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In this space, we propose some short reflections that can be of interest in the pastoral.


St. John Mary Vianney

The Curé of Ars

John Mary Vianney was born into a peasant family in the small town of Dardilly, France, on 8 May 1786. His family was poor in material possessions but rich in humanity and in faith. Baptized on the day of his birth, as was the good custom in those days, he spent so many years of his childhood and adolescence working in the fields and tending the flocks that at the age of 17 he was still illiterate. Nonetheless he knew by heart the prayers his devout mother had taught him and was nourished by the sense of religion in the atmosphere he breathed at home.

 His biographers say that since his earthly youth he sought to conform himself to God's will, even in the humblest offices. He pondered on his desire to become a priest but it was far from easy for him to achieve it. Indeed, he arrived at priestly ordination only after many ordeals and misunderstandings, with the help of far-sighted priests who did not stop at considering his human limitations but looked beyond them and glimpsed the horizon of holiness that shone out in that truly unusual young man. So it was that on 23 June 1815 he was ordained a deacon and on the following 13 August, he was ordained a priest. At last, at the age of 29, after numerous uncertainties, quite a few failures and many tears, he was able to walk up to the Lord's altar and make the dream of his life come true. (…)

Indeed, in his pastoral service, as simple as it was extraordinarily fertile, this unknown parish priest of a forgotten village in the south of France was so successful in identifying with his ministry that he became, even in a visibly and universally recognizable manner, an alter Christus, an image of the Good Shepherd who, unlike the hired hand, lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10: 11). After the example of the Good Shepherd, he gave his life in the decades of his priestly service. His existence was a living catechesis that acquired a very special effectiveness when people saw him celebrating Mass, pausing before the tabernacle in adoration or spending hour after hour in the confessional. (…)

At a close look, what made the Curé of Ars holy was his humble faithfulness to the mission to which God had called him; it was his constant abandonment, full of trust, to the hands of divine Providence. It was not by virtue of his own human gifts that he succeeded in moving peoples' hearts nor even by relying on a praiseworthy commitment of his will; he won over even the most refractory souls by communicating to them what he himself lived deeply, namely, his friendship with Christ. He was "in love" with Christ and the true secret of his pastoral success was the fervour of his love for the Eucharistic Mystery, celebrated and lived, which became love for Christ's flock, for Christians and for all who were seeking God. (…)

It was at two o'clock in the morning on 4 August 1859 that St John Baptist Mary Vianney, having come to the end of his earthly life, went to meet the heavenly Father to inherit the Kingdom, prepared since the world's creation for those who faithfully follow his teachings (cf. Mt 25: 34). What great festivities there must have been in Heaven at the entry of such a zealous pastor! (…)

Benedict XVI, General Audience, 5 August 2009


From the Homilies of the Cure of Ars

There are many Christians, my children, who do not absolutely know why they are in the world… “My God, why did you place me on earth?”. “To save you”. “And why do you want to save me?”. “Because I love you.”
How beautiful it is to know, love and serve God! We have nothing to do with this life. Everything we do outside of this is wasted time. It is necessary to act only for God, to put our works in his hands… Rising up in the morning, it is necessary to say: “Today I want to work for you my God! I will accept what you will want to send me as your gift. I offer myself in sacrifice. Nevertheless, my God, I can’t do anything without you: help me!”


From the Cure of Ars “Spirit of the apostolate”

Tomorrow is the feast of saint Curate of Ars who wanted be named after Mary, because from Mary he said, he had received everything. Let us ask him for the spirit of the apostolate. He overcame enormous difficulties in order to prepare himself for the apostolate; in fact those who were above him were opposed to his priestly ordination. The vicar said: “Does he know to say the rosary well, then he will accomplish much good”. With his humility, his lack of knowledge, and with his warm word, he drew many people who desired to listen to him and have him hear their confession. He did an immense good.

When there is much fervour in the soul, application, prayer and trust in God, much good can be accomplished. You will do well to treasure what you have heard of him, it will serve you in the future, seek also to examine his writings and the cases he resolved. A Sister who goes into the apostolate with commitment and great fervour will do a lot of good, so much as to be considered the mother of the parish.

[The Constitutions] on the apostolate invite us to accept as a responsibility from Jesus Good Shepherd, many souls in order to instruct them, educate them and to bring out the best in them. In the designated parish, there is always a small fire burning: that is the three, four Sisters who pray for all, they are powerful before God because their hands a joint in prayer. Do not say it, keep it within your heart, but you must also sanctify the priests, the diocese, the clergy in the spirit and in the pattern that has been given to you. There has never existed Sisters like Mary: ready to console the afflicted and take even some ‘beating” for the love of Jesus Good Shepherd who did receive plenty.

