Thu 31st Jul 2014 | Last updated: Wed 30th Jul 2014 at 15:38pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Latest News

Bishop Davies hails priesthood at Mass welcoming saint’s heart

By on Thursday, 5 July 2012

The relic is carried into St Anthony's, Wythenshawe (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

The relic is carried into St Anthony's, Wythenshawe (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury welcomed the heart of the Curé d’Ars today with a Mass celebrating the gift of the priesthood.

In his homily at St Anthony’s church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, he said that without priests we would not have the Lord.

The Mass followed the veneration of the relic and the hearing of Confessions.

Quoting St John Vianney, Bishop Davies said: “In his direct way of speaking the Curé of Ars invited his parishioners to make a similar list in order to lead them to what seems an astonishing conclusion: ‘Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders,’ he said, ‘we would not have the Lord.’

“He explained this by begging these questions: ‘Who put him in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest/the deacon. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for life’s journey? The priest. Who will prepare you to appear before God, bathing your soul one last time in the Blood of Jesus Christ? The priest. The priest, always the priest,’ he said. ‘And if this soul should die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace. Again the priest.’”

St John Vianney grew up amid religious persecution in France after the Revolution, and was a parish priest in the French village of Ars, where his reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him famous across the world.

The patron saint of priests was canonised in 1925 by Pius XI and Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year for Priests in honour of the 150th anniversary of his death.

The visit follows a request by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, who petitioned Bishop Guy-Marie Bagnard in September when he and his clergy visited Ars. Bishop Bagnard later wrote to Bishop Davies to confirm that the heart of St John Vianney could be transported to Shrewsbury.

Bishop Davies told the congregation in Wythenshawe that the visit of the relic of St John Vianney was a time to remember what the Catholic priesthood is about.

He said: “Tonight we remember such a priest, a parish priest who belongs to us all in the communion of saints and helps us to see what is at the heart of the Catholic priesthood yesterday, today and to the end of time. It is a vital moment to see anew what is always at the heart of the priesthood after events of scandal have involved the ordained ministry and left hurt and confusion in their wake.

“We need so often to re-set our course with the saints who show us a heart truly given and encourage us in the words of Scripture to ‘keep running steadily in the race we have begun’.

“Together with the jubilarians who represent more than 200 years of ordained ministry between them, we begin this pilgrimage of prayer tonight. We set out in the company of St John Mary Vianney to pray for fresh heart in the priesthood and diaconate, in the mission of our parishes and for those called to continue the sacred ministry for generations still to come.”

The Bishop of Shrewsbury re-emphasised the significance of recent scandals surrounding the priesthood. He referred to the “dark shadows” which have tarnished perceptions of the priesthood and have consequently prompted questions about the real heart of the priesthood. He said: “Public perception can be distorted by the grave sins and failures of a few, by those who have drifted in their doctrine or their moral life, and by those who have grown lax or who no longer seek to live out the ideals.

“While we would never wish to minimise evil, we know this is never the true face of the Catholic priesthood as it has been given to the Church and lived in countless, often heroic lives. ‘What is most helpful,” the Holy Father said, ‘is not only a frank and complete acknowledgement of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God’s gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors… here the teaching and example of St John Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all.’”

The Bishop of Shrewsbury said the vocation of priestly ministry depends upon the Mass for strength. He said: “St John Vianney, with the incisive prognosis of a physician of souls, had no doubts where problems begin for us. The reason we grow lax in our vocation ‘is because we do not pay attention at Mass,’ we are not attentive to the Holy Eucharist, he said.

“The Second Vatican Council would repeat this conclusion in its teaching that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian life and that it is from the Sacrifice of the Mass that the whole priestly ministry draws its strength. If the Blessed Eucharist is not at the centre of our lives then we have no strength, no life. If we begin becoming careless or neglectful of the mystery and reality of the Eucharist it is from this, the Curé of Ars warns, that coldness, indifference, the loss of apostolic energy follows.”

The relic is due to visit Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool tomorrow with Mass at noon. It will then travel to St Michael and All Angels church on the Wirral.

During the weekend it will visit Shrewsbury Cathedral and then will travel to Oscott College in Birmingham, where a vocations festival will be taking place.

  • paulpriest

    Why is the Cure d’Ars the patron saint of Priests?

    What made his ministry the epitome of the Presbyteral vocation?  One which emulated true devotional sacrificial service to Christ?

    What did he do?
    How did he spend his time?
    How did he tend to his flock?

    …once you’ve answered those questions ask a Vocations Director or Seminary Rector:
    “What makes a good priest?”

    ..do you think the answers will bear any congruency with the life of the Priest among Priests?

  • daclamat

    Does Jesus know? As NilsBor said to Einstein: who are we to tell God what to do?
    I think it is gruesome to cart bits of saints around the place, and discusting to order them to be cut up.
    Jean Vianney was more than a little misguided in his penitential practices, and did some fairly dubious transactions: he promised St Philomena to say l00 masses at her shrine of she would get gim over an illness. Still, he was a very brave man, despite the personality cult that grew up in his life time.

  • Realist

     Sounds like he had a megalomaniacal streak.

