If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration: Fulfill ye my joy, that you may be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment. Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves: Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's. For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2: 1-11)
Although these words of Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians apply to all Catholics, they apply in a very particular way to priests, men whose immortal souls have been conformed to the Priesthood and Victimhood of the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass, the Logos, the Word Who became Flesh in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate womb by the power of God the Holy Ghost, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A man ordained to the sacerdotal priesthood that Our Lord instituted at the Last Supper and conferred in all of its fullness, namely, the episcopate, upon the Apostles is called upon to be Christ at all times and in all circumstances.
A priest ordained to be "bothered," if you will, when he least wants to be disturbed, to administer the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to souls who ask for them at odd hours of the day and night. A priest is called to bear a visible witness to his priestly calling in public so that those who have strayed from the Faith and those who are outside of the true Sheepfold of Christ that is the Catholic Church might be inspired to respond to the Actual Graces being sent to them to seek out the sure path of salvation. There is no such thing as "time-off" for a priest. His rest is meant to be taken only in eternity after he has spent himself to the point of death in the service of the souls for whom the One to Whom he has been configured by means of his priestly ordination shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Some priests, especially those in the diocesan priesthood/presbyterate in the structures of the counterfeit church of conciliarism on the East Coast, treat their priestly calling as a "job," keeping meticulous track of their "duty days" and never answering the door or the parish telephone after a certain hour, something that unfortunately long antedates the conciliar era. Some of these men are true priests, having been ordained before 1968, and they know only too well about the problems of the Protestant and Judeo-Masonic Novus Ordo liturgical service and of the whole ethos of conciliarism, but who prefer the creature comforts of their careers, reasoning that their false "bishops" are the ones answerable to God for the orders that they give to them to offer a "Mass" they know to be, at the very least, offensive to God and harmful to souls and for adhering to the conciliarist line in their preaching.
The path to career promotion (a pastorate in a plumb parish, the conferral of the title of monsignor at some point, possibly even being made a "bishop" and thus entering the conciliar "episcopal" "pipeline") rests in silent acquiescence to "orders" that require men who know better to violate their consciences, consoling themselves with the false assurance that they are not answerable to God for continuing to participate in matters that offend God and actually blaspheme Him by altering His truths with the lies and sacrileges of conciliarism. Some of these priests or presbyters are quite gifted and very learned. Their compromise with the prevailing ethos of the day is at odds with the witness given by faithful priests during the Arian heresy and during the Protestant Revolt in England and Ireland, to say nothing of the courage of priests of the Vendee in France and the priests in Mexico who were part of the Cristeros (standing these priests apart from the bishops and priests who sided with the revolutionaries in both countries in order not to "risk" their necks unnecessarily).
Other conciliar priests today are simply indolent, men who either accept the liturgical and doctrinal revolutions without complaint or who just don't want to give a thought to anything other than the perfunctory, slothful performance of the duties assigned to them.
For example, an extern from India, assigned to a conciliar parish on Long Island in 1986, once refused to hear my confession (at a time I was driving between Illinois and Long Island every weekend while teaching at Illinois State University during the week and campaigning for lieutenant governor of New York on the weekends, also teaching a Saturday morning graduate course at Saint John's University in Jamaica, Queens) when I knocked on his rectory door. His excuse? "Oh, I cannot hear your confession now. I am watching the Wheel of Fortune. Vanna is about to turn a letter." As the door closed in my face, I said, "Yes, Father, as Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Himself would have said."
Even more sad to note, though, are those priests or presbyters who despise the pursuit of personal holiness by not only making a mockery of the traditional, devout practices of the Faith and of the Deposit of Faith but by persisting in lives of unrepentant moral perversity. Far more of these priests were elevated to the conciliar "episcopate" by Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI than defenders of all things conciliar want to admit, and Jorge Mario Bergoglio is making it his business to do so.
There is incontrovertible evidence about the manner in which the late Wojtyla/John Paul II repeatedly rewarded the perverts within the hierarchy, refusing entreaties made to him by priests or presbyters well-regarded in the conciliar Vatican who brought him documentation about the corruption and perversity of one "bishop" after another. Not exactly the stuff of personal sanctity, to say nothing of the stuff of canonization, on the part of the perverted "bishops" and "priests"and on the part of the late Karol Josef Wojtyla. Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger helped to enable this process as the prefect of conciliarism's "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," having distinguished himself as "Benedict XVI" by appointing and promoting men to the conciliar "episcopate" men known to be, at the very least, sympathetic to perversity if not openly supportive of its social agenda of evil, evils that matter not one whit to Jorge "Social Work First, Social Work Last, Social Work Only, Let's Meet the People Where They are in the Peripheries as we Accompany Them to Hell" Bergoglio.
There remain, however, the unsung numbers of priests, both living in the catacombs and their deceased brethren who offered the same Mass and taught the same things as they do now, who have borne faithful witness Our Lord's Holy Priesthood, bearing with manly courage the crosses of their pastoral service to souls. These priests will indeed hear a confession at any hour of the day or night. They are unflagging in their devotion to the fullness of the Faith and have made great sacrifices to continue to offer the Immemorial Mass of Tradition to the faithful no matter what it has cost them insofar as career security or canonical standing. They are never "off-duty," always wearing a cassock or their priestly garb in public, willing to spend whatever time they need to speak to a soul placed in their paths by the Providence of God to exhort him to embrace the Catholic Faith.
These faithful, selfless priests spend endless amounts of hidden time before Our Lord in His Real Presence, which is the new Mount Thabor on which they can be more and more transfigured into the likeness of the One they image in every aspect of their lives, the One Whom they make incarnate under the appearances of bread and wine each time they offer the ineffable Sacrifice of the Cross that is Holy Mass. These faithful, self-sacrificing priests never consider it a burden to pray their Rosaries on a daily basis, doing so faithfully as they advance into old age. The very fact that any of us have the Catholic Faith is attributable to the fidelity of the priests who have eschewed all worldly honors and fleshly temptations to spend themselves as Our Lord spent Himself during His Passion and Death to redeem us. These priests thus understand that it is up to them to make it possible for us to have access to the life-giving treasures of grace that flow forth from Our Lady's hands and are made present by the working of the Holy Ghost through their own sacramental words and actions. We must commend our priests, both religious and secular, to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary every single day of our lives.
Priestly fidelity and zeal for soul cuts across all of the theological and fault-lines dividing the Church at present, which is why the true Catholic bishops in the catacombs must exhort their brethren yet in the conciliar structures to embrace the fullness of Tradition without compromise and thus to get themselves properly ordained so as to offer the faithful in the catacombs the proven remedies for all of the disorders caused by sin and the vagaries of fallen human nature.
Men who have demonstrated a zeal for souls by maintaining as much fidelity as possible in the conciliar structures--and frequently suffering greatly at the hands of their own bishops or religious superiors and scorned and mocked by their brother priests--must come to realize that their priestly calling can only be exercised in its fullness in the catacombs, to say nothing of of coming to grips with the invalidity of their "ordination" at the hands of false "bishops." The faithful need the antidote to Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church provided by the Immemorial Mass of Tradition and by the the fullness of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church that is best expressed and protected therein. Recruiting zealous diocesan and religious priests in the conciliar structures to embrace the Catholic Faith by rejecting reject conciliarism and its false shepherds should be uppermost in our prayers every day, and it should be uppermost in the work of the true bishops and priests who have long defended Tradition and are spending themselves entirely for souls in these truly extraordinary times of revolution and apostasy.
