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St. John Vianney
« on: August 09, 2017, 06:21:39 AM »
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    Blessed John Baptist Vianney
    by Rev. Constantine Kempf, S.J., 1916

    The Blessed John Baptist Vianney, parish priest of Ars, is certainly one of the noblest figures among the saints of the nineteenth century. If one would know holiness in all its charms, in its ineffable gentleness and amiability, let him read the life of this illustrious ornament of the French clergy. The supernatural power revealed in him is so grand and so clearly manifest that only the ill-disposed can deny it.

    John Baptist Vianney, born May 8, 1786, in the village of Dardilly, near Lyons, was the son of simple peasants. Grace attracted him heavenward from the beginning. Reason had hardly dawned in him when it turned toward God. The boy of three or four years was often found praying in some secluded corner of the house. When, at the age of seven, he was sent to tend the cows, he was able to spend almost the entire day in the sweetness of prayer. Even then he gave promise of his future calling. He used to gather the shepherd boys of the neighborhood around him from time to time and give them a little exhortation on the duty of avoiding evil and of persevering in good. He had always before his eyes the best example in his parents, who were models of piety and were most careful to preserve their children from every taint of evil.

    Then came the French Revolution, closing the churches and expelling the priests. Blessed John received his first Holy Communion in a barn during the darkness of night. Finally, in 1803 a priest, the zealous Charles Bailey, was appointed to Ecully, about three miles from Dardilly. His attention was soon attracted to the virtuous John Vianney. He offered to help John to become a priest. The young man gladly agreed, lodged with relations at Ecully and began to learn Latin. He was then seventeen years old, but had had scarcely any schooling. Study, therefore, proved very difficult for him, for his natural talent appeared to be rather poor. But his tutor, convinced that this upright and innocent youth would serve the Church well by his holiness, if not by his learning, did not lose patience. Vianney sought help from God and vowed a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. John Francis Regis at Lalouvesc. While he advanced steadily but slowly in his studies, it brought him many humiliations. In the little seminary of Verrieres he had to suffer much from his fellow-students and he failed in his examination for entrance into the great seminary of Lyons. It was only through the intercession of his tutor Bailey that he was granted a second examination and admission to the seminary. On August 9, 1815, the end was at last attained. Vianney was a priest. His former teacher, Father Bailey, asked to have him for an assistant. Ecully rejoiced, for it already knew the profound piety and modesty of the newly-ordained priest. Vianney's good sense in the direction of souls soon showed itself. His zeal was prodigious but not indiscreet or excessive, and he began at once to achieve noble triumphs.

    At the beginning of February, 1818, Vianney was appointed parish priest of Ars. The vicar-general said to him: "My friend, you are pastor of Ars. It is a small parish where there is little love for God. Bring it to them." Ars was in bad repute and not without reason. Even among the good attendance at divine service and the reception of the sacraments were limited to what was just necessary. The rest sometimes attended, but only exteriorly. Dissolute pleasure seeking allowed religion only scant existence.

    Still all admired the edifying example of the new pastor in the church and in his humble and modest manner of life. If the sheep did not come to the shepherd the shepherd sought out the sheep. Vianney went from house to house, showed interest in their welfare and their troubles and spoke kinds words of encouragement and consolation. In this way the ice was broken. Sunday after Sunday more came to church, They ventured even to approach the sacraments outside the great feasts. Those who had once experienced in confession what gentleness flowed from the heart of the priest and how refreshing were his words, soon came again. With his heart glowing with love and speaking as only saints can speak he preached on God, death, heaven, hell, and on the Blessed Sacrament so movingly that from eyes which on like occasions had never wept there welled up fountains of tears. In the whole village only one voice was heard: "Our pastor is a saint." In the course of time no one could escape the influence of his personality. It was indeed a long struggle and many years passed before all hearts were conquered, for the love of pleasure made a most stubborn resistance.

    The news of this change in Ars and of the holiness of its pastor soon spread throughout the neighboring country round about, penetrating at length to the limits of France and thence abroad. Every day the roads that led to Ars brought greater pilgrimages. Monnin says of them: "These pilgrimages, which went on for more than thirty years with extraordinarily great crowds and under exceptional circumstances, will fill a large page in Christian annals. They give the monograph we now publish a color so living and original, a framing so splendid, that it seems to be poetry as well as history. We find here on a large scale all those wonders with which our ancient hagiographers loved to adorn their narratives. But we have no mythical antiquity before us and no one can find excuse for our belief that our history of this man who is still a contemporary will show any trace of fanciful or exaggerated elaboration.

    It is a history of our own time which can bring forward witnesses to its truth by thousands and hundreds of thousands, yet we find in it all that we marvel at in the legends of the past--all that in our own day we may regard as extraordinary heroism, perfect mortification, wonderful self-denial, incomparable humility, boundless love of God and our neighbor, and a dominion over souls--a power to draw them from afar, to move them, to convert and to gain them for heaven; and further, as if in proof of this spiritual dominion, a miraculous power over nature, the power to change the ordinary course of things, to heal bodily diseases, to read the depths of conscience as an open book, to foretell the future--in a word, he possessed the miraculous gift of knowledge and of power. This does not constitute, it is true, what is most sublime in the lives of the saints, but it is most convincing with the people--one of them told us: 'Before I came to Ars and saw the good Father [so the pilgrims used to call our saint], I found it hard to believe all that is related in the lives of the saints. Much in them seemed to me impossible. But now I believe it all, for I have seen all those things with my own eyes and even more.'"

