Thought for the Day – 4 August
The people were careless about practicing their faith, so they were not happy with this priest who was eager to draw them back to God and Christian living. Some caused trouble by lying about John, by acting violently against him and by refusing to cooperate with him. They hoped that he would give up and leave. Instead, Father Vianney increased his prayers, fasting, and penances.
Gradually, people came to celebrate the sacraments and listen to his homilies. Within a few years, Father Vianney was spending 10–16 hours a day in the confessional. People from all over France and other countries came to consult him. The government built a railroad line to Ars to accommodate all the pilgrims. Father Vianney just continued his hard, yet simple, way of prayer, fasting and penance. He was strict with his parishioners but a hundred times stricter with himself. John gave away his furnishings, his belongings and the gifts of clothes and food that the neighbours brought him. Once he received a black velvet cape as an award and sold it to buy food for those who were poor.
Indifference toward religion, coupled with a love for material comfort, seem to be common signs of our times. A person from another planet observing us would not likely judge us to be pilgrim people, on our way to somewhere else. St John Vianney on the other hand, was a man on a journey, with his goal before him at all times – if he could overcome all obstacles, so can we!
St John Vianney, pray for us!