The Heroic Journey – Healing the Soul A Journey and quest based on the life of St. John of God A Witness of Love



St John of God was a man on the move, a wanderer: he went on pilgrimages and long treks. It was there that he sketched out the route for his interior pilgrimage and his spiritual path. John of God made his whole life a path - walking barefoot and up a steep track - to reach the peak. Paradoxically he reached that peak by going down into the depths of human misery and suffering.

JOHN OF GOD LEAVES HOME

Letting go of loved ones is a traumatic event. This type of experience can make or break a person. At the age of eight John was taken from his parents. We don’t know why but we are certain that this is the beginning of a journey along the path of hardships and sufferings.

REFLECTION
What feelings of abandonment or rejection still linger in your life? Are you willing to let go of this hurt and love anew? What is the path that you must embark on? (Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD BECOMES A SHEPHERD

A stranger in a strange land, John picked up the skills of a Shepherd. Sheep are very helpless animals. Like little children they require kindness and guidance. In this setting John learned to care tenderly. He learned to nourish, support, and have compassion. He was not a starry-eyed romantic. As a Shepherd John had plenty to do: shearing, lambing, slaughtering, skinning,marketing, and learning the skills of survival.

REFLECTION
What supports you in the moments of struggle and suffering or times of mere survival? Has struggle and suffering helped you to become gentle in your ways or bitter and resentful? (Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD BECOMES A SOLDIER

In battle John of God’s eyes were opened to a horizon far wider than the fields of war. He saw the ugly side of life. As a soldier John was entrusted with the company’s booty. It was stolen and John of God was ordered hanged. Miraculously someone suggested a dishonorable discharge. John’s soul begins to discover that hospitality is the antidote for revenge.

After a string of failures, St John of God experienced emptiness and discovered the fullness of God: "God before and above all the things of this world!” He was a failure in his first adventures as a soldier, and like St Paul hewas thrown off his horse, threatened, and had no help apart from what God was able to give him.

REFLECTION
Have you ever felt rejected or misjudged? Are you willing to turn over your feelings of getting even for past hurts, over to God, allowing him to heal the pain?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD SUPPORTS A FAMILY

John of God came across a poor family who needed help. In this relationship John was, used as a glorified slave. Although this acquaintanceship would end in failure John found himself growing in an awareness of the virtue of mutual respect. He learned to believe in others even if they did not treat him with mutual love.

REFLECTION
Can you maintain your sense of self-esteem in a relationship where there is no mutual respect? Is one of your criteria for a healthy relationship that of reciprocity rather than one of co-dependence or dominance.

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD ENCOUNTERS THE CHILD JESUS

On his way back to Spain John came across a poorly dressed bare footed boy. John hoisted the boy on his shoulder and continued the journey. They arrived at a spring not far from the town of Gaucin. John saw that the boy was breaking open a pomegranate. As the seeds burst forth the appearance of the child was transformed and holding up the pomegranate he said “Granada will be your cross.”

REFLECTION
Have you recognized that the cross is your source of salvation? In what ways might hospitality be considered a resistance to carrying your personal cross? What are we esisting?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD BECOMES A BOOKSELLER

Granada, of this time was a Moorish City. There were various gates that allowed entrance into the city. At the Elvira Gate the main entrance to the city for travelers coming from the south, John of God established a tiny bookstall.

REFLECTION
In what ways have you helped others to learn more about their faith?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD HAS A CONVERSION

John suffered numerous traumas over the course of his lifetime. In 1539 the eve of the feast of St. Sebastian, Juan de Avila was preaching. John of God heard as Juan de Avila, began “Unless the Lord descended from the Mount to the plain, what would have happened to us?” John felt a deep sense of remorse for the sins of his past life. Overwhelmed by this anguish John of God behaved in manner that people interpreted his repentance for insanity.

REFLECTION
What are your weakness and strength? What have been your failings and how have you sinned? What steps do you take to restore your dignity and self-respect?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD IS HOSPITALIZED

At the Royal Hospital John of God encountered the alienated, lonely and abandoned of society. Chains and whips were the treatment used to calm the fearful, anxious and mad. In this dark hell of suffering John saw the light and found his salvation.

