Friday, 22 June 2012

Writings of St. John of God

St. John of God with the poor
St. John of God
From a letter by Saint John of God, religious
Christ is faithful and provides all things
                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 came 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 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 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 know s 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.
Feast day March 8.

Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, According to the Roman Rite, Ordinary Time, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.  New York, 1975

Life of St. John of God

St. John of God
Saint John of God
Feast Day: March 8
From the time he was eight to the day he died, John followed every impulse of his heart. The challenge for him was to rush to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit gave him, not his own human temptations. But unlike many who act impulsively, when John made a decision, no matter how quickly, he stuck with it, no matter what the hardship.
At eight years old, John heard a visiting priest speak of adventures that were waiting in the age of 1503 with new worlds being opened up. That very night he ran away from home to travel with the priest and never saw his parents again. They begged their way from village to village until John fell sick. The man who nursed him back to health, the manager of a large estate, adopted John. John worked as a shepherd in the mountains until he was 27. Feeling pressure to marry the manager's daughter, whom he loved as a sister, John took off to join the Spanish army in the war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.
When he returned he kept his spur of the moment vow, made a confession, and immediately changed his life. His comrades didn't mind so much that John was repenting but hated that he wanted them to give up their pleasures too. So they used his impulsive nature to trick him into leaving his post on the pretext of helping someone in need. He was rescued from hanging at the last minute and thrown out of the army after being beaten and stripped. He begged his way back to his foster-home where he worked as a shepherd until he heard of a new war with Moslems invading Europe. Off he went but after the war was over, he decided to try to find his real parents. To his grief he discovered both had died in his absence.
In Spain he spent his days unloading ship cargoes and his nights visiting churches and reading spiritual books.  Reading gave him so much pleasure that he decided that he should share this joy with others.  He quit his job and became a book peddler, traveling from town to town selling religious books and holy cards. A vision at age 41 brought him to Granada where he sold books from a little shop. (For this reason he is patron saint of booksellers and printers.)
After hearing a sermon from the famous John of Avila on repentance, he was so overcome by the thought of his sins that the whole town thought the little bookseller had gone from simple eccentricity to madness.  After the sermon John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money.  Clothes torn and weeping, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.
Friends took the distraught John to the Royal Hospital where he was interned with the lunatics. John suffered the standard treatment of the time -- being tied down and daily whipping. John of Avila came to visit him there and told him his penance had gone on long enough -- forty days, the same amount as the Lord's suffering the desert -- and had John moved to a better part of the hospital.
The miracle of St. John of God
John of God could never see suffering without trying to do something about it.  And now that he was free to move, although still a patient, he immediately got up and began to help the other sick people around him. The hospital was glad to have his unpaid nursing help and were not happy to release him when one day he walked in to announce he was going to start his own hospital.
John may have been positive that God wanted him to start a hospital for the poor who got bad treatment, if any, from the other hospitals, but everyone else still thought of him as a madman.  It didn't help that he decided to try to finance his plan by selling wood in the square. At night he took what little money he earned and brought food and comfort to the poor living in abandoned buildings and under bridges.  Thus his first hospital was the streets of Granada.
Within an hour after seeing a sign in a window saying "House to let for lodging of the poor" he had rented the house in order to move his nursing indoors.  Of course he rented it without money for furnishings, medicine, or help.  After he begged money for beds, he went out in the streets again and carried his ill patients back on the same shoulders that had carried stones, wood, and books.   Once there he cleaned them, dressed their wounds, and mended their clothes at night while he prayed.  He used his old experience as a peddler to beg alms, crying through the streets in his peddler's voice, "Do good to yourselves! For the love of God, Brothers, do good!" Instead of selling goods, he took anything given -- scraps of food, clothing, a coin here and there.
When he was able to move his hospital to an old Carmelite monastery, he opened a homeless shelter in the monastery hall.  Immediately critics tried to close him down saying he was pampering troublemakers.  His answer to this criticism always was that he knew of only one bad character in the hospital and that was himself.  His urge to act immediately when he saw need got him into trouble more than a few times.  Once, when he encountered a group of starving people, he rushed into a house, stole a pot of food, and gave it to them.  He was almost arrested for that charity!  Another time, on finding a group of children in rags, he marched them into a clothing shop and bought them all new clothes.  Since he had no money, he paid for it all on credit!
Yet his impulsive wish to help saved many people in one emergency. The alarm went out that the Royal Hospital was on fire. When he dropped everything to run there, he found that the crowd was just standing around watching the hospital -- and its patients -- go up in flames. He rushed into the blazing building and carried or led the patients out. When all the patients were rescued, he started throwing blankets, sheets, and mattresses out the windows -- how well he knew from his own hard work how important these things were. At that point a cannon was brought to destroy the burning part of the building in order to save the rest. John stopped them, ran up the roof, and separated the burning portion with an axe. He succeeded but fell through the burning roof. All thought they had lost their hero until John of God appeared miraculously out of smoke. (For this reason, John of God is patron saint of firefighters.)
John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town.  He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him.  He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia.  He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, of the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.

