Friday, December 7, 2007

Sermon on the Second Sunday of Advent by Saint John Vianney

St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)
Patron Saint of Parish Priests
The Incorrupt Body of the Cure' of Ars Rests in the Basilica at Ars, France

Excerpts from Sermons of the Cure d'Ars, printed in 1901, reproduced in 1995 by Neumann Press :

"Memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccabis."

"In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin." Ecclus. vii. 40

How is it that these truths, which have converted so many sinners, make so little impression upon us? Ah! my brethren, that is because we do not take them to heart sufficiently. Nothing is more likely to draw us away from ourselves and from the goods of this world,nothing so powerful to spur us on to bear better the sufferings of this life in a spirit of penance, than an earnest consideration of these truths.

Behold, my brethren, how much Jesus Christ wishes to save us; at one time he appears to us as a poor child in the crib, lying on a handful of straw, which He moistens with His tears; again treated like a criminal, bound, pinioned, crowned with thorns, scourged, falling under the weight of the cross, and dying in martyrdom out of love for us. If this is not capable of moving us, drawing us towards Him, then He announces to us that He will one day come, clothed in the radiance of His glory and the Majesty of His Father, to judge us without clemency and without mercy; where before the whole world He will reveal the good and the bad which we have committed in the course of our lives. Tell me, dear brethren, if we rightly considered all this, should we require anything further to make us live and die like Saints?

But for a Christian, dear brethren, who has lost sight of his last aim, the matter has quite another aspect; the shortness of life is a trouble and a bitter thought which disturbs him in the midst of his pleasures; he does his utmost to keep this thought of death far from him. Everything that reminds him of it frightens him, doctors and remedies; everything is tried to keep away the thought that death is near. He is in pursuit of happiness on earth, but he deceives himself. Whilst this poor unfortunate man forsakes God, God forsakes him. He will be obliged at the end of his days to admit that he has spent his life seeking for a good which he never found. Outside of God, oh, so many sufferings, so much misery, and no consolation, no recompense! Ah, death, the consolation of the just, brings only despair to him; he must die, and he has never once given thought to it.

My God, how blind we are concerning our everlasting happiness. Ah, my brethren; tell me had the great Saints, whom we admire, another Gospel to follow? Did they have another religion to practice? Had they another God to serve; another eternity to fear or to hope? No; certainly not, my brethren; but they had a faith which we have not, which, through the multitude of our sins, we have almost extinguished; but they worked zealously for the salvation of their soul, whilst we leave our poor soul without attention.

To whom do we give our hearts? What have we done for God, who is our first and last aim? What zeal and what ardor have we shown for the glory of God, and the salvation of our poor soul, which has cost Jesus Christ such bitter sufferings? What have we got to offer him? What answer can we give to all His questions, when on the one hand He will hold up to us all the graces which He had lent us during our whole lives, and, on the other hand, the little use, or, rather the misuse, which we have made of it? Is it then possible that we who are in the possession of so many precious gifts, are still so lukewarm, so lazy, and so indolent in the service of God.

Let us remind ourselves, my brethren, of all that God has done for us since we came into this world. How many have died in your midst without having received holy Baptism? How many others, after having committed a single mortal sin, have been cut off by death and cast into hell? And from how many bodily dangers hast he mercy of God spared us, while he preferred us to so many others, who in extraordinary ways lost their lives? How often has God, when we had the misfortune to sin grievously, pursued us with remorse of conscience, and good intentions? How many instructions, how many good examples were afforded us, to arouse us from our indifference for the salvation of our soul?

Yes, my brethren, He awaits us with open arms. He opens to us the wound of His divine Heart, to hide us therein from the severity of His Father; He offers us all the merits of His death and Passion, in satisfaction for our sins. If our conversion is sincere, He takes it upon Himself to answer for us at the judgment seat of His Father, when we shall be called upon to give an account of our whole life. Happy is he who follows the voice of His God who calls him! Happy is he, my brethren, who has never forgotten that his life is short, and that he may die at any moment, whom the thought never leaves that he is destined after this life for a happy or unhappy eternity, for heaven or for hell.

Yes, my brethren, if we were only fortunate enough to ponder well what is before us after this life, which is so short, we should feel obliged to pass our lives in fear and trembling, working so as to accomplish the salvation of our souls. Happy is he, my brethren, who holds himself always in readiness! That is what I wish you all. Amen.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

This is really beautiful, like all of his sermons! We really should start reading them on Sundays again like we use to. Love,