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Strive for holiness, 'the real thing' that wins souls for Christ

Archbishop Wenski's letter to priests on feast of St. John Vianney

Archbishop Thomas Wenski sent this letter to all the priests in the Archdiocese of Miami on the feast of St. John Vianney, Aug. 4, 2018.

Brothers, 

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron saint of diocesan priests. The life of this humble parish priest continues to inspire priests and future priests. At a time of great religious indifference in post-revolutionary France, Jean Marie Vianney singlehandedly initiated a spiritual revival in his country. Up until the day of his death, thousands of pilgrims would arrive daily at the rural outpost of Ars so that they could confess their sins to him.  

He moved sinners to conversion not through sophisticated schemes or eloquent words (he was a rather dull student and was not thought of as being very intelligent); nor did he win people over by his good looks (the old sepia photos of him reveal a rather homely man). What won people over was his holiness – people knew he was the real thing.   

The story is that when he had first set out for Ars – on foot – to take up his assignment, he quickly realized he was lost and asked a young boy whom he encountered on his path if he knew the way to Ars. When the youngster said yes, Père Jean Marie Vianney told him: You show me the way to Ars and I’ll show you the way to heaven. When he arrived in Ars, he set about to do just that. 

“Being a priest means becoming an ever closer friend of Jesus Christ with the whole of our existence. The world needs God – not just any god but the God of Jesus Christ, the God who made himself flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us, who rose and created within himself room for man. This God must live in us and we in him. This is our priestly call: only in this way can our action as priests bear fruit.” (Pope Benedict XVI) 

Here in the Archdiocese of Miami, our presbyterate represents quite well the diversity of this local Church. You may speak in many different accents but thanks to your dedication and to your extraordinary love for the Lord you are here for God’s people. Called to be “friends of Jesus,” you men have given your lives to show them the way to heaven. 

Through the intercession of St. John Mary Vianney, may we priests continue to grow in holiness – and, in this way, take Christ and his Gospel to the men and women of our times as John Vianney did in his times. 

Comments from readers

John Lorenzo - 08/09/2018 04:16 PM
“I’ll show you the way to heaven.” I would say this St. John Vianney message should be on the lips of all the clergy and especially directed to the children of our schools and religious education programs. Tell the children, the greatest gift children could ever be given is to be born into a Catholic family. It is the one gift that our children receive from almighty God that could make their lives holy and magnificent. Being Catholic is special. No other faith has or believes what we believe in and being Catholic our main purpose is getting to our next life in Heaven. With a simple suggestion: The Catholic path to Heaven and eternal life is attending Sunday Mass every week and receiving the Eucharist.

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