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A Light to Lead Them Home
It would have been decidedly strange to have St. John Vianney (1786-1859) as your local priest. Consider:
• At least one parishioner walked in on him having a conversation with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was visibly present;
• The devil set the saint's bed on fire, pounded on the walls of the rectory at various hours of the day and night, and shouted at him;
• The railroad had to build a special rail line to the small village of Ars, in France, to accommodate all the pilgrims coming to confess to St. John Vianney; and
• St. John Vianney could read peoples' souls, telling them what their sins were better than the penitent could.
All this, and more. All this, and so much more, for St. John Vianney spent a lifetime working wonders the likes of which the Church rarely sees. Perhaps the greatest of all those wonders, though, was the fact that he converted the whole town in his lifetime, bringing the whole of Ars to the Sacraments.
How? By being holy.
Living in communion with God, all of his life and work was elevated with supernatural power and effectiveness. This relatively uneducated, unimpressive priest (by worldly standards) was told by the devil in the middle of an exorcism, "If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined."
By holiness, he spread the light of faith to all those around him, and so lived Christ's task for the Church till the end of time.
Remember that the Second Vatican Council, in the decree Ad Gentes, On the Missionary Activity of the Church, said, "The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father."
The Church is meant to be in a state of permanent mission, proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth and being a light to the nations.
Because we have a treasure of infinite worth. Because we have been given the Way, the Truth, and the Life in Jesus Christ. Because we have the Word of God and the Eucharist, the Sacraments and the saints, Tradition and Magisterium, all the life and love of God almighty, just waiting to be received, and welcomed, and shared. We have been given the Source of all things, and the world is groaning until God be all in all (see Rom 8:22).
So follow in the footsteps of St. John Vianney: Do something to advance the cause of the kingdom of God. Undertake some little work of the new evangelization, whether that be living your Marian consecration through consoling the Heart of Jesus by some work of mercy, or by educating yourself through reading about the heart of Christianity or why now is the time of mercy.
The Church celebrates St. John Vianney's feast day on Aug. 4. Let us ask the intercession of St. John Vianney for ourselves and all those engaged in the new evangelization in obedience to the Holy Father. Let us ask St. John Vianney's prayers for our parish priests, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and all our priests, that they may live holy lives and become shining lights in an ever-darkening world.
Father Dan Cambra, MIC, discusses St. John Vianney: