Thought for the Day – 4 August – The Memorial of St John Vianney (1786-1859)
“My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven.
Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where out treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man – to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. Prayer is nothing else but union with God. In this intimate union, God and the soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can every pull apart. This union of god with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is a happiness beyond understanding.
My little children, your hearts, are small but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet.
When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun. Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water, because they give themselves totally to God. O, how I love these noble souls! How unlike them we are! How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for. And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go. And still worse, there are some who seem to speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to You and then I will be rid of You.” I often think that when we come to adore the Lord, we would receive everything we ask for, if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart.
Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”
– from the catechetical instructions by Saint John Vianney
St John Marie Baptiste Vianney, the poor boy from Dardilly, ordained a priest “through compassion” and in charge of an isolated parish, the one who prepared himself to die every day: because of the strange logic of God who chooses the little to depose the mighty, it was this man who became a teacher and model even for the Popes who sit on the Chair of Peter, who are inspired by him and hold him up for emulation to the entire Church. We must make ourselves ‘little’ in prayer, in total self-giving to God!
One Minute Reflection – 4 August – The Memorial of St John Vianney (1786-1859)
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...Matthew 5:44
REFLECTION – “All our religion is but a false religion and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone – for the good and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich and for all those who do us harm, as much as those who do us good.” – St John Vianney
PRAYER – Almighty and merciful God, by Your grace, St John Vianney was remarkable for his zeal as priest and shepherd. Help us, by his example and prayers, to win our brethren for Christ by our love and to share with them in eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 4 August – The Memorial of St John Vianney (1786-1859)
St John Vianney’s prayer which is quoted in the CCC
I Love You, O My God By St John Vianney (1786-1859)
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
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.
St John Baptist Mary Vianney was born near Lyon, France, on 8th May 1786. Overcoming many difficulties prior to his ordination on 13th Aug 1815, he was thereafter entrusted with the remote parish of Ars, a village of 230 souls. His Bishop had warned him that he would find religious practice there in a sorry state: “There is little love of God in that parish; you will have to be the one to put it there”. As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to embody Christ’s presence and bear witness to God’s saving mercy: “Lord, grant me the conversion of my parish. I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!” With that prayer he entered upon his mission.
His first biographer tells us that “upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church daily before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed”.
The Curé d’Ars taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, to visit Jesus frequently in the Tabernacle. “One need not say much to pray well”, he explained to them, “we know that Jesus is there in the Tabernacle. Let us open our hearts to Him, let us rejoice in His sacred presence. That is the best prayer”. And He would urge them: “Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from Him in order to live with Him… Of course you are not worthy of Him but you need Him!”
He regularly visited the sick and families and organised missions and feast day celebrations. He also enlisted lay persons to collaborate in the collection and management of funds for his charitable works, providing also for the education of children. He personally cared for the orphans and teachers of the “Providence”, an institute he founded.
The Curé of Ars was known for his humility, while as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people. “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy”.
Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the Sacraments, he would say: “Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should die as a result of mortal sin, who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest… Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is.”
Those who attended the Masses he celebrated have said that “it was not possible to find a finer example of worship… He gazed upon the Host with immense love”. He was convinced that the fervour of a priest’s life depended entirely upon the Mass, “All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God… The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!”
“The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”
His profound sense of responsibility as a priest was palpable. “Were we to fully realise what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright but of love… Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth… What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods… Leave a parish for 20 years without a priest and they will end by worshipping the beasts there… The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”.
By spending long hours in church before the Tabernacle, he inspired the faithful to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus, knowing that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness. Later, the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him in the confessional for up to 16 hours a day. It was said that Ars had become “a great hospital of souls”.
He once explained to a fellow priest his self-imposed mortifications and expiations for those souls whose confessions he heard, “I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place.” He was moved knowing that souls have been won at the price of Jesus’ own blood and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the precious cost of Christ’s redemption.
A century after his death, the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy was built in Ars-sur-Formans, where the relic of the heart of the Saint is venerated in the Chapel of the Heart. His incorrupt body lies at the main altar of the Shrine in a glass reliquary. The Curé’s humble cottage is presently a museum.
Current estimates indicate that over 400,000 pilgrims visit the shrine every year.
St Agabius of Verona
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St Crescentio of Rome
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St Epiphanes of Besançon
St Euphronius of Tours
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Bl Frédéric Janssone
St Hyacinth of Rome
St Ia of Persia
St Isidore of Besançon
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St Onofrio of Panaia
St Perpetua of Rome
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St Rainerio of Split
St Tertullinus of Rome
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