He was and still is great Lenten Role Model
By Larry Peterson
*St. John Joseph of the Cross should not be confused with St. John of the Cross
His name was Carlo Gaetano Calosirto, and he was born on August 15, 1654, off the coast of Naples on the island of Ischia. From his earliest childhood, he demonstrated great virtue and self-denial. When he was fifteen, he joined the Order of Friars Minor, and when he was sixteen years old, he became the first Italian to join the reform movement of Peter Alcantara, a movement that re-dedicated the Franciscans to a stricter and more austere way of life.
By the time he was twenty years old, he was charged with founding a monastery for the Order. He was sent to establish one in the Piedmont region. Filled with humility, he participated in the actual construction doing masonry work. His holiness and unyielding commitment to order impressed everyone, and his superiors insisted that he accept ordination to the priesthood. He refused insisting he was not worthy, but clearer heads prevailed, and he was ordained a priest.
He continued in his priestly ministry while still insisting on doing the lowest of tasks. He refused to eat red meat or drink red wine and slept only three hours a night. When awake, if not working, the rest of his time was spent in prayer. When the monastery in Piedmont was finished, he established strict rules of silence and contemplative prayer.
In 1702, John Joseph was appointed Vicar Provincial of Alcantarine Reform in Italy. The Franciscans were determined to have Peter Alcantara’s austerity measures implemented throughout the entire Order. Even though in charge of such important duties, John Joseph still insisted on helping with the lowliest of tasks such as scrubbing the floors or washing the dishes. In fact, as the Superior, he ordered that no beggar should ever be turned away without some form of assistance. If it was necessary, he would take the monastery provisions and give them to those in need.
John Joseph lived the life of a true Franciscan. His personal life was ruled by denial and by serving others. Blessed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, many people came to him just to be close to him, to get his blessing, or have him pray for them. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin was unmatched among his peers, and he did his best to spread devotion to Our Lady anywhere he could.
When his tenure as Provincial was nearing its end, he spent much of his time hearing confessions and practicing mortification. Those who came to him for confession said that he could “read their hearts.”He would not rest even if sick. If someone he had laid hands on or prayed over had recovered, he would insist that they take some form of medication so he would not be given credit for the cure. Many tried to tear pieces from his clothes to keep as holy relics
John Joseph of the Cross had an all-encompassing love and faith in the Lord. He wrote that “whoever walks always in God’s presence, will never commit sin, but will preserve his innocence and become a great saint.”
He told his fellow Franciscans, “Let us hope in God, and doubtless, we shall be comforted,” and “God is a tender Father, who loves and succors all.”
St. John Joseph of the Cross lived by the words, “Doubt not. Trust in God. He will provide.”
John Joseph died in Naples on March 5, 1734. He was beatified by Pope Pius VI on May 24, 1789, and was canonized on May 26, 1839, by Pope Gregory XVI. His Feast Day is March 5.
Saint John Joseph of the Cross, please pray for us.
copyright©Larry Peterson 2020