Vianney: Also known as the Cure d'Ars, St. John Vianney was born May 8,
1786 in Dardilly, France. The spiritual revolution that he brought about in his
parish at Ars was one of the marvels of nineteenth-century France. John Vianney
was the fourth of six children raised in a Catholic home that helped the poor
and housed St. Benedict Joseph Labre when he traveled.
During the anticlerical Terror phase of the French
Revolution that forced priests to work in secret, John received his catechism
instructions and made his first confession and First Communion in private at
the age of 13. At the age of 18 he began his studies for the priesthood under
the Abbe' Balley, pastor at Ecully.
Discouraged by his lack of scholastic ability and his
failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced John Vianney to discontinue
training for priesthood. He made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. John Regis
at La Louvesc and was then called up for military service. Through a strange
set of circumstances, his unit left without him, and after the general amnesty
of 1810 he began formal studies for the priesthood but found the subjects
difficult to master. He sought private tutoring. It was a long battle with the
books but John Vianney was ordained a priest at Grenoble in 1815 and was sent
as an assistant to his former teacher, the Abbe' Balley.
In 1818 he was assigned to Ars as parish priest and
remained there for the rest of his life. As pastor of Ars, John Vianney
encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style
of living. He fasted and prayed, visited every family in his parish, taught
catechism, and by his preaching led his people back to the practice of their
religion. The chief labor of the Cure d'Ars was the direction of souls. It had
not been long when people began coming to him from other parishes. His
instruction was simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and
country scenes, but deep in faith and the love of God. In eight years he
thoroughly restored religion in the parish, organized religious guilds, and
fostered truly Christian homes.
St. John Vianney's work as a confessor is his most
remarkable accomplishment. People came from all over France by the thousands to
be his penitents. He was usually in the confessional most of the day. In winter
months he spent 11 to 12 hours each day reconciling people with God. In the
summer it increased to 16 hours. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed
in serving God. Even the few hours of sleep he would allow himself were
frequently times when he was harassed by the devil who for thirty years
disturbed him with strange phenomena. Who
but a man of vision couldkeep going
with increasing strength.
Worn out by work and austerities, John Vianney died on
August 4th, 1859 at the age of seventy-three. He was beatified by
Pope St. Pius X in 1905 and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In 1929 he was
declared the patron of parish priests. His feast day is August 4th. By hard work and prayer, and his own living example,
St. John Vianney transformed his whole parish into a model Christian community.
To bring about change we have to work, pray and become living models of the
Christian life ourselves.
1)Where and how do I get the strength to
complete the difficult tasks that the Father asks?