Solemnity of St John of God
Circular Letter of the Prior General
Always have love, for love is the mother of all virtues
To all Brothers and Co-workers, members of the Hospitaller Family of St.John of God
I send you all my verybest wishes for the Feast of our Founder, St. John of God, and invite everyoneto prepare for, and joyfully celebrate the Solemnity of our Patron on 8 March.
John of God was aboveall a saint, a man of God, with a deeply-rooted spirituality that he radiatedand witnessed to throughout his life, especially following his conversion, bydedicating himself wholly to the sick and the poor for love of God. All we knowcomes mainly from the accounts of his biographer Francisco de Castro and manyother witnesses who had known him in life, and who had seen what he did or hadheard others speaking about him. We also have five priceless Letters, the onlywritings that we have kept, in which he sets out and expresses his thoughts,his Gospel-inspired hospitaller spirituality and his life driven by his passionfor God, devoted unconditionally to serve the vulnerable and the neediestpeople.
All his letters are aninexhaustible well of Gospel wisdom. On this occasion I would like to recommendall of you to read and ponder on his third letter to the Duchess of Sesa, thelast one he wrote, probably in the last few days of her life. In the religiousenvironment of their time and using the language of those days, St. John of Godgave the Duchess, and all of us, a real treatise on spirituality, Christianlife and ultimately on holiness which is built up, day after day. He ended theletter, with great clearsightedness offering a perfect summary in a few choicewords: above all, always have love, for love is the mother of allvirtues.
In this, he echoed StPaul’s words about love in his first Letter to the Corinthians: "Sofaith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love".(13:13). And also the words of St. Augustine, whose Rule was given to ourOrder, where he said, "love, and do what you will. If you hold yourpeace, hold your peace out of love. If you cry out, cry out in love. If youcorrect someone, correct them out of love. If you spare them, spare them out oflove. Let the root of love be in you: nothing can spring from it but good."(Homily VII, paragraph 8). As Benedict XVI also said in his encyclical DeusCaritas est: "Faith, hope and charity go together.... Love is thelight—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world growndim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love ispossible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image ofGod". (39)
St. John of God hadexpressed it earlier, in different words, in his letter to Louis the Bautistawith that very familiar expression we all know so well: "Always havelove, for where there is no love, there is no God, even though God is everywhere"(15). And it was from his own life that he came to know and experience God aslove, living as the great icon of the Good Samaritan, bearing witness with hislife to God’s merciful love for men and women, especially the poor and the sick.
It is at theinexhaustible well-spring of God's charity and love that St. John of Godinvites us, as Brothers and as members of the Hospitaller Family, to drink every day to live our hospitallervocation. Doing everything for love, seeking the good of all people, with aheart that is sensitive to the needs of others, and practising hospitality to thosemost in need.
Let us renew every daythe love that God gives us, to offer it to others wherever we may be. The Orderhas many Apostolic Works throughout the world. More than the numbers, what is importantis is that in all of them we take care to ensure that we perform our missionwith charity, with love, with hospitality. To do this, we must all follow theinspiration of our Founder, always caring and acting with love, because wherethere is no love, there seems to be no God.
This is the cornerstoneof our vocation, our mission and our project of hospitality to which we are allcalled. Let us make it live every day, and the future of hospitality willalways live on, because the world and the Church cannot survive without it,without that Samaritan love and charity that St. John of God practised, andwhose legacy we have all received.
As always on these occasions,I wish to announce to the whole Hospitaller Family of St John of God the resultof the 2019 campaign to help the Houses of Venezuela with the "SharedSolidarity Food" project to feed many needy people in Caracas andMaracaibo. This campaign began with a few contributions from the Provinces atthe last General Chapter and we extended it throughout 2019. The total raisedwas 307,423.34 euros, thanks to the generosity and solidarity of everyone, forwhich I sincerely thank you all once again. We will shortly let you know moredetails about this campaign.
This year's 2020campaign will be for a project of the Velloor House (India) "Creatinga facility for an early detection andintervention programme for differently-abled children". We will besending you the necessary information shortly. Once again, I thank you for yourgenerosity and ask you to support this cause, to be able to continue enhancingour service to differently-abled people, especially children.
May theinvitation of St. John of God to always have charity encourage us togrow in the service of the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, making thelove of God present in our world in the manner of St. John of God.
United in Our Lordand St. John of God, I send you my fraternal best wishes.
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