(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
" "In the first place it should be known that if a person is seeking God, his beloved is seeking him much more." — St. John of the Cross

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Holy Priests and Zeal For Salvation of Souls or Political Activism and Social Justice Programs? What Did St. John Marie Vianney Think?

This feast day for St. John Marie Vianney should garner more attention than it does or will. What a shame! Here is what I wrote last year on this occasion.

I frequently write urging prayers for our priests, prayers for more holy priests, prayers for priests whose lives are truly centered on the Eucharist, and for priests who have an unflinching zeal for the salvation of souls. Why not offer a monthly Novena to St. John Vianney on behalf of your priests?  

Despite the pleas of John Paul II and Benedict XVI that their priests follow this holy man’s example, this patron saint of priests is too often ignored. How can that be? 

To help better appreciate what a gift St. John Vianney is to our Church and to his brother priests, I recommend you take a look at St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan, a two part article written by Fr. John Cihak, S.T.D. and which appeared at Ignatius Insight. You can find Father’s work here and here. Father Roger J. Landry also wrote a series of articles on the Cure of Ars. St. John’s Vianney’s Greatest Temptation is worth reading.

It is clear from a cursory review of his writings that the Cure’s primary concern was for the    sanctification and salvation of the souls entrusted to him. Here is a sampling of what he had to say:

“Lord, make my people holy. This is one thing I ask of you. And if they are not holy, I know it will be my fault. But make them holy.”

“My God, grant me the conversion of my parish, and I am willing to suffer all my life whatsoever it may please You to lay upon me; yes, even for a hundred years am I prepared to endure the sharpest pains, only let my people be converted.”

I can’t stop praying for poor sinners who are on the road to hell. If they come to die in that state, they will be lost for all eternity. What a pity! We have to pray for sinners! Praying for sinners is the most beautiful and useful of prayers because the just are on the way to heaven, the souls of purgatory are sure to enter there, but the poor sinners will be lost forever. All devotions are good but there is no better one than such prayer for sinners.”

Today then is a time to be bold. So I must ask: Should any of our present priests have any less concern for the sanctification and salvation of their flock than this humble, holy priest had for his? Not surprisingly, the Cure left an unambiguous answer:

“Woe to the pastor, who remains silent, while God is offended and souls are lost.”

Community organizing, political activism, and social justice programs will not save souls.  Only God working through holy priests will.

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