Think of all of the sacrifices made by those priests in the true Catholic Church in the catacombs who drive hundreds of miles and/or fly thousands of miles each and every week just to offer what is the baptismal birthright of every Roman Rite Catholic, the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, in places where Catholics do not have ready access to it. Indeed, the conciliar revolutionaries have taken away our right to assist at this Mass, forcing people to uproot themselves from their native areas to be able to assist at the daily offering of the Traditional Mass without making any concessions to the counterfeit church of conciliarism and the "terms" under which a "priest" may offer the modernized Mass of Tradition in its illegitimate structures.
The traditional priests in the true Catholic Church in the catacombs around the country and the world are the great heroes of the Catholic Faith in these our days. How much are they calumniated by the conciliar revolutionaries as "renegades" and "schismatics" for their fidelity to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, how little they are appreciated frequently by the very people for whom they spend themselves in their priestly lives. We just need to pray more and more that the witness given by these courageous, self-sacrificing priests will inspire those yet in the conciliar structures, including those offering or staging the Mass of the ages under the terms of Summorum Pontificum, to abandon a false religious sect so as to protect the integrity the entirety of the Sacred Deposit of Faith while being able to resist openly and actively the entire ethos of conciliarism that comes from the devil, who wants Catholics to accommodate themselves to the errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the counterfeit church of conciliarism as natural and normal in their lives.
The saint whose feast we celebrate today, Thursday, August 9, 2018, Saint John Mary Vianney, lived all but three years of his life in the aftermath of the Revolution that would devastate his native country, France, and ultimately serve, along with the Protestant Revolution and the rise of the naturalism associated with Judeo-Masonry, to infect many within the Catholic Church by means of Modernism. Indeed, the now-retired Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI boasted in Principles of Catholic Theology that the text of Gaudium et Spes, December 7, 1965, represented a "reconciliation" between the Church and the "new era inaugurated" in 1789, something explored most last year in The Adversary Always Mocks His Revolutions last month.
Quite to the contrary, Saint John Mary Vianney sought to protect his people of Ars from the effects of the Revolution so as to help them get home to Heaven. Spending endless hours in the confessional, this humble curate, who had such great difficulties in his studies to become a priest, spent himself as Our Lord spent Himself entirely for the salvation of souls. He pursued personal sanctity for himself and thus became a visible witness to his people as to how to love God as He has revealed Himself exclusively through the Catholic Church and thus have a chance to get home to Heaven by dying in a state of Sanctifying Grace.
Possessing none of the empty sentimentality born of Protestantism or the Hegelian views advanced by the late Father Hans Urs von Balthasar, Saint John Mary Vianney challenged his flock to abandon their sins and their many compromises with the world. He explained his priestly zeal very well in a sermon entitled, "I Come On Behalf of God." He did not go to "meet the people where they are." Saint John Mary Vianney exhorted his parishioners to quit their sins and to climb the ladder of personal sanctity without delay and without distraction:
Why am I up in the pulpit today, my dear brethren? What am I going to say to you? Ah! I come on behalf of God Himself. I come on behalf of your poor parents, to awaken in you that love and gratitude which you owe them. I come to bring before your minds again all those kindnesses and all the love which they gave you while they were on earth. I come to tell you that they suffer in Purgatory, that they weep, and that they demand with urgent cries the help of your prayers and your good works. I seem to hear them crying from the depths of those fires which devour them: "Tell our beloved ones, tell our children, tell all our relatives how great the evils are which they are making us suffer. We throw ourselves at their feet to implore the help of their prayers. Ah! Tell them that since we have been separated from them, we have been here burning in the flames! Oh! Who would be so indifferent to such sufferings as we are enduring?"
Do you see, my dear brethren, do you hear that tender mother, that devoted father, and all those relatives who helped and tended you? "My friends," they cry, "free us from these pains; you can do it." Consider then, my dear brethren: (1) the magnitude of these sufferings which the souls in Purgatory endure; and (2) the means which we have of mitigating them: our prayers, our good works, and, above all, the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
I do not wish to stop at this stage to prove to you the existence of Purgatory. That would be a waste of time. No one among you has the slightest doubt on that score. The Church, to which Jesus Christ promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and which, consequently, can neither be mistaken herself nor mislead us, teaches us about Purgatory in a very clear and positive manner. It is certain, very certain, that there is a place where the souls of the just complete the expiation of their sins before being admitted to the glory of Paradise, which is assured them. Yes, my dear brethren, and it is an article of faith: if we have not done penance proportionate to the greatness and enormity of our sins, even though forgiven in the holy tribunal of Penance, we shall be compelled to expiate them. . . . In Holy Scripture there are many texts which show clearly that although our sins may be forgiven, God still imposes on us the obligation to suffer in this world by temporal hardships or in the next by the flames of Purgatory.
Look at what happened to Adam. Because he was repentant after committing his sin, God assured him that He had pardoned him, and yet He condemned him to do penance for nine hundred years, penance which surpasses anything we can imagine. See again: David ordered, contrary to the wish of God, the census of his subjects, but, stricken with remorse of conscience, he recognized his sin and, throwing himself upon the ground, begged the Lord to pardon him. God, touched by his repentance, forgave him indeed. But despite that, He sent Gad to tell David that he would have to choose between three scourges which He had prepared for him as punishment for iniquity: the plague, war, or famine. David said: "It is better that I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men." He chose the pestilence, which lasted three days and killed seventy thousand of his subjects. If the Lord had not stayed the hand of the Angel, which was stretched out over the city, all Jerusalem would have been depopulated! David, seeing so many evils caused by his sin, begged the grace of God to punish him alone and to spare his people, who were innocent.
Alas, my dear brethren, what, then, will be the number of years which we shall have to suffer in Purgatory, we who have so many sins, we who, under the pretext that we have confessed them, do no penance and shed no tears? How many years of suffering shall we have to expect in the next life?
But how, then the holy Fathers tell us that the torments they suffer in this pale seem equal the sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured during His sorrowful Passion, shall I paint for you a heart-rending picture of the sufferings which these poor souls endure? However, it is certain that if the slightest torment that our Lord suffered had been shared by all mankind, they would all be dead through the violence of such suffering. The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell, the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting. Oh! Should God in His great mercy permit one of these poor souls, who burn in these flames, to appear here in my place, all surrounded by the fires which consume him, and should he give you himself a recital of the sufferings he is enduring, this church, my dear brethren, would reverberate with his cries and his sobs, and perhaps that might finally soften your hearts.
Oh! How we suffer! they cry to us. Oh! You, our brethren, deliver us from these torments! You can do it! Ah, if you only experienced the sorrow of being separated from God! . . . Cruel separation! To burn in the fire kindled by the justice of God! . . . To suffer sorrows, incomprehensible to mortal man! . . . To be devoured by regret, knowing that we could so easily have avoided such sorrows! . . .Oh! My children, cry the fathers and the mother, can you thus so readily abandon us, we who loved you so much? Can you then sleep in comfort and leave us stretched upon a bed of fire? Will you have the courage to give yourselves up to pleasure and joy while we are here suffering and weeping night and day? You have our wealth, our homes, you are enjoying the fruit of our labors, and you abandon us here in this place of torments, where we are suffering such frightful evils for so many years! . . . And not a single almsgiving, not a single Mass which would help to deliver us! . . . You can relieve our sufferings, you can open our prison, and your abandon us. Oh! How cruel these sufferings are! . . .
