Beginning with this issue of The B.C. Catholic newspaper, I am writing for a new column, Pax Sinica (Chinese Peace 華之安).
Here is the Editorial section of this issue where the General Editor of the B.C. Catholic, Paul Schratz, explaining the reason of the initiative.
Here is my article in both Chinese & English at The B.C. Catholic website.
Below is my first article for Pax Sinica in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney.
司 祭 職
In life, a lot of things come in threes. The Holy Trinity springs to mind first, but less well known is the way St. John Vianney tended his flock with the altar, the pulpit, and the confessional.
The Year for Priests is under way. Aug. 4 will be the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney. This will be a very special day in the Year for Priests.
When we enter a Catholic church, three things remind us of the works of a priest: the altar, the pulpit, and the confessional. Priests continue these priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Christ: to make holy, to teach, and to guide souls. St. John Vianney was an outstanding pastor of souls in this regard.
After St. John Vianney became the parish priest in Ars (or the cure of Ars), he spent at least eight years working for the proper observance of Sunday. Sunday Mass ought to be at the centre of our Christian life, he thought, and God should occupy the first place in our hearts. We express this by placing our weekly encounter with Him, Sunday Mass, at the top of our priorities.
Many people in the saint’s small French town experienced that; if they made time for God on Sunday, God would bless their works. Even though they did less, they could accomplish more. St. John Vianney was able to accomplish so much because he put God first.
Every day at 11 a.m. St. John Vianney would deliver a catechism lesson at the “catechism stall” (a small wooden pulpit). The saint had little human eloquence, but he preached from the heart, and his talks touched many souls. Some were converted; some were inspired to the priesthood or the religious life.
St. John Vianney preached not just by words, but also by deeds. He led a very austere life, with little food and sleep. He fasted and prayed for his people. He personally visited his parishioners, who sensed that they were loved by their pastor. The people of Ars would say, “Our parish priest is a saint, and we must obey him.”
One of the most remarkable things in the life of St. John Vianney was his long hours in the confessional. During winter he would spend 11 to 12 hours a day there, and in summertime, up to 16 hours.
In the confessional the saint would often guide souls with just a few words or a sentence, but his words had the authority of holiness to change people’s hearts.
As St. John Vianney grew in pastoral experience he became more tender and less severe. In the confessional, St. Vianney also consoled the afflicted and counselled the doubtful. It was said the saint “never encountered an ignorant person whom he did not enlighten, or a just whom he did not encourage and urge on towards perfection.”
Please pray for us priests, that through the examples and prayers of St. John Vianney we may fulfil our priestly duties with greater love and holiness.