Skip to comments.The divine depository in our hands (so you want to go to heaven?) [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 04/26/2010 3:29:38 PM PDT by NYer
Last week we saw the heroic charity of St. John Vianney, who sought to treat others with the same limitless love with which Christ loves. He was never content to give merely something to those in need. He sacrificed his entire personal property, as well as his pants, shoes, shirts, food and all that people gave him in order to give adequate alms to those who needed help. When his cassock shuttle pocket did not have a sou left, he routinely begged and borrowed. His love for the poor was as profound as his love for sinners, for whom we know he gave every ounce of energy he had 12-18 hours a day for more than three decades to share with the spiritually deprived an alms worth ten thousand talents (Mt 18:24).
It wasnt enough, however, to give himself and all he had to and beyond the limit. The patron saint of priests also wanted to inspire and train his people to live the type of charity to which Christ calls us all. The Curé of Ars knew that, if we will be judged on deeds of love, that the grappin would stop at nothing to sow darnel in the souls of his people; if the devil couldnt seduce them to be selfish and avaricious, he would at least try to poison them with the notion that all God asks of them is that they give the eleemosynary minimum before tempting them toward pride at how good they should feel in giving what was truly superfluous. So Father Vianney coupled his words to his example in order to show the people the truth of what God is asking as well as to give them suggestions about how to help them with Gods grace achieve it.
He began by stressing that for a Christian who wants to be saved, charity is not optional. All of our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions, and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, he declared emphatically, unless we have universal charity for everyone, for the good and for the bad, for the poor people as well as for the rich, for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good.
He added that excelling in Christian charity ought to be the most important priority of our life. The obligation we have to love our neighbor is so important that Jesus Christ put it into a commandment that he placed immediately after that by which he commands us to love him with all our hearts. He tells us that all the law and the prophets are included in this commandment to love our neighbor. Yes, my dear brethren, we must regard this obligation as the most universal, the most necessary and the most essential to religion and to our salvation. In fulfilling this commandment, we are fulfilling all the others.
He lamented that, despite the Lords clear words about how important charity is, so many Christians throughout history have not gotten and acted on the message. He often referred to St. Pauls first letter to the Corinthians where the Apostle struggled to help the first Christians recognize the true importance of charity. Charity, St. Paul said, involves more than deeds, but deeds given with a generous heart. Even if one were to speak in prophecy, to have faith to move mountains, and hand oneself over as a martyr, St. Paul taught, he would gain and be nothing unless he did it with love (1 Cor 13:1-3). Basing himself on this passage, Father Vianney vigorously exclaimed: Dear Lord, how many Christians are damned through lack of charity! No, no, my dear brethren, even if you could perform miracles, you will never be saved if you do not have love. Not to have charity is not to know your religion. It is to have a religion of whim, mood and inclination.
Without charity, you will never see God. You will never go to heaven!
He preached often on the corporal works of mercy, which Jesus states in St. Matthews Gospel will be the criteria of our judgment. We will be numbered among the saved or damned on the basis of whether we loved or stiffed Christ in the person of the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned and stranger (Mt 25:31-46). Whenever we care for the poor, the pastor of Ars reiterated, we care for Christ; and whenever we harden our hearts to those in need, we do so to the Lord as well.
He taught, for that reason, that we should always try to see God in the poor. When we give alms, we should think that its to the Lord and not to the poor that were giving. He loved to tell the stories of the saints who literally saw Christ in the poor. He would regularly recount the story of St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who upon seeing a shivering, barely-clothed beggar at the gate of Amiens, dismounted his horse, evaginated his Roman lance, split his military cape in two, and covered the poor man with half of it; later that night, the Lord Jesus appeared to Martin in a dream wearing that part of Martins cape. He would also tell the story of St. John of God whom a poor man approached for help. As he was reaching into his pocket, St. John looked down and noticed the mans bare feet, each of which bore stigmata. Often we think were giving to a poor man, Father Vianney concluded, but we find its the Lord.