    In fact, Ars proved to be a constant miracle. Men could not say precisely what it was that attracted these vast crowds from near and far. They saw only a poor little church and a poorly-clad priest. Yet they stood there close-thronged and waited patiently two or three days to confess to him and to listen to his simple catechism, which powerfully stirred their consciences. Many came out of mere curiosity, but on these, too, fell the rays of grace. They could not resist going in and confessing their sins to the holy priest. To these wonders of grace were added the most astonishing cures of the sick, which he effected through the intercession of St. Philomena, and his wise admonitions, which were certainly inspired by divine enlightenment.

    These labors demanded of him the heaviest personal sacrifices. He could hardly allow himself one or two hours of rest at night. A little after midnight he hurried to the confessional, there to remain the whole day except during the times of Mass, of the brief instruction, and of his very scanty meal. One can not understand whence he derived the physical strength for such uninterrupted exertions. Still, not satisfied with all this, he afflicted his body with the severest penances, and it pleased God to send him the most grievous interior trials. His combats with the evil one, which are verified by the best authorities, remind us of what St. Athanasius relates of the hermit Anthony. All that is related of the gifts of grace and the fulness of virtue possessed by the holy Cure of Ars and of the wonderful cures and conversions wrought by him, is full of consolation. What faith teaches of the power, the beauty, and the grandeur of the soul of the just man was embodied in him. Vianney was to be set against the unbelieving spirit of the age as a visible proof of the truth of Christian teaching.

    On July 29, 1859, the Cure, then seventy-three years of age, had been, as usual, for sixteen or seventeen hours in the confessional, and there his strength suddenly gave way. On the morning of the fourth of August his soul took its flight to heaven while Abbe Monnin was reciting the prayer of the dying: "Veniant illi obviam sancti angeli Dei et perducant eum in civitatem caelestem Jerusalem;" "May the holy angels of God meet him and guide him into the city of the heavenly Jerusalem." But his influence was not ended with his death. All Christendom rejoiced when Pius X, on January 8, 1905, numbered this ideal pastor of souls among the beatified.

    Novena Prayer to St. John Vianney

    May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and all the Saints intercede with God for us. The Lord hath made His Saints wonderful. And heard them when they cried unto Him.

    Preserve us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers to soul and body, and by the intercession of the Blessed and Glorious Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, of St. Joseph, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of St. John Vianney and all the Saints, in Thy mercy, grant us health and peace, that after all adversity and error is removed, Thy Church may serve Thee in freedom and safety, through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the union of the Holy Ghost world without end. Amen.

    St. John Vianney, patron of priests, pray for us.

     (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory, etc. 3 times)

    How the Cure of Ars became a Saint
    by Abbe Alfred Monnin, 1865

    The sufferings He Inflicted on Himself

    It is from the period of the foundation of the Providence that M. Monnin dates the commencement of the heroic life of the Cur of Ars. "Those," says he, "who did not approach him till the later years of his life, when the habit of sanctity had become a second nature to him; when the practice of the most heroic virtues had become so familiar as no longer to cost him an effort; when, united with, and transformed into, Him, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, he had become one with Him, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, never changing tone or look, whatever might befall him; following every movement of that Divine Master, with Whose Heart and will his own were inseparably united; those who knew him in those days admired a work finished and perfected. But they would have much mistaken had they imagined that the Cure of Ars had become a saint without the toil and effort by which alone saints are made.

     "'Who are these,' says one of the ancients in the Apocalypse, 'who are around the Throne before the face of the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and having palms in their hands? Who are they, and whence come they?' And he is answered, 'These are they who are come out of great tribulation.' This is the law of sanctity; and it was not given to our saint to escape it, or to unite himself by any other means to Him who is the Saint of saints.

     "Through how many tribulations, conflicts, and trials did he pass before he reached the lofty summit on which we have seen him so tranquilly reposing! So true are the words of St. Catherine, that never from the beginning to the end of the world has our Lord willed, or shall He will, that anything great should be accomplished but through much suffering. "Sanctity is the fruit of sacrifice. It is a death, and a new birth; the death of the old man, the birth of the new. There is no death without its suffering, no childbirth without its pangs."

    Of the sufferings of our holy cure, some were inflicted by himself, some by the devil, some by good and some by evil men; some, and those the most intense of all, by the hand of God Himself. And first of those which were self-imposed. There are few, even among the saints, whose lives bear the marks of a more systematic and unflinching crucifixion of the whole man, a more uniform practice both of exterior and interior mortification, than we find in the portrait traced of him by those familiar with the details of his daily life.

    Claudine Renard, the pious widow who had the charge of washing his linen, and rendering him such other little services as he could not refuse to receive at her hands, could rarely obtain admittance into the presbytery. On the few occasions when she contrived to effect an entrance, after doing her best to put the poor furniture in order, she sometimes proceeded to make the good Cur's bed. She thus discovered that, one by one, he had cast aside all the bedding he had brought with him from Ecully, till nothing remained but the straw palliasse; and that finding even this too luxurious, he had put a board on the top of it.

