Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.

Concerning the calumnies and detraction suffered by St. John Vianney...
"When verbal insults failed to get him to leave Ars or at least stop his crusade to convert the populace, Vianney's denigrators began to resort to violence. One day a man approached and savagely slapped him in the face. Stung, the Curé took a moment to gain his composure. He then turned to the man, smiled, and said, "My friend, the other cheek is jealous."
Most difficult to endure were the calumny and character assassination. Some young men, disappointed that their former dance partners had been converted by the priest, began to spread rumors that the reason behind his emaciation and pallor was because he had a sexually transmitted disease caught through a hidden life of sordid debauchery. As ludicrous as the accusation was, they thought that if they repeated it enough it would eventually stick. They composed beer songs mocking him for these supposed sins, plastered posters around town and even on the rectory door labeling him a pervert, and wrote anonymous letters to the bishop accusing him of almost every degeneracy possible.
When a young woman living in a house close to the rectory became pregnant, these young men started the rumor that the pastor himself was the father. His front door was splashed repeatedly with filth and many of the people of the village began to treat him as a guilty hypocrite. His new bishop, having received so many anonymous letters and not knowing the Curé well at the time, felt obliged to send a priest to investigate the charges. The allegations were unsurprisingly determined to be total fabrications.
St. John Vianney's response to all of this suffering was to abandon himself into God's hands. He did not care in particular that his own good name was being besmirched — if God didn't need his reputation, who was he to think he did? — but he was sickened by the attacks on the honor of the priesthood. In a weak moment, he considered leaving Ars for the spiritual health of the people who were being scandalized, until he was convinced that by doing so, he would be give plausibility to the notorious rumors.
The mayor, who knew him to be innocent, pressed him to make a defense and expose the slanderers. Vianney responded, rather, "We must pray for them." He forgave his accusers and never revealed their names, even though he knew who they were. When one of the calumniators hit hard times, Vianney brought the family money. Eventually, the force of the evidence of his holiness and confidence in God began to bring sanity and truth back to Ars." - Dealing with Detractors, Fr. Roger Landry

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"... Open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you.  Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts." - Pope Benedict to seminarians at WYD Madrid


  1. Does anyone know a good book about St. Jean Vianney that is understandable to someone today (especially someone who suffers scrupulosity)? I think there is a book called "Jean Vianney, a Saint for Our Times" or something like that. Does anyone know?

    He was such an obviously holy man whose hear burned for the love of God and the sinners he served. Yet despite this (or more likely because of it), I am often taken aback by some of the harsher things he said, and some if the more rigorous moral demands he made. The most famous one is of course his apparent conviction that dancing is per se mortally sinful, as is going to bars. There's also some stuff about babies and modesty and the like.

    But that's not what St Jean was all about - I know that it was his love and the joy for Heaven that made him who he was, and that converted people. I wish I could learn more about that without worrying that I'll go to hell for dancing at a wedding.

  2. I found reading your post humbling indeed. I don't know if I could have been so forgiving.
    There is a good deal in the post above that mirrors our society today.
    It is easy to spread calumny and destroy the good character of a priest, some blogger's do it everyday and revel in it. Not you Terry you are a decent blogger- but with the click of the mouse and little thought given to the consequences a man's good can be so damaged.

  3. "I wish I could learn more about that without worrying that I'll go to hell for dancing at a wedding."

    Your dancing's that bad? You could always get lessons Mercury. ..........You're going to be fine Mercury. Our Lady is going to walk alongside you and her love will transform you into the beautiful person we see, in your words. However, try to look on her presence entering more deeply into your life as a dusting off of fear, rather than an amputation of both legs ;)

    "— if God didn't need his reputation, who was he to think he did? —"

    What a brilliant line! I am worried aboout attending two events(one spiritual, one a party) and this has blown the cobwebs away.

  4. Gotta love St. Jean for setting a high standard, yet one that inspires rather than appearing far away. Thanks for this.

  5. Priest's Housekeeper, Thanks - but I've made many mistakes on this blog and have said things I wish I could retract.

  6. I think all of us bloggers have make mistakes and said things we wish we could retract.

    This was an excellent piece Terry. It highlights something else too: The response.

