Written by Father Michael
August 4th we commemorated St John Vianney, the Cure’ of Ars. This humble priest is heralded as a model for parish priests. I admire his life and ministry, but I did not expect to imitate it on his feast day so dramatically. I awoke that morning as usual and sleepily walked downstairs, started the coffee and went to the door to pick up the paper. It laid right at the door and as I bent down to pick it up I was hit in the rear end by the sneaky slam of the door. I shoot straight up as the door locked behind me. There I stood in my pajamas on Campbell Street outside a very secure house. Now I do not know if the humble Cure’ of Ars owned a bicycle because he might have considered it a luxury, but I was thankful my bike was available this morning. Before the rains drenched us I rode to Church to find either Fr. Joe or Jim to get a key. Fortunately fashion today accepts sleepwear as acceptable public clothing so I feel too foolish on my bike.
It was an usually and auspicious start of this day. I was reminded very quickly of the short prayer: GOOD MORNING. THIS IS GOD. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL PROBLEMS TODAY. I WILL NOT NEED YOUR HELP. SO HAVE A GOOD DAY. So I let God handle my frustration and laughed at the spectacle I imagined I was on my bike. I smiled and had a good day.
Finally I made it, freshened up and wide awake form my morning ride to celebrate the Eucharist. The chapel carpet was shampooed the day before and little white pieces of plastic were under each of the hundred plus chairs and the chapel was not presentable for the funeral Mass that would be celebrated next. John Vianney would have probably done it by himself but I had a lot of help as I asked the congregation to join me in picking up all the rust barriers. The laughter and prattle of the crowd was sweet music to God’s ear. I think laughter is God’s favorite sound. He created this world out of love and laughter is our sign we appreciate all God has given us. God is like a grandparent or parent that delights in the squeals of the children having fun. Their glee is a sign all is well.
Next by car I went to one of the nursing home where our St. Paul’s ministers arrange for weekly Masses. Today the Mass was special because we were celebrating a wedding anniversary. I was humbled again by the grace of God. A couple remembers that regardless of the obstacles, God gives us the ability to overcome all, if we only accept His help and love. This couple did not expect to honor this day in the humble confines of a nursing home, but they and their family and friends made a joyous morning of sweet chatter rising to God’s ear.
The morning ended when I went to the hospital to pray with those who are humbled by sickness. I am always struck by the strength of the patients and their families. God gives me so much. I am but an empty shell that God fills with His love. I carry that with me to others. Jean Vianney knew that. May you also know it.