Today, March 8th, is the Commemoration of St John of God (1495-1550). He was a Portuguese-born soldier turned health-care worker in Spain whose followers later formed the Hospital Order of Saint John of God, a worldwide Catholic religious institute dedicated to the care of the poor, sick, and those suffering from mental disorders. He is considered one of Spain’s leading religious figures. Here is an extract from a letter he wrote that is read during the Office of Readings:
‘If we kept before us the mercy of God, 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. That indeed is a fortunate and happy way of gaining a profit! 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 neighbours. For just as water extinguishes a fire, so does love wipe away sins.’
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,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.