Thursday, August 3, 2017

An inspiration for parish priests

     I always love looking at the book of the saints, reading of their lives, and most especially seeing what they have been named "patron" of.  Some are highly unusual, while many make great sense and are easily understood.

     The saint of the day - John Marie Vianney - is the patron saint of parish priests.  For those who serve in parish ministry, his story gives hope and his example gives inspiration.  I have found him to be a favorite of mine since seminary days.

     His story is one of struggle and difficulty in his studies.  He desired to serve as a priest, but he was challenged academically, and could not master Latin or the philosophical training required (probably why I find him so relatable).  Yet he had a deep desire and a pervading spirituality that prompted the Church leaders to train him privately and to ordain him because of his virtue.  So that he would do no harm, they assigned him to a small, backwoods village in France named Ars-en-Dombes.  Nothing much happened there, especially on the spiritual level. 

     Pere John Mary Vianney became a noted catechist, spiritual director and confessor - spending most of the day in the confessional.  As his reputation spread, the little village  of no consequence became a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of pilgrims daily ... attending his liturgies and going to confession.  They came to see the "Cure of Ars" (the pastor of Ars) and to be blessed.  He served there from 1830 to 1845.

     The challenges of priesthood today are very different from the mid 1800's, and yet even more challenging.  The apathy found in a worldly Church has become a complacency with the status-quo.  The need to be spiritual, to bring and to be Christ to others is still vital to the life of the Church,  So pray for your priests, and remember those of us who are retired.

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