Saint John Vianney was a French Parish Priest who lived from 1786-1859. He became notable for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, a small town in France. He is the Patron Saint of Parish Priests. During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day listening to confessions. He is often referred to as ‘The Cure of Ars’.
I have been reading “The Little Catechism of The Cure of Ars“ written by St. John Vianney. It is such a simple yet profound book. St. John Vianney exhorts us to renounce our sins and to lead a pure and holy life. I thought I would share some words of wisdom written by this great saint. I highly recommend this book for spiritual reading. Here are some excerpts from The Little Catechism of The Cure of Ars.
Part 1 – Instructions on the Catechism
Chapter 1 – Catechism on Salvation
We should say on awaking, “I desire to do everything today for Thee, O my God! I will submit to all that Thou shalt send me, as coming from Thee. I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee. But, O God, I can do nothing without Thee. Do Thou help me!”
Worldly people say, it is too difficult to save one’s soul. Yet nothing is easier. To observe the Commandments of God and the Church, and to avoid the seven capital sins; or if you like to put it so, to do good and avoid evil; that is all.
The Saints did not all begin well; but they all ended well. We have begun badly; let us end well, and we shall go one day and meet them in Heaven.
Chapter 2 – Catechism on The Love of God
Man, being created by love, cannot live without love: either he loves God, or he loves himself and he loves the world.
By faith, we believe what God has promised us: we believe that we shall one day see Him, that we shall possess Him, that we shall be eternally happy with Him in Heaven. By hope, we expect the fulfillment of these promises: we hope that we shall be rewarded for all our good actions, for all our good thoughts, for all our good desires; for God takes into account even our good desires.
Chapter 3 – Catechism on the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is light and strength. He teaches us to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and between good and evil.
Worldly people have not the Holy Spirit, or if they have, it is only for a moment.
A Christian who is led by the Holy Spirit has no difficulty in leaving the goods of this world, to run after those of Heaven; he knows the differences between them.
A soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells is never weary in the presence of God; his heart gives forth a breath of love.
Without the Holy Spirit all is cold; therefore, when we feel we are losing our fervor, we must instantly make a novena to the Holy Spirit to ask for faith and love…
A fish never complains of having too much water, neither does a good Christian ever complain of being too long with the good God. There are some people who find religion wearisome, and it is because they have no the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 4 – Catechism on The Blessed Virgin
The heart of this good Mother is all love and mercy; she desires only to see us happy. We have only to turn to her to be heard. The Son has His justice, the Mother has nothing but her love.
All the Saints have a great devotion to Our Lady; no grace comes from Heaven without passing through her hands.
The Blessed Virgin alone has fulfilled the first Commandment – to adore God only, and love Him perfectly. She fulfilled it completely.
Chapter 5 – Catechism on The Word of God
My children, I often think that most of the Christians who are lost, are lost for want of instruction – they do not know their religion well.
I do not know whether it is worse to have distractions during Mass than during the instructions; I see no difference. During Mass we lost the merits of the death and passion of Our Lord, and during the instructions we lose His Word, which is himself.
Chapter 6 – Catechism on the Prerogatives of the Pure Soul
Purity comes from Heaven; we must ask for it from God. If we ask for it, we shall obtain it. We must take great care not to lost it.
My children, when a soul is pure, all Heaven looks upon it with love!
The more pure we have been on earth, the nearer we shall be to Him in Heaven.
Three things are wanted to preserve purity – the presence of God, prayer, and the Sacraments. Another means is the reading of holy books, which nourishes the soul.
God contemplates a pure soul with love; He grants it all its desires.
Chapter 7 – Catechism on the Sanctification of Sunday
Oh, how mistaken in his calculations is he who labors hard on Sunday, thinking that he will earn more money or do more work! Can two or three shillings ever make up for the harm he does himself by violating the law of the good God?
Sunday is the property of our good God; it is His own day, the Lord’s day. He made all the days of the week: He might have kept them all; He has given you six, and has reserved only the seventh for Himself. What right have you to meddle with what does not belong to you?
Chapter 8 – Catechism on Prayer
We have not deserved to pray; but God, in His goodness, has permitted us to speak to Him. Our prayer is an incense which He receives with extreme pleasure.
Prayer is a foretaste of Heaven, an overflow of paradise. It never leaves us without sweetness.
Prayer makes time pass away very quickly, and so pleasantly that one does not perceive how it passes.
I often think that when we come to adore Our Lord, we should obtain all we wish, if we would ask it with very lively faith, and a very pure heart. But alas, we have no faith, no hope, no desire, no love!
Chapter 10 – Catechism on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
All Good Works together are not of equal value with the Sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the holy Mass is the work of God.
Well, my children, when we want to obtain anything from the good God, let us do the same; after Holy Communion, let us offer Him his well-beloved Son, with all the merits of His death and His Passion. He will not be able to refuse anything.
Chapter 11 – Catechism on the Real Presence
How pleasing to Him is the short quarter of an hour that we steal from our occupations, from something of no use, to come and pray to Him, to visit Him, for all the outrages He receives!
Ah, if we had the eyes of angels with which to see Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is here present on this altar, and who is looking at us, how we should love Him! We should never more wish to part from Him. We should wish to remain always at His feet; it would be a foretaste of Heaven; all else would become insipid to us.
When we are before the Blessed Sacrament, instead of looking about, let us shut our eyes and our mouth; let us open our heart; our good God will open His; we shall go to Him, He will come to us, the one to ask, the other to receive; it will be like a breath from one to the other.
Chapter 12 – Catechism on Communion
To sustain the soul in the pilgrimage of life, God looked over creation, and found nothing that was worthy of it. He then turned to Himself, and resolved to give Himself. O my soul, how great thou art, since nothing less can satisfy thee! The food of the soul is the Body and Blood of God!
At the Day of Judgement we shall see the Flesh of Our Lord shine through the glorified body of those who have received Him worthily on earth…
Chapter 13 – Catechism on Frequent Communion
The soul can feed on nothing but God. Only God can suffice for it; only God can fill it; only God can satiate its hunger; it absolutely requires its God!
There is nothing so great, my children, as the Eucharist! Put all the good works in the world against one good Communion; they will be like a grain of dust beside a mountain.
Make a prayer when you have the good God in your heart; the good God will not be able to refuse you anything, if You offer Him His Son, and the merits of His holy death and Passion.