My Pilgrimage to Ars and Devotion to Saint Jean Vianney - the Curé d'Ars
When I was reading about the Curé d'Ars spending hours in that cramped and stiffly hot confessional, I wanted to bring him a little pillow for his back! But then I remembered how he eschewed comfort. He used to take the mattress out of his bed before going to sleep and he only ate the bare necessity, which was often a steady diet of potato pancakes. This is possibly what is the hardest thing for me to grasp in regards to the Cure d'Ars. I understand part of it only.
I understand that seeking comfort or material wellbeing is not bad in itself and that he was only practicing self-denial the way I am able to do it (on a much smaller scale!) during Lent: as a physical mean to spiritual growth, as an effort to grow in the love of God and love of neighbor by denying the love of self. I understand this in my head and in my heart but the flesh is weak. I assume that because the Curé d'Ars was holy, his entire life was much more prepared than mine to "live" his faith.
I get a glimpse of what it must be. and it is entirely possible that it is not just the flesh that is weak but the will. And I do know that the will can be trained and exercised, just like a muscle. For that matter, I remember that when Mother Teresa arrived in San Francisco to open a center for her Daughters, she insisted on taking the new carpet out saying that if they did not live like the poor they wanted to serve, they would not be able to understand them and love them.
Comfort! Here is a word we are all familiar with nowadays, there is no denying it.
The Curé d'Ars was the most humble and generous soul in that particular place at that particular time. His own faithfulness, humility and zeal for strengthening our souls live on today. The saints are the champions of the faith and God puts them in our path for our own good. In this global village of ours which is unfolding today, the challenges and the joys are the same than in Ars 150 years ago, there is still the possibility to bring extraordinary goodness out of ordinary but courageous efforts and there is still the need to resist the constant avalanche of distractions and the misuse of comfort.
He himself was very much aware of the true source of his gifts and his successes and he always assigned them to God and to the intercession of the Holy Mother of God or Ste Philomena, never to his own merits or efforts. And that is because he had such a clear understanding of the role of the priesthood as shepherds of souls and because he knew the goal of our lives here on earth.
As Pope Benedict XVI said at the opening of the Year for Priests: "Who, therefore, saves the world and man? The only answer we can give is: Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, crucified and resurrected. And where is the mystery realized of the death and resurrection of Christ, which brings salvation?
In the action of Christ through the Church, in particular in the sacrament of reconciliation, in which from the death of sin one returns to the new life. it is also necessary, following the example of the Holy Curé d'Ars, to be available, generous and attentive in giving the faithful the treasure of grace that God has placed in our hands, and of which we are not the "owners" but custodians and administrators.
Saint Jean Vianney,
increase our fortitude and renew our repentance,
help us resist distractions and give up some comfort,
for the life of the world and the life of our souls!
Michčle Szekely writes from San Francisco (where she is a member of Notre-Dame des Victoires), unless she is writing from the French Alps, from her parents chalet. She has published two books of nature nature photography: "San Francisco en noir et blanc" & "Pictures For The Journey". Be sure to check out her French-American Catholic blog: le blog de la Bergerie
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Le blog de la Bergerie is a bi-lingual (French and English) weblog edited by Michele Szekely featuring original writings and other inspired content. The goal of the site: 'A Catholic and French-American blog dedicated to sharing the faith in English and in French and to strengthen the friendship between both countries in the process; a place to find articles and commentaries on the family, on the faith and the world, on the faith in the world, on Sacred Scriptures, on the new evangelization, on book reviews.'Used with permission.
Keywords: Michčle Szekely, Saint Jean Vianney, Cure of Ars, devotion, communion of saints, patron of priests
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