Memorial of St. John Vianney
The saints are the greatest apologetic for the Catholic Faith. This is a truth many of us have heard before, but in what way can we illustrate how it is true? On the feast of St. John Vianney, I would like to offer one example.
I encountered John Vianney at a crucial moment in my intellectual and spiritual formation. During my college years I was much taken with science and philosophy, with the rational exploration of the material and human world. Through much intellectual turmoil and struggle, I had trudged through moments of skepticism and doubt, finally to arrive at a position that recognized the necessity, even the reality of certain values that held human society together. I had even gone so far as to recognize the importance of the Church in upholding these values and the nobility of the celibate priesthood in witnessing to these values in the modern world. But something was missing.
The encounter with John Vianney proved decisive in my intellectual and spiritual formation because Vianney brought me beyond the world of intellectual speculation into the primal vitality of the Holy Spirit’s action in the world. The miracles, the reading of souls, the fights with evil forces, all accompanied by the simple yet soul-searing homilies that purged the Word of God of all worldly accretions: all these aspects of Vianney’s life challenged me to recognize that I could no longer keep The Lord at arm’s distance. Beyond the safe remove of my intellect’s comprehension lay a reality that asked for my assent. This made all the difference.
Today in the feast of St. John Vianney, let us put aside whatever barriers we place in the way of the simple assent to the Triune God’s presence and activity in our lives, and let our hearts be converted.
August 4th, 2014