John Vianney (1786–1859) as young man wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager
formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies. His failure to comprehend Latin
lectures forced him to discontinue. But his dream of being a priest urged him to persevere. He received
dramatic visions prior to his ordination, we can estimate the influence of his calling to preach by measuring
the perseverance he exhibited in becoming a priest, and in his realizing that preaching was a critical
characteristic of his vocation. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained. Situations calling for
“impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. He was appointed the Curé of Ars. The word Curé is a French
word meaning “pastor”. Ars is a village in France. John encountered people who were indifferent and quite
comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. He
stands out as heroic and transformative preacher, catalyst for change in his society. He broke new ground by
living his life as a “sermon of humility” in the Age of Enlightenment, when humanity had cast aside spiritual
values for a life ruled by science and reason. Not over night, but little by little, the tiny hamlet underwent a
change. The people of Ars were unable to remain aloof for long from the grace which radiated from the
remarkable personality of their priest. Pope St John XXIII says about John Vianney, “What great benefits are
conferred on human society by men like this who are free of the cares of the world and totally dedicated to
the divine ministry so that they can employ their lives, thoughts, powers in the interest of their brethren!” His
perseverance inspired many to recover their own vocations.
St. John Vianney realized his vocation to priesthood through his pious mother, who led him into the way of
religion at an early age. He remembers about his mother “I owe a debt to my mother,” and added, “virtues go
easily from mothers into the hearts of their children, who willingly do what they see being done.” He was a
good-natured boy. In spite of his lively disposition, he admitted much later on in life that “when I was young,
I did not know evil. I was first acquainted with it in the confessional, from the mouths of sinners.” His words,
“The sun never hides his light for fear of inconveniencing the owls”, really made the people aware of their
own holy lives. Vocations in the Church are absolutely dependent upon good, solid and holy vocations to
marriage and family life. In addition to all of our prayers and efforts to encourage and promote religious
vocations, we must also encourage and promote vocations to marriage and family life. Each of us needs to
work, encourage, support and pray for our young people to embrace marriage as a holy vocation that is a life-
long, permanent, exclusive commitment open to the gift of children. Lots of young people are terrorized by
the fear of commitment, marriage and children. Sadly, many young people believe (because they have been
told) that they should not get married until everything is lined up and perfect (education, money, career,
house, car, bills, debt, status etc.). The result of this bad advice, for an increasing number of people, is a
prolonged adolescence and a deferring of adulthood and adult commitments. This has an impact far beyond
the Church and religion. Its impact is political, economic, social and cultural and the impact is not in just one
direction. Today, fewer adults are married than at any other time in our history, with some preferring only
living-together relationships or fostering the ideology of the so-called “same sex marriages or union”. The
situation we find ourselves in today did not come about overnight. It has been in the making for a long time.
The less we have God, the more disruption to marriage and family. The less stable marriage and family life
are, the less we have God! It is therefore highly unlikely that we can reverse these trends overnight. But we
can reverse them. Good marriages and good families make for a good and healthy society which in turn
supports marriage and families! Likewise, good priests and religious help support families and marriage and
vice versa. May God bless us with many wonderful and holy vocations to the priesthood and religious life
and especially to Holy Matrimony! May the following words of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars, help global
human family to bring out real Christian values. “Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God, the
Angels, and the Saints – they are your public.”