In this Year of the Priest it is a special pleasure to consider the Patron Saint of ALL Priests, St. John Vianney. He had been the Patron of Parish Priests but our Holy Father has extended that patronage to all Priests.
Ave Maria Meditations
St. John Mary Vianney was born in France in 1786. His childhood coincided with the terrible French revolution. He was devout even as a boy and quietly taught other children their prayers. He would be ordained a priest in 1815 but struggled mightily through seminary and was a poor student. He had a very difficult time with Latin. There was even talk among his superiors if he should be ordained or, if ordained, be allowed to hear confessions. They decided to ordain him but gave him one of the least desirable of assignments: to the little town of Ars. The young priest was told that the faith was all but lost there and so he would have little to do. “Then I have everything to do!”, he exclaimed.
Upon arriving in Ars the conditions were as foretold but this good priest knew that the holiness of the people would first need a holy priest and so he took upon himself not only his own seeking of personal holiness but also severe penances for his flock. He fasted continually and only slept a few hours a night, spending most of his time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
His prayers and penances began to pay off. He spent time waiting for penitents in the confessions and little by little they began to come. The town began to change and people began to return to the practice of their faith. The time needed in the confessional grew and grew until it was up to 16 hours a day! And the people began to come from other places as his renown as a confessor became widely known.
Supernatural gifts were granted to him and he would even wrestle with the devil in the literal sense for the evil one was furious that so many souls were being snatched from his grasp. Oh, if only the evil one could at least keep the people lukewarm but this priest was leading them on the path to holiness and sanctification! When miracles occurred at his intercession he would always give the glory to God or ‘blame’ Our Lady or St. Philomena. Worn out by his labors this holy man of God died in 1859. He was canonized in 1925 and is the Patron of ALL priests. May they follow his example of holiness.
First Prayer To The Cure’ D’Ars
Dear St. John Vianney, Cure’ D’Ars, speak to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask Her to intercede for us to Her Beloved Son. Grant that all priests be given divine insight into the souls of those in their charge. Give them perseverance and fortitude to match their priestly duties. Keep them safe from the wickedness of the world. Amen.
Second Prayer To The Cure’ D’Ars
Dear St. John Vianney, Cure’ D’Ars, touch the priests of the world with a great zeal for souls. Draw them close to the Divine Heart of Jesus so inflamed with love for mankind. Give them the grace to discern that which is best for each soul they touch. Give them peace of mind and heart. Amen.
Third Prayer To The Cure’ D’Ars
Dear St. John Vianney, Cure’ D’Ars, ask Jesus to give to all priests a great love of poverty so they can become rich in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as you were. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Most Holy and The Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen. Hail Mary…
Fourth Prayer To The Cure’ D’Ars
Dear St. John Vianney, Cure’ D’Ars, intercede on behalf of all priests. Help them to persevere in a life that is holy, respecting their vows, and above all, doing penance for the conversion of their flock. We ask this with humility. Touch The Immaculate Heart of Mary with our plea. Amen.
Fifth Prayer To The Cure’ D’Ars
Dear St. John Vianney, Cure’ D’Ars, be attentive to the needs of your brother priests. Intercede on behalf of all priests, and beg Jesus, through The Immaculate Heart of Mary, that your brothers be given the greatest gift of all, the gift of love. Amen. Hail Mary…
Thoughts from St. John Marie Vianney
ON THE HOLY MASS:
All Good Works together are not of equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the holy Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and of His Blood. Oh, how great is a priest! if he understood himself he would die. . . . God obeys him; he speaks two words, and Our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host. God looks upon the altar. “That is My well-beloved Son, ” He says, “in whom I am well-pleased. ” He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim. If we had faith, we should see God hidden in the priest like a light behind a glass, like wine mingled with water.
If someone said to us, “At such an hour a dead person is to be raised to life, ” we should run very quickly to see it. But is not the Consecration, which changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of God, a much greater miracle than to raise a dead person to life? We ought always to devote at least a quarter of an hour to preparing ourselves to hear Mass well; we ought to annihilate ourselves before God, after the example of His profound annihilation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; and we should make our examination of conscience, for we must be in a state of grace to be able to assist properly at Mass. If we knew the value of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or rather if we had faith, we should be much more zealous to assist at it.
