Here's a little tidbit that caught my attention: During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. Lest he infect his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.
Yeah, you read that right: HE LIVED IN A CASK. A big barrel.
(Yes, I'll admit: I wondered if there was any liquid enjoyment in the barrel. But now back to our regularly-scheduled reflection....)
For many people, the last few years have been difficult. For Michigan, they've been horrible. For our family (since Dear Husband works in the automotive industry), the past few years have been a terrible struggle financially. We almost lost our house. Many people - good people with jobs - have lost their homes. But none of us is living in a barrel. And St. John Eudes volunteered for the barrel.
Why? Why would someone voluntarily live in such harsh, smelly, lonely and pitiable circumstances? There is really one answer: love. Only love would make this choice.
Let's be clear, though. "Love" isn't that warm-fuzzy-happy-buzzy feeling we tend to associate with that word. No, "love" is the ability to always put the other first. It's knowing that you are willing to put your own wants and desires (and even your own needs) aside for the other. It is the ability to say to someone, "I love you. Therefore, I can't let you do that" (the mom of a teenager comes to mind). It is the ability given to a sleepy, stumbling, haven't-slept-through-the-night-in-months dad to drag himself out of bed to tend to a restless toddler disturbed by a dream. It is only love that allows someone to say, "I'll put my schedule aside for you. You need me now."
Even more importantly, St. John Eudes didn't just love his fellow human beings, even the sick ones. He loved Christ. With that love, one can do anything. Even choose to live in a barrel. By choosing Christ's love as his example, St. John Eudes was able to not only choose the barrel as his home, but be happpy there.
The next time you are faced with a TV-version of "love" - that "love" that says sex with anything on the Jersey Shore is okay, that "love" that tells you to fall in love with a new car or a designer purse, that "love" that tells you a meal from a certain restaurant is just the thing you must have - think of that barrel and St. John Eudes. See how you measure up.