14 The significance of St John Vianney for the modern world - Fr. Dr. Patrick D'Souza

posted Aug 1, 2018, 9:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 1, 2018, 9:04 AM ]
Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney was a French parish priest who is venerated in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to as the Curé d'Ars.

Through his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, he transformed the people of Ars, and made Ars known all over Europe. He achieved this through his saintly life, his prayer life, penance and fasting, sitting for long hours to hear confessions and give counsel to the thousands of people who used to stand in long lines. He also had an ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I wish to highlight some of the significant aspects of St John Vianney’s life and ministry and draw implications for our life.

Hearing Confessions:
God had blessed him with the ability to help people open up. They used to blurt out all the sins that they had committed for so many months and years, and had either no inclination or courage to come to the priest and confess their sins. And those who were still not ready to tell him all their sins were surprised to hear him point out that they were holding something back. The encouraging words of Fr Vianney were sufficient for them to share everything; they would go back with a new heart and a new beginning to walk on the path that Jesus has shown us. During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional.

Significance for the Priests: It is a great privilege that the priests have received from God to forgive the sins of the sinners. Jesus has assured His disciples, "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."(Mt 17:19) A priest should rejoice when people come to him for confession, and should never refuse anyone confession, no matter how busy he is. Many priests willingly and happily help priests of other parishes for confessions, whenever requested. It is a great joy for a priest when someone comes along to say, "Father, I have come for confession after many years," or "Father, for all these years I made my confession, but I was afraid and shy to confess this particular sin. But today, God has given me the grace to confess the sins which I have never confessed before."