Thursday, August 02, 2007

Today is the Feast Day of St. John Vianney (1786-1859), Patron Saint of priests and more universally known as the Cure d'Ars (parish priest of the French village of Ars.)

The setting of St. John Vianney's life was France in the years after the Revolution, when bishops, priests, nuns and seminaries were being violently suppressed. He inherited the rural parish of Ars which was sunk in drunkenness and debauchery and through great effort eventually made it a model of sanctity. He was intent on eliminating "occasions of sin" and even cut down the apple trees in the orchard to deprive the village boys of the temptation to go scrumping. He disdained to sleep in a bed, the floor was sufficient for him. For food he would cook a pan of potatoes once a week, hang them in a wire basket and eat them until there were none left. The final potatoes were always rotten and wormy.

Counter-cultural and extreme to the last, this bony old cove somehow inspires a lot of affection in me. Pray for us today, St. John Vianney.

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