A Saint for Our Time

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. John Vianney, patron of priests. In this time of great difficulty, we desperately need the example and intercession of St. John Vianney.

He grew up during the French Revolution, a period of persecution against the Church, especially the priesthood. Many religious people and priests were forced to go underground to practice the faith at the risk of their own lives.

The piety of Vianney’s family and the witness of holy priests, inspired his vocation. They willingly put their lives on the line, traveling great distances to attend mass. He saw the priests as heroes as they sacrificed everything to minister to their people.

After the Revolution, he pursued his religious education and was eventually accepted into the seminary. Despite being a very poor student, he persevered through many challenges and was ordained. He was assigned to the small village of Ars.

In post Revolution France, the population was largely ignorant of their faith but Vianney’s deep holiness and life of prayer and penance inspired the villagers of Ars and finally, he won them over. How? He spent as many as 18 hours in the confessional, hearing upward of 400 confessions in a single day! He taught them the lives of the saints, the prayer of the rosary, the Ten Commandments, the Precepts of the Church, the fulfillment of daily duties, modesty in dress, and the centrality of Mass and the Blessed Sacrament.

Deeply devoted to the Blessed Mother since childhood, he was often seen praying his rosary while walking through the fields of Ars. He believed so much in the power of the Rosary, he was once quoted as saying, “It is impossible to meditate with devotion upon the Mysteries of the Rosary and live in a state of sin.”

Let us join together this week, following the example of St. John Vianney, as we continue our Rosary Crusade together. And let us especially hold in our hearts, all of our priests, especially those who are struggling, sick or dying.

St. John Vianney’s Prayer for Priests

God, please give to your Church today
many more priests after your own heart.
May they be worthy representatives of
Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves
to prayer and penance;
be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness;
tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God;
zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.
May their loving devotion to
your Son Jesus in the Eucharist
and to Mary his Mother
be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry. Amen.
(Prayer from: Foundation of Prayer for Priests)

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