     "And besides," said Catherine, when relating these particulars, "there is hardly any straw left now in that poor bed. He takes it out by degrees, till at last there will be nothing left but the wood. Then he will be satisfied. We have tried sometimes secretly to put in a few handfuls, but it only made him take out more; for if he felt his bed a little less hard, he would pull out the straw, and throw it into the fire. We discovered this by finding the ashes in the fireplace."

    It was accidentally found out afterwards, that, to satisfy his increasing thirst for suffering, M. Vianney was in the habit of discarding his bed altogether, and sleeping on the bare floor of the granary with a stone for his pillow.

    His favorite food consisted of some pieces of the coarsest black bread bought out of the basket of some poor man. The Abbe Renard, in a memoir drawn up by him of the early days of the holy Cur's ministry, tell us that he had often witnessed the joy with which he ate this most distasteful food. If he perceived the disgust which his companion felt at the sight of it, he would laugh and invite him to share his dinner, saying, "It is a blessing, dear friend, to be permitted to eat the bread of the poor; they are the friends of Jesus Christ. I feel as if I were sitting at His table."

    When these delicacies were not to be procured, his ordinary meal consisted of potatoes, which he boiled himself once a week. Sometimes, when his own stock of potatoes had come to an end, he has been seen, with his basket in his hand, begging his week's provision from door to door. He took our Lord at His word, and left the whole care of his life, and all that belonged to it, to the pledged care of His Providence. He never withheld an alms because it would leave him without provision for the morrow, or even for the day.

    A neighbor one day brought him a loaf of fine flour, which she had made on purpose for him. She went back to fetch some milk; and believing that he had been long fasting, she wished him to eat the bread and milk in her presence. No persuasions could induce him to consent. At last an idea struck her, which would account for his pertinacious refusal.

     "I see, M. le Cure," said she, "you have no bread left." True, indeed; a beggar had passed while she was gone, and the whole loaf of bread had been deposited in his wallet. M. Vianney seemed determined, in those days, to try how long human nature could be supported without food. He sometimes reduced himself to such a state of weakness, as to be obliged to lean against the forms or walls of the church for support. When, after long days of fasting, he could hold out no longer, he would take a handful of flour, and, moistening it with a little water, make a few matafaims (A thin cake so called in the Dombes), which served him for his single meal.

    Catherine tells us that she had often heard him say: "Oh! how happy I was in those days! I had not the whole world on my hands; I was all alone. When I wanted my dinner, I did not lose much time over it. Three matefaims did the business. I ate the first while I was baking the second; and while I was eating the second, I baked the third. As I finished my dinner, I arranged my fire and my stove, drank a little water, and that was enough for two or three days."

    It has, in fact, been ascertained that the Cure of Ars often passed several days together without taking any nourishment whatever, when he desired to obtain some special grace for himself or his parishioners, to make reparation for some scandal which had wrung his heart, or to do penance for some grievous sinner, whom he judged too weak in courage, or in contrition, to perform it for himself. When asked how a confessor was to act in order to exact due reparation for sin, and at the same time show necessary consideration for the weakness of sinners, he said, "I will tell you my recipe. I give them a light penance, and do the rest in their place."

    He had great confidence in the efficacy of fasting as a means of appeasing Divine justice, and a weapon against the evil one.

     ''The devil," said he, "laughs at disciplines and other instruments of penance; or, at least, if he does not laugh at them, he cares little for them; but what puts him effectually to flight is the privation of food and sleep. There is nothing which the devil dreads so much, and nothing which is more pleasing to God. I experienced this during the five or six years when I was alone, and could follow my attrait without being remarked. Oh, what graces did the Lord vouchsafe to me at that time! I obtained everything. I wanted from Him." His assistant priest once said to him: "M. le Cur, it is said that at one time you could easily pass a whole week without eating."

     "Oh, no, my friend," replied he; "that is an exaggeration. The utmost I ever did was to go through a week upon three meals."

    He has acknowledged on other occasions having abstained from all nourishment for whole days together, and sometimes for forty-eight hours. The habitual rigid abstinence which he practiced appears from a remark which escaped him one day, when a batch of baking at the Providence had been very successful: "Well, for once I must be greedy, and eat as much as I want." It is positively affirmed by Catherine that he has passed a whole Lent without consuming two pounds of bread. He even tried to live without bread altogether. Claudine Renard caught him one day eating a handful of grass.

     "What, M. le Cur," said she in amazement, "are you eating grass?"

     "Yes, my good mother Renard," answered he with a smile; "it is an experiment which I am trying; but it does not answer."

     "It is very plain," said he, long afterwards, in a moment of affectionate familiarity, to his assistant priest, "that we are differently formed from the beasts. I once tried to live like them, upon grass; but I lost all my strength. It seems that bread is necessary to man."

    Bishop Devie once asked him: "Did you ever try to live upon roots and grass, like your predecessors, the fathers of the desert?"

     "Monseigneur," replied he, "I did try it once for a week; but I could not go on. I am not a saint like them."

