Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Saturday of August: St. John Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars

Almighty and merciful God, who made the Priest Saint John Vianney wonderful in his pastoral zeal, grant, we pray, that through his intercession and example we may in charity win brothers and sisters for Christ and attain with them eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. St. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.

His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.

Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)

With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.

His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.

Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.

Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide. []

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Generally, the pace of meetings slows down somewhat in the summer, but we did have a late July meeting of my Episcopal Council this week.  It was the last one for Msgr. Joseph Muldoon (2nd from the right) who returns to parish life as Pastor of Holy Spirit Church, Stittsville after four and a half years of generous service as Episcopal Vicar for the English Sector and the first meeting for his successor as Episcopal Vicar, Father Geoffrey Kerslake (third from the left), who recently completed studies in theology and liturgy at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein (Chicago), IL

Also pictured are from left to right: Msgr. Kevin Beach, Vicar General; Mgr Daniel Berniquez, Episcopal Vicar for the French Sector; and Father Christian Riesbeck, CC, Chancellor--all under the watchful gaze of First Ottawa, Bishop Mgr Guigues.

These servants of the Church, inspired by St. John Vianney, patron of diocesan priests, are an immense help to my ministry. Please pray for all our priests this weekend, especially those beginning new appointments or otherwise experiencing a change in their life (such as illness, retirement, etc.)


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