Posted by: fvbcdm | August 4, 2014

Feast of Saint John Vianney (4 August 2014)

August 4th is the commemoration day of Saint John Vianney, the beloved little French priest who has come to be called the Cure of Ars.  In French a Acure@ is a parish priest, and Ars is a small village a few miles from the large city of Lyons or Lyon, in eastern France.  He grew up in the terrible days of the French revolution and the wars of Napoleon.  Most of his seminary education had to be clandestine since most church institutions were closed in those days, and besides, all young men were wanted to serve in Napoleon’s endless wars.  Furthermore, John Vianney didn’t have much of a head for studies, but he certainly had a heart for love and for prayer.  The rector of the seminary didn’t know what to do with this young man who wanted so much to be a priest but did so poorly in his studies.  He consulted the bishop about it.  The bishop asked: “Is he a holy man?”  “The holiest we have,” was the answer. “Then let us ordain him, and trust in God to take care of the rest.”

God took care of the rest to a remarkable degree.  Father Vianney was sent to a small village which had not had a priest in years because of the upheavals in France.  Religion there was in shambles in terms of religious education and the frequentation of the Sacraments.  When the little priest celebrated Mass, no one came. When he announced the beginning of catechetical instructions, no children were brought.  Since he could not make these things happen alone, he turned to God in prayer and penance.  And at prayer and penance, he had no equal.  Slowly, a change began to occur.  People began to realize that they had a good and holy priest in their midst.  Mass and the Sacraments began to occupy the place that they should have in every Catholic community.  And particularly, as a confessor the cure was unexcelled.  He had the true gift of tongues, whereby he could understand foreign languages as if they were French, and when he spoke in French to his foreign penitents, they understood as if he were speaking their language.

The railroad had to put on special trains to bring from Lyons the great crowds who used to come for confession.  For years, he heard confessions for as much as sixteen hours a day.  Those of us who are priests can imagine the penance that that must have afforded him.  Hearing confessions is one of the greatest consolations of the priesthood, but SIXTEEN HOURS a day would be torture!  In the Liturgy of the Hours for today’s feast, we read his words, “The glorious duty of man is to pray and to love.”  Let us try to put those words of Saint John Vianney into practice in our own spiritual lives. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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