Ave Maria Meditations
In his 1986 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, Pope John Paul II wrote:
The Mass was for John Mary Vianney the great joy and comfort of his priestly life. He took great care, despite the crowds of penitents, to spend more than a quarter of an hour in silent preparation. He celebrated with recollection, clearly expressing his adoration at the consecration and communion. He accurately remarked: “The cause of priestly laxity is not paying attention to the Mass!”
The Curé of Ars was particularly mindful of the permanence of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. It was generally before the tabernacle that he spent long hours in adoration, before daybreak or in the evening; it was towards the tabernacle that he often turned during his homilies, saying with emotion: “He is there!”
It was also for this reason that he, so poor in his presbytery, did not hesitate to spend large sums on embellishing his church. The appreciable result was that his parishioners quickly took up the habit of coming to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, discovering, through the attitude of their pastor, the grandeur of the mystery of faith.
Dear brother priests, the example of the Curé of Ars invites us to a serious examination of conscience: what place do we give to the Mass in our daily lives? Is it, as on the day of our Ordination — it was our first act as priests! — the principle of our apostolic work and personal sanctification? What care do we take in preparing for it? And in celebrating it? In prayng before the Blessed Sacrament? In encouraging our faithful people to do the same? In making our churches the House of God to which the divine presence attracts the people of our time who too often have the impression of a a world empty of God.