Today is the feast of Saint John Eudes who was a priest who lived in the 1600s in Normandy, France. Two years after his ordination to the priesthood, a plague struck and he cared for many of the sick. In order to prevent his co workers from becoming infected he slept in the middle of a field. He administered the sacraments and buried the dead. He founded a religious order to help former prostitutes reform their lives and lead lives of penance and prayer. These became known as the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. He founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, a group of priests dedicated to parish missions and education of priests.
Saint John Eudes wrote the first liturgical prayers for the Mass dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and wrote the first book about the Sacred Heart devotion.
For Saint John Eudes, the words of Jesus in the Gospel were truly the driving force in his life: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Saint John Eudes knew very well that he was not created by accident. He wasn’t meant to simply float through life, grabbing all he could for himself, which is the disastrous temptation when we remove God from our lives.
No, Saint John Eudes realized God had given him a will to love Him, an imagination to help experience in prayer, eyes to see the beauty of God’s creation, a tongue to praise God, hands to help the sick…Saint John Eudes loved God, because he realized that God had loved him first. Then he was able to be a vessel of God’s love to others. The same is true for each of us.
We are called to live this great adventure, which isn’t always easy. We need more than ever to take this double commandment seriously. Our Lord had no problem telling the tricksters what the truth was. Love God, love neighbor. He wasn’t afraid of what they might think. We must love God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind. Saint Augustine gives us a good breakdown of this. He says:
“with all thy heart,” that your whole thoughts—”with all thy soul,” that your whole life—”with all thy mind,” that your whole understanding…”
What do we think about during the day? Our heart should be focused on God and neighbor. What do we watch on television or read about? What about what we see on the internet? Where do we find our imagination going? Saint Josemaria Escriva gives some good advice. He says “Generally, letting your imagination loose is a waste of time, and if it is not controlled, it opens the door to a whole string of voluntary temptations…” (Furrow, 135). How powerful it would be to bring up in our mind even something like the Gospel of the day, or a particular Saint’s life or writings.
How do we offer our whole life to God? What a difference it would make of every morning we climbed out of bed, knelt on the floor, and offered our day to God. Then throughout the day we can return to God in prayer, even saying little prayers from the heart. We must strive everyday to be more faithful to our vocation. Let’s also pray for more vocations to the priesthood in the diocese, that some more men might be filled with the courage to say yes to God’s call. What a beautiful life it is. I know some who want to go shopping for a vocation, and to pick whatever is the best “option”, as if the one God has chosen from eternity was not the best one! There is a sense of holding back, but to find and live one’s vocation is a total giving of oneself, after the model of our Lord on the cross.
With our whole mind we must love God. He has given us an intellect and a will. We are capable of doing great things with our understanding and reasoning. Let’s use that mind to govern our days well so that we will make sure to use our time and energies to do our work, to pray, to love, and to try to find God hidden in even the most monotonous and dull tasks. A soul in love is always thinking about the one he loves. We can see today how far off track people can go when they decide to misuse their intellects. Now apparently it’s up to the person to decide if he is a she or if she is a he. Or some have created sophisticated arguments to defend snuffing out life in the womb. What a tragic waste of the intellect.
Our Lord calls us to love God with our whole heart, our soul, and our mind. If we do this, there would be no room for temptations to enter in. And if we do this everyday, it will be a logical conclusion that we will love our neighbor as ourself because we will see in him or her a brother or sister in Christ. This is what Saint John Eudes did, and all of us are called to do it as well. For him, the secret was remaining close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If we follow this path, we will be on the right road.