Dear Friends in Christ,
This weekend on August 4th, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. I was blessed to go on retreat at the end of June in Ars, France to pray every day and to offer Mass at the tomb of Saint John Vianney. The Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney is incorrupt, meaning that his body has been persevered from radical, physical corruption. This is not a prerequisite for canonization, but it is a mystical sign of the Lord reminding us of the holiness of that particular saint. Saint John Vianney was born in 1786 and was a parish priest in France. He would die in sanctity in 1859. He lived at the tail end and aftermath of the French Revolution which was very hostile to the Holy Catholic Church. Saint John received his First Holy Communion hidden in a barn! He lived during very trying times and took over a parish in Ars that was spiritually dead. Upon his arrival in the outskirts of Ars, he encountered a young man and was famous for saying, “Show me the way to Ars and I will show you the way to heaven!” Simply carrying out the duties of a parish priest with great love and fidelity he grew in sanctity and transformed his parish. He spent hours in the confessional and is a model for parish priests. These times show us scandals from the cardinals down to those called to offer their lives daily for their flock. Saint John Vianney would say, “In admiring the virtues of the saints, we are only admiring the virtues of Christ.” Pray for the clergy of our Church, but focus on Christ! We who are blessed to be ordained are called to be Christlike and when we are not, we are reflecting Judas. Do not look at the Church, the Body of Christ, as corrupt, but realize that some of the members are corrupt. There is a difference. Pray that the teachings of Christ will lift us up. It is deadly to possess a desire that the teachings of Christ be lowered to our level. Frighteningly, Saint John Vianney once said, “A priest goes to heaven or a priest goes to hell with a thousand people behind.” What a responsibility! Please pray for your priests. Ask Our Lady, Our Queen, to help us to be more and more like her Son!
God bless you,