Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
Today we celebrate the life of a great saint, St. John Vianney (1786 – 1859), who was known as the Cure of Ars. Although he is rightly renowned for his holiness, asceticism, and spiritual insight, St. John Vianney was also remarkable for his courage and steadiness in the face of the Devil. For some thirty-five years Satan assaulted the Cure of Ars in an endless number of ways, seeking to break his will Often times, the devil would sing in a wicked voice or shout, “Vianney! Vianney! Potato eater!”
Many people today would simply dismiss St. John Vianney’s struggle with the Devil as the result of physiological problems that can be treated with proper medication and therapy. Surprisingly, more and more Christians believe that Satan does not exist. Justice Antonin Scalia once said that the Devil is smart because nowadays he is much more successful at getting people to believe that he does not exists.
It’s not likely that we’ll ever have to struggle with Satan the way St. John Vianney did, but we should be familiar with who he is and what he does – and why he must be resisted. Even though there are priests, theologians, and Catholic educators who never speak of Satan, and even deny his existence, Satan is not dead. Again, as Justice Scalia says, if you are faithful to Catholic dogma, you will certainly believe that the Devil was never demoted to a vague, impersonal force. If we are faithful to Catholic dogma, we will also believe that although the Devil is powerful, He is limited and already defeated. As the Devil told St. John Vianney “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.” Let us pray for the birth of many priests like St. John Vianney, so that the Kingdom of Satan will be destroyed.