    St. Francis de Sales, quoting St. Gregory explains how we are to respond to false accusations:

    When any evil befalls you, apply the remedies that may be in your power, agreeably to the will of God; for to act otherwise would be to tempt divine Providence Having done this, wait with resignation for the success it may please God to send; and, should the remedies overcome the evil, return Him thanks with humility, but if, on the contrary, the evils overcome the remedies, bless Him with patience.
    "The following advice of St. Gregory is useful: whenever you are 'justly accused' of a fault, humble yourself, and candidly confess that you deserve more than the accusation which is brought against you; but, if the charge be false, excuse yourself meekly, denying your guilt, for you owe this respect to truth, and to the edification of your neighbor. But if, after your true and lawful excuse, they should continue to accuse you, trouble not yourself nor strive to have your excuse admitted; for, having discharged your duty to truth, you must also do the same to humility, by which means you neither offend against the care you ought to have of your reputation, nor the love you owe to peace, meekness of heart, and humility."

  7. Oh how I love Father Vianney!

    The communion of saints is a mystery to me. Why do these saints have such a love and devotion to us and then give so much of themselves for us - still, even after their deaths!

    BTW. Every time I read Mercury's comments he seems like such a neat person.

  8. Thanks, Belinda. I'm bad at praying, bad at trusting, but good at rambling. I guess it comes off sounding nice in conboxes, haha.

  9. Saint John Vianney was an ignorant student at the Seminary. After many attempts, the Bishop finally consecrated him a Priest. He perturbed the Bishop.

    When he took over at Ars, the Church was run down and in need of remodel.

    So were the souls of the Faithful.

    Because he gave his heart to God, he was given many graces with which to carry out his holy ministry.

    He was not a stick in the mud. He fought Satan well, and performed his Priestly duties as any other Priest could and should do.

    He really gave his heart to God.

    He was just an ordinary Priest.

    God accepted his heart.

    Its all He wants from us.

    People would go to confession with him and be told things they forgot to mention, or sins they tried to hide.

    He was doing such a good job, even Satan showed up for Mass one day.

    Saint John told him to leave, or he would expose him, and when Satan would not leave, he had the altar boy give him the holy water, and he sprinkled it on Satan, causing him to be revealed.

    Everyone at Mass vomited from the stench Satan produced.

    The biggest Seminaries, Convents, and Catholic Schools in France are located at Ars.

    He was just a simple Priest that did his job well, and gave his heart to God.

    There is a series of books titled The Sermons of the Curie of Ars.

    In those books is Living under a Crucifix.

    My favorite Saint John Marie Vianney story.

    I like Pope Saint Gregory the Great stories.

    God made him Pope because of one act of Charity he performed.

    An Angel informed the Holy Father of this.


  10. Here is a petition that someone suffering from scruples or some other malady may make:

    He wanted so much to be a priest,
    this little man,
    not learned,
    a bad student,
    a farm worker who knew his prayers
    and never learned his latin well,
    but how he loved you, Lord,
    like a shining torch in the night.

    They put hin in an insignificant place,
    at a time
    when religion
    was nearly forgot,
    and the custom of prayer
    nearly evaporated.
    Who could have known
    what seed was planted
    in little Ars?

    How many hearts did he touch,
    this little seed
    blooming into a glorious flower,
    on flame for God,
    sitting in the confessional hour after hour,
    caring for the lost,
    the sick,
    the poor
    teaching your truth,
    yet always feeling
    never quite good enough,
    never worthy
    never holy enough
    for the work you gave him,
    the souls he molded,
    the generation he touched.

    St. Jean Marie Vianney,
    now you know the worth of your work.
    Thank you for answering God's call.

    Pray for me, O Cure of Ars,
    pray for all those hearing the call of God,
    pray for all priests
    and may they always be inspired by your example.


    As it has no Impramatur or Nihil Obstat I would first ask my Priest if it is okay to use it.


  11. "How many hearts did he touch!?"

    What a fun question, how many hearts does he continue to
    touch or even better, change?

    Well,.. once I had a vision of Vianney as he was helping... um, nevermind. I'm not approved. hahaha

    He's unstoppable from the other side and he makes me laugh. Not sure what's so funny about him but he always brings a smile to my face.


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