     "One day," says Catherine, "I tried to persuade M. le Cure to take a little more nourishment. I said, 'You will never hold out, if you go on living in this way.' 'Oh, yes,' replied he gaily. 'What says our Lord? I have another food to eat; which is, to do the will of My Father, who hath sent Me.' Then he added, 'I have a good carcass. I am tough. As soon as I have eaten something, no matter what, or slept a couple of hours, I can begin again. When you have given something to a good horse, he sets off upon the trot again, as if nothing ailed him; and a horse hardly ever lies down.'"

    The best horse, however, may be overridden, and M. Vianney was sometimes forced to acknowledge that he could do no more.

     "There are days when I can really hardly speak; especially about seven in the morning, and seven in the evening; but I always find strength to speak of the good God."

    At evening prayers his voice was sometimes scarcely audible. He was asked once, why he spoke so loud when he preached, and so low when he prayed.

     "Because, when I am preaching," said he, "I have to deal with those who are deaf or sleeping; but when I pray, I have to deal with the good God, and He is not deaf."

    In fact, he always went to the very limit of his powers. "My good cure," said M. d'Ars, "do take a little more care of yourself, if you would not give me continual distractions. When I hear you recite the Rosary in that feeble, worn-out tone, I find myself saying, instead of Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us,' 'My God, have pity on him, and give him grace to go on to the end.'"

    Sometimes the good lady got fairly angry with him, and threatened to complain of him to the Archbishop; and, indeed, M. Courbon, the Vicar-General, who looked upon him as in some sort a child of his own, remonstrated with him, though without effect.

    The only occasions on which M. Vianney relaxed, in any degree, the habitual austerity of his life, were when he was called upon to exercise hospitality to a brother priest. On these rare occasions, he would send to Mdlle. d'Ars; or, if there was not time to reach the castle, Mdlle. Pignaut, or Claudine Renard, would provide a dinner, simple indeed, but very different from his ordinary fare, which he would make a show of sharing with his guests, while, in the words of one who enjoyed his hospitality on one of these occasions, "he ceased not to discourse of heavenly things, like a man absorbed in God." It is an instance of what has been before observed, of the strength and tenderness of his home affections, that he showed the same consideration for any of his relatives who came to see him. When his nephew and niece from Dardilly paid him a visit, some little addition was always made. He sat down to dinner with them, whereas he always took his solitary meals standing; carved for them, and courteously did all the honors of the table, encouraging them to eat, and eating with them of whatever was before them. But as these good people said, "When we were at Ars, we felt neither hunger nor thirst; it was always like the day of our first Communion."

    Then M. Vianney would ask kindly after all his old friends at Dardilly, and dwell upon his childish reminiscences, asking particularly after the old apple-tree, under the shadows of which the reapers had been accustomed to dine and sleep.

    We are told of a very characteristic banquet, to which the good cure invited Mdlle. Pignaut and the widow Renard, who, to satisfy a little womanly curiosity, often teased him to give them an entertainment in return for the many repasts they had provided for his guests. He could do no less, they said, than invite them in return.

     "One evening, then," says Catherine, "when M. le Cure had laid in a fresh stock of his favorite black bread, he went to visit his neighbor.

     "'Claudine,' said he, in a livelier tone than usual, 'you are to come to my house at once, with your daughter and Mdlle. Pignaut. I want you all three.'

     "Exceedingly pleased, and above all exceedingly curious to know what M. le Cure wanted with them, the three women arrived at the presbytery.

     "'What do I want with you?' said he, as soon as they came in; 'I want you to sup with me. Are you not pleased? Take chairs, and sit down. What a feast we are going to have! We will eat the bread of the poor--the friends of Jesus Christ--and we will drink the good water of the good God. So much for the body. And then we will-read out of the lives of those holy Saints who were so penitent and so mortified. So much for the soul. And so now let us set to work.'"

    The good Cure had arranged his table, and spread his feast: in the middle was a basket filled with the bread of the poor; on the right, a large folio volume of the Lives of the Saints; on the left, a pitcher of water, with a wooden cup.

    At the sight of this grand preparation, Claudine Renard,who was in the secret, exchanged a look with M. le Cur, and smiled; the other two were a little disconcerted. Without seeming to notice their confusion, M. Vianney blessed the table, and offered a piece of bread to each.

     "I dared not refuse," said Anne Renard, when she related the story. "I got to the end of my piece of bread, and so did my mother; but poor Mdlle. Pignaut, do what she would, could not manage to swallow hers. She was on thorns the whole time the visit lasted, having never been invited to such a feast before. She never tried to get another invitation."

    M. Vianney would certainly have wanted the necessaries of life but for the watchful care of Divine Providence in commissioning one pious hand after another to supply his wants. On the death of the good widow Renard, her place was 'filled by a pious woman, who went by the name of Soeur Lacon. She carried on a perpetual warfare with the holy cure to induce him to mitigate in some degree the inflexible austerity of his life. She would slip unawares into the presbytery, and leave with-inside the provisions which M. Vianney had refused to receive from her. Great was her self-gratulation on such occasions, until, on the following morning, she would recognize her gift in the wallet of the first beggar who came to ask alms at her door.

    Catherine's journal contains an amusing account of one of these skirmishes between Soeur Lacon and her incorrigible pastor:

     "She had made a beautiful pie for M. le Cure, which, when baked to perfection, she took out of the oven, and hid in an old cupboard in the presbytery kitchen, thinking it would be sure to be safe in that deserted corner of the house. She impatiently awaited M. Vianney's return in the evening; and as soon as she heard him come in, she said to him, in the most insinuating tone in the world, 'M. le Cure, will you have a little piece of pie?'

