St. Jean-Marie Vianney

This week, on Thursday, the Church gloriously celebrates the memorial of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the saintly priest who died on August 4, 1859.   This zealous and holy pastor of souls spent his entire priestly ministry dedicated in sincere love and devotion to Jesus Christ our High Priest.     Born of a peasant family in a farming village of Dardilly, France in 1786, he spent his early years working in the fields and tending flocks until about the age of 17.   He expressed a deep yearning to become a priest and after great difficulty and obstacles, precisely because of his lack of education, he was finally ordained a priest in August of 1816.  He was so overwhelmed by his ordination that he expressed “Oh! How great is the Priesthood!  It can be properly understood only in Heaven…if one were to understand it on this earth one would die, not of fright but of love!”  The rest of his life he served the Lord Jesus as a priest, always holding up the dignity of the priesthood by his reverence to it.     He worked tirelessly as a shepherd in the village of Ars in Southern France, celebrating the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance always having in his heart the model of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.   

 

He was particularly known for his diligence in the “cure animarum” or the “healing of souls” through the Sacrament of Penance.   Countless were the hours he would spend sitting in the confessional hearing confessions for so many souls were thirsty for the life cleansing water of sacramental absolution.    In his Catechism on the Sacrament of Penance he writes: “My children, it is like a person who has a slight illness; he need not go and see a doctor, he may cure himself without. If he has a headache, he need only go to bed; if he is hungry, he has only to eat. But if it is a serious illness, if it is a dangerous wound, he must have the doctor; after the doctor come the remedies. In the same way, when we have fallen into any grievous sin, we must have recourse to the doctor, that is the priest; and to the remedy, that is confession.”  What a beautiful expression of the healing power of confession.  

 

Too often, many Catholics believe, in error, that they are not in need of confession.   Some attempt to justify this by saying they confess directly to God, as do non-Catholics.   Unfortunately, they endanger their souls by denying themselves the proper manner and ordinary means by which the Lord Jesus mandated his disciples “if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn. 20:23).   The confessional is where we lay down our guilt at the feet of the priest who offers them to God and in turn helps up raise up the dignity we had stained, forgiven of the sins we have committed and restored into friendship with God.   Our act of humbly admitting that we have failed and physically present ourselves to God’s mercy is the means by which we are reminded of our weakness and ingratitude.   Never deny yourselves of the fountain of God’s love and mercy.   I want to encourage you to make it a habit to make a good confession perhaps every month or at least every other month.   Although, as the Cure of Ars himself would encourage, anytime your soul is sick seek your spiritual doctor, the priest.   Beginning next Sunday, we will be offering confessions on Sunday during the 11:00 a.m. Mass and beginning in September, 30 minutes before the 8:30 am and 6:00 pm Mass.   I hope this will encourage all of you to make ample use of this wonderful healing sacrament of God’s love and mercy.

 

In the Lord Jesus,

Fr. Vasquez

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