St. John Vianney on charity
It was 200 years ago this month that St. John Vianney, known as Curé of Ars, celebrated the first anniversary of his ordination. He would go on to become the most celebrated parish priest of his era, and is today the patron saint of parish priests.
Born in France just three years before the fall of the Bastille, he was among six children of a devout Catholic couple. His parents risked great dangers by practicing their faith during the Revolution’s Reign of Terror, traveling clandestinely to assist at illegal Masses. The courageous priests became heroes to young John.
He had an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Mother as well as to St. Philomena. St. John Vianney was 32 when he was assigned to the tiny parish of Ars. Despite the humble surroundings, word of his sanctity and extraordinary priestly devotion began to spread until Ars began to draw some 20,000 pilgrims annually. St. John often spent as many as 16 hours a day hearing confessions. He died in 1859 at age 73, and is entombed at the Basilica of Ars (photo above courtesy Herwig Reidlinger).
Here are a few of his words about charity:
• “All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone – for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good.”
• “If people would do for God what they do for the world, what a greatnumber of Christians would go to Heaven.”
• “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.”
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