     "'Certainly,' replied he, immediately; 'I should like it very much!

     "Delighted with so unusual an acquiescence, she flew to her hiding-place, when, alas, no pie was to be found! What could have become of it? Had M. le Cure found it out, and given it to some poor man? This was really too much. She went up stairs in great indignation.

     "'M. le Cure, this is too bad. My pie was my own; I did not give it to you.'

     "'Why did you put it in the presbytery, then?' replied he, very quietly. 'I conclude that what I find in my house is my own, and that I have a right to dispose of it.'"

    Poor Mdlle. Lacon, as Catherine tells us, had taken a great deal of trouble to give M. Vianney this surprise; and was the more to be pitied, as she was upwards of seventy, had one leg shorter than the other, and had great difficulty in moving about, on account of her rheumatism.

     "M. le Cure, however," adds she, "only did it to try her; for he knew that she was a good soul, and that the more sacrifices he led her to make, the more would she advance in the ways of God."

    That she was a good soul, free from malice and guile, appears from her proposing, a few days afterwards, to M. Vianney to make him some matefaims. He consented with a readiness which might have led her to suspect mischief. But in the innocence of her heart she set to work to mix her flour; and, being doubtful of her own skill, called in Mdlle. Pignaut to counsel. M. Vianney watched all these preparations with a malicious eye. When they were finished, the dish was solemnly placed before him. He joined his hands, and raised his eyes to heaven, as if about to say the Benedicite; and then, while all around were devoutly making the sign of the Cross, he took up the dish, ran down stairs with it, and distributed the contents to the poor.

    M. Vianney was often to be met hurrying along with something concealed under his cassock. He would go about, knocking at one door after another, till he found some one to receive his alms, which it was his great object to bestow with the greatest possible secrecy, and unknown, if possible, even to the objects of his bounty. An old blind woman, who lived near the church, was on this account a special favorite. He would enter her cottage softly, and deposit his gift in her apron without speaking a word. She would feel with her hand what he had given her, and, supposing she owed it to the kindness of some of her poor neighbors, would answer, " Many thanks, good woman; many thanks;" to the great delight of M. le Curl, who would go away laughing heartily.

    M. Vianney, after some of his long fasts, often came home from the church so utterly exhausted, that he was unable to stand. On these occasions he would laugh merrily, and seem as much delighted with himself as a schoolboy who has succeeded in some mischievous frolic.

    One day, as Catherine tells us, he felt so faint in the confessional, that he said to himself, "You had better come out while you can, or they will be obliged to carry you." So he dragged himself, as best he could, to the Providence, when he arrived panting for breath, and as pale as a corpse. He asked for a little eau de Cologne.

     "Well, Monsieur," said Catherine, as she brought it to him, "you must be quite happy this time; you have carried things far enough to-day." And indeed, said she, "under his pale and sunken features we could perceive the radiance of an exceeding interior joy." It was the joy of victory over a vanquished enemy; and that enemy whom he thus triumphed over and laughed to scorn was himself. He would take nothing but a little eau de Cologne; and as soon as he could stand, hastened into the next room to catechize the children.

     "When the catechizing is over," says Catherine, "he finds his little earthen pipkin by the fire containing some milk just colored with chocolate. He generally takes his meal, if meal it can be called, standing by the chimney corner, and often drinks his milk without putting any bread into it at all; the whole is concluded in the course of five minutes. When he is in a hurry, he returns to the presbytery with his pipkin in his hand; so that any one who met him going through the streets would take him for a beggar who had just received an alms. He is never better pleased, nor in a merrier mood, than on these occasions."

    It was thus that he contrived to add humiliation to mortification. An ecclesiastic, who had come to Ars on purpose to see him, met him thus eating his dinner as he went along. "Are you the Cur of Ars, of whom every one speaks " said he, in great astonishment and disgust.

     "Yes, my good friend; I am indeed the poor Cur of Ars."

     "This is a little too much," said the priest; "I had expected to see something dignified and striking. This little Cure has no presence or dignity, and eats in the street like a beggar. It is a mystery altogether."

    The words were repeated to M. Vianney, who delighted to tell the story. "The poor good gentleman," said he, "was fairly caught; he came to Ars to see something, and found nothing."

    A second interview, however, brought this contemptuous visitor under the power of the singular fascination which the little Cure exercised over all who came within its sphere. He made a good retreat under his direction, and no longer wondered what men came out into the wilderness to see.

    The dress of M. Vianney corresponded with his fare. Though a great lover of order and cleanliness, he never allowed himself more than one cassock at a time. It was washed and mended till it would no longer hold together, and not till then would he consent to replace it by a new one. It was the same with his hat, which was worn till it was perfectly shapeless; and with his shoes, which were never approached by brush or blacking. Thus arrayed, he would present himself at the ecclesiastical conferences or other meetings of the clergy, which he made a point of attending, meeting all the raillery of his brethren by the invariable reply, "It is quite good enough for the Cure of Ars. Who do you think would take scandal at it? When you have said, It is the Cure of Ars, you have said all there is to say."