Life of St. Hilary

Life of St. Hilary Bishop of Poitiers  
Doctor of the Church.

St. Hilary, Early Christian Painting
St. Hilary was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" (Latin: Malleus Arianorum) and the "Athanasius of the West."   His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful.   His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13 January.   In the past, when this date was occupied by the Octave Day of the Epiphany, his feast day was moved to 14 January.[2]
Bishop, born in Poitiers at the beginning of the fourth century; died there 1 November, according to the most accredited opinion, or according to the Roman Breviary, on 13 January, 368.   Belonging to a noble and very probably pagan family, he was instructed in all the branches of profane learning, but, having also taken up the study of Holy Scripture and finding there the truth which he sought so ardently, he renounced idolatry and was baptized.  Thenceforth his wide learning and his zeal for the Faith attracted such attention that he was chosen about 350 to govern the body of the faithful which the city had possessed since the third century. “So great was the respect in which he was held by the citizens of Poitiers that about 353, although still a married man, he was unanimously elected bishop.”  
We know nothing of the bishops who governed this society in the beginning. Hilary is the first concerning whom we have authentic information, and this is due to the important part he played in opposing heresy. The Church was then greatly disturbed by internal discords, the authority of the popes not being so powerful in practice as either to prevent or to stop them. Arianism had made frightful ravages in various regions and threatened to invade Gaul, where it already had numerous partisans more or less secretly affiliated with it. Saturninus, Bishop of Arles, the most active of the latter, being exposed by Hilary, convened and presided over a council at BĂ©ziers in 356 with the intention of justifying himself, or rather of establishing his false doctrine. Here the Bishop of Poitiers courageously presented himself to defend orthodoxy, but the council, composed for the most part of Arians, refused to hear him, and being shortly afterwards denounced to the Emperor Constantius, the protector of Arianism, he was at his command transported to the distant coasts of Phrygia.
But persecution could not subdue the valiant champion. Instead of remaining inactive during his exile he gave himself up to study, completed certain of his works which he had begun, and wrote his treatise on the synods. In this work he analysed the professions of faith uttered by the Oriental bishops in the Councils of Ancyra, Antioch, and Sirmium, and while condemning them, since they were in substance Arian, he sought to show that sometimes the difference between the doctrines of certain heretics and orthodox beliefs was rather in the words than in the ideas, which led to his counselling the bishops of the West to be reserved in their condemnation. He was sharply reproached for his indulgence by certain ardent Catholics, the leader of whom was Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari. However, in 359, the city of Seleucia witnessed the assembly in synod of a large number of Oriental bishops, nearly all of whom were either Anomoeans or Semi-Arians. Hilary, whom everyone wished to see and hear, so great was his reputation for learning and virtue, was invited to be present at this assembly. The governor of the province even furnished him with post horses for the journey. In presence of the Greek fathers he set forth the doctrines of the Gallic bishops, and easily proved that, contrary to the opinion current in the East, these latter were not Sabellians. Then he took part in the violent discussions which took place between the Semi-Arians, who inclined toward reconciliation with the Catholics, and the Anomoeans, who formed as it were the extreme left of Arianism….
…He then returned to his city of Poitiers, from which he was not again to absent himself and where he was to die. This learned and energetic bishop had fought against error with the pen as well as in words. The best edition of his numerous and remarkable writings is that published by Dom Constant under the title: "Sancti Hilarii, Pictavorum episcopi opera, ad manuscriptos codices gallicanos, romanos, belgicos, necnon ad veteres editiones castigata" (Paris, 1693).
The later years of his life were spent in comparative quiet, devoted in part to the preparation of his expositions of the Psalms (Tractatus super Psalmos), for which he was largely indebted to Origen; of his Commentarius in Evangelium Matthaei, an allegorical exegesis of the first Gospel; and of his no longer extant translation of Origen's commentary on Job.
            While he thus closely followed the two great Alexandrians, Origen and Athanasius, in exegesis and Christology respectively, his work shows many traces of vigorous independent thought.
 Towards the end of his episcopate and with his encouragement Martin, the future bishop of Tours, founded a monastery at LigugĂ© in his diocese.
            He died in 368; no more exact date is trustworthy
The Latin Church celebrates his feast on 14 January, and Pius IX raised him to the rank of Doctor of the Universal Church.
The Church of Puy glories in the supposed possession of his relics, but according to one tradition his body was borne to the church of St-Denys near Paris, while according to another it was taken from the church of St-Hilaire at Poitiers and burned by the Protestants in 1572.