Yes, my dear brethren, people judge very differently, when in the flames of Purgatory, of all those light faults, if indeed it is possible to call anything light which makes us endure such rigorous sorrows. What woe would there be to man, the Royal Prophet cries, even the more just of men, if God were to judge him without mercy. If God has found spots in the sun and malice in the angels, what, then, is this sinful man? And for us, who have committed so many mortal sins and who have done practically nothing to satisfy the justice of God, how many years of Purgatory!. . .
"My God," said St. Teresa, "what soul will be pure enough to enter into heaven without passing through the vengeful flames?" In her last illness, she cried suddenly: "O justice and power of my God, how terrible you are!" During her agony, God allowed her to see His holiness as the angels and the saints see Him in heaven, which caused her so much dread that her sisters, seeing her trembling and extraordinarily agitated, spoke to her, weeping: "Ah! Mother, what has happened to you; surely you do not fear death after so many penances and such abundant and bitter tears?"
"No, my children," St. Teresa replied, "I do not fear death; on the contrary, I desire it so that I may be united forever with my God."
"It is your sins, then, which terrify you, after so much mortification?"
"Yes, my children," she told them. "I do fear my sins, but I fear still another thing even more."
"Is it the judgment then?"
"Yes, I tremble at the formidable account that it will be necessary to render to God, Who, in that moment, will be without mercy, but there is still something else of which the very thought alone makes me die with terror."
The poor sisters were deeply distressed.
"Alas! Can it be Hell then?"
"No, she told them, "Hell, thank God, is not for me. Oh! My sisters, it is the holiness of God. My God, have pity upon me! My life must be brought face to face with that of Jesus Christ Himself! Woe to me if I have the least blemish or stain! Woe to me if I am even in the very shadow of sin!"
"Alas, cried these poor sisters. "What will our deaths be like!"
What will ours be like, then, my dear brethren, we who, perhaps in all our penances and our good works, have never yet satisfied for one single sin forgiven in the tribunal of Penance? Ah! What years and centuries of torment to punish us! . . . How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us! No, my dear brethren, we would never have the courage to commit the least sin if we could understand how much it outrages God and how greatly it deserves to be rigorously punished, even in this world.
God is just, my dear brethren, in all that He does. When He recompenses us for the smallest good action, He does so over and above all that we could desire. A good thought, a good desire, that is to say, the desire to do some good work even when we are not able to do it, He never leaves without a reward. But also, when it is a matter of punishing us, it id done with rigor, and though we should have only a light fault, we shall be sent into Purgatory. This is true, for we see it in the lives of the saints that many of them did not go to Heaven without having first passed through the flames of Purgatory. St. Peter Damien tells us that his sister remained several years in Purgatory because she had listened to an evil song with some little pleasure. It is told that two religious promised each other that the first to die would come to tell the survivor in what state he was. God permitted the one who died first to appear to his friend. He told him that he was remaining fifteen years in Purgatory for having liked his own way too much. And as his friend was complimenting him on remaining there for so short a time, the dead man replied: "I would have much preferred to be flayed alive for ten thousand years continuously, for that suffering could not even be compared with what I am suffering in the flames."
A priest told one of his friends that God had condemned him to remain in Purgatory for several months for having held back the execution of a will designed for the doing of good works. Alas, my dear brethren, how many among those who hear me have a similar fault with which to reproach themselves? How many are there, perhaps, who during the course of eight or ten years have received from their parents or their friends the work of having Masses said and alms given and have allowed the whole thing to slide! How many are there who, for fear of find in that certain good works should be done, have not wanted to go to the trouble of looking at the will that their parents or their friends have made in their favor? Alas, these poor souls are still detained in the flames because no one has desired to fulfill their last wishes! Poor fathers and mothers, you are being sacrificed for the happiness of your children and your heirs! You perhaps have neglected your own salvation to augment their fortune. You are being cheated of the good works which you left behind in your wills! . . . Poor parents! How blind you were to forget yourselves! . . .
You will tell me, perhaps: "Our parents lived good lives; they were very good people." Ah! They needed little to go into these flames! See what Albert the Great, a man whose virtues shone in such an extraordinary way, said on this matter. He revealed one day to one of his friends that God had taken him into Purgatory for having entertained a slightly self-satisfied thought about his own knowledge. The most astonishing thing was that there were actually saints there, even ones who were canonized, who were passing through Purgatory. St. Severius, Archbishop of Cologne, appeared to one of his friends a long time after his death and told him that he had been in Purgatory for having deferred to the evening the prayers he should have said in the morning. Oh! What years of Purgatory will there be for those Christians who have no difficulty at all in deferring their prayers to another time on the excuse of having to do some pressing work! If we really desired the happiness of possessing God, we should avoid the little faults as well as the big ones, since separation from God is so frightful a torment to all these poor souls! (Sermons of Saint John Mary Vianney, I come on behalf of God.)
Saint John Mary Vianney did not reaffirm sinners in their sins. Unike Jorge Mario Bergoglio and practically every single one of the conciliar "bishops" from the Federal Republic of Germany and each of his commissars, Saint John Mary Vianney did not base his preaching upon what his people did; he based it upon what God had called them to do, namely, to live in accordance with the binding precepts of the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law by cooperating with the graces won for them by His Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ during His Passion and Death on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday and that flow in their hearts and hearts through the lving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces.
The Patron of Parish Priests knew much about suffering, including periods of such intense anguish within his soul that he sought to flee from the people of Ars on no less than three separate occasions. Each time, however, he returned to Ars to offer Holy Mass, which he loved to offer as he knew that every Mass he offered added glory unto God and grace unto the world, to visit the sick, to reconcile enemies, to preach fearlessly without regard for human respect, and to spend up to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. Saint John Mary Vianney knew, of course, that suffering was the only path to salvation, and he embraced the cross of his fame as a preacher and confessor with courage while mortifying his senses by eating as little as a stale crumb of bread or a potato that had begun to rot. He cared only about going to Heaven after having acquitted his duties as an alter Christus, which is why the Cure of Ars exhorted his people about the dangers of worldliness over and over again:
The World is Everything and God is Nothing
If people would do for god what they do for the world, my dear people, what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven! But if you, dear children, had to pass three or four hours praying in a church, as you pass them at a dance or in a cabaret, how heavily the time would press upon you! If you had to go to a great many different places in order to hear a sermon, as you go for your pastimes or to satisfy your avarice and greed, what pretexts there would be, and how many detours would be taken to avoid going at all. But nothing is too much trouble when done for the world. What is more, people are not afraid of losing either God or their souls or Heaven. With what good reason did Jesus Christ, my dear people, say that the children of this world are more zealous in serving their master, the world, than the children of light are in serving theirs, who is God. To our shame, we must admit that people fear neither expense, nor even going into debt, when it is a matter of satisfying their pleasures, but if some poor person asks them for help, they have nothing at all. This is true of so many: they have everything for the world and nothing at all for God because to them, the world is everything and God is nothing.
