Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of priests. His life serves as a remarkable example of the beauty of the priesthood. By living out his vocation, St. John Vianney was able to help the people he served refocus their attention toward God. His preaching and devotion had an impact on the hearts of believers to amend their lives, approach the mercy of God in the confessional, and recognize the beauty and glory of the sacraments. More than what he said, his actions were paramount in bringing many lost sheep back to the fold. St. John Vianney is known for the time he spent hearing confessions (sometimes over 12 hours a day) and his instrumental part in transforming much of France in a sort of spiritual revival.
The above quote is taken from his Catechism on Prayer. St. John Vianney explains that we do not deserve the gift of prayer, but God lovingly allows us to communicate with Him. Much like most of this great Saint’s works and homilies, this Catechism on Prayer enlightens the reader (or listener) about the glory of God and how we can fine tune our lives to live in union with Him. What is a vocation other than living our lives in union with God according to His will?
For someone who is discerning their purpose in life, it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking about the treasures of this earth – career, status, financial security, building one’s own home and family. These are not terrible things, but the temptation and the fear enter the moment we buy into the lie that without achieving or obtaining these things, we will not be happy. These earthly things are a natural part of thinking about the future, however, as St. John Vianney explains above, it is not where the Christian’s thoughts should be. Instead, we pray. We unite ourselves to God and through that relationship, that communication; He leads us to a “joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us.”
In vocations offices around the world, the question arises to priests, “What made you want to be a priest?” A more telling question, some would say, is “Why are you still a priest after 5…10…50 years?” It is the latter question which would elicit an answer rooted in joy and conviction in God’s call and purpose for the priest’s life. Through union with God the priest heard the call…through union with God he answered the call…through union with God he lives out the call. The joy that comes from living out that call (one’s vocation) is “a happiness that we cannot understand,” but it a happiness one can only obtain through God, a happiness that completely fulfills the desires of the heart.
On this feast of St. John Vianney,
let us pray in thanksgiving for our priests:
those who give of themselves selflessly in service to Christ's Church.
We ask the Lord, through the intercession of St. John Vianney,
to send us good, holy men for His priesthood
devoted to Christ and to His people
who, by their lives and example, will refocus the hearts and minds of those gone astray.