Thursday, August 3, 2017


St John Mary Vianney was born at Dardilly near Lyons, France on May 8th 1786.  The world John was born into was a disturbed one. When he was three years old the French Revolution began and two years later Dardilly found itself saddled with a "constitutional" priest, so the little John and his parents had to assist in secret at the mass of any fugitive loyal priest who came into the neighbourhood.  While the terror of the French Revolution was going on, he was learning to be a herd-boy, shepherding the cattle and sheep of Matthew Vianney's farm in the meadows on either side of the little river Planches.
He made his first Communion in secret when he was thirteen, and very shortly after, mass could be offered again in public at Dardilly.
John wished to become a priest, but he was twenty before he could leave home, having so little formal education his studies were very difficult for him also, during this time John was conscripted into the army. He had to report at the depot in Lyons on 26th October 1809.  Two days later he was taken ill and sent to hospital and his draft for the army in Spain left without him.  On 5th January 1810 he was ordered to report at Roanne for another draft on the morrow and John having gone into a church to pray, arrived after it had gone. he set out to catch up the draft at Renaison, while near the mountains, a stranger appeared and picking up John's knapsack ordered John to follow, John found himself in a hut near the remote mountain village of "Les Noes".
He now learned that the stranger was a deserter from the army, and that many more were in hiding in the woods and hills around.  John saw at once that his situation was compromising, and reported himself to the mayor of the Commune. M. Fayot was an humane official and a sensible man, he pointed out to John that he was already technically a deserter, and that of two evils the lesser was to remain in refuge where he was; and found him a lodging in the house of his own cousin.  His hiding place was in a stable under a hay-loft.  For fourteen months John was at Les Noes.
Several times he was nearly taken by gendarmes, once feeling the point of a sword between his ribs as it was thrust about in the hay of the loft.
In March 1810 the emperor, on the occasion of his marriage with the Archduchess Marie-Louise, had proclaimed an amnesty for all defaulters. John was able to return to his home a free man.
John returned to his studies, and after great difficulities, and thanks to the great help of Abbe Balley who coached John privately, and never gave up on him, on 12th August 1815 he was ordained  priest and said his first mass the next day.
John was made parish priest of Ars a remote and neglected place of 230 people.  Father Vianney set out to visit every household under his care. He worked hard for his little parish and prayed day and night for his parishoners  (who were not too interested in God or being saved!)
He waged relentless war against blasphemy, profanity, and obscenity, and was not afraid to utter from the pulpit the words and expressions that offended God, so there should be no mistake as to what he was talking about. For years he struggled for a proper observance of Sunday, not merely to get everybody to mass and vespers, but to abolish work which at times was done on Sunday without a shadow of necessity. For forty one years the good Cure waged a battle for the souls in his care. He eat very little just some dried bread and sometimes boiled potatoes. He spent many hours hearing confessions.
After a while his parishioners flocked to him for confession and felt the joy of God's forgiveness and of conversion. He listened, understood read their minds, prompted repentance and comforted them.
Ars became famous, people coming from far away to come to confession to the holy Cure of Ars, they came in their thousands. When one pilgrim was asked "but what did you see at Ars?" he replied "I saw God in a man"
St John Vianney worn out by all his work died on 4th August 1859.
On 31st May 1925 John Vianney Cure of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius X1,
and on 23rd April 1928 the pope declared him patron of the world's parish priests.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


I am reading this book at present, and am so impressed with it that I decided to quote a little bit from it.
St Therese said of this book:"Reading this was one of the greatest graces of my life. I read it at the window of my study, and the impression I received from it is too intimate and too sweet for me to express...   All the great truths of religion, the mysteries of eternity, plunged my soul into a happiness not of this earth....

