Solemnity of Our Lady, Patron of the Hospitaller Order
Circular Letter of the Prior General
My dearBrothers, Co-workers and Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
On 19 November, the third Saturday of the month, we shall be celebratingthe Solemnity of the Patronage of the Virgin Mary of the Hospitaller Order, thePatron of our Hospitaller Family of St John of God, for which I send you mybest wishes and invite you to celebrate it with joy.
St John ofGod placed his life, his plans and concerns, his difficulties, his poor andsick, in short, everything that happened to him and which he personallyexperienced, in the hands and the heart of the Virgin Mary, to whom he so oftenrefers in his letters, as did his biographer, Francisco de Castro. She was hismother and protector, his guarantor. We remember two important moments in hislife when he had a very special experience of Our Lady: during his visit toGuadalupe, and at the moment of death. “He wanted to give thanks to Our Ladythe Virgin for the help and mercy that she had given him in the past and topray for her assistance in the new life that he was contemplating. He wasalways conscious of her presence and help in all his troubles and needs”(Castro, X). Then, according to tradition, Mary's words to St John theApostle on the saint's deathbed: "Atthis hour, John, my son, I never fail my devotees; and as I fulfil thispromise, I pledge never to fail to help the poor who gather in your hospital,and to protect all your children who follow your way of life.” (Rev. LaCaridad, 59, 1945, p. 477)
Thistradition, which began with our Founder, forms part of the most profoundspirituality of our Order right up to the present day. There are so manystories, moments and experiences we could relate throughout our history of thepresence of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Order, as Queen andMother of hospitality.
Of course Shemust have been a constant presence in the initial moments of life of ourInstitute and of the first followers of St John of God, when they obtained fromPope St Pius V the Bull Licet ex debito on the first day of January1572, the 450th anniversary of whose promulgation we are celebrating as aJubilee year throughout the Order.
We know thehistorical facts which led to this Bull, but above all we have to acknowledgeand celebrate the charismatic power and the testimony to Hospitality which theBrothers of that time gave. It was the gratitude of the people of Granada andmany other witnesses to a life given over, body and soul, to the poor, the sickand they needy, like St John of God's, that led St Pius V to officiallyrecognise the Fraternity of St John of God in the Church, thereby opening upthe life of that group to the future, bringing a breath of fresh air of love,hospitality and charity into the Church, overcoming the difficulties which inthe early days jeopardised the growth and the future of that new-born creature.
There can beno doubt that throughout this process, there was no lack of invocations andloving responses by Our Mother of Hospitality, accompanying, guiding andhelping the Brothers at that time. So many times would the scene of the UpperRoom be repeated, in which Mary prayed with the disciples of Jesus (cf. Acts A.1,14). In this instance it was the Brothers who invoked the presence of ourMother, committing to her care all their worries and concerns, which she heardand presented to Our Lord, that culminated in the issue of the Bull we arecelebrating this year throughout the Order. The example and testimony toHospitality of those first Brothers is a call for us to practise Hospitalitywith the same charismatic force with which St John of God and all of theseBrothers lived it.
Time passesquickly, and although there are more than two years to go before the end of theSexennium, we are already beginning the preparations for the next GeneralChapter of the Order. This period has been very particularly marked, first bythe pandemic, then by the war in Ukraine (and other wars that are going on butnot being publicised), as well as by the crisis that has followed on the heels ofthe war. The General Chapter will be a very important moment in the life of theOrder, which has many challenges to face. Little by little we will beannouncing a number of details, and above all the preparations being made forit, in which I now urge you to take part in the ways which will be indicated.
I wish tocommit such an important event into the hands of Our Mother of the Patronage,the Mother of Hospitality. In keeping with the Order's tradition, I pray thatshe will guide and accompany us in everything we do during the preparatory workand after Chapter. May she be our Intercessor, asking Our Lord to enlighten theentire Hospitaller Family, so that the next General Chapter may be able to respondto the needs and demands which the Holy Spirit is asking of us in our serviceto the sick, poor and needy in today's world. I urge you all, individually andas a community, to commit this intention and these concerns to Our Mother, asSt John of God always did, and as our first Brothers did 450 years ago.
I wish youall, personally and on behalf of the General Curia, a happy celebration of theSolemnity of Our Mother of the Patronage, asking her to bless our beloved Orderand all of you who make up the Hospitaller Family of St John of God.
With myfraternal best wishes,
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