For that reason, he said, we should never reject the poor. Many of us do, thinking were justified. Repeating phrases he heard from some of his parishioners, which still echo today, the Curé noted, Some say to the poor, haughtily, You are a parasite! You should get a job. Basing himself, however, on Christs words that the poor you will always have with you (Jn 12:8), Father Vianney intimated that one reason for endemic poverty is to unleash love and move us to become Good Samaritans. The poor man is an instrument that God uses to make us good, he said. When we give a small bodily alms to the poor, they give us a great spiritual alms in return. If there were no people who were poorer than we are, we would never have an opportunity to learn how to give.
He tried to help his people see the selfishness behind the many excuses why we claim we cannot give or can only give a little. You say you dont have money to give alms, but you have enough money to buy another field! In our own day, many lament that they cannot give a lot to charity, but somehow they miraculously find money to buy high-definition televisions, new cars, make investments and leave sizable inheritances this side of the eschatological eye of the needle. Father Vianneys principle was simple: If you have much, give much; if you have little, give little; but give with all your heart and with joy. For those with more than they need, he taught, Your well-being is nothing other than a depository that God has put in your hands; after taking what is necessary for you and your family, the rest is owed to the poor.
Charity, for him, was so important that he said to some of his good parishioners who focused more on piety than charity that it was more pleasing to God to work for some poor people you know and who are in great need than to pass your day
in front of the holy tabernacle.
This is one of the reasons why, doubtless, he who longed with all his soul to retire to a monastery to pray spent tireless hours in the confessional and in works of charity. He knew how much such sacrifices for others pleased the Lord. To receive much, we need to give much, he said. Thats why he was so rich, and why his people eventually became spiritually prosperous as well.
The Year of the Priest
We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.
Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.
Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.
Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.
Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.
O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.
Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests
The Priesthood and the Mass
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars » We are wretched creatures
Bishop Olmsted on the Devil and John Vianney
St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars
Saint John MarIE Baptist Vianney, Cure of Ars (1786-1859)
Novena In Honor Of Saint John Marie Vianney
Curé d'Ars: Model Priest [Year of the Priest]
Pope: There's an Answer to Empty Confessionals [Catholic Caucus]
St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars » Lost Works
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars » Have You Religion in Your Heart?
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars: The Dreadful State of the Lukewarm Soul (Catholic Caucus)
Play about life of St. John Vianney to tour U.S. in 2009
Aug 4, St. John Marie Vianney - Patron of Parish Priests
Centuries Old Relic (heart of St. John Vianney) Comes To U.S.
Sainted priests heart - Thousands await chance to see incorrupt relic
Saint's heart to go on display
Excerpts from the Sermons of the Cure of Ars
St. John Vianneys Pastoral Plan
Relics of Curé of Ars Make Stop in Papal Chapel
HOMILY by St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars CHARITY
St John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests(1786-1859)[Cure of Ars]
News from the Apostolic Administration of St. John Vianney Fall 2002, Volume 1 - Number 1
The Cure Of Ars: Jean-Marie Vianney
Oh, how great is a priest!" [The Curé d'Ars regarding bishops/priests)
- Do you remember that you went to a ball on such-and-such occasion?Until now, everything he described to the young lady came from his gift of discernment, because naturally he knew nothing of her past. Then, he made the astonishing revelation:
- Yes, I remember.
- Do you remember that at a certain moment a handsome young man entered the ballroom. He was quite elegant, appeared very upright and danced with several young ladies?
- Yes, I do.
- Do you recall that you had a great desire to dance with him?
- I recall that.
- Do you recollect that you became sad because he didnt ask you to dance?
- Yes, I do.
- Do you remember that by chance you looked down at his feet and saw a strange blue light coming from them?
- Yes. I remember.
- That young man was none other than the devil who had taken that shape to tempt several of the young women there. He was unable to approach you because you are a Daughter of Mary protected by her, and you were wearing the Miraculous Medal.
Wow! This is the first time I have ever heard that story. The one I recall is that of the wealthy woman who arrived by carriage to visit the Cure’s parish. He came down to meet her and announced that he could smell the stench of her sins.
“could smell the stench of her sins” Can you imagine hearing something like that? At least she ran into the right confessor. Yes, I really like the “blue light” story too. Every time I’ve read it, I get the chills. Imagine the devil so right in front of you. Of course, maybe that’s not so hard to realize in this day and time anymore. :)
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