Albano Laziale (Rome), August 8, 1954

Blessed James Alberione to the Pastorelle Sisters

PrP VII, 1954, p. 119

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From the Homilies of the Cure of Ars

Prayer is for the soul what the rain is for the earth. You can manure the earth as much as you like, but if it doesn’t rain, anything you do will be of no use. Similarly, you can do as many good deeds as you please, but if you don’t pray often and pray well, you will not be saved; prayer opens the eyes of our soul, it makes the soul aware of its great misery and the need it has for God; and it leads the soul to fear its own weakness. The Christian puts all her [his] trust in God and none in herself [himself]. (…)
Oh!, my brothers [and sisters], let us not be surprised if the devil does all that is within its power to take us away from praying and from praying well; that happens because the devil understands better than we do how much prayer is feared in hell, and that it is impossible for God to refuse us anything that we ask for in prayer… It is not the long prayer nor the beautiful prayer that God looks at, but the prayer that comes from the depth of one’s heart, with the greatest reverence and desire to be pleasing to God.
(V Sunday of Easter)


From the Cure of Ars the "prayer"

Oh, the enemy is monstrous. So many times we feel like losing heart, like getting discouraged. And in fact, we hear people saying: “Anyway, there is nothing to do here…What can we do, this parish is the way it is, and we must put up with it. We can take the little that comes our way and try and do some good with the children we have”. But can we allow the other souls to fall into the ditch? Can we allow them to be wrecked, to abandon them? We must help them, assist them with our prayer; what is not possible to human beings is possible to God. (…)

We have to struggle with an enemy that is monstrous but who is not strong, because when we pray, God is with us! You are not alone, do no be discouraged! And even if after three, four or ten years in a parish, you feel as if you haven’t accomplished or achieved anything, [think of] how many have died in God’s grace! It can happen also that in parishes where we have worked for years and years, it can seem as if all has been useless; for all our sowing, all can seem to be destroyed by the enemy. However, through prayer, which brings about perseverance, patience sustains the person who has work to do; yes, it sustains the person. Oh, the hour comes; the hour comes when we will see the fruits.

The Cure of Ars worked and achieved nothing at first. And so: he used to pray and pray… And after he had prayed much, and with faith, and making some mortification, the time came when the church was filled to capacity. He would spend up to fifteen hours a day in the Confessional to receive all the people. And when he went up the pulpit, all eyes were fixed on him: all keen to hear even just one word. (…) Have trust. Will you have lost everything? But have you prayed? You will not see the victories, maybe you will die first; but yours will be the victory because God exists. God exists! (…) There are many new difficulties in our days – but there were none less in other times, and maybe there were even more so - but the victory will be yours. And if you didn’t save those particular souls, your prayer would be for the salvation of others perhaps in China or in Japan: prayer is never lost. Pray and pray well. Have faith in God! Faith in God.
Prayer that is well done does not fall to the ground. Prayer that is well done rises to the throne of the most High. It does not descend before it is turned into blessing and grace. And if you were not to see the fruit [of your work], and not have the consolation of seeing its good results, you will see it in heaven.

Did it not appear as if all was lost when Jesus died? Even the apostles had abandoned him. Peter had denied him three times and Judas had betrayed him. And so? Dying on the Cross, buried in a sepulchre, soldiers assigned to guard the sepulchre to make sure that no one would steal the body: was it all lost? Rather, it was the beginning, because from that moment, through his resurrection, he began to enlighten the world. And the apostles were strengthened and sent to the whole world. Salvation began exactly where all seemed to have been lost.

Don’t ever be discouraged. No! Do not complain and do not be anguished. Always feel the need for God, for the grace of God, for God’s prayer, but do not give up. And if you cannot do anything else, you can do all things through prayer, even if you get sick, even if we have nothing else left but our own life. We will offer our life to the Lord! And we will offer our life to the Lord. Yes!

Ariccia (Rome), 23 July 1961

Blessed James Alberione to the Pastorelle Sisters

AAP 1961, 332-340, pp. 134-138

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From the Homilies of the Cure of Ars

Humility is the best way to love God. It is our pride that prevents us from becoming saints. Pride is the thread that ties and keeps together all other vices; humility is the thread that keeps together all virtues. Saints knew themselves better than they knew others, and that is why they were humble! Alas! It is hard to comprehend how and for what reasons a mere insignificant creature, such as we are, would be proud. (…)
Humility is like a scale; the more we lower ourselves on one side, the more we rise on the other. The person who is proud believes that everything she does is done well; she wants to dominate over all who have anything to do with her; she is always right; she believes that her opinions are always better than others…But that is not so!...Ask a person who is humble and well educated to express her opinion and such a person will give her opinion with simplicity after which she will let others speak. Whether the person is right or wrong, she will say nothing more.


