St. Jean Vianney chosen as patron for priests because he lived a life of love


Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, gave a retreat address Thursday afternoon at the papal summer villa to members of the Focolare movement.  He dedicated the talk to "ars amoris," the art of love, as lived in the life of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich and exemplified in that of St. Jean-Marie Vianney of Ars.

Archbishop Piacenza directed his words to an audience of priests and deacons of the Focolare Movement on a spiritual retreat to the Mariapoli Center at Castel Gandolfo. 

He began by saying that "the love that comes from Ars is none other than the transparency and the visibility of the same divine Love in a man who let himself be entirely penetrated and molded by that love."

It's the "love poured out in our hearts," said the archbishop, that which becomes "the capacity to know how to love always and anyway, in every circumstance, every person" regardless of background. 

This love, said the prelate, is "not just a human need or a characteristic of God" but "the very essence of God and, therefore, as man was created in His image and likeness, the very essence of man."

Because of this relationship, said Archbishop Piacenza, "Love is the language man understands best."

"The 'ars amoris' is thus a 'via revelationis,' " a route that reveals us to the capacity to love.

Today, said the archbishop, the charism of the Focolare Movement's founder, Chiara Lubich, "lives on in all of those who, as yourselves, are invested with this charism and from this charism feel themselves to be authentic guardians and faithful carriers."

The archbishop also talked about St. John Marie Vianney as "a qualified witness of this love, having picked up the essence, first and foremost, by the intuitive route."

He was a man who understood that love "isn't studied in books, but it's seen in with those who love and know how to love."

Archbishop Piacenza said he thought the reason Pope Benedict had chosen St. Jean Vianney as the patron of priests was because "he is an expert in the art of loving and so in the art of 'showing love,' that is communicating with God."

Vianney's heroism, said the archbishop, was that in everything he did, his "love of God and for God" was constantly visible.

"This is what priests of all times are called to: to render visible the Love of God; not a generic sentiment of love, but a Love made visible in Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, Love that would be nailed to the Cross for us and our sins, Love for Jesus abandoned."

Archbishop Piacenza concluded by telling priests of the Focolare Movement that they are called to continue "to live this radicality of love" in communion with the Pope.

He left them with a "missionary mandate," he told them to "be faithful witnesses to love and unity in your dioceses ... compete in respecting your brothers and in the faithful obedience to the Church."

"Our dear faithful lay people don't ask anything more of the priest ... except 'to see the love of God' in him."

Archbishop Piacenza, using the words that St. Jean Vianney repeated constantly, wrapped up the message saying, "The priesthood is 'the love of the Heart of Jesus.'"