Monday, May 16, 2011

Confession and the New Evangelization, or How to Follow the Lives of the Saints

To say we get a great number of hits on this humble blog would be to flat out lie.  A small is fine with us because the joy of writing and writing about reading is consolation enough.  I must say, though, there is a post that stands above and beyond all other posts in our stats.  The next closest post is 842 views behind.  This post isn't even of our writing per se (don't worry, no plagiarists here) which is very humbling.  It is a copy of the novena to St. Jean-Marie Vianney, patron saint of priest.  I had posted it specifically for the Year of the Priest promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI nearly three years ago.  The constant stream of views of this novena is no small testament to the great devotion there is to this simple saint.  Of our writership, one is a priest, one soon will be, I will soon be a transitional deacon, and the three others are former seminarians/religious.  We all hold a devotion to this great Christian and singular priest.

This devotion, for me, has grown over the last year and a half as I have been reading the Curé d'Ars' standard biography, The Curé d'Ars: St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney by Abbé François Trochu.  While in minor seminary, I saw guys carrying around this large volume, 627 pages (when the life of a saint rivals the size of entire volume of Butler's, it is large).  It was in nearly even room except my own.  It was recommended to me by many of my confreres, but, due to my obstinence and God's use of that for His providence, I had not yet taken up this tome for the first seven and a half years of my seminary career.  It entered my shelves at the behest of Bl. John Paul II from his book remembering his 50 years of priesthood, Gift and Mystery.  On All Saints Day 2009, upon the recommendation of the spiritual director of the seminary, I began a regular reading of the life of a saint.  I began with the life of the Florentine St. Philip Neri, who is the patron of the parish of my childhood.  After him it only seemed appropriate, being still in the year of the priest, to begin the life of the patron saint of priest.  Abbé Trochu had the great gift of having the process for Vianney's canonization as his primary research material.  Through it he wished to give an accurate and still thoroughly pious representation of the life of this beloved French priest.

I could dwell on his extreme asceticism, or his miracles, or his holy gifts of reading souls of the living and conversing with the souls of the dead.  No.  There were four things that struck me about this man, and of which, I wish to imitate during my future life as a priest of Jesus Christ:

  1. his devotion to the Eucharist
  2. his devotion to the Blessed Mother
  3. his humility
  4. his tireless work in the confessional
This final virtue also struck me when I read the life of St. Philip Neri.  The "new evangelization" in Rome after the ridiculous frivolity of the late Middle Ages was done by Philip Neri in the confessional.  After the French Revolution, the religion of reason, and the Napoleonic Wars that led France to a committed atheism, it was the work of St. Jean Vianney in the confessional that brought the French back to their knees in prayer to God most high.  I am firmly convinced that in our current age of secularism and practical hedonism what is needed to bring Christians back to their faith is the confessional.  Rae Jericho had written a post about this topic a week or two ago.  Rae, this is my response.

1 comment:

Rae said...

Thank you for posting this!

"I am firmly convinced that in our current age of secularism and practical hedonism what is need to bring Christian back to their faith is the confessional." I know that this is a tremendous amount of work for priests, and I am most thankful that you are willing to take on this part of the new evangelization!