     "Thus was it," says M. Monnin, "that he became a Saint,--by sparing himself in nothing, little or great; by applying fire and steel to the most sensitive parts of his being. Such, at the period of his history at which we have arrived, was the Cure of Ars. Having overcome the slavery of self, he was free to follow every impulse of the Holy Ghost. He had removed all the hindrances, and broken all the bonds, which could attach his heart to anything below the Supreme Good. His will soared above this world, in union with the will of God. His views, his desires, his affections, were, so to speak, deified; his expanded heart included all creatures in its wide and fraternal embrace. He had but one wish,--that God's name should be hallowed : His kingdom come; His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." With him, as with St. Paul, to live was Christ; and it was manifest to all who saw him, that Christ lived in him.


    Litany of St. John Marie Vianney

    Lord, have mercy on us.
     Lord, have mercy on us.
     Christ, have mercy on us.
     Christ, have mercy on us.
     Lord, have mercy on us.
     Lord, have mercy on us.
     Christ, hear us.
     Christ, graciously hear us.
     God the Father of Heaven,
     Have mercy on us.
     God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
     Have mercy on us.
     God the Holy Ghost,
     Have mercy on. us.
     Holy Trinity, one God,
     Have mercy on us.

     Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    Pray for us. *

     Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, *
     St. Jean-Marie, endowed with grace from thine infancy, *
     St. Jean-Marie, model of filial piety, *
     St. Jean-Marie, devouted servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, *
     St. Jean-Marie, spotless lily of purity, *
     St. Jean-Marie, faithful imitator of the sufferings of Christ, *
     St. Jean-Marie, abyss of humility, *
     St. Jean-Marie, seraph of prayer, *
     St. Jean-Marie, faithful adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament, *
     St. Jean-Marie, ardent lover of holy poverty, *
     St. Jean-Marie, true son of St. Francis of Assisi, *
     St. Jean-Marie, exemplary Franciscan Tertiary, *
     St. Jean-Marie, tender friend of the poor, *
     St. Jean-Marie, penetrated with the fear of God's judgment, *
     St. Jean-Marie, fortified by Divine visions, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who was tormented by the evil spirit, *
     St. Jean-Marie, perfect model of sacerdotal virtue, *
     St. Jean-Marie, firm and prudent pastor, *
     St. Jean-Marie, inflamed by zeal, *
     St. Jean-Marie, faithful attendant on the sick, *
     St. Jean-Marie, indefatigable catechist, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who didst preach in words of fire, *
     St. Jean-Marie, wise director of souls, *
     St. Jean-Marie, specially gifted with the spirit of counsel, *
     St. Jean-Marie, enlightened by light from heaven, *
     St. Jean-Marie, formidable to Satan, *
     St. Jean-Marie, compassionate with every misery, *
     St. Jean-Marie, providence of the orphans, *
     St. Jean-Marie, favored with the gift of miracles, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who didst reconcile so many sinners with God, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who didst confirm so many of the just in the way of virtue, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who didst taste the sweetness of death, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who dost now rejoice in the glory of heaven, *
     St. Jean-Marie, who givest joy to those who invoke thee, *
     St. Jean-Marie, heavenly patron of parish priests, *
     St. Jean-Marie, model and patron of directors of souls, *

     Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
     Spare us, O Lord.
     Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
     Hear us, O Lord.
     Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
     Have mercy on us, O Lord.

     Christ, hear us.
     Christ, graciously hear us.

     V. Pray for us, blessed Jean-Marie Vianney:
     R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

     Let us pray:

    Almighty and merciful God, Who didst bestow upon blessed John Mary wonderful pastoral zeal and a great fervor for prayer and penance: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his example and intercession we may be able to gain the souls of our brethren for Christ, and with them attain to everlasting glory. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.


    Prayer to Our Lady by St. John Mary Vianney

    O thou most holy virgin Mary, who dost evermore stand before the most holy Trinity, and to whom it is granted at all times to pray for us to thy most beloved Son; pray for me in all my necessities; help me, combat for me, and obtain for me the pardon of all my sins. Help me especially at my last hour; and when I can no longer give any sign of the use of reason, then do thou encourage me, make the sign of the cross for me, and fight for me against the enemy. Make in my name a profession of faith; favor me with a testimony of my salvation, and never let me despair of the mercy of God. Help me to overthrow the wicked enemy. When I can no longer say:

     "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I place my soul in your hands," do thou say it for me; when I can no longer hear human words of consolation, do thou comfort me. Leave me not before I have been judged; and if I have to expiate my sins in purgatory, Oh! pray for me earnestly; and admonish my friends to procure for me a speedy enjoyment of the blessed sight of God. Lessen my sufferings, deliver me speedily, and lead my soul into heaven with thee: that, united with all the elect, I may there bless and praise my God and thee for all eternity. Amen.

    Hymn: Iste Confessor

    This the Confessor of the Lord, whose triumph
     Now all the faithful celebrate, with gladness
     Erst on this feast-day merited to enter
     Into his glory.

    Saintly and prudent, modest in behavior,
     Peaceful and sober, chaste was he, and lowly,
     While that life's vigor, coursing through his members,
     Quickened his being.

    Sick ones of old time, to his tomb resorting,
     Sorely by ailments manifold afflicted,
     Oft-times have welcomed health and strength returning,
     At his petition.

