This week (August 4 in OF and August 8 in EF), we celebrate the feast of the patron saint of parish priests, St. John Mary Vianney, the holy Cure’ d’Ars. John Vianney was a diocesan priest in France in the 19th century. The spiritual environment in which he worked was as challenging as ours today. France had been ravaged by the Revolution and the persecution of the Church ensuing from it. John Vianney did not have an easy pastoral task and his parish was pretty much dead when he arrived there.
Among his many saintly qualities, St. John loved in particular to hear confessions. He transformed his little parish in Ars largely by making himself available for confessions. By the end of his life, he was hearing 16 hours of confessions per day! His feast day is always a marvelous opportunity for us to grow in appreciation of the Sacrament of Mercy, both by praying for its ministers and by preparing ourselves more perfectly for our reception of it.