Priests’ Patron

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  By the power of His Passion, death, and Resurrection, He will raise our lowly bodies after the pattern of His glorious body, which has ascended to the right hand of the Father.

Christ, crucified and risen, is our gospel.  He unites us in His mystical body, presided over by St. Peter’s successor.  Jesus sustains us by His heavenly grace, through the ministry of His Church.  Christ conquers evil with good.  He gives us real hope:  eternal life, life with God, the fruition of every good thing.

st-john-vianney-confessionChrist is our gospel.  Christ was St. John Vianney’s gospel.  The Cure of Ars died 157 years ago today.  Who knows what Cure of Ars means?  Parish priest of a little French town, near Lyon, called Ars.

In heaven, St. John Vianney especially helps which group of people, as their patron?  Remember, we went over this on All Saints Day last year

The parishes of a given geographic region make up a…diocese, presided over by one of the pope’s brother…bishops.  Most priests serve a particular bishop, ministering at one of his parishes, like St. John Vianney did.  That’s called a ________ priest…diocesan.

It’s a little hard getting used to the fact that we have a pope who is not a diocesan priest, for whom August 4 is not the feast day of his patron.  For most of my years as a priest, we diocesan priests always shared August 4 with the pope, as our feastday.  Anyone know the last pope before our sitting Holy Father who wasn’t a diocesan priest?  Pope Gregory XVI, who died in 1846.  He was a Benedictine, a Camaldolese hermit. And 1846 was a long time ago.

And what about Pope Francis?  Who is his heavenly patron, the founder of his religious order?  St. Ignatius Loyola, the first Jesuit.  Who died exactly 303 years and 4 days before St. John Vianney.  So St. Ignatius’ feast day was just this past…Sunday.

But:  these days all priests look to St. John Vianney for help and inspiration, including Pope Francis.  Because the Cure of Ars consecrated himself completely to the mystery of Christ crucified and risen.  St. John Vianney spent forty years hearing confessions for twenty hours a day. Talk about a Jubilee of Mercy!

Pray for us, o holy patron in heaven!  May we faithfully follow you as ministers of Divine Mercy in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church!

Poem for St. John Vianney

CureYour heart, and bones, stole, and chalice,
I have knelt beside,
in a poor-town church, frumpy and cramped.

Next door: the wall, where you nailed the bag
that held the week’s potatoes;
the bed, scarcely used.

On the other side (of the altar):
vesting case, little plank to sit on,
and the prie-dieu where they knelt,

thousands after thousands.
Trains brought them; they lined up along the street
to confess to the holy priest.

God beckons. The world has webs.
Your penitents got themselves tangled speaking French.
Here we speak English and Spanish: tangled all the same.

He beckons: I Am Simple.
I got to gaze at the sky above Ars,
took a run past local cornfields of your farm-fed curacy,

where you wandered to read your Breviary.
You wanted to steal away to the cloister.
They dragged you home to the town church.

You can read souls better now
than you did then, dear Father.

This Hamlet has more offenses at my beck
than thoughts to put them in.
Too arrant a knave for such a patron.

But He beckons.
The simple Fire
in the tabernacle

Who only loves, and shed His blood
so we could make the sign of the Cross,
and untangle everything.

150 Years Ago Today…

…the patron saint of parish priests died. It is St. John Vianney’s Dies Natalis, the day he was born into the next lilfe.

heart reliquaryPope Benedict dedicated this year to priests because of this anniversary.

St. John Vianney’s heart is kept in a reliquary separate from the rest of his body. The heart is enshrined in a small chapel outside the basilica in Ars. The basilica houses both the entire parish church of Ars and the sepulchre of the saint.

Today, after Holy Mass in the Basilica, there was a somewhat rag-tag procession of the heart of the Curé through the town.


There is a monument down the hill from Ars which marks the place where the saint asked a boy to direct him to his new parish. (The priest was arriving on foot). He said to the boy: “If you tell me the way to Ars, I will tell you the way to heaven.”

Today the Curé’s heart was carried to this monument, as well as other places in the town. Looks like it was a pretty hot day over there. St. John Vianney never had air-conditioning, of course. And he hardly ever slept. And he ate only boiled potatoes.

But the main thing is that he loved the holy faith of the Church and never tired of teaching it.


Year of the Priest

His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. –Mark 6:34

The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. –St. John Vianney

st-john-vianneyIt is difficult to keep up with all the ecclesiastical news. We were just getting into the Year of St. Paul. But the Pauline Year came to an end last month. Now another significant anniversary is upon us.

We parish priests have a pretty cushy life. Kind people love us and take care of us. Our daily duties are sweet and sublime: Offering the Holy Sacrifice, administering the sacraments, praying for the people, teaching the Word of God.

The life of a parish priest is so delightful, in fact, that we run the risk of getting lazy and self-indulgent. All the other priests I know are very dedicated and diligent, but I am speaking about myself.

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Two top-eleven college basketball teams came to town today. And the NBA-elite San Antonio Spurs, too.

Not too many people thought that the Hoyas would beat Marquette. (And they didn’t, in fact, beat Marquette.)

But even fewer people thought that the Terps would beat #3 UNC, and they did!

And nobody thought the Wizards could get three wins in a row, which they have yet to do this season.

The most cheerful basketball news of the day for me was this:

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