St John Vianney, Priest – 04 August
Born to a farm family. In his youth John taught other children their prayers and catechism. Ordained in 1815, though it took several years of study – he had little education, was not a very good student, and his Latin was terrible. Assigned as a parochial vicar to Ecully, France. In 1818 he was assigned to the parish of Ars-sur-Formans, France, a tiny village near Lyons, which suffered from very lax attendance. He began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor, spent days in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, did penance for his parishioners, and leading his people by example. Had the gifts of discernment of spirits, prophecy, hidden knowledge, and of working miracles. Tormented by evil spirits, especially when he tried to get his 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Crowds came to hear him preach, and to make their reconciliation because of his reputation with penitents; by 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims a year to Ars. Spent 40 years as the parish priest.
He was born in May 1786 at Dardilly, Lyons, France and died on 4 August 1859 at Ars, France of natural causes.
From the Catechetical Instructions by Saint John Mary Vianny
My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where out treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. Prayer is nothing else but union with God. In this intimate union, God and the soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can every pull apart. This union of god with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is a happiness beyond understanding. My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun. Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water, because they give themselves totally to God. O, how I love these noble souls! How unlike them we are! How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for. And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go. And still worse, there are some who seem to speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to you, and then I will be rid of you.” I often think that when we come to adore the Lord, we would receive everything we ask for, if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart.