Praying for Priestly Vocations with St. John Vianney

reflection feast st. john vianney priestly vocations

Eight years of prayer and study pointed to one incredible day.

Laudate Dominum rang through our ears as we sang praise to the Lord that this day had finally come.

My Brother-in-Law, the Priest

I sat with my husband and his parents in the very front pew of the Cathedral. There were only three chairs in front of us. One chair for my brother-in-law and two for the other transitional deacons who were about to lay their lives down out of love for their Bride, the Church. These men made it to this long-awaited day to make their promises of celibacy, obedience, and simplicity of life as newly ordained diocesan priests.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, a bittersweet moment took place. The deacons were each summoned by name. They moved from their place—sitting with the rest of the congregation—to the altar. They were no longer meant to be sitting with us as we participated in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Their new place was to become in persona Christi Capitis, in the person of Christ the Head. They were to serve the people of God, especially through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Minutes after they moved to their place on the altar, the Bishop laid his hands on their heads and invoked the Holy Spirit. Their soul was then imprinted with an indelible sacramental character, a mark which would set them apart for the fulfillment of their vocation: the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

This Sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for his Church. -CCC 1581

The Joy of the Priesthood

As the newly ordained processed out of  the church, “O God Beyond All Praising” resounded within the walls of the Cathedral. People smiled from ear to ear as they breathed deeply from their chest, belting out “…whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill, we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still: to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways, and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.”

My brother-in-law, now Father, encourages me to marvel at God’s beauty simply by his witness of love.

After his Mass of Thanksgiving, he shared with everyone there that when people ask him why he decided to become a Priest and to live a life of celibacy, he responds, “I did it, because of Love, and it is a Love that I want you to know too. If you want to know how to find that Love, please talk to me. Or talk to your parish priest, or any priest you know.”

Do we know that deep kind of love? The kind of love that makes us want to give up everything in order to respond to that love in the fullest way possible? When was the last time we gave ourselves the time to sit with Jesus and really let His love for us sink in, and sink in deep? When was the last time we considered Jesus our brother, companion, and friend?

St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests

Today we celebrate St. John Vianney. A priest who is known for spending up to to sixteen hours each day hearing confessions. This is a remarkable gift of self to his bride, the Church. In 1929, Pope Pius XI made Saint John Vianney the patron of parish priests. Pope Saint John XXIII spoke of him saying:

…when the priest adores Christ Our Lord and gives thanks to Him, or offers satisfaction for his own sins and those of others, or finally when he prays constantly that God keep special watch over the causes committed to his care, he is inflamed with a more ardent love for the Divine Redeemer to whom he has sown allegiance and for those to whom he is devoting his pastoral care.

Praying for Our Priests

In celebration of Saint John Vianney’s feast day, let’s pray specifically for our parish priests today. Let’s pray for those men who are discerning calls to the priesthood. Let’s be sure to give them a sincere “thank you” the next time we see them. Thank them for devoting their life to helping us fall in love.

Who are the priests in your life who call you closer to Jesus? 

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Susanna Parent serves as Evangelization Manager for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the Office of Evangelization. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program with the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. When she’s not reading and writing you can find her enjoying life with her new husband, brewing French press coffee in her kitchen, reading wine labels with friends in an effort to discover the perfect Pinot Noir and blogging about her travel adventures. You can learn more about her here.

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