“This detachment from external goods enabled him to offer the most devoted and touching care to the poor,” the pope said.
“He passed a life that was almost completely detached from the changeable, perishable goods of this world, and his spirit was free and unencumbered by impediments of this kind, so that it could always lie open to those who suffered from any kind of misery.”
Similarly, Pope John XXIII wrote, the preservation of chastity breaks the restraints of self-interest and grants a person greater dedication to those in need.
“St. John Mary Vianney has this pertinent comment to make in this regard: ‘A soul adorned with the virtue of chastity cannot help loving others; for it has discovered the source and font of love — God.’”
The pope also pointed to Vianney’s dedication to the virtue of obedience. The saint, he said, had desired a contemplative life rather than the heavy burden of pastoral duties, but he still remained obedient to his bishops.
“All his life he longed to lead a quiet and retired life in the background, and he regarded pastoral duties as a very heavy burden laid on his shoulders, and more than once he tried to free himself of it,” the pope said.
While God never allowed him to achieve this goal, it was certainly God’s way of forming the saint in the virtue of obedience, he said.
He also highlighted Vianney’s prayer life and devotion to the Eucharist, as well as his commitment to the sacrament of confession.
Pope John XXIII said Vianney “habitually restrained his own will” to further dedicate himself to the Church. He expressed hope that this fire for the Church that consumed Vianney may also consume all priests.
“It is said that St. John M. Vianney lived in the Church in such a way that he worked for it alone, and burned himself up like a piece of straw being consumed on fiery coals. May that flame which comes from the Holy Spirit reach those of us who have been raised to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and consume us too.”
This article was originally published on CNA Aug. 3, 2018, and was updated Aug. 3, 2023.
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