St. John Vianney, "YOU HAVE NOT THE TIME"
3 Sermons in One Blog
YOU HAVE NOT THE TIME
We can only find our happiness on earth in loving God, and we can only love Him in prayer to Him. We see that Jesus Christ, to encourage us often to have recourse to Him through prayer, promises never to refuse us anything if we pray for it as we should. But there is no need to go looking for elaborate and roundabout ways of showing you that we should pray often, for you have only to open your catechism and you will see there that the duty of every good Christian is to pray morning and evening and often during the day -- that is to say, always....
Which of us, my dear brethren, could, without tears of compassion, listen to those poor Christians who dare to say that they have not time to pray? You have not the time! Poor blind creatures, which is the more precious action: to strive to please God and to save your soul, or to go out to feed your animals in the stable or to call your children or your servants in order to send them out to till the earth or to tidy up the stable? Dear God! How blind man is! .... You have not the time! But tell me, ungrateful creatures, if God had called you to die that night, would you have exerted yourselves? If He had sent you three or four months of illness, would you have exerted yourselves? Go away, you miserable creatures; you deserve to have God abandon you in your blindness and leave you thus to perish. We find that it is too much to give Him a few minutes to thank Him for the graces which He is giving us at every instant! ....
You must get on with your work, you say.
That, my dear people, is where you are greatly mistaken. You have no other work to do except to please God and to save your souls. All the rest is not your work. If you do not do it, others will, but if you lose your soul, who will save it?
http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/09/st-john-vianney-if-man-knew-his-religion.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/12/st-john-vianney-do-you-want-to-be-happy.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/10/st-john-vianney-your-prayers-are-only.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/09/saint-john-vianney-you-can-become-good.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/09/st-john-vianney-on-temptations.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2015/08/st-john-vianney-sermon-public-plague.html http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2016/01/st-john-vianney-gift-of-every-day.html
Why am I up in the pulpit today, my dear brethren? What am I going to say to you? Ah! I come on behalf of God Himself. I come on behalf of your poor parents, to awaken in you that love and gratitude which you owe them.
I come to bring before your minds again all those kindnesses and all the love which they gave you while they were on earth. I come to tell you that they suffer in Purgatory, that they weep, and that they demand with urgent cries the help of your prayers and your good works. I seem to hear them crying from the depths of those fires which devour them: "Tell our loved ones, tell our children, tell all our relatives how great the evils are which they are making us suffer. We throw ourselves at their feet to implore the help of their prayers. Ah! Tell them that since we have been separated from them, we have been here burning in the flames! Oh! Who would be so indifferent to such sufferings as we are enduring?"
Do you see, my dear brethren, do you hear that tender mother, that devoted father, and all those relatives who helped and tended you? "My friends," they cry, "free us from these pains; you can do it." Consider then, my dear brethren: ( I ) the magnitude of these sufferings which the souls in Purgatory endure; and (2) the means which we have of mitigating them: our prayers, our good works, and, above all, the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
I do not wish to stop at this stage to prove to you the existence of Purgatory. That would be a waste of time. No one among you has the slightest doubt on that score. The Church, to which Jesus Christ promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and which, consequently, can neither be mistaken herself nor mislead us, teaches us about Purgatory in a very clear and positive manner. It is certain, very certain, that there is a place where the souls of the just complete the expiation of their sins before being admitted to the glory of Paradise, which is assured them. Yes, my dear brethren, and it is an article of faith: if we have not done penance proportionate to the greatness and enormity of our sins, even though forgiven in the holy tribunal of Penance, we shall be compelled to expiate them.... In Holy Scripture there are many texts which show clearly that although our sins may be forgiven, God still imposes on us the obligation to suffer in this world by temporal hardships or in the next by the flames of Purgatory.
Look at what happened to Adam. Because he was repentant after committing his sin, God assured him that He had pardoned him, and yet He condemned him to do penance for nine hundred years, penance which surpasses anything that we can imagine. See again: David ordered, contrary to the wish of God, the census of his subjects, but, stricken with remorse of conscience, he recognised his sin and, throwing himself upon the ground, begged the Lord to pardon him. God, touched by his repentance, forgave him indeed. But despite that, He sent Gad to tell David that he would have to choose between three scourges which He had prepared for him as punishment for his iniquity: the plague, war, or famine. David said: "It is better that I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men." He chose the pestilence, which lasted three days and killed seventy thousand of his subjects. If the Lord had not stayed the hand of the Angel, which was stretched out over the city, all Jerusalem would have been depopulated! David, seeing so many evils caused by his sin, begged the grace of God to punish him alone and to spare his people, who were innocent. Alas, my dear brethren, what, then, will be the number of years which we shall have to suffer in Purgatory, we who have so many sins, we who, under the pretext that we have confessed them, do no penance and shed no tears? How many years of suffering shall we have to expect in the next life?