Follow One Master Only
What a sad life does he lead who wants both to please the world and to serve God! It is a great mistake to make, my friends. Apart from the fact that you are going to be unhappy all the time, you can never attain the stage at which you will be able to please the world and please God. It is as impossible a feat as trying to put an end to eternity. Take the advice that I am going to give you now and you will be less unhappy: give yourselves wholly to God or else wholly to the world. Do not look for and do not serve more than one master, and once you have chosen the one you are going to follow, do not leave him. You surely remember what Jesus Christ said to you in the Gospel: you cannot serve God and Mammon; that is to say, you cannot follow the world and the pleasures of the world and Jesus Christ with His Cross. Of course you would be quite willing to follow God just so far and the world just so far! Let me put it even more clearly: you would like it if your conscience, if your heart, would allow you to go to the altar in the morning and the dance in the evening; to spend part of the day in church and the remainder in the cabarets or other places of amusement; to talk of God at one moment and the next to tell obscene stories or utter calumnies about your neighbour; to do a good turn for your next-door neighbour on one occasion and on some other to do him harm; in other words, to do good and speak well when you are with good people and to do wrong when you are in bad company.
They are for the World
One section, and perhaps it is the largest section, of people everywhere are wholly wrapped up in the things of this world. And of this large number there are those who are content to have suppressed all feeling of religion, all thought of another life, who have done everything in their power to efface the terrible thought of the judgment which one day they will have to undergo. They employ all their wiles, and often their wealth, during the course of their lives to attract to their way of life as many people as they can. They no longer believe in anything. They even take a pride in making themselves out to be more impious and incredulous than they really are in order to convince others and to make them believe, not in the verities, but in the falsehoods which they wish to take root in the hearts of those under their influence.
Voltaire, in the course of a dinner given one day for his friends -- that is, for the impious -- rejoiced that of all those present, there was not one who believed in religion. And yet he himself did believe, as he was to show at the hour of his death.
Then he demanded with great earnestness that a priest should be brought to him that he might make his peace with God.
But it was too late. God, against whom he had fought and spoken with such fury all his life, dealt with him as He had with Antiochus: He abandoned him to the fury of the devils. At that dread moment, Voltaire had only despair and the thought of eternal damnation as his lot. The Holy Ghost tells us: "The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God." But it is only the corruption of his heart which could carry man to such an excess; he does not believe it in the depths of his soul. The words "There is a God" will never entirely disappear. The greatest sinner will often utter them without even thinking of what he is saying. But let us leave these blasphemous people aside. Happily, though you may not be as good Christians as you ought to be, thanks be to God you are not of that company.
But, you will say to me, who are these people who are partly on God's side and partly on the side of the world? Well, my dear children, let me describe them. I will compare them (if I may dare to make use of the term) to dogs who will run to the first person who calls them. You may follow them from the morning to the evening, from the beginning of the year to the end. These people look upon Sunday as merely a day for rest and amusement. They stay in bed longer than on weekdays, and instead of giving themselves to God with all their hearts, they do not even think of Him. Some of them will be thinking of their amusements, others of people they expect to meet, still others of the sales they are about to make or the money they will be spending or receiving. With great difficulty they will manage the Sign of the Cross in some fashion or another. Because they will be going to church later, they will omit their prayers altogether, saying: "Oh, I'll have plenty of time to say them before Mass." They always have something to do before setting out for Mass, and although they have been planning to say their prayers before setting out, they are barely in time for the beginning of the Mass itself. If they meet a friend along the road, it is no trouble to them to bring him back home and put off the Mass until a later hour.
But since they still want to appear Christian, they will go to Mass sometime later, though it will be with infinite boredom and reluctance. The thought in their minds will be: "Oh, Lord, will this ever be over!" You will see them in church, especially during the instruction, looking around from one side to the other, asking the person next to them for the time, and so on.
More of them yawn and stretch and turn the pages of their prayer book as if they were examining it in order to see whether the printer had made any mistakes. There are others, and you can see them sleeping as soundly as if they were in a comfortable bed. The first thought that comes to them when they awake is not that they have been profaning so holy a place but: "Oh, Lord, this will never be over.... I'm not coming back any more." And finally there are those to whom the word of God (which has converted so many sinners) is actually nauseating.
They are obliged to go out, they say, to get a breath of air or else they would die. You will see them, distressed and miserable, during the services. But no sooner is the service over (and often even before the priest has actually left the altar) than they will be pressing around the door from which the first of the congregation are streaming out, and you will notice that all the joy which they had lost during the service has come back again.
They are so tired that often they have not the "strength" to come back to the evening service. If you were to ask them why they were not coming to this, they would tell you: "Ah, we would have to be all the day in the church. We have other things to do."
For such people there is no question of instruction, nor of the Rosary, nor of evening prayers. They look upon all these things as of no consequence. If you asked them what had been said during the instruction, they would say: "He did too much shouting.... He bored us to death.... I can't remember anything else about it.... If it hadn't been so long, it might have been easier to remember some of it.... That is just what keeps the world away from religious services -- they are too long."
It is quite right to say "the world" because these people belong to the camp of "the worldly," although they do not know it.
But now we shall try to make them understand things a little better (at least if they want to). But, being deaf and blind (as they are), it is very difficult to make them understand the words of life or to comprehend their own unhappy state. To begin with, they never make the Sign of the Cross before a meal or say Grace afterwards, nor do they recite the Angelus. If, as a result of some old habit or training, they still observe these practices and you should happen to see the manner in which they carry them out, you would feel sick: the women will simultaneously be getting on with their work or calling to their children or members of the household; the men will be turning a hat or a cap around in their hands as if searching for holes. They think as much about God as if they really believed that He did not exist at all and that they were doing all this for a joke. They have no scruples about buying or selling on the holy day of Sunday, even though they know, or at least they should know, that dealing on a reasonably big scale on a Sunday, when there is no necessity for it, is a mortal sin. Such people regard all such facts as trifles. They will go into a parish on a holy day to hire labourers, and if you told them they were doing wrong, they would reply: "We must go when we can find them there." They have no problem, either, about paying their taxes on a Sunday because during the week they might have to go a little further and take a few moments longer to complete the job.
"Ah," you will say to me, "we wouldn't think much of all that." You would not think much of all that, my dear people, and I am not at all surprised, because you are worldly. You would like to be followers of God and at the same time to satisfy the standards of the world. Do you realise, my children, who these people are? They are the people who have not entirely lost the faith and to whom there still remains some attachment to the service of God, the people who do not want to give up all religious practices, for indeed, they themselves find fault with those who do not go often to the services, but they have not enough courage to break with the world and to turn to God's side. They do not wish to be damned, but neither do they wish to inconvenience themselves too much. They hope that they will be saved without having to do too much violence to themselves. They have the idea that God, being so good, did not create them for perdition and that He will pardon them in spite of everything; that the time will come when they will turn over to God; that they will correct their faults and abandon all their bad habits. If, in moments of reflection, they pass their petty lives before their eyes, they will lament for their faults, and sometimes they will even weep for them....