    Whence we in chorus gladly do him honor,
     Chanting his praises with devout affection,
     That in his merits we may have a portion,
     Now and forever.

    His be the glory, power and salvation,
     Who over all things reigneth in the highest,
     Earth's mighty fabric ruling and directing,
     Onely and Trinal. Amen

    A Prayer for Priests

    Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord,

    Keep them, for they are Thine

    Thy priests whose lives burn out before Thy consecrated shrine.

    Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain,

    When all their life of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.

    Keep them, and O remember, Lord, They have no one but Thee,

    Yet they have only human hearts with human frailty.

    Keep them as spotless as the host that daily, they caress.

    Their ever thought and world and deed

    Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.


    Sermons and Teachings from the Cure of Ars






        Last Judgment






    Beware if you       
    have no Temptations       





    Prisoners of Sin               

    How Blind the Sinner Is

    The Priesthood & Confession         

    The Bad Death                      

    Offline Binechi

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    Re: St. John Vianney
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    Sermon on the Priesthood
    from The Little Catechism of the Cure of Ars
    by Saint John Vianney 1786-1859

    My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God--a man who is invested with all the powers of God. "Go," said Our Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me. " When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he says, "I absolve you. "At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body." St. Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest--always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

    Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you." Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

    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.

    When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, "Where are you going?" you might answer, "I am going to feed my soul. " If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, "What is that golden door?" "That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept." "Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?" "The priest." "And what is the Food?" "The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord." O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world. . . . Someone said, "Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Cure of Ars?" Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

    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. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul. " At the sight of a church tower, you may say, "What is there in that place?" "The Body of Our Lord." "Why is He there?" "Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass."

    What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Sermon on Confession
    from The Little Catechism of the Cure of Ars
    by Saint John Vianney 1786-1859

    My children, as soon as ever you have a little spot upon your soul, you must do like a person who has a fine globe of glass, which he keeps very carefully. If this globe has a little dust on it, he wipes it with a sponge the moment he perceives it, and there is the globe clear and brilliant. In the same way, as soon as you perceive a little stain on your soul, take some holy water with respect, do one of those good works to which the remission of venial sins is attached--an alms, a genuflection to the Blessed Sacrament, hearing a Mass. My children, it is like a person who has a slight illness; he need not go and see a doctor, he may cure himself without. If he has a headache, he need only go to bed; if he is hungry, he has only to eat. But if it is a serious illness, if it is a dangerous wound, he must have the doctor; after the doctor come the remedies. In the same way, when we have fallen into any grievous sin, we must have recourse to the doctor, that is the priest; and to the remedy, that is confession.

    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! Well, we have the time and the means, which those poor lost souls have not. And I am quite sure that those wretched ones say in Hell, "O accursed priest! if I had never known you, I should not be so guilty!"

    It is a beautiful thought, my children, that we have a Sacrament which heals the wounds of our soul! But we must receive it with good dispositions. Otherwise we make new wounds upon the old ones. What would you say of a man covered with wounds who is advised to go to the hospital to show himself to the surgeon? The surgeon cures him by giving him remedies. But, behold! this man takes his knife, gives himself great blows with it and makes himself worse than he was before. Well, that is what you often do after leaving the confessional.

    My children, some people make bad confessions without taking any notice of it. These persons say, "I do not know what is the matter with me" . . . . They are tormented, and they do not know why. They have not that agility which makes one go straight to the good God; they have something heavy and weary about them which fatigues them. My children, that is because of sins that remain, often even venial sins, for which one has some affection. There are some people who, indeed, tell everything, but they have no repentance; and they go at once to Holy Communion. Thus the Blood of Our Lord is profaned! They go to the Holy Table with a sort of weariness. They say, "Yet, I accused myself of all my sins. . . I do not know what is the matter with me. " There is an unworthy Communion, and they were hardly aware of it!

    My children, some people again profane the Sacraments in another manner. They have concealed mortal sins for ten years, for twenty years. They are always uneasy; their sin is always present to their mind; they are always thinking of confessing it, and always putting it off; it is a Hell. When these people feel this, they will ask to make a general confession, and they will tell their sins as if they had just committed them: they will not confess that they have hidden them during ten years -- twenty years. That is a bad confession! They ought to say, besides, that they had given up the practice of their religion, that they no longer felt the pleasure they had formerly in serving the good God.

    My children, we run the risk again of profaning the Sacrament if we seize the moment when there is a noise round the confessional to tell the sins quickly which give us most pain. We quiet ourselves by saying, "I accused myself properly; so much the worse if the confessor did not hear. " So much the worse for you who acted cunningly! At other times we speak quickly, profiting by the moment when the priest is not very attentive to get over the great sins. Take a house which has been for a long time very dirty and neglected--it is in vain to sweep out, there will always be a nasty smell. It is the same with our soul after confession; it requires tears to purify it. My children, we must ask earnestly for repentance. After confession, we must plant a thorn in our heart, and never lose sight of our sins. We must do as the angel did to St. Francis of Assisi; he fixed in him five darts, which never came out again.

