Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney or as many people know him “The Cure D’Ars” – the (parish) priest of Ars. He was born on May 8, 1786 and died on August 4, 1859. To read a detailed account of his life, please see the website Catholic Online. Below is a very short explanation of his later life and a part of his life as a priest I enjoy since I frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation often.
The little town of Ars was a sinful place filled with immorality, religious apathy and thoughtlessness. St. John Vianney always tried to help the sinners of the town, although he did try to leave three times to join a monastery (sin can do that to you!). However, he came back each time ready to fight the sinful acts of the people. He arrived in Ars at the age of 31 and was there till his entrance into heavenly glory. He ended up converting his entire parish and became known as a great confessor and spiritual director to many. He converted thousands of people to the Catholic faith. Many people could not resist his words in the confessional.
One of the things I like about St. John Vianney is that he devoted many hours of his day at the parish offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation to his parishioners. He would often sit in the confessional for 13-17 hours and had the spiritual gift of reading the souls of his penitents. He had a great compassion for the souls in his care, as a parish priest should.
Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, who also had the gift of reading souls and sitting in the confessional at hours on end, St. John Vianney suffered from attacks by the devil. The devil once said to him that if three men existed on earth like him that his kingdom (Satan’s) would be destroyed.
In 1925, St. John Vianney was canonized a saint. In 1929, Pope Pius XI declared him the “Patron of Parish Priests.”
While in graduate school at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I spent time in Philadelphia with friends. One time when I was there, I met John Volk. He was involved with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Men’s Conference. During a conversation about being men of God, he gave me the booklet, Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars. At his request, I have kept this booklet in my car and often read from it at stoplights or when sitting in traffic. It’s a great little booklet of sayings from St. John Vianney. I would encourage you to purchase this booklet as well. Below are ten insights from “The Cure D’Ars.” There are many more in the booklet!
“Almighty God sends no trial without consolation.” – On Suffering (M.).
“Do not be afraid of people saying that going to Mass on a weekday is only for those who have nothing to do….Are you ashamed to serve God for fear of being despised?” – Eucharistic Meditation 25
“Remember that when the priest gives you absolution, you have but one thing to think of – that the Blood of the good God is flowing over your soul to purify it and make it as bright as it was made by its Baptism. – Catechism on the Sacrament of Penance (M.).
“Let us live as the Blessed Virgin lived: loving God only, desiring God only, trying to please God only in all that we do.” – Sermon on the Feast of the Assumption.
“He who does not pray is like a hen or a turkey that cannot rise into the air. He who prays is like an intrepid eagle!” – On the Joys of the Interior Life (SP.).
“Never let your home be without a crucifix upon its walls, to the end that all who enter it may know that you are a disciple of a Crucified Lord, and that you are not ashamed to own it.” – On Home Life (F.).
“If we could only see the joy of our Guardian Angel when he sees up fighting our temptations!…” – On Temptations
“Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is to the Rosary; take away the chain and the beads are scattered, remove Humility and all virtues vanish.” – Maxim (T.).
“The devil writes down our sins – our Guardian Angel all our merits. Labor that the Guardian Angel’s book may be full, and the devil’s empty.” – Catechism on Sin (M.).
“The Saints never complain.” – Maxim (M.).