On August 4th we celebrate the memorial of St. John Vianney. This saint is the Patron Saint of all priests, and since he is such a significant person in the life of every priest, I thought I would briefly reflect on his life and his ministry as a priest. St. John Vianney was born during the French Revolution, and after his baptism, the future saint would experience the horrors and tragedies that the Revolution brought to the Church and to priests.
As an example, there were organized hunts for priests and their faithful, who were all sent to the guillotine. During this time of persecution, Saint John Vianney fell more and more in love with Jesus and vowed to one day become a priest, himself. Saint John Vianney had to work on the farm to help support the family and there was no time or money for the schooling needed for him to become a priest. But his mother encouraged him to speak to the pastor of the parish, and his education began. However, studying Latin as an adult is even harder than studying Latin as a child! The saint struggled through school. There was a time when he thought that he was never going to be ordained, but God had another plan for this man. He was ordained, and shortly after his ordination, was assigned as pastor of a little parish outside of France called Ars. As he was walking toward Ars, he asked a little boy for directions. The boy showed him how to get to the parish Church—the future saint said: “You showed me how to get to Ars and now I will show Ars how to get to heaven!” There is much more that can be said about this parish priest, but I use him as my focus for our reflection this week – to ask yourself the question: When was the last time I showed someone how to get to heaven? By our example, and through our prayers we can do what St. John Vianney has done. So this week let us work together and show others how to get to heaven and find the Lord.