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ST. JEAN VIANNEY Feast Day August 1st

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ST. JOHN VIANNEY

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney

The Cure' of Ars

Feast Day: August 4th


EARLY LIFE DURING THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

St. Jean (Baptiste-Marie) Vianney was born in Dardilly, France. Jean spent his boyhood amid the troubled times of the French Revolution. He grew up hearing about the martyrs killed during the anti-clerical rampage during the French Revolution. This caused him to have a high regard for the priests and religious whose lives were taken from them, and other religious who had suffered loss and opposition. He received his First Communion during this dangerous period, and determined at this young age to become a priest. Early education was affected and limited by these troubled times.

NAPOLEONIC ERA

Jean’s advanced religious education began when he was 20, but it was interrupted by further civil unrest. Nevertheless, he was able to pursue brief ecclesiastical study until conscription into Napoleon’s army ended his schooling for a time. Sickness and other circumstances prevented him from fighting. He ended up staying in the mountainous regions near Les Noes for over a year until he could return safely home again after the campaigns of the war. While in Les Noes, he taught the village’s school children.

St. John Vianney’s determination to live his life for the Lord—and consecrate his life to Him—overshadowed everything else. He learned important ways to serve the Lord wven without advanced seminary training. TheFrench Revolution and the Napoleonic wars had delayed some educational endeavors, but did nothing to postpone his personal and heart-felt love of, and devotion to, his Lord.

It was a great blessing to attend the clerical school in Ecully run by Fr. (Cure’) Balley—a priest who remained a teacher and mentor to Jean, and an advocate for him… for years. Father Balley recognized that disrupted educational opportunities earlier in life and his average intelligence did not dampen the pre-eminence of his heart’s commitment and love for God.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

It was a book about St. John-Baptiste Marie Vianney that was the first full-length saint book that I read…in 4thgrade. The title was “St. John Vianney:The Priest Who Out-Talked the Devil”. I was always an avid reader, and I was much impressed—by his passion, by the personal connection with, but humble confidence in, God’s presence… by his equally confident courage in the face of God’s enemy, the devil… and by his understanding that the enemy attacks against him were due to his work for God in loving and winning souls for Him. These are some of the things that impressed me with the authentic existence and genuine presence of God and of His enemy, and that God is infinitely more powerful.

I remember the reality of it all (although I would not have been able to understand it or express it in the same the way I can now) and “caught” the things that really mattered. I saw how very genuine and effective Jean-Baptiste’s relationship with and work for God must have been. Apparently, nine years old was not too young to be impressed by such things… or to remember (with relatively clear recall) decades later... God matters. He truly matters above all—in everything, all the time.

Originally, it was St. Francis—to whom Jean-Baptiste was devoted***, also—who first captured my love and attention with his “peace” prayer…some 3 or 4 years earlier. We sometimes forget or fail to realize how young children can be when they find purpose, causes, dreams and devotions and even callings in life.

***(Jean-Baptiste Vianney was so drawn to care for the poor that he became a 3rdorder Franciscan. Today, the Franciscan friars have a monastery on the property of his former parish [and burial site] in Ars, France.)


LIFE AS THE “CURE’ OF ARS”

It was to the priest, Cure’ (now Pastor) Balleywho had taught and helped him years earlier in the ecclesiastical school in Ecully he was assigned as assistant some 9 years later, after his ordination. They did parish work together until Cure’ Balley died. Then Cure’ Jean-Baptiste Vianney became pastor of that same small village church in Ars. There he would remain and there he would gain fame as the beloved and impassioned “Cure’ of Ars”.

It was known that the house where Cure’ Vianney lived for many years in Ars was a home where he experienced unpleasant visitations from the devil whom he called, “the Grappin” (meaning “pitchfork”). Others—including Jean’s own sister while visiting—experienced and witnessed some unusual things while in his home. It is striking that his belief in his mission to save souls, and his lengthy prayer connections with God, made him relatively unconcerned about these manifestations and harassments.

