St. Jean-Marie Vianney, Model of Parochial Clergy
St. Francis de Sales once said that one can be a martyr not only by confessing God before men, but also by confessing men before God.
How could this phrase not come to mind when thinking about the holy Curé d’Ars and his tireless faithfulness to his confessional where troubled souls flocked from all over France in the hopes of finding peace.
On top of this long-lasting sacrifice, to which he devoted entire days for many years, the saint practiced fasting, nights of prayer, and continuous mental prayer; thus transformed into a host with Christ, he merited first of all the conversion of his own apathetic parish, then that of many sinners who came to him from afar.
Simple, extremely poor and detached from the things of this world, as lacking as he may have seemed in great intellectual capacities, he was overflowing with faith and zeal, which made him the ideal and model of a good parish priest: the holy Curé d’Ars.
God glorified him with the gift of miracles; and when, worn out with fatigue and austerity, St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney had closed his eyes for the last time, the greatest and most lasting wonder worked by him was his saving and decisive influence on parochial clergy, especially in France, renewing the pastoral spirit.
It was for this reason that Pius XI introduced the feast of the Curé d’Ars into the calendar of the universal Church in 1928, and, the following year, proclaimed him the heavenly Patron of all parish priests and all priests entrusted with souls, in the Eternal City and throughout the world.
His Mass is that of the Common of a Confessor not a bishop; only the collect was specifically written for him:
Almighty and merciful God, Who didst make St. John Mary wonderful in his pastoral zeal and constant prayer and penance: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his example and intercession we may be able to win the souls of our brethren for Christ, and together with them attain to everlasting glory.
Working for the salvation of souls, as St. John Chrysostom once said, is the most divine occupation there is, and it also makes us live in the love of God and ensures our own salvation.