A few years ago, a friend gave me the choice of a first class relic from a handful of these from various saints, and I chose the one (with documentation) of St. John Apostle, and Evangelist. Is it appropriate for lay people to have first class relics in their homes? I don't know (I haven't found the answer yet) but I obtained a small reliquary and this relic is in plain sight, so that it really cannot be misplaced. The document that goes with it that attests to its authenticity is hanging in a picture frame on the wall, nearby. Periodically, I think about that relic, which is a tiny piece of bone of the Saint, and I pray about it, and read his Gospel and Epistle more often. He is also believed to be the author of the Book of Revelation.
Rummaging around in a second-hand store today, I suddenly spotted cassette album of "The New American Bible, Revised New Testament," issued/published by Catholic Book Publishing Company in 1986. Of course I bought it, since they had a special this week... all cassettes 25 cents each. Consequently, this 16-cassette set cost me $4. That is, of course, wonderful. I've always wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy the New Testament, rather than having to read it as my eyes aren't that great anymore (Cataracts). Bible Study is important for more than one reason, as a Secular Franciscan, we promise to "live the Gospel", to "devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel." (Rule 4c of S.F.O.), and in writing essays or reflections for this website, I have to do my best to keep its content Scripture-based.
For study, the Internet is a wonderful tool, but one has to discern carefully what is truth and what is not. That is especially true in the area of Scripture, because there is much misinformation on the Internet and also a fair amount of anti-Catholic teaching, and some it is a very subtle. For example, see "Authorship of the Johannine works" (Wikipedia) - there seems to exist some doubt, from the 2nd Century onward, that St. John the Apostle is the same person who wrote the works attributed to St. John the Evangelist. A 'wiki' is an open encyclopedia - anyone can contribute, so not everything is fact. As a Roman Catholic, I believe these texts were written by the same person. No, I have not scholastically studied this precise statement of doubt, but this doubt does not exist in Roman Catholic teaching. We believe that St. John the Apostle is the same person as St. John the Evangelist. Spreading doubt, no matter how subtle, usually leads to spreading bigger doubts. So lets get this straight here and now. The Church Fathers had no doubt about John's identity, and that is good enough for me.
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist' feast day is December 27th, a date that often gets buried in the post-Christmas rush unless one goes to daily Mass. He is the "Son of Zebedee and Salome. Fisherman. Brother of Saint James the Greater, and called one of the Sons of Thunder. Disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Friend of Saint Peter the Apostle. Called by Jesus during the first year of His ministry, and traveled everywhere with Him, becoming so close as to be known as the beloved disciple. Took part in the Last Supper. The only one of the Twelve not to forsake the Saviour in the hour of His Passion, standing at the foot of the cross." (see image, left) "Made guardian of Our Lady by Jesus, and he took her into his home. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the lake of Tiberias, he was the first to recognize Him." Quoted from: sqpn.com; image: Pietro Perugino c. 1446/1450–1523.
"During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptizing converts in Samaria. Imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. Wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and possibly the Book of Revelation. Survived all his fellow apostles." Quoted from: sqpn.com
While I was in Cedar Lake, Indiana (1997), the OFM Inter-Novitiate at San Damiano Friary, we used to go to Holy Mass in various diocesan parishes because our priests did weekend helpouts and were not available all the time. Frequently, I would attend at St. John the Evangelist Church in St. John, Indiana. I remember that church, because I see that in 2008, their new church building was dedicated, and what a beautiful campus it has become. But what I recall most was a little Adoration Chapel, that looked like the log cabin it was, except that it had been considerably repaired since it was established. The inside was very plain, and I liked that, because when one is adoring the Blessed Sacrament, a lot of frills and fancy artwork can be distracting. I did not continue with the OFM, and it is now clear that I was meant to be a Franciscan, but in the SFO. Those are very different vocations. I do remember all the good people I met there, and it is important to think of them in prayer now and again. So every time I think of St. John, I remember the wonderful hours spent in Indiana, both at the friary and at the Church of St. John the Evangelist. This has, of course, nothing to do with this essay, except by name association.
How have the Saints (and Blessed) influenced our lives? These holy people are powerful intercessors for us. Another "John" who had much influence on many of us, is of course Blessed John Paul the Great! We are fortunate to have known him, for some personally (not I), and for most in a general manner. This great man, who undoubtedly will be a Saint some day, lived in Poland in the Second World War, and I feel much affinity with him because of my own experiences in that time in the Netherlands. Praise the Lord!
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
January 7, 2012