Saturday, August 4, 2012

Devotion for today: St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests

Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars.
 St. John Vianney, pray for us.

Scripture for meditation: 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 1:48
“He has looked upon his lowly servant.”

Who was the Cure of Ars? Called the "Cure of Ars", St. John Vianney was the son of a poor farmer in Dardilly, France. He worked as a shepherd and didn't begin his education until he was 20 years old. While an ecclesiastical student he was called for military service, and became a "delinquent conscript" more or less because of illness, and hid to escape Napoleon's police.
He had difficulty learning Latin, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. He was finally ordained at the age of 30, but was thought to be so incompetent he was placed under the direction of Fr. Balley, a holy priest in a neighboring village, for further training.
St. John lived an austere life, ate potatoes he boiled, and learned to keep suspended by a rope from the ceiling, so the rats wouldn't get to them. He allowed himself 2 hours of sleep each night and was frequently interrupted by the devil, who assaulted him with deafening noises, insulting conversation, and physical abuse. These diabolical visitations were occasionally witnessed with alarm by the men of the parish, but the pious Cure accepted the attacks as a matter of course and often joked about them.
St. John was given many spiritual gifts, such as the power of healing and the ability to read the hearts of his penitents. It was this latter gift which caused his fame to spread throughout France, and created large crowds seeking guidance from him.
The frail Cure began hearing confessions at 1 o'clock in the morning, and it has been reported that he spent from 13 to 17 hours a day in the cramped confessional.
St. John died peacefully on August 4, 1859. His body was exhumed because of his impending beatification, and was found dried and darkened, but perfectly entire.
St. John Vianney, who as a student had difficulties being accepted for the priesthood, was canonized in 1925 and was named later the Patron of Parish Priests throughout the world.
More information on St. John Vianney can be obtained from The Cure of Ars, by Fr. O'Brien, or The Incorruptibles, Joan Carroll Cruz.(

Prayer of St. John Vianney
I love You, O my God,
and my only desire is to love You
until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God,
and I would rather die loving You,
than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord
and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally...
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,
I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.

My thoughts: Sometimes we cave into the belief that we could never do God’s work simply because we are not great enough. Maybe you are not particularly eloquent, or charismatic, or even very knowledgeable in the faith. If you do have a love for God, however, and a desire to do His will, well then, St. John Vianney is the saint for you! He had a tough start since he wasn’t particularly scholarly or impressive. Once he became a priest he was sent to a village so remote that he missed it several times in his first attempt to get there! He became, however, one of the greatest saints, known for his total devotion to the people of God, his inspirational homilies, and his tremendous power in the confessional. Before long, Ars, a remote, faithless village in France, became a mecca for pilgrims seeking to hear St. John's words and feel his healing power. In his simple way, St. John Vianney let himself be filled with the Holy Spirit and the words of God. He did not have a huge ego which would get in the way and block the graces from flowing in and out of him. Because of this, God honored St. John Vianney with many spiritual gifts. Believe this: He can do the same for you. It isn’t the person who is great in the eyes of the world who can do God’s work; it is the person who has great love for God and His people. Just let go, and let God begin

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