St. John Vianney was a Frenchman who lived during the time of the anti-Catholic French Revolution. He was drafted into Napoleon's army, but eventually deserted and hid. Once deserters were granted amnesty, he decided to become a priest.. He was also a very poor student, and most of his superiors thought that he would never be smart enough to become a priest. However, he endured in his studies and was eventually ordained in 1815, and assigned to a very poor parish in Ars, France. The populace there was known for their lustful party-hearty spirit, in the dancing halls, cabarets, and bars. Thanks to his fasting, his preaching, and his countless hours in the confessional, St. John Vianney changed their ways. He became so popular that penitents from all over France would go to Ars to have him hear their confession.
St. John Vianney and the devil
The devil took note of all of this and told him,
“If there were 3 such priests as you, my kingdom would be finished.”
The devil also attacked him physically, kept him awake at night with loud animal voices, and once even set his bed on fire. The reason that satan did this was to prevent St. John from getting his bed rest, as he spent most waking hours hearing confessions. One night in 1824, St. John heard loud voices, commotion, and a beating on his door. He suspected burglars, so he asked one of the braver citizens of Ars to come spend the next night with him in his rectory. The same thing happened, but when his friend checked outside there was no one there, which could only mean that the commotion was demonic.
St. John knew that when this happened a lot, a huge sinner ( a “big fish”) was going to come to his confessional tomorrow, and this was the devil's way of trying to prevent St. John from hearing his confession. St. John jokingly referred to the devil as the “Grappin” (a sharp pronged anchor), and that they were almost chums. For sure, this flippancy toward satan probably enraged the devil even more, but the lesson learned here is that we shouldn't fear the devil and his tricks if we truly trust in God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, do His work to the best of our ability, and remain in the state of grace. St. John endured, and eventually became the patron saint of parish priests. He died in 1859, and was canonized as a saint on May 31, 1925.
St. John Vianney Quotes
Below are some of his most famous quotes, which are still very appropriate for us sinners today, living in the twenty-first century:
"Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that."
“If you care what people think of you, then you shouldn't have become a Catholic.”
"When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary - a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt."
"I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the Cross than in serving the world and its pleasures."
"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy."
"If someone said to us, "At such an hour a dead person is to be raised to life, " we should run very quickly to see it. But is not the Consecration, which changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of God, a much greater miracle than to raise a dead person to life? We ought always to devote at least a quarter of an hour to preparing ourselves to hear Mass well; we ought to annihilate ourselves before God, after the example of His profound annihilation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; and we should make our examination of conscience, for we must be in a state of grace to be able to assist properly at Mass. If we knew the value of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or rather if we had faith, we should be much more zealous to assist at it."
“The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the devil. Thus the Church wishes not only that we have it continually in front of our minds to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ, but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and, above all, when we are tempted.”
“The Devil writes down our sins - our Guardian Angel all our merits. Labor that the Guardian Angel's book may be full, and the Devil's empty.”
“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”
“Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God, the angels, and the saints – they are your public.”
“We put pride into everything like salt. We like to see that our good works are known. If our virtues are seen, we are pleased; if our faults are perceived, we are sad. I remark that in a great many people; if one says anything to them, it disturbs them, it annoys them. The saints were not like that – they were vexed if their virtues were known, and pleased that their imperfections should be seen.”
“Only after the Last Judgment will Mary get any rest; from now until then, she is much too busy with her children.”
“Humility is like a pair of scales: the lower one side falls, the higher rises the other. Let us humble ourselves like the Blessed Virgin and we shall be exalted.”
“The virtue of obedience makes the will supple… It inspires the courage with which to fulfill the most difficult tasks.”
“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for, whatever we do, the cross holds us tight – we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses, and make use of them to take us to heaven?”
“You either belong wholly to the world or wholly to God.”
“The Lord is more anxious to forgive our sins than a woman is to carry her baby out of a burning building.”
“If you invoke the Blessed Virgin when you are tempted, she will come at once to your help, and Satan will leave you.”
“A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand people behind.”
“ I thought a time would come when people would rout me out of Ars with sticks, when the Bishop would suspend me, and I should end my days in prison. I see, however, that I am not worthy of such a grace.”
“My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.”
“Put a good bunch of grapes under the wine press, and a delicious juice will come out. Under the wine press of the cross, our soul produces a juice that feeds and strengthens us. When we haven’t got any crosses, we are dry. If we carry them with resignation, what happiness, what sweetness we feel!”
“We ought to run after crosses as the miser runs after money. . . Nothing but crosses will reassure us at the Day of Judgment When that day shall come, we shall be happy in our misfortunes, proud of our humiliations, and rich in our sacrifices!”
“The first thing about the angels that we ought to imitate, is their consciousness of the Presence of God.”
“Yes, my dear children, everything is good and precious in God’s sight when we act from the motives of religion and of charity because Jesus Christ tells us that a glass of water would not go unrewarded. You see, therefore, my children, that although we may be quite poor, we can still easily give alms.”
“It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.”
“The man of impure speech is a person whose lips are but an opening and a supply pipe which hell uses to vomit its impurities upon the earth.”
“Envy, my children, follows pride; whoever is envious is proud. See, envy comes to us from Hell; the devils having sinned through pride, sinned also through envy, envying our glory, our happiness. Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others? Because we are proud; we should like to be the sole possessors of talents, riches, of the esteem and love of all the world! We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors, because they are above us.”
“If people would do for God what they do for the world, what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven.”
“All that we do without offering it to God is wasted.”
“See, my children, a person who is in a state of sin is always sad. Whatever he does, he is weary and disgusted with every thing; while he who is at peace with God is always happy, always joyous. . . Oh, beautiful life! Oh, beautiful death!”
“The most Holy Virgin places herself between her Son and us. The greater sinners we are, the more tenderness and compassion does she feel for us. The child that has cost its mother most tears is the dearest to her heart. Does not a mother always run to the help of the weakest and the most exposed to danger? Is not a physician in the hospital most attentive to those who are most seriously ill? The Heart of Mary is so tender towards us, that those of all the mothers in the world put together are like a piece of ice in comparison to hers.”
“All Good Works together are not of equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the holy Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and of His Blood. Oh, how great is a priest! If he understood himself he would die. . . . God obeys him; he speaks two words, and Our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host. God looks upon the altar. "That is My well-beloved Son, " He says, "in whom I am well-pleased. " He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim. If we had faith, we should see God hidden in the priest like a light behind a glass, like wine mingled with water. “
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