Mending the Broken Jug

A message from the Canons Regular to our friends and benefactors.

cantius painting

For over 100 years this painting, at the center of our Saint John Cantius Church, has been a powerful symbol for so many.

The painting depicts a great miracle—a miracle of restoration—a miracle of compassion. You may be familiar with this beautiful story:

One day a poor, servant girl dropped and broke a jug she was carrying, and became distressed. Father John Cantius came upon the scene and felt so sorry for her that he comforted her and collected the pieces. And by his prayers, he not only made the broken jug whole again, but also the water—with which he had it filled—turned into a sweet, rich milk.

Oil painting of the "Miracle of the Jug" by Tadeusz Żukotyński.

We’ve been witnesses to a similar miracle within St. John Cantius over the years. Whether you have not yet come to St. John Cantius or have been coming as a parishioner for years, or were part of the parish when Fr. Phillips arrived in 1988, you have been witnesses to a miracle—a miracle of restoration, a miracle of healing wounded souls and helping put lives back together again—a miracle of mercy.

This is a building that was slowly decaying and on the brink of destruction at one point—perhaps destined for the wrecking ball. It was a church that was frequented by more pigeons than people.

And over the years—before the eyes of some of you—this church was lovingly restored, the cracks were repaired, and the broken pieces were put back together again.

Like the broken jug, this church was not just restored to its former glory, but has been filled with a new rich, sweet milk—it's been filled with many devotions, heart-felt worship of God, the Sacraments administered daily and with reverence, responses to calls for vocations, and the brimming sweetness of art and music.

This broken vessel was restored and came to carry that light and love where so many wounded and wayward souls have encountered something bigger than themselves—something compelling that gives them hope, healing, and a renewed relationship with our Lord—a place where their own “life-restoration” could take place.

And so, a dying church became the center of a renaissance of beauty, Catholic culture, and faith—all in the midst of the bustle and chaos of a noisy city.

Twenty years ago, it also became the place where the very first religious community of men was founded in our city—a religious community that has raised up and seen the ordinations of thirteen men to the priesthood.

And our community’s ministry of “restoring the sacred” now expands beyond the walls of St. John Cantius. We’re blessed to serve in Volo, Illinois, as well as in two parishes in Springfield.

This year, we have seven men in seminary studies, six of whom are studying at Mundelein Seminary. And we especially look forward to the ordinations of Deacon Matthew and Deacon David to the priesthood this coming Spring.

As you know, much is broken and in need of restoration in our world. As of late, this brokenness has also been sadly evident in our Holy Catholic Church. There’s no doubt we’re in extraordinary times for the Church.

More than ever, the Canons believe in the importance of our charism, “to restore the sacred” and to grow the legacy left to us by Fr. Phillips. And this is a time when we especially need your help. We need your fidelity, your prayers, your presence, and your generosity.

On Sunday, September 30th, the Canons Regular will hold our Annual Benefit Dinner at Chicago’s Drake Hotel. We know that not everyone can attend this dinner, but we do ask that everyone prayerfully consider helping in some way.

Every little bit counts and helps us in our mission and assists us with much needed tuition for our seminarians. What better use of a gift than helping devout and dedicated young men reach the Altar of God?

We believe that this is the time, more than ever, to support our charism in the Church—when there is need of restoration and renewal.

More than ever, this is a time for our fidelity, a time to allow Christ to stake His full claim on our hearts, for “To whom shall we go, Lord. You have the words of eternal life.”

This is the time for offering prayers and sacrifices for the Church—a time for frequenting the Sacraments, and supporting and encouraging one another.

And so, we encourage everyone to consider how each one of us can become more involved in the life of our parishes and our community.

How can we each be more present at Mass and to each other? It’s our prayer that our charism of “restoring the Sacred” grows in the hearts of those we serve daily at Mass. For true and full restoration to be possible in a wounded Church, all of who we are—collectively—needs to be offered.

As we respond with an unequivocal “yes” like Mary, we’re confident that more miracles will come—as God gives us all this grace.

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