As we celebrate the great Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney it is worth noting that he offers us a wonderful model of priestly ministry. He is known for spending much of his time hearing confessions and he is also known for his great devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He is very much a saint for our time because we are in need of a clear and joyful focus on both of these sacraments.
We have all heard much controversy about the Eucharist and what it means for us as Catholics. I hope we can step away from the controversy and simply return to the wonderful truth of our Catholic faith proclaimed since the very beginning of the Church. In the earliest days of the Church the faithful were already recognizing that our greatest prayer is the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. This is because the beautiful ritual of the Mass is not simply that, a beautiful ritual, but it literally takes us to an encounter with Him, Jesus Christ the Son of God. He promised that He would be with us until the "end of the age" and His Eucharistic presence is one of the most profound ways that He is with us. This in no way discounts the great reality that Christ is present in all the sacraments, instead His Real Presence in the Eucharist highlights the reality of His presence in all of the other sacraments.
In addition to a Eucharistic focus, as Catholics we also need to rekindle our love for another beautiful yet different encounter with Jesus Christ in the sacrament of Confession. The beautiful encounter with our Lord in His merciful love which occurs in the sacrament of Confession has been neglected for too many years. Thankfully there is a revival in our understanding of the importance of frequent Confession and the beautiful gift that it is. I suppose that it is easy to understand why we tend to be lest zealous about Confession. We live in an age that encourages us to behave as if sin isn't real and if sin isn't real then there is certainly no need for Confession. Although the popular message is that sin isn't real we all experience its reality every day. The more we can acknowledge our sins and the sins of the world the more we can be hopeful of growing past those temptations and tendencies that bring real harm into our lives. Although we can deny that sin has any real power in our lives nevertheless its affects bring hurt and brokenness into every aspect of our journey.
As we honor this great and saintly priest let us resolve to treasure the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives as he did. Let us humbly approach the confessional and thus be cleansed and renewed in His mercy. Then we will be more prepared and ready to receive Him and be nurtured by His body and blood, soul and divinity. Let us be healed of our broken sinful lives and fed the bread from heaven that allows us to share in the very life of God.