But how, when the holy Fathers tell us that the torments they suffer in this place seem to equal the sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured during His sorrowful Passion, shall I paint for you a heart-rending picture of the sufferings which these poor souls endure? However, it is certain that if the slightest torment that our Lord suffered had been shared by all mankind, they would all be dead through the violence of such suffering. The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell; the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting. Oh! Should God in His great mercy permit one of these poor souls, who burn in these flames, to appear here in my place, all surrounded by the fires which consume him, and should he give you himself a recital of the sufferings he is enduring, this church, my dear brethren, would reverberate with his cries and his sobs, and perhaps that might finally soften your hearts.
Oh! How we suffer! they cry to us. Oh! You, our brethren, deliver us from these torments! You can do it! Ah, if you only experienced the sorrow of being separated from God! .... Cruel separation! To burn in the fire kindled by the justice of God! .... To suffer sorrows incomprehensible to mortal man! .... To be devoured by regret, knowing that we could so easily have avoided such sorrows! .... Oh! My children, cry the fathers and the mothers, can you thus so readily abandon us, we who loved you so much? Can you then sleep in comfort and leave us stretched upon a bed of fire. Will you have the courage to give yourselves up to pleasure and joy while we are here suffering and weeping night and day? You have our wealth, our homes, you are enjoying the fruit of our labours, and you abandon us here in this place of torments, where we are suffering such frightful evils for so many years! .... And not a single almsgiving, not a single Mass which would help to deliver us! .... You can relieve our sufferings, you can open our prison, and you abandon us. Oh! How cruel these sufferings are! ....
Yes, my dear brethren, people judge very differently, when in the flames of Purgatory, of all those light faults, if indeed it is possible to call anything light which makes us endure such rigorous sorrows. What woe would there be to man, the Royal Prophet cries, even the most just of men, if God were to judge him without mercy. If God has found spots in the sun and malice in the angels, what, then, is this sinful man? And for us, who have committed so many mortal sins and who have done practically nothing to satisfy the justice of God, how many years of Purgatory! ....
"My God," said St. Teresa, "what soul will be pure enough to enter into heaven without passing through the vengeful flames?" In her last illness, she cried suddenly: "O justice and power of my God, how terrible you are!" During her agony, God allowed her to see His holiness as the angels and the saints see Him in heaven, which caused her so much dread that her sisters, seeing her trembling and extraordinarily agitated, spoke to her, weeping: "Ah! Mother, what has happened to you; surely you do not fear death after so many penances and such abundant and bitter tears?"
"No, my children," St. Teresa replied, "I do not fear death; on the contrary, I desire it so that I may be united forever with my God."
"Is it your sins, then, which terrify you, after so much mortification? "
"Yes, my children," she told them." I do fear my sins, but I fear still another thing even more."
"Is it the judgment then?"
"Yes, I tremble at the formidable account that it will be necessary to render to God, Who, in that moment, will be without mercy, but there is still something else of which the very thought alone makes me die with terror."
The poor sisters were deeply distressed.
"Alas! Can it be Hell then?"
"No," she told them." Hell, thank God, is not for me. Oh! My sisters, it is the holiness of God. My God, have pity upon me! My life must be brought face to face with that of Jesus Christ Himself! Woe to me if I have the least blemish or stain! Woe to me if I am even in the very shadow of sin!"
"Alas!" cried these poor sisters." What will our deaths be like! "
What will ours be like, then, my dear brethren, we who, perhaps in all our penances and our good works, have never yet satisfied for one single sin forgiven in the tribunal of Penance?
Ah! What years and centuries of torment to punish us! .... How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us! No, my dear brethren, we would never have the courage to commit the least sin if we could understand how much it outrages God and how greatly it deserves to be rigorously punished, even in this world.
God is just, my dear brethren, in all that He does. When He recompenses us for the smallest good action, He does so over and above all that we could desire. A good thought, a good desire, that is to say, the desire to do some good work even when we are not able to do it, He never leaves without a reward.
But also, when it is a matter of punishing us, it is done with rigour, and though we should have only a light fault, we shall be sent into Purgatory. This is true, for we see it in the lives of the saints that many of them did not go to Heaven without having first passed through the flames of Purgatory. St. Peter Damien tells that his sister remained several years in Purgatory because she had listened to an evil song with some little pleasure.