The author, Father Charles Arminjon, was a highly esteemed preacher in France. His book consists of nine conferences that he preached at the Chambery Cathedral and then published in 1881 under the title Fin du Monde Present et Mysteries de la Vie Future. He delivered these conferences with the express purpose of combating " the fatal error and great plague of our century", which he described as " the absence of the sense of the supernatural, and the profound neglect of the great truths of the future life".
On June 4 and 5 in the year 1887, St Therese copied out an extract from Father Arminjon's seventh conference, on "Eternal Beatitude and the Supernatural Vision of God".
As no mother loved her dearest son, so the Lord loves His predestinate. He is jealous of His dignity and could not permit Himself to be outdone by His creature on the score of fidelity and generosity. Oh! The Lord cannot forget that the saints, when they once lived on earth, paid homage to Him by the total donation of their repose, their happiness and their whole being; that they would have liked to have had an inexhaustible flow of blood in their veins, in order to shed it as a living and imperishable pledge of their faith; that they would have desired a thousand hearts in their breasts, so as to consume them in the unquenchable fires of their love; and to possess a thousand bodies, in order that they might deliver them to martyrdom, like victims unceasingly renewed. And the grateful God cries out: Now my turn!  The saints have given me the gift of themselves: can I respond other than by giving myself, without restriction and without measure? If I place in their hands the scepter of creation, if I surround them with the torrents of my light, that is a great deal; it is going beyond their highest hopes and aspirations, but it is not the utmost endeavor of my Heart.  I owe them more than Paradise, more than the treasures of my knowledge; I owe them my life, my nature, my eternal and infinite substance. If I bring my servants and friends into my house, if I console them and make them thrill with joy by enfolding them in the embrace of my charity, this satisfies their thirst and their desires super-abundantly, and is more than the perfect repose of their hearts requires; but it is not enough for the gratification of my divine Heart, for the repletion and perfect satisfaction of my Love. I must be the soul of their souls, I must penetrate and imbue them with my divinity, as fire penetrates iron; by showing myself to their spirits, undisguised, unveiled, without the intervention of the senses, I must unite myself to them in an eternal face-to-face, so that my glory illuminates them, exudes and radiates through all the pores of their being, so that, "knowing me as I know them they may become Gods themselves"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"It is therefore, nothing strange for the soul to desire to die by beholding the beauty of God in order to enjoy Him for ever.  If the soul had but one single glimpse of the majesty and beauty of God, not only would it desire to die once in order to see Him for ever, as it desires now, but would most joyfully undergo a thousand most bitter deaths to see Him even for a moment, and having seen Him would suffer as many deaths again to see Him for another moment"
 Spiritual Canticle [Stan X1] St John of the Cross

Sunday, October 30, 2016


" Behold, I stand at the door and knock.....[Rev. 3,20]
It is true. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter.
I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come - always, without fail. Silent and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, and My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension - a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father; "As much as the Father has loved Me, I have loved you.....[John 15:9]
I come  - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds.  I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and My peace I give to your soul.
I know you through and through. I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you - even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you - not for what you have or haven't done - I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image.  It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin.  But I love you as you are, and I have shed My Blood to win you back.
If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life, and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.  I know what is in your heart - I know your loneliness and all your hurts - the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations, I carried it all before you.  And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory.

I know especially your need for love - how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures - with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love?  "Come to Me all you who thirst...[John 7:37].  I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished?  I cherish you more than you can imagine - to the point of dying on the cross for you.

[extract on meditation on the spiritual teachings of St Teresa of Calcutta]

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What do you worry about? What makes you anxious? Do you wake in the middle of the night fretful and in dread?  Many of us do.  Although we believe in God we are subject to the curse of fear, anguish and anxiety.  We tend to console ourselves with the thought that we can't help it and it's only human. Indeed, it is only human but help it we can or, to be more precise, God can.
We don't tend to see worry and anxiety as sinful or wrong. We see it as simply just part and parcel of being human and caring - if we didn't care, we wouldn't worry, goes the refrain. There is some truth in this, of course. Who doesn't worry about their children or grandchildren? Who doesn't succumb to the anxieties of life? God knows we all do, but what if God didn't want us to? What if God wanted us to know a living sense of his presence and offer up all our worry and anxiety to him?

