Monday, October 5, 2009

International Priests Retreat in Ars, France - 5

The topic of Cardinal Schonborn's talk on the last morning of our retreat was "Mary at the Heart of the Church." The beautiful statue of Mary shown here was in front of us all throughout the week. A constant reminder of the gift of Christ's mother to all of us. He began with reference to St. Theresa of Lisieux for whom Mary was the example of a soul seeking God in the darknes of faith. Mary at times has been so exalted in popular devotion that people feel that they cannot follow her in the journey of faith. However St. Theresa seeks to know mary through what is said in the Gospels. Thus Mary becomes the example of St. Theresa's "Little Way" of following Christ.

Mary translates the Gospel's by her actions and gestures, indeed by her whole person. Wherever the Gospel is planted, Mary makes the real cultural adaptation. Mary comes near to the poor and the little ones. In the presence of the good mother we need have no fear.

Following the morning conference, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, presided at the celebration of the Eucharist and we all gathered for lunch in the dining tent to end our time together in the parish of the holy Curé of Ars.

Following lunch I had the afternoon to walk around the town of Ars. Here is the Curé's church with the larger basilica added on in the back. When the saint arrived in Ars, he found an 11th century church with only a nave and no sanctuary. He added a new doorway,seen above. Also seen is the tower of the old church in brick

He also added a sanctuary which after his death in 1859 was enlarged by the construction of a large Basilica seen here.

Here is the nave of the old church and on the left is the pulpit from which he preached and touched the souls of thousands of people.

The incorrupt body of St. John Vianney lies in a side chapel in the Basilica.

In this reliquary his body lies intact and is the object of devotion for thousands of pilgrims who make their way to Ars each year.

The interior of the Basilica with the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament seen here.

And the main altar of the church where the Eucharist is celebrated sevral times each day.

The court yard and stable in the rectory in which Curé of Ars lived.

For the first seven years after his arrival in Ars, he prepared his meals for himself in this kitchen. It consisted of pancakes fried in the frying pan on the left and potatoes boiled in the pot hanging from the hook. He took this meal at noon and it was his one meal of the day.

The bedroom remains as it was on the day of his death in 1859.

He would leave his bed-room a little before midnight and go to the church. He would come back to the house at noon and have his meal. He heard confessions, taught catechism and counselled people until 9:00 pm when he would come back to his room and read until he fell asleep.
By 1855, 20,000 people a year were coming to Ars to see him. He heard confessions for sixteen to eighteen hours each day, giving consolation to thousands of people. And still they come to be in the place where this holy man worked and to pray near his body and sense some closeness to this remarkable parish priest.
St. John-Marie Vianney, Curé of Ars, pray for us.

1 comment:

St. Michael's Squire said...

Hey Bishop Dan,

I had forgotten that you had a blog and I recently stumbled upon it again. I am so glad that you are updating it so frequently, it's really good to see what you have been up to.

You've done some really cool stuff. These pictures of the Cure are absolutely amazing, his incorrupt body! Wow!

Kevin O'Byrne