Tuesday, December 14, 2010

St. John of the Cross - Visit to the Parish of the Good Shepherd (Blackburn Hamlet)

Today the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of St. John of the Cross
(1542-1591), Spanish mystic, Carmelite friar and priest

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of strips of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include: Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ. --Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://www.ccel.org/).

* * *

Look upon the sacrificial gifts we offer, almighty God,in commemoration of St. John of the Cross and grant that we who celebrate the mysteries of the Lord's Passion may imitate what we now do. Through Christ our Lord.

* * * * * *

From December 3-5, accompanied by the Episcopal Vicar, Father Joseph Muldoon and the Administrator, Fr. Vernon Boyd, S.J., I conducted the Episcopal Visitation of the Parish of the Good Shepherd in Blackburn Hamlet (Orleans). 

We arrived early Friday morning at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha school and joined the staff for coffee in their lunch room and an assembly in the library, then took part in an assembly with the blessing of a new processional cross at Chapel Hill Catholic School, joined the staff of Good Shepherd School for lunch, followed by an assembly and the presentation of a copy of the New Testament & Psalms to the Grade 4 students, followed by Mass for the seniors at the Amica Residence next door to the school.

On Saturday afternoon, there was a meeting with various representatives of the Parish, confessions, the anticipated Sunday Mass and, that evening, a banquet to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus Council.

On Sunday, I was present as presider at the two Lord's Day celebrations of the Eucharist and welcomed the parents, sponsors, family and friends of six children who would be baptized.

Herewith some photos of these exciting days and activities:  

1 comment:

  1. Looked like a very exciting time. Please give my regards to Fr. Vernon ! - Mike in Jamaica