Bishop Mark Davies said at Liverpool Cathedral today on the visit of the heart of St Jeanne Vianney.
Vianney never set out to ‘please people’ responding to demands like a tin can blown about on the piazza outside. Rather he proceeded purposefully in seeking to please God. This led him very close to all his people and especially close throughout his life to the most difficult and confused of his people – the types of people we might naturally be inclined to avoid. Yet there was nothing of a ‘people pleaser’ in this. The stories are legion of his remarks and sayings which might appeal to Lancastrian plain-speaking. Yet it is hard to know how they were first received such as when he told his congregation that in their dealings with each other most of them were probably thieves! Or that man who brought his fine dog for the Curé to see, who was told with a sigh ‘If only your soul was as beautiful as your dog!’.” St. John
“…It is the Curé’s short, pithy, insightful phrases that are most remembered. All of these lead, as Pope Benedict notes, towards the Eucharistic Presence before which he would kneel every day. Indeed, he would point all those who came to see him to the Altar and Tabernacle saying: “He is here, He is here, the One who loves us so much He is here!” I often repeat those same words in the parishes I visit because we always need to be reminded of the mystery and reality of the Holy Eucharist at the very centre of every parish’s life. In his last days when frailty and sickness no longer allowed him to be heard, he would stand in the pulpit of Ars and repeatedly point to the Tabernacle. Everything he wished to say and us to seek was there in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.”
“…. The ‘pastoral plan’ of the Cure of Ars from which Pope Benedict tells us we all have something to learn leaves our parishes in northern England and beyond with many searching questions. This relic represents a call to the heart, a call to return to what must lie at the heart of the life our parishes declining or apparently flourishing in city, town and countryside. St John Vianney had no doubt that whatever lies at the centre, the heart of our parishes must always serve to bring us back to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Where there is not much love for God, we must not resign ourselves to it. The Saint of Ars challenges us to bring love for God there!”