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Lent: March 8th

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent; Optional Memorial of St. John of God, Religious

MASS READINGS

March 08, 2023 (Readings on USCCB website)

PROPERS [Show]

COLLECT PRAYER

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent: Keep your family, O Lord, schooled always in good works, and so comfort them with your protection here as to lead them graciously to gifts on high. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


Optional Memorial of St. John of God: O God, who filled Saint John of God with a spirit of compassion, grant, we pray, that, giving ourselves to works of charity, we may merit to be found among the elect in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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The stational church today is at St. Cecilia’s where the body of the illustrious martyr is preserved.

The Gospel reminds us of the necessity of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, to “drink of His chalice” in order to share also in His glory in His kingdom. Linked with the foretelling of the passion is the important teaching of self-denial for the service and salvation of others; it is here put before us in urgent fashion.

St. John of God (1495-1550), who was of Portuguese descent, was first a shepherd, a book dealer and then a soldier. At the age of forty he was converted, and devoted himself to the care of those sick in mind, showing himself in this thankless task to be a true innovator and a saint of super-human heroism. He founded the Order of the Brothers Hospitallers, which bears his name. He died at Granada in 1550. Pope Leo XIII declared him Patron of Hospitals and Patron of the Sick and commanded his name to be placed in the Litanies of the Dying. "God is love! Whoever abides in love; abides in God and God in him" (motto of St. John's community).

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Meditation—The Faults of Our Neighbor

In disagreements between you and your neighbor, you must always remember that to be in the right is the consideration that influences a Christian the least. The philosopher may indulge such a satisfaction. But to be in the right and to act as if one were not, to allow one's opponent to triumph on the side of injustice,-this means to overcome evil by good, and to secure peace for one's soul. No more convincing argument for your own vindication is required than the silent exterior acknowledgment that you are in the wrong. He who edifies does more for the truth than he who is zealous for the combat. Instead of trying to refute those that are in the wrong, it is better to pray for them. A stream flows much more rapidly when nothing is done to hold it back. Pray for those who are prejudiced against you, never become embittered against them, pity them, await their return to better feelings, and help to free them from their prejudices. One would not be human if he does not feel how easy it is to stray, and how much it costs to acknowledge this. The spirit of meekness, of indulgence, of patience and humility in examining the behavior of others toward us, secures us that peace of mind which is not compatible with the jealous, suspicious sensibilities of self-love.

—Fénelon

Things to Do:

  • Read this thought-provoking article by George Rutler, Why We Need Lent, to understand why such a season of mortification is necessary for us to become saints.


St. John of God

In 1503, at the age of eight, John fled from his parents for some unknown reason. For a while he was a shepherd, then a book dealer. Matters spiritual were of no particular interest until he heard the preaching of Blessed John of Avila. Then his conversion was so sincere and sudden that he was considered to be out of his mind. He was incarcerated in the Royal Hospital in Granada, and suffered the cruel treatment of the day. Here he discovered how to show his love for God, through caring for those who were unable to respond to this cruel treatment. He resolved to devote the remainder of his life caring for people living on the margins of society.

Following John’s death on his 55th birthday, March 8th, his helpers banded together to live in the same radical, spiritual way of Hospitality that John had exemplified and in 1572 they were approved by Pius V, as the Hospitaller Brothers of (St) John of God. The members bind themselves by a fourth vow, the service of the sick. Because of his work our saint has become the patron of hospitals and the dying. His name is in the Litany of the Dying.

—From St. John's Life by Bihlmeyer

On July 3, 1549, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the Royal hospital at Granada that had been founded by the Spanish king and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella. It threatened to spread to the large wards where hundreds of sick were lying. The storm and fire bells rang loudly. People rushed from all sides, John in the lead. The fire was beyond control, firemen and volunteers were unable to extinguish it. No one dared to enter the burning building from which came the pitiful cries of the sick in the agony of imminent and certain death. Fire and smoke choked the exits. Those who could still arise from their beds stood pleading at the windows. The scene was enough to drive a person insane.

John could not stand idly by. Disregarding smoke and flame, he rushed in among the sick, opened doors and windows, gave terse orders and directions as to how they who could might save themselves; some he led, others he dragged or carried into the open, often two at a time. When all the bedridden were safe, he wasted no time in throwing coverlets, bed clothing, chairs and other valuables out of the windows, thus saving the property of the poor.

Then he took an axe, climbed to the roof and began chopping away vigorously. Suddenly the liberated flames leapt up high beside him. He fled, only to continue his heroic work in another part of the building. There too a wave of fire soon stopped him. He was standing literally between two infernos. Moments passed, he was lost in the heat of the flames and the choking smoke. A quarter of an hour—loud cries of fear could be heard for the brave man—and then he sprang from the fire, blackened by smoke but unscathed except for singed eyebrows. Joyously the crowd surrounded him, congratulating the savior of the sick. John's modesty, however, prevented him from accepting praise and honors.

—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patronage: against alcoholism; against bodily ills; against sickness; alcoholics; bookbinders; booksellers; dying people; firefighters; heart patients; hospitals (proclaimed on 22 June 1886 by Pope Leo XIII); hospital workers; nurses (proclaimed in 1930 by Pope Pius XI); publishers; printers; sick people; Tultepec, Mexico; Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal

Symbols and Representation: The pomegranate—the fruit which represents charity and love, in the Bible, is the coat of arms of the Hospitaller Order and its motto is “God is Love”. John is depicted in art washing the feet of Jesus. A famous painting by Gomez-Moreno 1880 depicts John rescuing the patients from the inferno at the Royal Hospital (where he himself had been a patient 10 years earlier) where not even one life was lost. Also: alms; alms box around his neck; cord; crown of thorns; heart; rope

Highlights and Things to Do:

  • Read more about St. John of God:
  • Find out more about the Order of Hospitality of St. John of God.

  • St. John of God remains are in a silver urn within the gilded Baroque altarpiece above the main altar in the Basílica de San Juan de Dios or Basilica of St. John of God in Granada, Spain.

  • See the statue of St. John of God in St. Peter's Basilica.

  • St. John of God followed his impulses when it came to serving Christ. He never reconsidered or second-guessed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, but he acted on them instantly, whether or not they seemed practical. Today do not dissuade yourself from doing heroic little acts of charity, but follow God's will immediately as it is manifested to you.

  • St. John of God never thought of himself but always reached out to others. Examine your conscience tonight and ask yourself: do I habitually give greater importance to others' needs before my own? Do I esteem myself over-highly, or do I consider myself of least importance?

  • It is often overlooked in present-day hospital methods that characterized the age-old practice of the Church, viz., a harmonious, organic relationship between liturgy and care of the sick. Pray the Litany of the Sick for those hospitalized. And pray that hospital care will incorporate the Christian dimension and respect each person as an image of God.


Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Station with Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (St. Cecilia):

The Station is at the church of St. Cecelia where the Saint lived and was martyred and where her body now rests. The first church on the site was built in the 3rd or 5th century, and the baptistery from this church was found during excavations, situated underneath the present Chapel of Relics. A house from the Imperial era was also found, and tradition claims that the church was built over the house in which St Cecilia lived. This house was one of the tituli, the first parish churches of Rome, known as the titulus Ceciliae.

For more on Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.