Prayer of the Day
Feast of St. John VianneyAugust 4th, 2014
After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus sent the disciples out on the boat while he went up into the hills to pray. The boat is often taken to mean the Church sent out into the sea of the world. While Jesus seems absent from the boat he is never far away. When the storm breaks he walks on water to get to the boat. Sometimes, especially during the recent scandals in the Church together with falling numbers of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we are inclined to be very disheartened. Perhaps, like Peter, we take our eyes off Jesus who is asking us to have faith in his presence and care for his Church.
Today the Church celebrates the memory of St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars. He was born near Lyons in France in 1786. In 1790 priests in France had to go into hiding because of the French Revolution. Nevertheless some priests risked their lives to celebrate Mass and give the sacraments in secret houses. John’s family travelled long distances to these Masses. Very impressed by these heroic men John decided to become a priest. In the seminary he found Latin very difficult. Nevertheless he persisted and was eventually ordained. Three years after his ordination in1818 he was made parish priest of the tiny French hamlet of Ars. The effects of the French Revolution were obvious to him when he arrived. The people were ignorant about their faith and indifferent towards God. The Cure’s personal holiness drew people back to God. By 1855 it was estimated that the number of pilgrims coming to him for Confession was 20,000 a year.