What a very tragic life such people lead, my children, who want to follow the ways of the world without ceasing to be the children of God. Let us go on a little further and you will be able to understand this a little more clearly and to see for yourselves how stupid indeed such a life can be. At one moment you will hear the people who lead it praying or making an act of contrition, and the next moment you will hear them, if something is not going the way they want it, swearing or maybe even using the holy name of God. This morning you may have seen them at Mass, singing or listening to the praises of God, and on the very same day you will hear them giving vent to the most scandalous utterances. They will dip their hands in holy water and ask God to purify them from their sins; a little later they will be using those very hands in an impure way upon themselves or upon others. The same eyes which this morning had the great happiness of contemplating Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament will in the course of the day voluntarily rest with pleasure upon the most immodest objects. Yesterday you saw a certain man doing an act of charity or a service for a neighbour; today he will be doing his best to cheat that neighbour if he can profit thereby. A moment ago this mother desired all sorts of blessings for her children, and now, because they are annoying her, she will shower all sorts of curses upon them: she wishes she might never see them again, that she was miles away from them, and ends up by consigning them to the Devil to rid herself of them! At one moment she sends her children to Mass or Confession; at another, she will be sending them to the dance or, at least, she will pretend not to know that they are there or forbid them to go with a laugh which is tantamount to permission to go. At one time she will be telling her daughter to be reserved and not to mix with bad companions, and at another she will allow her to pass whole hours with young men without saying a word. It's no use, my poor mother, you are on the side of the world! You think yourself to be on God's side by reason of some exterior show of religion which you make.
You are mistaken; you belong to that number of whom Jesus Christ has said: "Woe to the world...."
You see these people who think they are following God but who are really living up to the maxims of the world. They have no scruples about taking from their neighbour wood or fruit or a thousand and one other things. Whenever they are flattered for what they do for religion, they derive quite a lot of pleasure from their actions. They will be quite keen then and will be delighted to give good advice to others. But let them be subjected to any contempt or calumny and you will see them become discouraged and distressed because they have been treated in this way. Yesterday they wanted only to do good to anyone who did them harm, but today they can hardly tolerate such people, and often they cannot even endure to see them or to speak to them.
Poor worldlings! How unhappy you are! Go on with your daily round; you have nothing to hope for but Hell! Some would like to go to the Sacraments at least once a year, but for that, it is necessary to find an easygoing confessor. They would like .... if only -- and there is the whole problem. If they find a confessor who sees that their dispositions are not good and he refuses them Absolution, you will then find them thundering against him, justifying themselves for all they are worth for having tried and failed to obtain the Sacrament. They will speak evil about him. They know very well why they have been refused and left in their sinful state, but, as they know, too, the confessor can do nothing to grant them what they want, so they get satisfaction by saying anything they wish.
Carry on, children of this world, carry on with your daily round; you will see a day you never wished to see! It would seem then that we must divide our hearts in two! But no, my friends, that is not the case; all for God or all for the world.
You would like to frequent the Sacraments? Very well, then, give up the dances and the cabarets and the unseemly amusements. Today you have sufficient grace to come here and present yourselves at the tribunal of Penance, to kneel before the Holy Table, to partake of the Bread of the Angels. In three or four weeks, maybe less, you will be seen passing your night among drunken men, and what is more, you will be seen indulging in the most horrible acts of impurity. Carry on, children of this world; you will soon be in Hell! They will teach you there what you should have done to get to Heaven, which you have lost entirely through your own fault....
Woe betide you, children of this world! Carry on; follow your master as you have done up to the present! Very soon you will see clearly that you have been mistaken in following his ways. But will that make you any wiser? No, my children, it will not. If someone cheats us once, we say: "We will not trust him any more -- and with good reason." The world cheats us continually and yet we love it." Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world," St. John warns us. Ah, my dear children, if we gave some thought to what the world really is, we should pass all our lives in bidding it farewell. When one reaches the age of fifteen years, one has said farewell to the pastimes of childhood; one has come to look upon them as trifling and ephemeral, as one would the actions of children building houses of cards or sand castles. At thirty, one has begun to put behind one the consuming pleasures of passionate youth. What gave such intense pleasure in younger days is already beginning to weary. Let us go further, my dear children, and say that every day we are bidding farewell to the world.
We are like travellers who enjoy the beauty of the countryside through which they are passing. No sooner do they see it than it is time for them to leave it behind. It is exactly the same with the pleasures and the good things to which we become so attached. Then we arrive at the edge of eternity, which engulfs all these things in its abyss.
It is then, my dear brethren, that the world will disappear forever from our eyes and that we shall recognise our folly in having been so attached to it. And all that has been said to us about sin! .... Then we shall say: It was all true. Alas, I lived only for the world, I sought nothing but the world in all I did, and now the pleasures and the joys of the world are not for me any longer! They are all slipping away from me -- this world which I have loved so well, these joys, these pleasures which have so fully occupied my heart and my soul! ....
Now I must return to my God! .... How consoling this thought is, my dear children, for him who has sought only God throughout his life! But what a despairing thought for him who has lost sight of God and of the salvation of his soul! (SERMONS OF THE CURE OF ARS - EXCERPTS.)
In other words, Saint John Mary Vianney was the antithesis of the conciliar "popes" and their "bishops" and many of their priests/presbyters and religious, including some within various Motu communities who permit their parishioners to surrender themselves to the world and to indulge in indecent, immodest attire while believing themselves to be "good" Catholics. Saint John Mary Vianney sought to cure his people of worldliness. "Pope Francis" and most of his "bishops" and "priests" celebrate worldliness an encourage it in those entrusted to their pastoral care.
Saint John Mary Vianney was supremely devoted to the Mother of God, working to promote the Association of the Living Rosary with its foundress, Pauline Jaricot, the patron saint of us "failures" in the world (and this means that Pauline Jaricot is quite beloved by us in the Droleskey household!), who herself was cured of heart disease by Saint Philomena at her altar in Mugnano Italy and then prompted Pope Gregory XVI to declare her to be a canonized saint. Saint John Mary Vianney was so tenderly devoted to Saint Philomena, being unstinting in his efforts to spread devotion to her. How fitting that he died a week before Saint Philomena's feast day, on August 4, in the year of 1859. Saint John Marie Vianney, Cure of Ars, relied upon Saint Philomena to cure him of an illness in 1843. She performed the miracle for him, who was a true miracle worker in his own right, able to read the character of some of the thousands of souls who came to him from around the world to have their sins Absolved by his own priestly ministrations in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance.
The Divine Office contains the following summary of the life of the zealous Saint Jean-Marie Batiste Vianney, the patron saint of diocesan priests:
John Mary Vianney, born of pious peasants in the village of Dardilly in the diocese of Lyons, gave many signs of holiness from his infancy. When, at the age of eight, he was taking care of the sheep, he would sometimes by word and example instruct little boys, kneeling before a statue of the Mother of God, in the use of the Rosary ; and at other times, entrusting the flock to his sister or to another child, he was wont to seek out a more retired spot, that he might more readily devote himself to prayer before an image of the Virgin. Having a very great love for the poor, he would lead them in crowds to his father's house, and he took a delight in aiding them in every way. That he might be initiated into letters, he was sent to the parish priest of the village of Ecully ; but as he was very slow to understand, he encountered almost unsurmountable difficulties in his studies. Fasting and praying, he entreated the divine assistance, and, with a view to begging for a facility in learning, he approached the tomb of St. Francis Regis, earnestly beseeching him for that gift. Having most laboriously passed through the course of theology, he was found to be sufficiently suitable to receive holy orders.