It is told that two religious promised each other that the first to die would come to tell the survivor in what state he was. God permitted the one who died first to appear to his friend. He told him that he was remaining fifteen years in Purgatory for having liked to have his own way too much. And as his friend was complimenting him on remaining there for so short a time, the dead man replied: "I would have much preferred to be flayed alive for ten thousand years continuously, for that suffering could not even be compared with what I am suffering in the flames."
A priest told one of his friends that God had condemned him to remain in Purgatory for several months for having held back the execution of a will designed for the doing of good works.
Alas, my dear brethren, how many among those who hear me have a similar fault with which to reproach themselves? How many are there, perhaps, who during the course of eight or ten years have received from their parents or their friends the work of having Masses said and alms given and have allowed the whole thing to slide! How many are there who, for fear of finding that certain good works should be done, have not wanted to go to the trouble of looking at the will that their parents or their friends have made in their favour? Alas, these poor souls are still detained in the flames because no one has desired to fulfil their last wishes! Poor fathers and mothers, you are being sacrificed for the happiness of your children and your heirs! You perhaps have neglected your own salvation to augment their fortune.
You are being cheated of the good works which you left behind in your wills! .... Poor parents! How blind you were to forget yourselves! ....
You will tell me, perhaps: "Our parents lived good lives; they were very good people." Ah! They needed little to go into these flames! See what Albert the Great, a man whose virtues shone in such an extraordinary way, said on this matter. He revealed one day to one of his friends that God had taken him into Purgatory for having entertained a slightly self-satisfied thought about his own knowledge. The most astonishing thing was that there were actually saints there, even ones who were canonised, who were passing through Purgatory. St. Severinus, Archbishop of Cologne, appeared to one of his friends a long time after his death and told him that he had been in Purgatory for having deferred to the evening the prayers he should have said in the morning. Oh! What years of Purgatory will there be for those Christians who have no difficulty at all in deferring their prayers to another time on the excuse of having to do some pressing work! If we really desired the happiness of possessing God, we should avoid the little faults as well as the big ones, since separation from God is so frightful a torment to all these poor souls!
Do you want to know, my dear brethren, how we should conduct ourselves when we want to have the happiness of receiving God? Do as that good Christian does who goes to Holy Communion every week. He uses three of the days in thanksgiving and three in preparation. Well, who is stopping you from making all of your actions preparations for this? During this time, maintain an intercourse with Jesus Christ, Who reigns in your heart, so that He may visit your soul and enrich it with all kinds of blessings and happiness. You should implore the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and the saints to pray to God for you that you may receive Him as worthily as is possible. On the day itself, you should come earlier to the holy Mass and follow it even more closely than at other times.
Your mind and your heart should be continuously at the foot of the tabernacle, they should yearn unceasingly for this happy moment, and you yourself should be so plunged into the depths of the very thought of God that you should seem to be dead to the world. You should have your prayer book or your rosary beads with you, and you should say your Acts with as much fervour as you possibly can in order to rekindle in yourself faith, hope, and a great love for Jesus Christ, Who is coming in a moment to make your heart His tabernacle, or, if you like, a little Heaven. Dear God! What happiness and what honour for miserable creatures like us! We should express a great respect to Him.
So miserable a being! .... But we hope that He will have pity on us all the same.
After having said your Acts, you should offer your Holy Communion for yourself and for others. You should get up to approach the altar with all possible modesty, which shows that you are about to do something very great. You kneel down and you make the effort to rekindle in yourself the faith which will make you realise the greatness of your happiness. Your mind and your heart must be absolutely on God. You must take good care not to turn your head, you keep your eyes partially closed, your hands joined, and you say your "I confess to God." If you are waiting for Holy Communion, you should excite a very fervent love for Jesus Christ and pray very humbly that He will deign to come into your poor and miserable heart.
After you have had the wonderful happiness of receiving Holy Communion, you should rise with modesty and return to your place. You should stay a moment with our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom you have the joy of having in your heart, where, for a quarter of an hour, He is present in both Body and Soul as during His mortal life. Oh, infinite happiness! Who will ever understand it! Alas! Hardly anyone understands it! After you have asked God for all the graces you desire for yourself and others, you should then take up your prayer book again and continue to use it. After saying your Acts after Holy Communion, you should invite the Blessed Virgin and all the angels and saints to thank God for you. You should be careful not to spit, at least for a good half-hour, after receiving Holy Communion.
Do not go out immediately after holy Mass but stay a moment to ask God to give you plenty of strength to keep to your good resolutions. When you go out of the church, do not delay to chat. You should think about the great joy you have had in receiving Jesus Christ and make your way home.
If you have a moment to spare between the services, you should employ it in some spiritual reading or in making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament to thank God for the grace He gave you in the morning, and you should think about worldly matters as little as possible. You should so watch over all your thoughts, your words, and your actions that you may keep the grace of God all your life.