Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saint John Vianney and His Ability to Read Souls

Saint John Vianney is often referred to as the Cure of Ars. He was a parish priest assigned to the village of Ars, with a population of just 230, shortly after the French Revolution. He was sent there because he wasn't considered very smart.

Upon his arrival in Ars, Saint John Vianney found his flock had strayed from God. He undertook severe penances to win conversions. He spent a lot of time with his parishioners, trying to get to know each soul entrusted to his care.

The Cure had the ability to "read souls." This means he was acutely aware of the true state of a penitent's condition. He could also tell those visited his confession about other events in their lives. Saint John informed one young lady that she had actually met the devil at a dance she had attended. He was disguised as a handsome young man. The Miraculous Medal she was wearing was her protection.

Saint John spent long hours in the confessional, Catholics from all over the countryside sought him out. He got very little sleep. Many nights the devil kept him awake by making loud noises.

He was canonized in 1925. In 2009, to mark the 150th anniversary of his death, Pope Benedict XVI declared him patron saint of all priests.

Flickr photo by Ambrose Little

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Advice on How to Overcome Scrupulosity

Scrupulosity is characterized by an excessive focus on one's sins, even when they have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. Sometimes the penitent doesn't remember if they confessed the sin accurately or entirely. Other times a person may be tormented by thinking they are sinning,when they aren't.

Priests who hear confessions can tell when someone suffers from scruples, and they can help the person put their mind at ease. This is why it's important that confessors be kind and gentle, as St. Alphonsus Liguori always strove to be.

This saint founded the Redemptorist order in the year 1732. It now has more than 4,000 priests and about 5,000 religious brothers.

Here is some excellent advice on combating scrupulosity, written by a Redemptorist priest.

Flickr photo by cliff1066

Saint Alphonsus and Confession

Saint Alphonsus Marie de Ligouri is the patron saint of confessors. He was born in 1696 near Naples and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 30. He entered religious life after having become a lawyer, but left that profession for fear it could damage his eternal salvation.

He suffered from a condition known as scrupulosity, in which he doubted whether he had thoroughly confessed his sins and whether his thoughts, words and deeds were offending God.

As a priest, he worked with the downtrodden in and around Naples, and then later, in the countryside. He was elevated to the rank of bishop in 1762. Three decades earlier he had founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly referred to as the Redemptorists.

He was a great moral theologian and a kind, gentle confessor. He urged other priests to always treat their penitents in the same manner.

Saint Alphonsus was died in 1787 at 90 years of age. He was canonized in 1839.

Flickr image by Lawrence OP