Jean knew that his Lord was astronomically more powerful than the enemy spirits; that his sister would be safe; that the enemy of our souls was angry about his dynamic relationship with God and His saving work; and that even harassing evil powers have strong limits in their effects on our lives when we consciously and prayerfully surrender and give ourselves to God for his service—whether that service is as a cleric or religious with vows or as God-serving lay people.

There are many ways that we can serve and follow God with all our hearts--and do much to see His kingdom come on earth, as He graces and leads us.

St. John Vianney devoted himself well to his flock in that small town. Old, lax and ungodly patterns (especially flourishing from the spiritually confusing, anti-clerical period during the revolution) were passionately confronted, and the truth was preached. The village was transformed.

Others began coming from far away to hear him preach and teach, and to go to confession to him.The cure’ ended up spending more and more time hearing confessions— up to 16 or 18 hours a day. Leaders and other clerics began coming to him.

GOD RAISES UP THE LOWLY

This limited scholar--this small village priest--eventually became the patron of all priests, and beloved by popes. St. John Vianney took the responsibilities of the priesthood so much to heart in sharing Christ’s load that he became like the Christ he followed. Although his head was not filled with as much knowledge and intricate learning as many other clerics and theologians, his heart was filled with a love and courage that enabled him to boldly proclaim the way, the truth and the life of the One Who IS the Way, the Truth and the Life.

As this humble priest leaned on God, the Holy Spirit gave him (in addition to his down-to earth, life-giving and imaginative teaching gift) wisdom, insight and knowledge beyond human capacity in order to minister to his flock with loving compassion. This included spiritual gifts of wisdom, word of knowledge, prophetic awareness, miracles, healing, supernatural provision, etc.

It is amazing and delightful to see just how humble and appreciative God, Himself, is toward His much varied flock on earth… How He cherishes greatly and eventually raises up the “lesser” ones who may not be great by worldly standards of judgment—and even “religious world”-ly measures. Even Jesus went continually beyond Himself to the Father’s wisdom, sight and understanding.

Recognition and acclaim rarely come to the meek and lowly… at least not easily or soon. But it has eventually come to some more modern, beloved saints… Therese the Little Flower; Venerable Solanus Casey; St Andre’ Bessette; St. Francis of Paola… and others…

Unfortunately, it is easy for God’s own people to “default” to worldly standards in viewing and judging people and things, instead of living life seeking God’s wisdom and praying to see things through His eyes. Jesus calls us to that kind of seeking. “In all truth I tell you, by himself, the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: for whatever the Father does the Son does too. ” [John 5:19]

St. Jean-Marie Vianney lived into his 70’s attending to parish and to the crowds who came for mass, to hear his preaching, and to receive personal direction from him. He taught and encouraged them toward a true holiness—in both large public settings and in the privacy of the confessional. This pattern continued into the spring and summer of 1859, when, on August 4th, his life on this earth came to an end.

PATRON SAINT OF: CONFESSORS AND PRIESTS


We continue with our series on "Humor and Joy".

“PART III: JOY or HAPPINESS? The JOURNEY, the FOCUS and the LOVE”

Here, we take a closer look at the differences in these related subjects. Each can have a very blessed place in our lives. Hope it gives both food for thought and some encouragement.

Next, we look further at the pursuit of joy—a life-giving aspect of our walk with and for the Lord. We’ll share some papal views and see where scriptures, humor and laughter fit in.

PART IV: “SEEKING JOY

Meanwhile, ENJOY HUMOR, SMILES and LAUGHTER”

Then we focus on a subject that has great humor potential:

“PART V: LAUGHING IN RELATIONSHIPS” (mostly jokes… Really!)

Finally, for our ending, (as in real life) we arrive at…

“PART VI: AGING…” Tread lightly, but Enjoy! (Yes, almost all jokes)


This article was published previously on this blog by the same author.


SOURCES:

This article's information began when the author was in grade school and read a hard-back biographical book on St. Jean-Marie Vianney... was impressed very much by him... and continued to read, learn and remember over the years.

Other more recent sources are:

https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-john-vianney.html

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint/st-john-mary-vianney-322

clepriesthood.org/what-is-the-catholic-priesthood/life-with-saint-john-vianney

https://sjvroundrock.org/who-was-sjv

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=399

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-john-vianney


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