Born: May 8, 1746
Died: August 4, 1859
Patron: Parish Priests
Info: Vianney was a shepherd’s son and began studying to be a priest in his 20’s. He was drafted into the army in 1809, but deserters, allowing him to come home. The next year, Napoleon granted amnesty to all deserters, allowing him to come home. In 1813-1818, he began his service as a curate to Abbe Balley at Eully. The next year, he was appointed to Ars, where he stayed till he died. He had a remarkable reputation as a spiritual director and confessor, often spending 16-18 hours a day in the booth. He was canonized in 1925.
Reflection: Catholics are often criticized even today for confessing their sins to a priest. But confession is actually biblical. When Jesus gave Peter the authority to bind and loose, that included the forgiveness of sins. It is a sacrament that is unfortunately taken much too lightly in this age. Yes our sins are forgiven, but God cannot do so without our consent. It is advised that you confess your sins at least once a year (I go twice, once in Advent and then during Lent). I can attest that it certainly is therapeutic, because I certainly feel relief when I am done with my penance. In fact, my priest actually has his confessions scheduled an hour before Mass. Good thing, because if you do not confess your sins, you are not advised to take communion. To do so without confessing sins is a form of blasphemy. (We do have the Penitential rite, but that only covers venial sins)
Vianney is a symbol of the need to recognize our sinful nature. We must take care not to take this lightly because it puts strain on our relationship with Christ and we may condemn ourselves by this neglect.