From the Cure of Ars the "humility"

Our reflection will be on humility and so it is with humility that we should listen. In all things, we must place humility as the foundation.

Humility is as necessary as is any building: spiritual, moral, intellectual, personal. Humility is needed in everything. Any construction (…) needs a foundation. It is the principle for any success (…)

In your spiritual exercises be sure to begin with humility, since there are seven capital vices. (…) And if there are seven capital vices, pride is capital over the other six. Hence, from pride comes anger. And from pride comes rage, envy, humiliating another person, impurity, greed and laziness. You see then, how important it is that we make our examine on pride with humility and that we recognise our defects.

There are some people to whom one cannot offer any advice, they can never be corrected because they are not open to corrections (…) they just believe in themselves… and that’s all. (…)

And what is pride? [Pride] is to be super, to place oneself above. To have more regard for the self: “I have a beautiful voice, I am very intelligent, I can do this and I can do that, I want to mix with well-to-do people and not with poor people…..And more, I did not come to serve, I want to be in charge”. (…) [pride] is to want to be in the limelight.

One wants to be in charge. One sets oneself up as teacher. (…)

And so then, do you wish to do good? “Learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mtt. 11:29). He who was all things, who was the incarnate Son of God: meek and humble in heart. Pride is the great enemy. We must keep in mind that “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted” [cf. Mtt. 23:12] … (…)

Woe to the proud person! Yes. Be sure that she will fall: it is anger, it is envy and it is jealousy. The Lord says to you and me, and to everyone: all who exalt themselves in the spirit, will humble themselves in the flesh. Bad fantasies, evil intentions, humiliating desires, and in the end, these persons are neither esteemed by people nor pleasing to God. Poor things! Why? Because these individuals have used the gifts of God for themselves and not for God. The gifts of God are for God, they are; not for our humiliation. (…)

So firstly, it is important to examine ourselves on our selfishness, on our vane glory, on our distorted intentions. In essence, all that is pride is born of pride. A person may have many temptations…But if the person has humility, the Lord will give that person the grace to overcome all things. And she will overcome all things. But even if she had some good qualities and had grown in some virtues, she will fall. She will fall. Yes, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted” [Mtt. 23:12], oh yes. (…)
Oh, how important it is that we learn from Jesus Christ divine Shepherd. He who knelt at his disciples’ feet and washed them, and he washed Judas’ feet too, and he kissed them. (…) [Say] “There is nothing I can do on my own” but quickly add: “With God, I can do all things”. This is the humility wherein God can do all things. God will do [all things]. (…)

When pride is at work, what happens to the apostolate? Truly, fruit becomes scarce! Yes, we set ourselves up to be teachers to teachers, to the parish priest and to all who are within the environment [we operate in]. Poor things! They become useless. The person who is proud betrays her apostolate, her ministry. Whereas if the person is humble, even though she may not be overly gifted, how well she progresses! Let us take the Cure of Ars: a humble parish priest in a small country suburb who attracted souls from all over the place and who came to kneel at his feet, even people of high ranks. You see, pride destroys holiness and it destroys the apostolate.

Albano Laziale (Rome), 26 August 1965.

Blessed James Alberione to the Pastorelle Sisters

AAP 1965, 406-425, pp. 189-198


Collaborators for the catechetical themes



La Hna. Silvia Rodríguez es una Hermana Pastorcita de la Delegación Argentina-Bolivia. A partir del 6 de noviembre 2006 está a cargo de la asesoría catequística on line del sitio San Pablo Argentina, respondiendo preguntas, consultas, ofreciendo material, propuestas, etc.



Sr. Giuseppina Battista, suora Pastorella, docente di Storia della Catechesi e di Teologia dell’educazione nell’Istituto di Pastorale “Redemptor Hominis” della Pontificia Università Lateranense.



Battista Giuseppina - «DE CATECHIZANDIS RUDIBUS»:     Prima parte     Seconda parte     Terza parte    

Battista Giuseppina - L’ARTE di INSEGNARE nella REGOLA PASTORALE di s. Gregorio Magno

Battista Giuseppina - OLIMPIADE e GIOVANNI CRISOSTOMO - Amicizia e collaborazione nel ministero pastorale     Prima parte     Seconda parte     Terza parte     Bibliografia     Note         


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