St. John Vianney

Prayer Man

Saints He would spend long moments of prayer in front of the tabernacle, a true intimacy with God, a total abandonment of her will, a transfigured face.

He touched the hearts of those who met him and let us see the depth of his life of prayer and his union with God.

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He loved to say, "My God, I love you, and my only desire is to love you until the last sigh of my life".

Flowing through the life of this parish priest left for forty years pastor of a small flock of Ars, a small village in France, about forty kilometers from Lyon, would think of an ordinary saint. However, in reading deep within his soul and the many spiritual fruits associated with his work and testimony, he faces an extraordinary figure that has transformed the apparent simplicity of his life into a chest of holiness and good.

John Maria Vianney was born on May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, in the diocese of Lyon, in a family of peasants. Despite the revolutionary climate and a fierce anti-clerical condition, and his poverty, at the age of seventeen, succeeds in attending a school. He heard the call of the Lord and cultivated his vocation that involves bringing many souls to God. At first, the father worries because he loses two hands for work in the fields and also for the expenses he has to sustain for studies. In 1806 Jean-Marie was sent to attend the lessons of Charles Balley, parish priest of Ecully, who would be the master and spiritual father for him on his way to the priesthood.

The difficulties that Johnny meets are many, starting with the ones in the studio. He reads, but writes with difficulty, and struggles to learn the rules of Latin.

In 1809, to further complicate his situation came the call to arms, despite being a candidate for the priesthood and therefore exempted from military service. He has to abandon studies and enlist, but, helped, manages to stain and hide under a false name. When he could return home, her mother was dead, and the family's climate was very difficult, even for threats and anger suffered by his father as a result of his son's desertion.

Giovanni Maria was not discouraged, resumed studies with little profit, and the frustrating results of theology courses in Lyon's major seminary (1813) lead him to seriously consider giving up the priesthood. Resisted and steadfastly reached the long-awaited goal: August 13, 1815 he ordained priest.

Giovanni Maria's first assignment is co-donor to Ecully; Then he was transferred, in 1818, to Parish priest of Ars. He felt the most ignorant and unworthy priest of all, but he always abandoned himself completely to God's mercy, treasuring the happy experience of Ecully, under Balley's guidance, and putting it to fruition for Ars. Ars was then a small town with about 230 inhabitants, with a few houses and a small church without even the bell tower. From a religious and ethical point of view, it was a difficult environment, as the process of de-Christianization had had serious consequences.

Indifference and religious clarity were so widespread that they almost did not even notice the arrival of the new parish priest. However, John Maria's availability to knowing people, listening to their problems, and having an interest in their lives, managed to create a climate of trust in her. It crosses periods of deep loneliness and anxiety, under the weight of the responsibility of not being able to do enough for its people. And sometimes it is discouraged to ask the bishop to be transferred: last time in 1859, two weeks before his death.

His tireless zeal breaks into the hearts of the faithful. People realize that in that little priest, shy and shaky, there was the stern hardening God's man who never tends to struggle to conquer souls: uncompromising in removing evil, abuses and bad habits like Blasphemy, dance, drunkenness, Sunday work, and tireless in doing good. His apostolic anxiety in preaching, in catechesis, in the education of young people, in charity, is the result of deep love, which is a gift of self and for this he continually feeds on prayer, severe penances, frequent fasting. In this spiritual ascension is the secret of his resistance to his exhausting labors.

Interest or curiosity for him increased more and more; People turned to Ars from the region and from other parts of France, both to confess to him and to "see a saint". At the beginning of the 1930s, pilgrimages increased to such an extent that regular transport services were required, with eight-day validity tickets, and it was well-known that, in order to confess to Ars, it took a week. He was a true martyr of confession, remained in his confessional, from 1835 to 1836, more than fifteen hours a day.

Ars saw for twenty years around his simple caretaker, the great pilgrimage that counted over one hundred thousand people a year. He died on August 4, 1859, at seventy-four.

Canonized by Pius XI on May 31, 1925, in 1929 will be proclaimed patron of all the parish priests. Its celebration is on 9 August.

On occasion of the nineteenth anniversary of his death, a Priestly Year dedicated to his figure was called in 2009, as "a true example of a Shepherd in the service of the flock of Christ».

The pope himself later recalled some of the fundamental features of Ars's curriculum and curriculum model: the awareness of being, as a priest, an "immense gift to his people"; the "total identification" with priestly ministry and communion with Christ; devotion to the Eucharist; The "inexhaustible confidence in the sacrament of Penance».

A special invitation

If you wish to attain joy and acquire virtues, listen to the invitation of Jesus: "Whatever you ask for with faith in prayer, you will obtain" (Mt 18,20). In fact, without prayer, no spiritual journey is possible, nor can one follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Savior.

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