ON THE BLESSED SACRAMENT: (St. John Vianney was known to sometimes in the pulpit, wishing to preach on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, get so choked up that he could hardly speak and would, with tears, point to the tabernacle and say: “There He is!” and that is all he could say. )
We should consider those moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament as the happiest of our lives. Our Lord is hidden there, waiting for us to come and visit Him, and make our request to Him. See how good He is! He accommodates Himself to our weakness. In Heaven, where we shall be glorious and triumphant, we shall see him in all His glory. If He had presented Himself before us in that glory now, we should not have dared to approach Him; but He hides Himself, like a person in a prison, who might say to us, “You do not see me, but that is no matter; ask of me all you wish and I will grant it. “
He is there in the Sacrament of His love, sighing and interceding incessantly with His Father for sinners. To what outrages does He not expose Himself, that He may remain in the midst of us! He is there to console us; and therefore we ought often to visit Him. How pleasing to Him is the short quarter of an hour that we steal from our occupations, from something of no use, to come and pray to Him, to visit Him, to console Him for all the outrages He receives! When He sees pure souls coming eagerly to Him, He smiles upon them. They come with that simplicity which pleases Him so much, to ask His pardon for all sinners, for the outrages of so many ungrateful men.
What happiness do we not feel in the presence of God, when we find ourselves alone at His feet before the holy tabernacles! “Come, my soul, redouble thy fervour; thou art alone adoring thy God. His eyes rest upon thee alone. ” This good Saviour is so full of love for us that He seeks us out everywhere.
ON THE PRIESTHOOD:
The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, “What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home. ” When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion. If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place.
ON OUR LADY:
The heart of this good Mother is all love and mercy; she desires only to see us happy. We have only to turn to her to be heard. The Son has His justice, the Mother has nothing but her love. God has loved us so much as to die for us; but in the heart of Our Lord there is justice, which is an attribute of God; in that of the most Holy Virgin there is nothing but mercy. Her Son being ready to punish a sinner, Mary interposes, checks the sword, implores pardon for the poor criminal. “Mother, ” Our Lord says to her, “I can refuse you nothing.”
The Ave Maria is a prayer that is never wearisome. The devotion to the Holy Virgin is delicious, sweet, nourishing. When we talk on earthly subjects or politics, we grow weary; but when we talk of the Holy Virgin, it is always new. All the saints have a great devotion to Our Lady; no grace comes from Heaven without passing through her hands. We cannot go into a house without speaking to the porter; well, the Holy Virgin is the portress of Heaven.
When we have to offer anything to a great personage, we get it presented by the person he likes best, in order that the homage may be agreeable to him. So our prayers have quite a different sort of merit when they are presented by the Blessed Virgin, because she is the only creature who has never offended God. The Blessed Virgin alone has fulfilled the first Commandment–to adore God only, and love Him perfectly. She fulfilled it completely.
My children, we cannot comprehend the goodness of God towards us in instituting this great Sacrament of Penance. If we had had a favour to ask of Our Lord, we should never have thought of asking Him that. But He foresaw our frailty and our inconstancy in well-doing, and His love induced Him to do what we should not have dared to ask. If one said to those poor lost souls that have been so long in Hell, “We are going to place a priest at the gate of Hell: all those who wish to confess have only to go out, ” do you think, my children, that a single one would remain? The most guilty would not be afraid of telling their sins, nor even of telling them before all the world. Oh, how soon Hell would be a desert, and how Heaven would be peopled!
See my children; the treasure of a Christian is not on the earth, it is in Heaven. Well, our thoughts ought to be where our treasure is. Man has a beautiful office, that of praying and loving. You pray, you love–that is the happiness of man upon the earth. Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When our heart is pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves a joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together; they cannot be separated. This union of God with His little creature is a most beautiful thing. It is a happiness that we cannot understand.