  • Nat_ons

    Devotion to the relics of the saints may sound gruesome to you (and others), but perhaps that says more about you (and them) than the practice. The mortal flesh, especially when it is lifeless, is gruesome to good many souls - it is, for them, best left to rot .. leaving only the memory of a spirit (other than in museums et al). Sadly, for those who do find death and its material memorial distasteful – especially when confronted with it outside the safely enclosed confines of a death bed or the cemetery – this custom compels the Christian to confront the reality of a fleshly resurrection of the dead: the bits decayed, dusted and devoutly retained shall revive .. really and truly and substantially (into glory).

    Thank heaven Jean Vianney died in sanctity, with all his human foibles, before the modern mind could pass judgement on him .. no doubt many in the already insanely rationalistic Enlightenment sic era already did the same sort of hatchet job for you. Much of his counter-cultural witness was psychologically rather than spiritually expressive, a very unhip hippy, on that I do not speak against you. Yet having the courage not to be ‘modish’ is but part of the priestly holiness of this socially disturbing – and perhaps mentally disturbed – man; after all, resolute fidelity to the Catholic Faith (not least the more challenging bits to airy rationalism) is as important.

    PS: A locket of hair is no more morally disturbing than a head or hand or heart, only nice aesthetics are troubled. You might well also castigate the mummies and bog men and iced (or embalmed) bodily bits in various scientific institutions, the aesthetic of ‘study’ being more forgiving than that of rational reaction to religion. Still the ‘Yuck Factor’ is not a sound judgement on cultural value only a personal expression of taste; thus the ethic of relics in ancient Egypt or modern Wythenshawe rests not on passing taste or changing culture but final purpose (whether all all who look on share in that meaning or not)

  • Honeybadger

    A beautiful day. A blessed day. A beautiful saint. A moving sight.
     
    It was utterly fitting that the blessed relic of St John Vianney’s pure, humbled yet exhalted heart should stop first at Manchester Airport then spend the rest of the day at Saint Anthony’s Parish, Wythenshawe – (not far from MIA) and be amongst people that he would feel at home with… and did!
     
    In the coming days, don’t be surprised to hear about miracles, graces and blessings from the day… and the rest!
     
    Thank you a gazillion times for the blessed opportunity, Bishop Mark!

  • Macca

    I agree with the  comments in the link below:
    http://humblepiety.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/rub-of-relic.html

  • pooka

     Bishop Davies says: ‘Without priests we would not have the Lord’

    Self-serving or what?

    Where does that leave Anglicans, Lutherans and the rest whose orders the Roman church doesn’t recognise? No priests, no Lord I guess.

    An even more exclusive statement than Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus,

  • Inquisator

    ‘And if this soul should die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace. Again the priest.’”

    And where is Christ in all this self approbation?

  • Fudge

    ‘And if this soul should die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace. Again the priest.’”  Hmmm no he won’t God will!  Bp Davies seems to be for ever in the news.  Well this PR exercise seems an expensive one and does little for the message of Christ

  • Wondering

    Fitting that the heart should be at Manchester Airport – what an odd thing to say. People he would feel at home with……..I wonder what God thinks of all this. Enthusiasm for a heart? We can learn from the example of wonderful people of the past but this almost idolatry of a heart!!! Perspective please!

  • shaoxiaotian

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • Nat_ons

    I suspect His Grace is referring to Christ, in whom we all are anointed to kingship and priesthood, for he is a priest forever – not of the Mosaic Law but of the order of Melchizedek .. a ruler, overseer, elder and servant such as the Catholic priesthood offers (which is not Levitical but is still ordained).

    Not all of us, called to the one hope of salvation in Christ, are ordained to serve as elders, overseers, or rulers in him – let alone to be teachers, healers, apostles etc – those whom the Holy Ghost has called and the Church may ordain do indeed fulfil a special ministry in Christ: Sacrament.

    Hence, if one pays a devout attention, the Bishop of Shrewsbury explains the message of Christ’s healing most readily to be found witnessed in the mortal life of this wonderful soul, whose relic remains among us as a material reminder is this: we do not attend to Christ.

    “St John Vianney, with the incisive prognosis of a physician of souls, had no doubts where problems begin for us. The reason we grow lax in our vocation ‘is because we do not pay attention at Mass ..’”

  • Nat_ons

    “Quoting St John Vianney, Bishop Davies said: “In his direct way of speaking the Curé of Ars invited his parishioners to make a similar list in order to lead them to what seems an astonishing conclusion: ‘Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders,’ he said, ‘we would not have the Lord.’”
    Jean Marie Vianney was no subtle or angelic Doctor of the church catholic, his theology is often imprecise but his witness its always direct: Christ Jesus in his ministries, apostolates and sodalities.

    Note well, no one can ‘put him (Christ) into the Tabernacle’ .. Aquinas might smile an indulgent tut-tut at so materialistic a trustful and child-like directness.

    “Hence in no way is Christ’s body locally in this sacrament.” Aquinas, ST III, q 76, 5.

    The whole point is that it is not man but Christ at work in the Sacraments of the Church – he makes the order holy, the presence real, etc.