In the village of Ecully, under the guidance of the parish priest, whose assistant he had been appointed, he strove with all his strength to attain to the higher degrees of pastoral perfection. After three years had gone by, he was sent, like an Angel from heaven, to the small village of Ars, which not so long after was included in the diocese of Belley, and in a most brilliant manner he entirely renewed the condition of his neglected and forsaken parish. Continually engaged for many hours daily in hearing confessions and in giving spiritual direction, he introduced the frequent reception of the Eucharist, and organized pious sodalities : and in a remarkable manner he inspired into souls a tender devotion to the Immaculate Virgin. And, deeming that it is the duty of the pastor to expiate the sins of the flock accredited to him, he spared neither prayers, nor vigils, nor mortifications and continual fastings. Since Satan could not endure such great virtues in this man of God, he assailed him, first with mere annoyances, and afterwards in open combat; but John Mary patiently endured the most malevolent injuries.
He was very often asked by the neighbouring priests to labour for the salvation of souls after the manner of the Missionaries, either by preaching sermons, or by hearing confessions, and he was always at hand in every case. Burning with zeal for the glory of God, he brought it about, that the pious exercises of Missions were established in more than an hundred parishes arranged in a continuous and permanent series. Meanwhile, as God was rendering his servant famous by miracles and by graces, there began that celebrated pilgrimage, in which, throughout a period of twenty years, nearly one hundred thousand persons of every class flocked to Ars, not only from France and from Europe, but even from the distant regions of America. Worn out by labours rather than by old age, having foretold the day of his death, he went to rest in the embrace of the Lord, on the 4th day of August, in the year 1859, and of his age the seventy-third. After he became illustrious for many miracles, Pius X added him to the number of the Blessed , and Pius XI, in the holy year numbered him with the Saints in heaven and extended his feast to the universal Church, and on the fiftieth anniversary of his own priesthood, appointed him the heavenly patron of all parish priests. (Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint John Mary Vianney. More vignettes about the early life of Saint John Mary Vianney can be found in the appendix below)
Commending our true priests in the catacombs to the Most Sacred Heart of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, especially during this month of August, we must pray to Saint John Mary Batiste Vianney so that our shepherds will remain zealous for souls and absolutely faithful to the Deposit of Faith, speaking up forcefully against the errors and sacrileges and blasphemies of the day. And we continue to pray fervently to Our Lady for those priests who have embraced Tradition in these catacombs, both those who have been involved in the battle from the first hour and those who have joined it in the eleventh hour.
May our prayers, especially by means of praying as many Rosaries each day as our states in life permit, hasten the day when every true priest of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church will profess the true Catholic Faith, not the apostate brand taught by conciliarism, and offer exclusively the Mass that begins with his addressing God, not us, and closes on most days of the year with the Gospel of the Incarnation, reminding us that the Mass itself is incarnational and that we are to make Our Lord incarnate in the world by our lived lives of fidelity to Him as our King and to His Blessed Mother as our Immaculate Queen.
Vivat Christus Rex!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Lawrence the Deacon, pray for us.
Saint Romanus, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us,
Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Vignettes from the Early Life of Saint John Mary Vianney
Vignettes from the early life of Saint John Mary Vianney as found in Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007.)
The first saint to come to the Vianney home was St. Joseph Benedict Labre. In July, 1770, having just forsaken the life of a Trappist to embrace thespirit of a Trappist as a wandering mendicant, he had come in holy poverty to beg a night's lodging with the Vianneys. Under his arm he had a Breviary, a Gospel book, and the Imitation of Christ. He also had Our Lady's rosary. He was welcomed with the warmest charity and was given a bowl of steaming soup, together with a farmer's supper and the friendship of the whole family. During the evening, one of the Vianney boys, Matthew watched this meek and humble guest tell and retell his rosary until after family prayers, when he was shown his thick bed of straw over the bakery. St. Joseph Benedict wrote but little. But the Vianney charity so tenderly moved his heart that he later wrote the family a treasured thank-you note. Little did the good saint realize that he had been selected as a king of precursor for the coming of the saint of this story.
The second saint to come to the Vianney home was the saint of this story, John Marie. He was the son of young Matthew Vianney, who had grown up and married Marie Beluse. John Marie was born about midnight on May 8, 1786, in the family home at Dardilly, France, and was baptized almost immediately. Matthew and Marie Vianney had a family of six children, each of whom was dedicated to Our Blessed Mother while their mother was still carrying them beneath her heart: Catherine, who died shortly after her marriage; Jeanne Marie, who died at the age of five; Francis, who inherited the family home; John Marie, who became our beloved Cure of Ars; Marguerite, who died in 1877 at the age of ninety-one; and Cadet, who joined the army and never returned.
Dardilly is so small a village that it is hardly found on the map. Perhaps in the days of the Vianney family, it had a thousand souls. Some five miles to the southeast was the great city of Lyons. Around the village were farmlands where Matthew Vianney worked, where his sheep and cows grazed and where a living was made for the family. Dardilly was one of those quiet little Catholic villages of France where the Angeleus bell rand, and where people were poor, and where nothing grew as abundantly as the peace in their simple hearts.
While peace blessed the village of Dardilly, the French Revolution rocked the city of Paris. 1789 marked the fall of the Bastille, the symbol of tyranny; 1791 saw the formulation of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; 1793 inaugurated the infamous Reign of Terror. But the Revolution did not stop at Paris. Its rumblings reverberated in almost every cranny and nook of France, even on to Lyons where the guillotine kept sending souls to eternity without interruption. A price was on the head of every priest. Church bells were silenced, and wayside shrines were toppled over in the grass.
Nevertheless, in Dardilly, seven year old John Marie day by day drove the donkey, the cows, and the sheep down into the valley to graze, taking with him his rosary and his small wooden statue of Our Lady. Along the stream there was an old willow tree with a hollow trunk. It was a natural altar. There John Marie place his Blessed Mother and adorned her with most, flowers and leaves, and then knelt for his prayers and his Rosaries. Maybe the churches were closed, but surely the soldiers would never find his shrine. If other children came along, he would tie two sticks together into a cross and have a procession – a few hymns would be sung, always a Rosary, and then a sermon (a short one, because his “congregation” would sometimes get restless). But of all this, the leaders of the Revolution never knew.
To strike at the very sources of such religious fervor, the radicals of the Revolution had decreed strong measures against the priests. For those who dared to harbor a priest, deportation was the punishment. Matthew Vianney harbored enough priests to have a deportation to the moon. At times, Holy Mass was celebrated in his home. At other times, young John Marie and the family would set out at night in great silence for some barn in the neighborhood where Holy Mass would be offered by a hunted priest. There in the darkness and the bareness of a barn would be found a candle, a plain table, and the necessities for the Holy Sacrifice. The mystery of everything – the whispers, the sobs, the breathing, and the sighs – so moved the boy that his soul was no doubt made most receptive to the vocational whisperings of the Holy Spirit. During those days, he experienced the fear, the mystery and the faith of the catacombs; in his memory, the days of the Terror were ever strong.
Little did the French Revolutionaries dream that they would forge in the fire of their hate, on the anvil of their persecution, a saint who would bring back to France the very God they had vowed to detroy. (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 1-4.)
John Marie was not a dull child. Because the school in Dardilly had been closed, he had no chance to get an education. His elder sister, Catherine, tried to fill this void by teaching him to read, to write, and to spell the words of a prayer book. Fortunately, early in 1795, a school was opened and John Marie was permitted to attend – at least until the planting days of springtime. He must have done well in history, geography, and the three R's because citizen Dumas, the master of the school, used to say to the other student, “Oh! If you were like little Vianney!”
In 1797 Father Groboz, who had been concealing his identity during the Revolution by acting as a cook, stopped at the house of the Vianneys and met John Marie.
“How old are you, John?” the priest inquired.