Writings from Saint Hilary On the Trinity

St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Saint Hilary, Bishop and Doctor

From a sermon On the Trinity by Saint Hilary, bishop

May I serve you by making you known

               I am aware, almighty God and Father, that in my life I owe you a most particular duty.  It is to make my every thought and word speak of you.
                In fact, you have conferred on me this gift of speech, and it can yield no greater retrun than to be at your service.  It is for making you known as Father, the Father of the only-begotten God, and preaching this to the world that knows you not and to the heretics who refuse to believe in you.
                In this matter of declaration of my intention is only of limited value.  For the rest, I need to pray for the gift of your help and your mercy.  As we spread our sails of trusing faith and public avowal before you, fill them with the breath of your Spirit, to drive us on as we begin this course of proclaiming your truth.  We have been promised, and he who made the promise is trustworthy:  Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
                Yes, in our poverty we will pray for our needs.  We will study the sayings of your prophets and apostles with unflagging attention, and knock for admittance wherever the gift of understanding is safely kept.  But yours it is, Lord, to grant our petitions, to be present when we seek you and to open when we knock.
                There is an inertia in our nature that makes us dull; and in our attempt to penetrate your truth we are held within the bounds of ignorance by the weakness of our minds.  Yet we do comprehend divine ideas by earnest attention to your teaching and by obedience to the faith which carries us beyond mere human apprehension.
                So we trust in you to inspire the beginnings of this ambitious venture, to strengthen its progress, and to call us into a partnership in the spirit with the prophets and the apostles.  To that end, may we grasp precisely what they meant to say, taking each word in its real and authentic  sense.  For we are about to say what they already have declared as part of the mystery of revelation: that you are the eternal God, the Father of the eternal, only-begotten God; that you are one and not born from another; and that the Lord Jesus is also one, born of you from all eternity.  We must not proclaim a change in truth regarding the number of gods.  We must not deny that he is begotten of you who are the one God; nor must we assert that he is other than the true God, born of you who are truly God the Father.
                Impart to us, then, the meaning of the words of Scripture and the light to understand it, with reverence for the doctrine and confidence in its truth.  Grant that we may express what we believe.  Through the prophets and apostles we know about you, the one God the Father, and the one Lord Jesus Christ.  May we have the grace, in the face of heretics who deny you, to honor you as God, who is not alone, and to proclaim this as truth.

Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, According to the Roman Rite, Ordinary Time, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.  New York, 1975

Writings of St. Augustine, bishop Suffer My sheep

St. Augustine, Bishop
Writings of 
St. Augustine, bishop

Homily for Ordination

Suffer for my sheep
                The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve, and to give his own life as a ransom for many.  Consider how the Lord served, and see what kind of servants he bids us to be.  He gave his own life as a ransom for many, he ransomed us.
                But who of us is fit to ransom anyone?  By his blood, by his death we were ransomed from death; and we who lay prostrate were raised up by his humiliation.  And yet we too, have a duty to contribute our meager offerings to his members, for we have become his members.  He is the head; we are the body.
                In his letter, the apostle John holds up the Lord as our model.  Jesus said:  Whoever wishes to be the greater among you will be your servant, just as the Son of Man has come not to be served by to serve and to give his own life as ransom for many.  So in his exhortation to us to act likewise, John says:  Christ laid down his life for us; so we, too, ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
                After his resurrection our Lord asked :  Peter, do you love me?  And Peter replied:  I do love you.  The question and the answer were repeated three times.  And each time the Lord added:  Feed my sheep.  In other words, if you want to show that you love me, then feed my sheep.  What will you give me if you love me, since you look for everything to come from me?  Now you know what you are to do if you love me:  Feed my sheep.  Thus we have the same question and answer once, twice, three times.  Do you love me?  I do love you.  Feed my sheep.  Three times Peter had denied in fear; three times he confessed out of love.  By his replies and his profession of love, Peter condemned and wiped out his former fear.  And so the Lord, after entrusting his sheep to him for the third time, immediately added:  When you were a young man, you would gird yourself and go wherever you wished.  But when you are old, another will gird you and take you where you do not wish to go.  This he spoke signifying by what death he was about to glorify God.  Thus he foretold Peter’s own offerings and crucifixion.  By this the Lord suggested that feed my sheep meant suffer for my sheep.

Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, According to the Roman Rite, Ordinary Time, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.  New York, 1975