    Litany of Repentance through Love
    by Pope Pius VI. (1717 - 1799)

     Lord, have mercy on me.
     Christ, have mercy on me.
     Lord, have mercy on me.
     Heavenly Father, true God,
    Have mercy on me. *

     Son, Redeemer of the world, true God, *
     Holy Ghost, true God, *
     Holy Trinity, one only God, *

     O Thou, Who by Thy longanimity, and by the delay of Thy chastisements, displayest Thy omnipotence and goodness, *

     O Thou Who so patiently awaitest the conversion of sinners, *

     O Thou, Who so lovingly invitest sinners to repentance, *

     O Thou, Who rejoicest so much on the conversion of sinners, *

     For having sinned,
    I repent with all my heart, O my God. **

     For having so often and so grievously sinned; **

     For having sinned in thought, word, and deed; **

     For having sinned so deliberately and malignantly; **

     For having sinned by numberless negligences and omissions, **

     For having so audaciously violated Thy holy laws; **

     For not having feared Thy omnipotence; **

     For having despised Thy love; **

     For having despised Thy goodness and longanimity; **

     For having renewed the wounds and, sorrows of Thy divine Son. **

     For having rendered myself worthy of Thy just chastisement in this world and the next, **

     On account of all these actions, but much more and especially on account of Thyself, **

     Because I have offended and displeased Thee, **

     Because I revere Thee above all things, **

     In union with that loving repentance,which all the penitent saints have had, **

     In union with that extreme horror for the slightest sin, which the Blessed Virgin Mary ever had, **

     In union with that incomprehensible grief, which, Thy divine Son experienced on the Mount of Olives, on account of my sins, and those of all the world, **

     Our Father, &c.

     Let us pray:

    O God! Who by an excess of goodness peculiar to Thee, art ever ready to have mercy and spare, consider not the multitude and enormity of my sins, but the greatness of thy mercy. Despise not a contrite and humble heart. By Thy grace I am resolved to amend my life, avoid dangers and occasions of sin; and henceforth I prefer to die, rather than commit a single sin. Chastise me as Thou wilt. I deserve all, O my God and my Lord, whom I have so often and so grievously offended; this grace alone I ask of Thee through Thy most dear Son, who died for sinners. Do not reject me forever from Thy face! do not; deprive me of grace to produce yet in this life fruits worthy of penance, in order that I may praise Thy infinite mercy for all eternity. Amen.

    Offline Binechi

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    The Spirit of the Cure of Ars
    by Alfred Monnin, 1865

    In perusing the instructions of the Cure of Ars, we may miss the sweetness of his voice, or the bright look and affectionate manner with which they were wont to be accompanied; but our hearts burn within us as we read, for they come from a saint on fire with the love of God, who was raised up in an unbelieving generation to carry on the old tradition, and to sanctify the world by the simple preaching of the Cross. --Preface

    Sermon On Temptations
    (pages 230 - 232)

    We are all inclined to sin, my children; we are idle, greedy, sensual, given to the pleasures of the flesh.

    We want to know every thing, to learn every thing, to see every thing; we must watch over our mind, over our heart, and over our senses, for these are the gates by which the devil penetrates. See, he prowls round us incessantly; his only occupation in this world is to seek companions for himself. All our life he will lay snares for us, he will try to make us yield to temptations; we must, on our side, do all we can to defeat and resist him.

    We can do nothing by ourselves, my children; but we can do every thing with the help of the good God; let us pray Him to deliver us from this enemy of our salvation, or to give us strength to fight against him. With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this Name, if they sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for heaven, all brilliant with precious stones. See, my children, the good God refuses nothing to those who pray to Him from the bottom of their heart. St. Teresa, being one day in prayer, and desiring to see the good God, Jesus Christ showed to the eyes of her soul His divine Hands; then, another day, when she was again in prayer, He showed her His Face. Lastly, some days after, He showed her the whole of His Sacred Humanity.

    The good God who granted the desire of St. Teresa will also grant our prayers. If we ask of Him the grace to resist temptations, He will grant it to us; for He wishes to save us all, He shed His Blood for us all, He died for us all, He is waiting for us all in heaven; we are two or three hundred here: shall we all be saved, shall we all go to heaven? Alas! my children, we know nothing about it; but I tremble when I see so many souls lost in these days.

    See, they fall into hell as the leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter. We shall fall like the rest, my children, if we do not avoid temptations; if, when we cannot avoid them, we do not fight generously, with the help of the good God,--if we do not invoke His Name during the strife, like St. Antony in the desert. This saint having retired into an old sepulchre, the devil came to attack him; he tried at first to terrify him with a horrible noise ; he even beat him so cruelly, that he left him half dead and covered with wounds. "Well," said St. Antony, "here I am, ready to fight again; no, thou shalt not be able to separate me from Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God." The spirits of darkness redoubled their efforts, and uttered frightful cries. St. Antony remained unmoved, because he put all his confidence in God. After the example of this saint, my children, let us be always ready for the combat; let us put our confidence in God; let us fast and pray; and the devil will not be able to separate us from Jesus Christ, either in this world or the next.

    Prayer in Time of Temptation

    O God, Who restorest the wicked to justice and desirest not the death of the sinner; we humbly entreat Thy Majesty, that by Thy heavenly help and constant protection Thou wouldst graciously shield Thy servants who trust in Thy mercy, that they may always serve Thee and never be separated from Thee by any temptation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    St. John Vianney, pray for us.

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