|Basilica Church in Ars|
Notice that the original church with its
bell tower in front of the new addition.
What a wonderful Grace to have spent this past week in a tiny French village with St. John Marie Vianney. I went with 36 other seminarians on a retreat to Ars led by Fr. Vincke a spiritual director at the college and a priest of the Diocese of Lansing.
|The incorrupt body of St. John Marie Vianney|
This past week the Lord has really renewed me in so many ways. Retreats are a wonderful time to catch up on sleep and to physically recharge and repair and of course a retreat gives one time to spend plenty of time in prayer, meditation and reflection. Especially helpful for me was the beautiful countryside. It was such a blessing to be in a small town away from all the noises and the hustle-and-bustle of a big city. The Lord really helped me to find peace and solitude after months of transition and change.
|The church where St. Margaret Mary lies at rest.|
The greatest grace was to spend some quality time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. St. John Vianney had a deep abiding love for Jesus in the Eucharist. In a time when frequent communion of the faithful was very rare he'd encourage his penitents to approach the Sacred Table often.
|Le Formans - A small creek running through Ars|
We also took two day trips. One day we went to Nevers which is where St. Bernadette is buried who saw Our Lady at Lourdes. Another day we went to Paray LeMonial which is where St. Margaret Mary is buried. She had visions of Our Lord who asked her to spread the devotion to his Sacred Heart. It was a real blessing to visit this places and to simply drive through the French countryside which is so green this time of year.
|The view from the seminary down to the village|
I'll leave with you a short reflection on the priesthood by St. John Vianney:
“Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest – always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.” (St. Jean Marie Vianney, Cure d’Ars; Catechism on the Priesthood)