“And how long has it been since you last went to confession?”
“Father, I have never gone to confession.”
“Then, John my boy,” answered the priest without hesitation, “right here and now you will make your confession.”
There in his own home, beneath the old family clock, John Marie knelt and revealed his soul in his first confession. He had little of sin to tell the priest because in years to come he was heard to say, “I knew nothing of evil until I learned to know it in the confessional.”
John Marie's first Holy Communion was postponed until he was thirteen years old – until Mary of 1789. For his preparation he went to Ecully, a village on the road to Lyons about three miles from Dardilly, and lived at the home of his Aunt Marguerite Humbert. In Ecully, two Sisters of St. Charles were holding classes secretly to instruct children for their first Holy Communion. These classes John Marie attended and diligently prepared to receive for the first time his Eucharistic Master.
In the private home of Madame de Pingon, John Marie, together with fifteen other children, was to receive his first Holy Communion. The memorable day arrived, classes were over, and well-planned precautions had been made to hide the event from the crafty eyes of the Revolutionaries. Very early in the morning, the children gathered together in their old clothes, except for a veil or an armlet which the mothers had hidden beneath their capes. Outside the house, the men had placed wagons of hay (which they were actually unloading) in order to block off the windows and conceal the lighted candles the little comunicants were to carry. One by one, the children were directed into a large room where the shutters were drawn and where a hunted priest was to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the the Mass. There, in the presence of a few and with the simplicity of the catacombs, John Marie received his first Holy Communion. “I was present,” his sister Marguerite related many years later, “and my brother felt such happiness that he was unwilling to leave the room.” John Marie was given a plain rosary in memory of the occasion, and this he still treasured fifty years later. But the day came to an end, and with the day, there also came to an end his time of boyhood and of study. He went back home with his mother and father. It was springtime, and there was work to be done.
Over the years, there was much work to be done: haying, harvesting, and gathering of the grapes and the apples and the other fruits. The stables had to be cleaned; the fields had to be ploughed; the grapes had to be pressed; and the trees had to be pruned for a better harvest. “Oh, what a beautiful thing it is,” he used to say in later years, “to offer oneself each morning as a victim to God! Oh what a beautiful thing it is to do all things in union with the good God" . . . .
John Marie was ninteen years old when he bade farewell to the fields and his home at Dardilly. His mother went with him to Ecully, where the austere Father Balley greeted him and reassured him with these fatherly words: “Do not worry, my friend. If need be, I will sacrifice myself for your sake.” (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 5-7; p. 9)
In the history of John Marie, the role that God chose for Father Balley in leading him to the priesthood and in forming him into a saint is most remarkable. A parishioner described Father Balley in this way: “He was a tall man, made apparently of nothing of skin and bones. One might have thought that he never ate a square meal.” His pupil set out to follow in the penitential footsteps of this holy priest, and if possible, to out-step him in the path to perfection. Father Balley felt so strongly that John Marie was called to the holy priesthood that he never once grew weary in his efforts to promoted his vocation.
In 1812, Father Balley sent his pupil to study philosophy at the minor seminary of Verrieres. There John found himself older than the other students, even older than his professor. A few of his fellow students were hardly more advanced than he, so a group of seven of them was taken aside and taught philosophy in French. While in the minor seminary he dedicated himself to Our Lady as her slave according to the mind of St. Louis De Montfort. In spite of the fact that he was often made the butt of his fellow seminarians when he was in the philosophy class, he nevertheless was well-liked and considered already very close to god. In later life, he summed up his stay at Verrieres by the simple charitable remark, “I had somewhat to suffer.”
After a very pleasant summer vacation with Father Balley, John Marie entered the major seminary of St. Irenee at Lyons in October, 1813. He was looked upon as a saint – but his lack of knowledge in Latin was his stumbling block. One of his fellow students said years later: “The result of his studies was nil. The cause being his inadequate knowledge of Latin. More that once I explained things to him, but he did not seem able to grasp them. His application, nevertheless, was unfailing.” The term examinations came up. John Marie failed. The authorities considered the situation, and John Marie was asked to leave. Around Easter of 1814 he left St. Irenee and returned to his good friend, Father Balley, in order to complete his theological studies in French. Facing facts as they were, he thought perhaps God wished him to enter the Brotherhood. But Father Balley quickly put an end to such thought, and the two of them had recourse to prayer – and then to the textbooks.
Hardly three months after his dismissal from the major seminary, his good pastor sent John Marie back to the seminary to take his canonicals for Minor Orders. But he was so overawed by the venerable jury and their Latin questions that he became all confused and the verdict was, “Unsatisfactory!” The next day, Father Balley set out for Lyons and went directly to the chancery office. He spoke of his high esteem for his pupil and begged for another examination. In his great charity, the Vicar-General not only grated another examination but promised to come with the superior of the major seminary to Ecully and question John Marie at the rectory in his own familiar surroundings. As a result, John Marie gave very good and satisfactory answers to all the questions put to him.
The final decision rested with the first Vicar-General, Father Coubon, who was directing the diocese in the absence of the Cardinal. (His Eminence had to leave the diocese in a hurry following the Emporer's abdication.) Father Courbon was a simple priest and a good priest, and he asked in great sincerity:
“Is the young Vianney pious?”
“Has he a devotion to Our Lady?”
“Does he know how to say his Rosary?”
“Oh yes! He is a model of piety.”
“A model of piety! Repeated the Vicar-General. “Very well, I shall sumon him to come up for ordination. The grace of God will do the rest.”
On the Feast of the Visitation, July 2, 1814, in the Cathedral of St. Jean in Lyons, John Marie received Minor Orders and the subdiaconate from the hands of Bishop Simon, who had come from Grenoble for the ceremony.
Father Balley had made himself responsible for his seminarian. Consequently, John Marie was sent back to Ecully for his final year of theology. This was most fortunate, because the political spirit of France had entered the major seminary, and as a result there was much unrest and even violence among the students. From this John Marie was spared. In May 1815, he returned to the seminary to prepare for the diaconate, which he received on June 23 from Bishop Simon in the Cathedral of Lyons.
The holy priesthood was now in sight: the end of the road was near. But there was another canonical examination. It lasted over an hour. This time the result was most satisfactory, and so the date of ordination was set for August 13, 1815. As the Vicar-General put his name to the testimonial letters he remarked, “The Church is in need not only of learned priests; she wants, above all, holy priests.”
All alone, journeying on foot, John Marie set out for Grenoble some sixty miles away, where Bishop Simon was to ordain him. He carried a small parcel and an alb for his first private Mass. He arrived on Saturday night and presented himself on Sunday morning, the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, to the Bishop for ordination to the holy priesthood. He was the only candidate, alone, a stranger in a strange diocese. Excuses were made to the Bishop for troubling him with only one candidate, but the good Bishop smiled and said: “It is not too much trouble to ordain a good priest!” So at the age of twenty-nine years, in the chapel of the major seminary in Grenoble, John Marie Vianney became Father Vianney, and from that time on, never once did he forget the dignity and the glory of his priesthood. “Oh! How great is the priest,” he used to say in later years. “The priest will only be understood in Heaven. Were he understood on earth people would die, not of fear, but of love.”
The next day, in the same chapel, he offered his first private Mass. And the closest Friend he had with whom to share the joy of his first Mass was Jesus Himself. (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 17-21.)
