My friend and I recently finished praying the Novena to St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests and seminarians. From his childhood during the French Revolution France, which forced he and other Catholics to worship in hiding, or deserting the Napoleonic army, to his academic difficulties in seminary, St. John Vianney exemplifies patient perseverance. Known as the Cure of Ars, Father Vianney dedicated most waking moments of his life to the salvation of souls and the conversion of sinners. Sometimes he spent up to 14-16 hours in the confessional. A dynamic confessor, Father Vianney is amazing reminder of the vital importance of the sacrament of reconciliation in the sacramental life of the Church, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. His Feast Day is August 4th.
Each day the novena reflected on an aspect of St. John Vianney’s life and ministry outlining a theme to reflect and ask for the grace to be transformed and informed in whatever our respective vocations may be whether priest/religious, married, or generous single.
- Complete Trust in God
- True Love of Neighbor
- Horror of Sin
- Confessor of Souls
- The Real Presence
- Exquisite Purity
- Desire for Heaven
At the conclusion of the novena (thanks to praymorenovenas.com,) the daily reflection challenged the participant to express gratitude to a priest for their service to the church and remind us pray for seminarians and priests. Why? Because as Catholics, we believe in the power of intercessory prayer and that we live in communion with each other. Our prayers matter. Our prayers shape lives. Encourage vocations. Provide courage of conviction in moments of doubt or confusion. And remind each respective vocation that we can’t have one without the other. We are part of the Body of Christ. . . . the Vine and the Branches, etc. Furthermore, priests whether they live in accordance or not, have a tremendous obligation and responsibility to the Church, the members of the Church, and leading by example. Jesus Christ is epitome of the priestly vocation, an example that our priests are called to strive for. And, therefore, need all the prayers they can get. May we all strive to emulate Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of St. John Vianney & St. John Paul II:
“St. Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest — always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.”
St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars
“The priestly vocation is essentially a call to sanctity, in the form that derives from the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sanctity is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and self-giving to their true good; it is love for the church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because such is the mission that Christ has entrusted to it. Each one of you must be holy also in order to help your brothers pursue their vocation to sanctity.”
St. John Paul II, (Rome, Italy, October 9, 1984)