St. John Vianney is the Patron Saint of Parish Priests. He was born in France during the very anti-Catholic French Revolution era. He was a very poor student, and had trouble with Latin. However, he was ordained a priest in 1815. Upon being assigned to a very small parish in Ars (around 230 parishioners), near Lyon, he took it upon himself to deprive himself of food and sleep, spending many hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as visiting his parishioners in their homes. He also spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. In one year, over 20,000 pilgrims from Europe visited Ars in order to have their confessions heard by Father Vianney. Why? Because of his spiritual gifts of discernment of spirits and healing. Many times, Father Vianney would help the penitent complete his or her confession by telling them their own sins that they had forgotten to confess. Father Vianney was also a conduit for miracles from God to those of faith. He started an orphanage, and was always able to obtain the exact amount of money needed for the sustenance of the orphanage through prayer. He also healed many sick children. Father Vianney had a great affection for the Blessed Mother (as do all saints), and in addition, he often prayed to St. Philomena to obtain her miraculous intercession.
This great saint only got about 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night, in between hearing confessions, visiting parishioners, and spending long hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. On many occasions, the devil would disturb his sleep by making noises and shaking his bed. He kept up this routine for 40 years, and died at the age of 73.
Father Vianney railed against the local cabarets and dancing, which he said led straight to hell. He also preached against the evils of the tongue and irreligiousness. He was one of the great preachers of all time. His sermons are still available to read. Most are short, and some are incomplete due to translation errors or lost pages. For this Lent, it is hoped that everyone who looks at this page will read several of them each day. In this very different world of the 21rst century, MANY of his words and warnings still ring true today. Please click on the link below to get started. The pdf file is linked for your convenience (the 4.3 meg file may take a minute to download, please be patient). One of his sermons, "You Have Not the Time", is included here on this page as a sample for you.
YOU HAVE NOT THE TIME
"We can only find our happiness on earth in loving God, and we can only love Him in prayer to Him. We see that Jesus Christ, to encourage us often to have recourse to Him through prayer, promises never to refuse us anything if we pray for it as we should. But there is no need to go looking for elaborate and roundabout ways of showing you that we should pray often, for you have only to open your catechism and you will see there that the duty of every good Christian is to pray morning and evening and often during the day -- that is to say, always....
Which of us, my dear brethren, could, without tears of compassion, listen to those poor Christians who dare to say that they have not time to pray? You have not the time! Poor blind creatures, which is the more precious action: to strive to please God and to save your soul, or to go out to feed your animals in the stable or to call your children or your servants in order to send them out to till the earth or to tidy up the stable? Dear God! How blind man is! .... You have not the time! But tell me, ungrateful creatures, if God had called you to die that night, would you have exerted yourselves? If He had sent you three or four months of illness, would you have exerted yourselves? Go away, you miserable creatures; you deserve to have God abandon you in your blindness and leave you thus to perish. We find that it is too much to give Him a few minutes to thank Him for the graces which He is giving us at every instant! ....
You must get on with your work, you say. That, my dear people, is where you are greatly mistaken. You have no other work to do except to please God and to save your souls. All the rest is not your work. If you do not do it, others will, but if you lose your soul, who will save it?"