REFLECTION
Liberation is salvation. Finding the true self is to be healed. And to be healed is to be saved. What life hurts has opened you up to your true self?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD OPENS A HOSPITAL

“Jesus Christ must give me the time and grace so that I may have a hospital in which to give shelter to the poor, the abandoned and the mad, where I can serve them in my own way.” John created a space and place where all were welcomed as his brother and sister. John of God saw the hospital as a sacred place, the house of God. It was a hospital-home, open to all the defenceless poor, without distinction.

REFLECTION
To have more concern for others than self is heroic. What steps do I take to make this kind of concern both real and healthy in my life?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD RECONCILES ENEMIES

Anton Martin and Peter Valasco were bitter enemies. By becoming brother to them John transformed their rage and hostility into hospitality for one another. John did not offer a coherent logic of communication. He offered the hope of a self that is loveable and loving. Forgiving injuries is a matter of hospitality. Resentment and anger rot the soul.

REFLECTION
More often we prefer to hold on to feelings of hurt rather that forgive. Are you presently holding on to feelings of rage? What is the source of your resistance to forgive and forget?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD RESCUES PATIENTS FROM THE BURNING HOSPITAL

Early in the summer of 1549 a tremendous fire broke out in the Royal Hospital. John arrived on the scene. In midst of chaos he organized a plan of escape for the residents directing them to the exit. Witnesses saw him coming out and returning several times into the fire.

REFLECTION
“For as water puts out fire so charity wipes out sin” How courageous are you to step outside your self-image of being self-sufficient toward assisting and aiding others?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD RESCUES PATIENTS FROM THE BURNING HOSPITAL

Early in the summer of 1549 a tremendous fire broke out in the Royal Hospital. John arrived on the scene. In midst of chaos he organized a plan of escape for the residents directing them to the exit. Witnesses saw him coming out and returning several times into the fire.

REFLECTION
“For as water puts out fire so charity wipes out sin” How courageous are you to step outside your self-image of being self-sufficient toward assisting and aiding others?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


JOHN OF GOD DIES

John of God died of pneumonia. He was found dead in a kneeling position with the cross in his hands. John had risked being a prophet, visionary and healer, and was called the man who knew love, a love that goes out to others and in the process discovered that giving is receiving. John of God was put to the test with pain and suffering. Like Jesus, he became one of many demented people, but thanks to his faithfulness he was enriched with the gift of true wisdom: he understood that the dignity of the person was rooted in the richness of the heart; like Jesus, he discovered that the battle against evil and suffering is a human need, and like Jesus he devoted himself to doing good to all people, beginning with the most discriminated against: the sick of all classes, sinners, prostitutes ... at the cost of being despised and libelled. Like Jesus, he contemplated the world of people with gentle and merciful eyes, and thanks to his boundless love, he spread love, and he became the brother of all, and embarked upon a path of Hospitality.

REFLECTION
What is the dying that I must live with daily? How do I respond to this letting go in faith, hope andlove?

(Reflect on the questions when you feel a sense of direction recite the prayers)


LET US PRAY

I confidently turn to you St. John of God in this time of need and healing. I pray that you intercede for me with Jesus whom you followed so faithfully. Knowing only Jesus can provide the true answer to my call for help, I now open my heart and mind to possibilities I have not dreamed of, to forces of life I have not allowed in, and to realms of joy I have never imagined. I let go. I release everything that blocks me from my healing and getting along with others and with God. May I awaken to the joy of a new and healed self, able to offer love, peace and joy. Let me experience new energy. Let me feel grateful for the life you have given me. May I receive a future unlike the past for myself and those whom I pray for.

All Glory be to the Father Son and Holy Spirit
Amen.


ST. JOHN OF GOD
  • Converted from a sinful life pray for us
  • Father of the poor pray for us
  • Father of the needy pray for us
  • Servant of the sick pray for us
  • Protector of the vulnerable pray for us
  • Friend of those in distress pray for us
  • Ardent lover of Jesus Crucified pray for us
  • Heroic in self-sacrifice pray for us
  • Model of humility pray for us
  • Helper of the dying pray for us
  • Most patient in dying pray for us

LET US PRAY
Hospitable god, you gave our father st. John of god a burning love for you. Grant Through the help of his merits, that our wounds and weaknesses be healed and that we May receive remedies to transform violence to peace; division to unity; loneliness to Companionship; sadness and depression into courage for living; and pain ,hurt , lose Into soundness of body, mind and spirit.
Amen