Saint John Eudes (1601-1680)
for August 19
Saint John Eudes was born in France in 1602. He felt called to religious life, and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. When plagues struck France in 1627 and in 1631, John ministered to those afflicted. He lived apart from the members of his religious community, because he didn't want to infect them with the diseases that he was exposed to through his ministry. At the age of 32, John felt called to spread the Good News by becoming a parish missionary. After many hours of prayer and reflection, John left his religious community and founded his own, focused on the development of the clergy. Even though his work was approved by bishops, many groups disapproved, including the Jansenists. John felt great compassion for the mistreated and abandoned, especially prostitutes who wanted to end their lifestyles. In order to shelter and care for these women, John founded another religious community, the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge. In all of his writings, John emphasized Jesus' holiness and Mary's model Christian life. Saint John Eudes was canonized in 1925.
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During the plagues in France, most people were inclined to stay indoors and away from the sick, for fear of being infected by their lethal disease. This is, in fact, the easy and even natural response to such dangers. But Saint John Eudes rushed in to help, with the risk that, and perhaps even expecting that, his life would soon end. This kind of selflessness and courage is not exceptional or rare. It is what, as Christians, we are all called to emulate. Because God has called us to him already, we can be sure that he knows we are capable of such virtue.
Dear Jesus, please ensure that I have the compassion and courage to act as Saint John Eudes did.