Saint John Vianney (1786-1859)
for August 4
Saint John Vianney was born near Lyons, France, in 1786. He worked as a shepherd boy on his father's farm, and only attended the village school briefly when he was nine. When he entered the seminary to study for the priesthood, he really struggled with his studies, and it was questionable whether he would be ordained. He especially had trouble with Latin, the language used for all his classes. A parish priest tutored him privately and arranged for special exams. The seminary officials were impressed with his goodness, and the bishop ordained him in 1815. In 1817, Saint John Vianney was assigned to Arsen-Dombes, a remote village of fewer than 250 people (which is why he is sometimes called the Cure d'Ars). He restored the church, visited every parishioner, and taught the Catechism. Although his sermons were often about hell and the Last Judgment, he was a compassionate priest, and was loved and respected as a confessor and spiritual counselor. He developed a reputation for working miracles, and attracted many visitors. For the last 15 years of his life, he preached every day, and spent long hours hearing confessions and offering spiritual counsel to the thousands of visitors who came to see him. He was canonized in 1925 and named the patron saint of parish priests. His feast day is August 4. (Taken from "The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth.")
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Saint John Vianney frequently spent up to 16 straight hours a day in the confessional, giving spiritual guidance and helping people reunite with God. His fervent desire to provide counseling highlights the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the tremendous value of constantly seeking unification with God. Saint John Vianney reminds us that we must always strive to unite ourselves with Jesus.
Dear Jesus, please help me to live with the same dedication to serving and loving you exemplified by Saint John Vianney. Help me to lead others to the same dedication.