St John Vianney, Confessor Par Excellence

24 07 2009

‘The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!’

Cure of Ars…he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence

The saintly Curé… said: ‘It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him.’ ‘This good Saviour is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere.’

“The Curé of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God’s forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the ‘flood of divine mercy’ which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Curé would unveil the mystery of God’s love in these beautiful and touching words: ‘The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!’

“But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how ‘abominable’ this attitude was: ‘I weep because you don’t weep’, he would say. ‘If only the Lord were not so good! But he is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!’

“He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God’s own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor. To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God’s love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence: ‘Everything in God’s sight, everything with God, everything to please God… How beautiful it is!’ And he taught them to pray: ‘My God, grant me the grace to love you as much as I possibly can.’”

Extracted from Pope’s Benedict’s Letter to Clergy on the Year for Priests, 5 July 2009

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