Skip to comments.The Devil’s Most Effective Foe
Posted on 08/04/2012 6:43:53 AM PDT by NYer
Not even the casual observer of Salvation History can fail to conclude that Our Lord loves the unlikely. He chose a teenage girl from the backwater of Nazareth to bring the King of Kings into the world. He called a fisherman who was, as Chesterton put it, a snob and a shuffler, to helm His Church. When the successor of that fisherman had grown too comfortable in Avignon, He sent the diminutive dyers daughter from Siena to tell him to be a man: Esto vir. When He had had enough of Englands depredations of the Eldest Daughter of the Church, He picked a peasant girl who had never fired a bow or ridden a horse to lead the army of liberation. He found a farmer who deeply loved Our Lady to convert Mexico from a land of devil worshipers into the greatest Christian country in the New World.
God loves the unlikely. And what could be more unlikely, more worthless, in the worlds eyes than confessing ones sins to a priest. Yet when the soul of France ached for absolution from the terrifying evil of the Revolution, God found a confessor. He selected a struggling seminarian, lousy at Latin, and, against the opinion of his faculty, engineered his ordination. Then God sent this priest to another backwater, Ars-sur-Formans, population 230.
Never heard if it?
Neither had most of France in 1818, but within a few short years, all of France had.
When Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney, known to us as the Curé dArs, took over the villages neglected parish, he did not issue a press release announcing the latest legislative initiative to restore marriage. He did not organize marches to stop infanticide. He did not manufacture bumper stickers to promote religious liberty. Instead, he ascended his pulpit and preached Catholic doctrine: heaven, hell, sin, forgiveness.
Was Ars a den of iniquity? Probably not, speculates Donald Attwater. It seems to have been in just about the same state as many English villages in the third quarter of the twentieth century: little definite immorality and definite wickedness, but little true religion and love of God. Sound familiar? Peopled by those sad souls whose works in life merited neither praise nor infamy, as our friend Anthony Esolen has rendered in Dante, Ars was France writ small. Look, and pass, Virgil told Dante as they walked by the hollow men. But, knowing where such souls were bound, Monsieur Vianney did not look and pass. He proclaimed from the pulpit what Fr. Edward Leen would later call the secret of life: let all your actions be done from the love of God.
The pulpit was just the beginning. The preacher beats the bushes, said another French saint, John Eudes (whose feast is also this month), but the confessor catches the birds. Father Jean-Marie understood. After beating the bushes, he took his place where even angels do not enter, on the bench behind the confessional screen. From there he absolved and converted his parish. Then he absolved and converted France.
A living saint, writes Henri Ghéon in his tender hagiography, The Secret of the Curé dArs, is more sought after than a dead saint. Men and women of all stations, from peasants to nobles, from priests to bishops beat a path to Monsieur Vianneys confessional. Although the lines stretched outside his church, around the corner, and down the street (the average wait was one week), although the holy Curé would sit for as many as eighteen hours in the box, to each soul he gave personal care, enlightening the ignorant, inspiring the lukewarm, drawing out the reluctant, stopping dead in their tracks those who tried to conceal their sins. He could read souls.
How long since your last confession, he asked a penitent.
Thirty-three to be exact, corrected the Curé.
Monsieur Vianney heard 300 confessions a day. He heard confessions on his deathbed.
The devil, of course, hates priests who take the work of absolving souls seriously. Failing to lure Father Jean-Marie with the standard temptations that work so well on the rest of uspride, indolence, despairSatan lost all patience and tried direct assault. There is no ascribing this diabolical infestation to psychosis or delusion. The physical evidence attested to by abundant witnesses is carefully presented in Abbé François Trochus definitive hagiography, derived from the not-inconsiderable canonization testimony.
Nightly Monsieur Vianneys rectory was the site of a terrifying cacophony: scurrying and gnawing rats, the sound of pounding nails, and howling wind. When the noises failed to trouble the holy Curé, the Devil turned over furniture, smeared excrement on the doorway, and set the priests bed on fire. To this last effort, Vianney responded, The wretched fiend. He has not been able to catch the bird, so he has burnt the cage. Adding, I have asked this favor of God; at last he has granted it. I am truly the poorest of the parish; they all have a bed . . . . I no longer have one. Nights of particularly violent infestation pleased Fr. Jean-Marie for he came to learn that the following day always brought some major sinner, a really big fish, to his confessional. Fr. Thurston declares that there is no diabolical infestation in history that lasted so long or was so varied and so cogent. Asked how he tolerated it, Vianney, who had spent so much time in Satans company, brushed it off: The grappin and I are practically mates.
Of his countless works of charity, La Providence (the orphanage for girls), his devotion to St. Philomena (another of Gods unlikely ones), the miraculous cures and multiplications of food, the austerity of his deprivations, his defense of the Lords Day, his capacity to see the future, we can say that these things attend the life of a man determined to love God with every single action of his day. Can you offer it to God? he would ask his parishioners. Then why bother?
Something we can all offer to God is our desire to be forgiven. Celebrate St. Jean Vianneys feastAugust 4by going to Confession. It is a Saturday this year, so it should be an easy task. But it also should be easy each and every day of the week. It was in Ars. In honor of St. Jean Vianney send a letter to your pastor and one to you bishop asking for greater availability of the sacrament of Confession. I have the good fortune to live in a diocese, where, thanks to the recently retired Bishop Thomas Doran, Confession is available seven days a week. I believe we are unusually blessed here in Rockford, but I feel certain that other, and much larger, dioceses throughout the republic have at least as many souls for whom love of God is not the chief motive of their actions.
Wonderful., I have read it, and will re-read it.
go to confession ping list
**When Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney, known to us as the Curé dArs, took over the villages neglected parish, he did not issue a press release announcing the latest legislative initiative to restore marriage. He did not organize marches to stop infanticide. He did not manufacture bumper stickers to promote religious liberty. Instead, he ascended his pulpit and preached Catholic doctrine: heaven, hell, sin, forgiveness.**
St. John Vianney, pray for our priests and Bishops, that they may do likewise.
Outstanding article with all the details of St. John Vianney’s encounters with the devil.
The divine depository in our hands (so you want to go to heaven?) [Catholic Caucus]
Revitalizing Your Priesthood (The Grace of Ars -- about St. John Vianney)
A Seed of Glory and Eternal Life in the Holy Priest's Flesh [Death of St. John Vianney, Curé dArs]
The Priesthood and the Mass
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars » Follow one Master only
Sermons of St. John Vianney - Cure of Ars » The World is Everything - God, Nothing!
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)
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