    PS: Without the order of rule, of leadership, of ministry given in Christ at the Sacraments recognised by the church catholic as Christ’s (the mystery of his pledged word at work) he would not be present among us as he has ordained it (but only as man desires it by the action of the Spirit e.g. at common prayer, as sacrifices of praise or beasts, or better than all these in alms).

  • Nat_ons

    “Quoting St John Vianney, Bishop Davies said: “In his direct way of speaking the Curé of Ars invited his parishioners to make a similar list in order to lead them to what seems an astonishing conclusion: ‘Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders,’ he said, ‘we would not have the Lord.’”Jean Marie Vianney was no subtle or angelic Doctor of the church catholic, his theology is often imprecise but his witness its always direct: Christ Jesus in his ministries, apostolates and sodalities.
    Note well, no one can ‘put him (Christ) into the Tabernacle’ .. Aquinas might smile an indulgent tut-tut at so materialistic a trustful and child-like directness.
    “Hence in no way is Christ’s body locally in this sacrament.” Aquinas, ST III, q 76, 5.
    The whole point is that it is not man but Christ at work in the Sacraments of the Church – he makes the order holy, the presence real, etc.
    PS: Without the order of rule, of leadership, of ministry given in Christ at the Sacraments recognised by the church catholic as Christ’s (the mystery of his pledged word at work) he would not be present among us as he has ordained it (but only as man desires it by the action of the Spirit e.g. at common prayer, as sacrifices of praise or beasts, or better than all these in alms).

  • Nat_ons

    I suspect His Grace is referring to Christ, in whom we all are anointed to kingship and priesthood, for he is a priest forever – not of the Mosaic Law but of the order of Melchizedek .. a ruler, overseer, elder and servant such as the Catholic priesthood offers (which is not Levitical but is still ordained).
    Not all of us, called to the one hope of salvation in Christ, are ordained to serve as elders, overseers, or rulers in him – let alone to be teachers, healers, apostles etc – those whom the Holy Ghost has called and the Church may ordain do indeed fulfil a special ministry in Christ: Sacrament.
    Hence, if one pays a devout attention, the Bishop of Shrewsbury explains the message of Christ’s healing most readily to be found witnessed in the mortal life of this wonderful soul, whose relic remains among us as a material reminder is this: we do not attend to Christ.
    “St John Vianney, with the incisive prognosis of a physician of souls, had no doubts where problems begin for us. The reason we grow lax in our vocation ‘is because we do not pay attention at Mass ..’”

  • Honeybadger

    Oh, your deliberate ignorance of such matters, Wondering!

    If you haven’t read ANYTHING about the Church’s rules and canons on relics or the story of the Cure of Ars, you are like a male dog in the middle of four lamposts… not a leg to stand on… with your views.

    Of course it is fitting that the Cure’s heart’s first port of call should be Manchester International Airport, you clown! How many souls fly out to the ends of the earth and into Manchester? It is also 5 minutes from St Anthony’s Church which was where the precious relic was venerated by the general public.

    In Saint John Baptiste Marie Vianney’s day, extra transport was laid on for thousands of pilgrims to encounter and receive counsel from this holy man, this saint! Manchester Airport flies people to Knock, Lourdes, Rome etc. so there IS a parallel.

    And would you would call visiting a graveyard with your loved ones remains and saying a prayer over them to Almighty God idolatry?

    Boy, oh, boy! Do you people have the wrong end of the stick – the brown, slimy end of the stick in matters such as these! You will continue to la-la-la your way out of perspective no matter how many people will explain our view on such items of devotion.

    Your heart and mine will be eaten up by the worms and turned to dust.

    St John Vianney’s heart has been incorrupt for over a hundred years and he spoke often of the heart of Christ and spoke FROM the heart. Almighty God saw it fit that this saint’s remains be incorrupt – especially his heart.

  • Honeybadger

    St John Vianney was not mentally ill at all. He disturbed the hearts of people who were suffering in sin. He moved people to tears with his words and actions. He made many sacrifices for them and suffered much.

    If Almighty God had Olympic Gold Medals for spiritual athletes, John Vianney would share the top podium with those other hallowed people like St Therese of Lisieux and St Bernadette Soubirous

  • Honeybadger

    Call yourself Realist? More like Cloud Cuckoo!

  • Guest

    “Without priests we would not have the Lord.” Arrant nonsense! The Lord’s presence is not bound in this way.  Remember, no priests were present at the Lord’s birth, death or rising.

  • Honeybadger

    What difference does THAT make? Priests give US the Lord’s presence in the Holy Eucharist and in the Lord’s Sacraments etc.

    If you can’t get your noggin round Bishop Mark’s words, you NEVER WILL.

    But, there’s hope…

  • Parasum

    “Quoting St John Vianney, Bishop Davies said: “In his direct way of speaking the Curé of Ars invited his parishioners to make a similar list in order to lead them to what seems an astonishing conclusion: ‘Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders,’ he said, ‘we would not have the Lord.’”

    ## Wrong – &, unfortunately, a typically Catholic – way round: without the Lord, we would have no priests.

    A very big difference.

  • UAMS

    A megalomaniac would be Pope John Paul II.