The truth is, freedom from worry and anxiety is a birthright of our baptism. Sir Winston Churchill said: "When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in life, most of which never happened". The Holy Spirit can help us write a book called How to stop worrying and start living.
So how do we set ourselves free from the tyranny of worry and start living in the power of the Spirit? The first thing we need to do is study and reflect on the Word of God. Try this verse for a starter: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" [Phil. 4:6 NIV]. Here we have the first step towards not being weighed down by anxiety: offer it up to the Lord. Have you noticed how this instruction from Paul comes with a promise? "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" [Phil. 4:7 NIV]
Lord, I repent for all of my worry and anxiety and turn to you, laying down all my burdens. By your grace fill me with the peace of Christ which will transcend and surpass my understanding. Amen
[ Taken from reading on June 18th 2016 from Bible alive]

Friday, July 15, 2016


St Alphonsus Liguori [1696-1787] Bishop, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer [Redemptorists] and Doctor of the Church. Born into a noble family in the kingdom of Naples, Alphonsus was a child prodigy, receiving his Doctorate in Law from the university of Naples by the age of 16. Practising law by the age of 21, he was one of Naples' leading lawyers. Publicly humiliated in a high profile case, Alphonsus turned his back on the legal profession, and on hearing an interior voice inviting him to leave the world, resolved to follow a religious vocation. Ordained priest in 1726, Alphonsus laboured for six years preaching in missions throughout Naples.

In 1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, dedicated to the service of the Redeemer and the most abandoned souls, through missions, spiritual exercises and renewals, with houses established in England [1848] and Ireland [1853]
"To Live well, To Love God....... In order always to live well, we must store up deeply in our minds certain general maxims about eternal life: Everything in this life, whether it be joy or sorrow, passes away, but in eternity nothing passes away. What good is all the greatness of this world at the hour of death? All that comes from God, whether it be adverse or prosperous, all is good and is for our own welfare. We must leave all to gain all. There is no peace to be found without God. To love God and save one's soul is the one thing necessary. We need be afraid of nothing but sin. If God is lost, all is lost.  He who desires nothing in this world is master of the whole world. He who prays is saved, and he who does not pray is lost."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Easter Weekday - Thursday 12th May 2016: reading: Acts 22:30, 23:6-11

Moving house is very high on most people's list of major life stresses, but so too is public speaking. Most of us would run a mile from having to speak before a large audience. Some are gifted in this area and despite suffering from a degree of nerves are able to pull it off. Such people, however, are not the norm: it is more common to be terrified at this prospect.

Although we tend to think that Paul was one of those who found speaking in public easier than most, the Acts of the Apostles reveals that he, rather like us all, needed God's courage. We know this because on the occasion recorded in today's passage the Spirit encouraged him with the words:  "Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome"[v.11]. God knew that for Paul to testify in front of the hostile Sanhedrin needed great courage and conviction.
God also knows that whenever we are called to witness or testify for our faith, it takes great courage and conviction. In such situations we don't need to rely on our own words but rather the wisdom of the Spirit, although this requires both faith and courage. Blessed Charles de Foucauld said "One of the things we absolutely owe to Our Lord is never to be afraid". But of course, we often are and in realizing this we are humbled. What is it we are afraid of? Of being laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, ostracized or, worse, the cold draft of indifference. 
In one sense we don't need to defend our faith - our faith is big enough to stand up for itself. What we do need to do is to be willing to share the reason for the hope we have. We simply need to share sincerely and with conviction what God means to us and how grateful we are to have him in our life. But there is no getting around the fact that it takes courage to take a stand for what we believe. Nevertheless, something not often realized is that people are crying out to hear the gospel, and they respond when it is presented with goodness and love in our heart.
    " Do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say yes with courage and without reserve.....[St Pope John Paul 11] 
[Taken from Bible alive]