to know Saint Jeanne, back when she was still a “Blessed”.

Saint Jeanne Jugan is a true witness and example for our time. In a world where life is often disregarded and the elderly are often ignored or deemed a nuisance, Saint Jeanne Jugan – and the Little Sisters of the Poor – shine out like a bright star.

I invite to you check out this youtube video which outlines the life of Saint Jeanne Jugan and the work of the Little Sisters (It’s about 10 minutes, but well worth the time spent!):

(This post is linked to Saints & Scripture Sundays.)