The saintly Father Balley had trained Father Vianney as a seminarian; now Divine Providence had so arranged that he would also train him as a priest. When Father Vianney reached the rectory at Ecully, and after Father Balley had knelt down for his priestly blessing and had kissed his annointed hands, the venerable old pastor smiled at the young priest and told him the happy news: the Vicar-General had given Ecully as assistant, and the assistant was to be none other than Father John Marie himelf. The people were as please as the pastor. “Father Vianney had edified us during the time he studied here,” they said to one another “What will he not do now that he is a priest?”
From the very first everyone loved Father Vianney. His sister Marguerite went over from Dardilly to hear him preach, and later remarked, “To my thinking, he did not preach well as yet, but when it was his turn to speak people flocked to the church.” He was kept busy, preparing his catechism lesson, looking after the sick (who always seemed to ask for the new assistant), writing his sermons which in the beginning were very short, studying his theology, and working out practical cases of conscience under the direction of his pastor.
Occasionally, pastor and assistant would go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fourviere. Or, once in a while, they would visit friends in Lyons, the Loras family or the Jaricot family. It was in this way that Father Vianney met Pauline Jaricot, a young firl of about sixteen, who was destined to do monumental work for the missions. During one of the gatherings at the Jaricot home, the conversation centered on the virgin martyr whose body had recently been found in the catacombs of Rome. It was the first time that Father Vianney had ever heard of his little friend of future years, St. Philomena.
The rectory at Ecully was a kind of Trappist monastery where two priests lived in common and in great peace, praying together and edifying each other in a kind of holy rivalry. The table was simple: brown bread, potatoes, (no wine), and a piece of beef which eventually turned black from age. But when guests came things were different.
Father Balley wore a hair-shirt. So, Father Vianney wore a hair-shirt. Father Balley reported Father Vianney to the chancery for being too strict with himself. So, Father Vianney reported Father Balley. And the Vicar-General laughed at them both and sent them back to Ecully.
“How is Father Vianney?” asked one of the curate's old comrades of Father Balley.
“Oh,” remarked the pastor, “Father Vianney is always the same – he gives away all he possesses.”
It was during his stay at Ecully that Father Vianney started his lifelong practice of praying to Our Lady to free him from all sensual temptations. Under vow, he promised to say daily to Our Lady the Regina Coeli and to add six times the ejaculation: “Blessed be forever the most holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Amen.” As a result, he seemed to receive special graces of heroic purity and of seeing everyone without looking at anyone.
But these happy years were soon to end. The early days of the Terror were beginning to tell on Father Balley, although he was only sixty-five years old. In February, 1817, an ulcer formed on his leg. It gradually became gangerous and eventually forced the doctor to consider his conditions hopeless. During the whole of 1817, Father Vianney was doing most of the parish work, beside assisting his pastor as a faithful son would assist his father. December 17, 1817 was the date God chose to call His faithful servant home. Father Balley went to confession to his assistant (whom he had chosen to be his spiritual director and father confessor as soon as faculties had been granted), and received Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction. He whispered a few words of kindness and advice to his young friend, and then reached under his pillow for something. He wanted his discipline and hair-shirt. “Look, my poor child,” whispered the dying priest, “hide these things. If they were found after my death, people would imagine that I have sufficiently expiated my sins, and so they would leave me in Purgatory until the end of the world.” Father Vianney took them, but he did not hide them. He used them himself.
“I have seen beautiful souls, but none so beautiful!” said Father Vianney, who wept like a child at the death of his good and faithful fellow priest, Father Balley. It was always with tears that he later spoke of Father Balley. “If I were an artist, I could still paint his portrait.” And every day, his name was pronounced by Father Vianney at the memento of the Mass. On his mantlepiece, he always kept the looking glass of his good pastor because “it had reflected his face." (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 22-26.)
Father Vianney began his duties as the new pastor by taking a census (He kept the record of some sixty families in his head.) About noon, when children and parents were certain to be a table, Father Vianney made his visits. He stood at one side of the kitchen (never sitting down to eat) and just passed the time of day asking questions about the crops, the children, and the relatives. Always he finished his brief visit with a word about God and His Church. Day by day, he picked up not only a full acquaintance with each family, but also a full picture of the morality of his parish – and he found the picture blurred and scarred and in great need of restoration.
The new Cure realized themeaning of the words of Jesus to His Apostles: “This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.” (Matt. 17, 20). Therefore, he would undersake a one-man campaign of prayer and fasting, and win for his people the graces necessary to bring them back to Sunday Mass and to the practice of their religion. He would also win for them the graces demanded to take them away from drinking, from the taverns, from excessive pleasures, blasphemy and impurity. So the campaign for souls was inaugurated by the Cure of Ars, and this personal campaign ended only with his death.
A man who lived near the church wondered what the new Cure was doing in there so very early each morning. One morning, long before dawn, when the man saw a tiny candle making its way from the rectory throught the darkness across the cemetary, he sneaked over to the church and peeked in to find out for himself. There was the pastor, pouring out his heart to Jesus hidden in the Blessed Sacrament! “Ah,” said the man, “he is not like other men!” What did the Cure say to his blessed Jesus? Henri Gheon has given us his version of the Cure's prayer. Prostrate on the floor or kneeling with outstretched hands, the Cure thus prayed or groaned or wept out his heart:
“My God, my all, You see how I love You, and I do not love You enough.
“My God, You have given me all; behold the little that I give You. Give me the strength to give more.
“My God here is all – take all; but convert my parish. If You do not convert it, it will be because I have not deserved it.
“My God, I count my merits as nothing, but Yours are infinite. May they win for me the grace of suffering.
“My God, I consent to suffer all that You may wish for all my life . . . for a hundred years . . . . and the most bitter suffering, but convert them . . . (The Secret of the Cure D'Ars, Henri Gheon. p. 53) (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 32-34.)
Mother Bibost, who had come from Ecully to be housekeeper, was soon demoted to merely honorary housekeeper, and finally, her services were really not needed at all. Then Mrs. Renard took over. She was going to have at least fresh bread. But the pastor ave it to the poor. He wanted only a few pancakes and some potatoes every few days or so. No more! Other women tried to help out. One gave up with the sigh, “Oh, it is very hard to serve a saint!”
So once a week Father Vianney cooked for himself a saucepan of potatoes. When hungry, he cooked an egg or made some pancakes. His meals were never at regular intervals. He ate when necessary, but only to keep the body going. This was his mannyer of life until 1827, when he began to take his meals with the orphans at Providence.
In 1839, a young priest, Father Tailhades, came to spend a few weeks with the Cure of Ars and to study the apostolic work in country parishes. To him, the Cure opened up his heart and gave him these words of advice which give us a glimpse into his own soul during these early days of Ars:
“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! While 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.”
He could not recall these days without tears. But he continued:
“Now things are not quite the same. I cannot do without food for so long a time, and if I attempt it, I lose the power even of speech. But how happy I was whele I lived along! I bought from the poor the morsels of bread that were given them; I spent a good part of the night in the church; there were not so many people to confess and the good God granted me extraordinary graces."
Thus did the good Cure of Ars win the graces which were to reform the village of Ars and win souls to Christ, the number of which is recorded only in Heaven. (Father Bartholomew O'Brien, The Cure of Ars; Patron of Parish Priests, published in 1956 by J. S. Paluch Company, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, and republished by TAN Books and Publisher in 1987 and 2007, pp. 35-36.)