August 4th is the feast of St. John Vianney, (1786-1859) the patron of parish priests. Born in Lyon, France, he had to struggle to become a priest and once ordained was made pastor of a small parish in an out of the way place called Ars. “He cared for this parish in a marvelous way by his preaching , his mortification, prayer and good works,” his biography says, especially by his skill in helping people who came to him for confession. Soon people were coming from everywhere to Ars.
Good to pray for parish priests like him, struggling to minister in the church today as it goes through difficult times of change and questioning.
John Vianney knew the value of prayer and wanted to become like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Colette who “used to see our Lord and talk to him as we talk to one another. How unlike them we are! How often we come to church and have no idea what to do and what to ask for. We know how to speak to another human being, but not to God. “
His simple sermons challenged and changed those who heard him.