When John was made vicar of an obscure rural parish, some people said he looked like a farmer. This was not surprising for he came from a peasant farming family. However from early childhood he had wanted to be a priest. He struggled with theological studies, but in 1818 he was made vicar (or rather “Curé”, as this was in France) of the tiny, insignificant village of Ars.
From his first day in office throughout his long ministry there, he would get up before dawn to be still and quiet in his church. People today might say he was practicing “mindfulness”, using the stillness to become more aware of himself, and others.
One day a visitor asked him what he was doing and his reply has become famous. “Nothing… I look at Him, and He looks at me, and we are happy together”.
Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, ministered in that parish for well over thirty years and it is recorded that thousands of people came to Ars to listen to him, make their confession and seek his counsel. He was Canonized 1925, by Pope Pius XI, and is the patron saint of parish clergy in the Roman Catholic Church!
I recently discovered a very challenging quote by him.
“We are each of us like a small mirror in God’s hand in which he searches for His reflection”
It seemed to me like a totally new idea. However when the challenge of reading this for the first time had subsided, and I had reflected on what sort of mirror I was, (a little scratched and grubby no doubt), I realised that this quotation by the priest at Ars was not so original.
St Paul had written something very similar in his second letter to the people at Corinth (2.Cor 3:18) “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”
The challenge for us all is to reflect His glory back to Him and to others.
Roger M. Vaughan