Friday, February 22, 2013

Saint John Vianney

In my last post I mentioned five saints that I wanted to learn more about this lent, each of them having a special meaning to me. I begin with Saint John Vianney. He is the patron saint of parish priest and my brother Marc's confirmation saint. I am Marc's confirmation sponsor so I wanted to learn more about this saint that picked him so many years ago...

Yes I did say picked him, it's not a typo. When Marc was preparing for confirmation in 8th grade he research and decided on Saint John Bosco as his confirmation saint, but when he wrote down his confirmation saint on the form he got the names mixed up and wrote down Saint John Vianney instead. I have always believed that the mix up was divine providence. I wondered if he would become a priest perhaps, though he hasn't shown interest in that calling so far. I thought it would be fitting to begin my Lenten saint research with John Vianney as yesterday was Marc's golden birthday.
I read a couple quick biographies on online to begin but it didn't give me the depth I was looking for. Finally I came across this website. John Vianney was an amazing man and priest. I wish I lived in Ars during the time he was priest. I took him about 10 years but he converted the whole town. No one worked on Sundays and everyone attended mass. People would come from all over to have him say hear their confessions.

A couple of quotes from John Vianney on the Our Lady of the Rosary website stuck out to me. First,  “O what a beautiful thing it is to do all things in union with the good God!” he would say. “Courage, my soul, if you work with God, you shall, indeed, do the work, but He will bless it. You shall walk and He will bless your steps. Everything shall be taken account of – the forgoing of a look, of some gratification – all shall be recorded. There are people who make capital out of everything, even the winter. If it is cold they offer their little sufferings to God. Oh! What a beautiful thing it is to offer oneself, each morning, as a victim to God!”

I have often thought about how I should always be asking God to help us with our tasks. Good, hard, or otherwise God should be part of our lives all the time. So how does that work? Cause obviously I am the one acting, so where is God in that? By John Vianney's account he is present because he blesses us and the work that we do. So we should offer everything to God and always ask for him blessing.

The other thing that same website quoted him saying was, “My friend, the devil is not greatly afraid of the discipline and other instruments of penance. That which beats him is the curtailment of one’s food, drink and sleep. There is nothing the devil fears more, consequently, nothing is more pleasing to God. Oh! How often have I experienced it! Whilst I was alone – and I was alone during eight or nine years, and therefore quite free to yield to my attraction – it happened at times that I refrained from food for entire days. On those occasions I obtained, both for myself and for others, whatsoever I asked of Almighty God.”

So as we go through lent fasting keep that in mind because in one action, of giving up food, drink, or sleep for God, we can greatly please God and beat the devil. Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

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