Our parish is named after St John Marie Vianney, a French priest who lived in the 19th Century.  He transformed his small country parish in such a way that he is recognised today as the Patron Saint of Priests.  Thousands travelled from throughout France and beyond to listen to him and to go to him for Confession, so he is a great source of help for those who find it difficult to ask for forgiveness or who want to make a fresh start in life. 

Many people know him as the Curé of Ars, meaning that he was the parish priest of Ars.  There are hundreds of parishes dedicated to him throughout the world, but we are the only parish named after him in Ireland. 

Come and visit his shrine.  Our church is normally open from 8.00 am until at least 6.00 pm each day.  His statue is on the left-hand side when you enter the church.  You can light candles at his simple shrine and there are prayer cards for you to send to people for whom you have lit candles.  

We celebrate a Novena to him every year from 4 – 12 August.  Here is a copy of our Novena Prayer for 2018 and details of the celebrations.  For each Mass and Holy Hour we invite other priests who are pleased to come and speak about the witness of the Curé of Ars and encourage us to find him, a saint who helps us with the difficulties in our lives and brings us closer to God. 

NOVENA PRAYER

St John Vianney, you served God faithfully in your parish. May priests and seminarians grow in holiness
through your intercession.....(pause).

Curé of Ars, you willingly embraced the trials of life. Help us to take up our crosses and follow Jesus
more closely every day…..(pause)

Patron of priests, you spent long hours in the confessional. Help us to recognise our weakness and
our desire for God’s freedom and forgiveness…..(pause)

Model of Christian love, you lived a humble life of fasting and abstinence. May we be faithful to the
Friday penance which the Church asks of us…..(pause)

Consoler of those who came to you, we place before the altar our needs, our prayers and petitions.
May you intercede for us and for all those we pray for…..(pause)

In the spirit of St John Vianney, we pray: “Our Father who art…”

Novena Mass each day at 10.00 am,  and 7.30 pm on Fri 3 and 10 August.  Also Sat 6.00 pm, Sun 9.30
and 11.30 am.     Mass with Anointing of the Sick: 3.00 pm Wed 8 August.
Holy Hour: Thursday 9 August, 7.30 pm.   Adoration:  Mon 6 Aug after 10.00 am Mass until 8.00 pm.
Confessions and Veneration of Relics: after each Mass.

Three years ago the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, came and opened our first Novena, on the year which celebrated the 200th  anniversary of St John Vianney’s ordination.  In 2018 we will be celebrating his arrival at the parish of Ars 200 years ago. 

For more details about the Curé of Ars go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vianney

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Homily for Friday August 10, 2018 for the Novena for St John Vianney

Fr Vincent O’Hara OCD 

Even though most of your focus this week is on your own saint, the Curé of Ars, there are other saints’ feasts happening as the days go by, and they are worth paying attention to as well.  For all the saints have this in common that they were single-minded in their love of God and in the way they lived out the values of the Gospel, and in that way they are an inspiration to us still today.  As is this man today, St Laurence – we admire his courage in standing up for Christian values, even though it meant being condemned to a horrible death. 

One of the nice things about the saints is that they weren’t always saints!  And some of them were spectacular sinners!  As they say, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.  St Teresa of Avila used to say that there isn’t all that much good in the best of us, and not all that much bad in the worst of us, and none of us can look down on the rest of us! 

The saints were people who travelled the road we are on now and are now enjoying the fruits of their labours.  They are a timely reminder to us of what life is all about, and they broaden our horizon on what to expect from life – most of all that we have not here a lasting city, that our true home is in heaven. 

With the pace of life today we can be swamped by the materialism around us and the thousand and one things that claim our daily attention as we try to keep our head above water.  It’s easy enough to lose sight of the longer view and forget that, in the words of Tertullian, the Christian is a citizen of every country but at home in none. For many people today, even in our own country, the wisdom of the past is being replaced by a philosophy of “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”.  A frightening number of people are beginning to say that they do not believe in an after-life. 

So we need the example of the saint to lift our gaze beyond the visible and the immediate and to focus on what God has prepared for those who love him.  The saints were people whose lives mirrored God, whether they are canonised or not, for only a fraction of those in heaven are actually canonised.  There are many whose lives were ordinary and hidden from the public gaze, and yet whose lives were an immeasurable enrichment of the human spirit and an abiding inspiration to humankind. 

Some of them no doubt known to ourselves.  Think for a moment of the saints you have known in your own lifetime, or maybe living saints that you know at present – it might be a Granny or a social worker or a nun hidden away in her convent, but someone whose life speaks of you of God, whose life proclaims loud and clear that there is a God and shows you something of the face of God. 

The saints are those who show us that this life is a drop in the ocean compared to the eternity to follow, and they spur us on to greater things.None of us wants to be a failure – something within us strives for greatness, for something that will outlive the here and now.  St Therese felt something of it: “I felt within me a desire for greatness … but I soon realised that the only true glory is the glory that will last forever and to win that don’t need to live in the limelight, rather not let your right hand know … I wanted to devote myself to becoming a great saint”.  Cardinal Newman puts it starkly in his prayer: "Lord, if I am successful in everything else but fail to see you face to face, then all is failure, whereas if I fail in everything else but succeed in seeing you face to face then all is success”. 

It comes as no surprise that suffering figured prominently in the lives of all the saints, for no Christian follows Christ without sharing in the carrying of his cross, until his image is visible in us. The saints show us that suffering borne in union with the Crucified refines the human spirit and moulds us into the likeness of Christ. 

Saints are people who left footprints in the sands of time; they were people of flesh and blood who lived the beatitudes to the hilt, whose lives were an echo of the life of the Son of God; people who showed something of what Jesus was like in his values and in his dealings with people.  People who were luminous with the presence of God.‘Saint are people that the light shines through’. 

There are still saints around today.  Every age has its saints, every age needs its saints.  Saints never grow old – they show us that God’s power is still alive, that God continues to do new things. We can all say we have lived in the lifetime of saints, recognised as such by all – people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Brother Roger of Taize, Jean Vanier, a whole range of recent Popes …  And their works isn’t done yet, for they are constantly interceding for us before the throne of God.  We, with them, and those waiting for the vision of God, are part of the great communion of saints that is such a comforting reality for us all. 

To be saint, you don’t have to be in the limelight, or do extraordinary things. St Therese, the Little Flower, was fond of saying that happiness, and indeed holiness, consisted in ‘doing ordinary things with extraordinary love’.What Wordsworth calls ‘that best portion of a good man’s life: the little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love’. 

Jesus canonised the ordinary by living an ordinary life himself, for the most part.  It was no accident that God’s Son spent the vast portion of his life on this earth living the ordinary life of the people. The sheer ordinariness of those years in Nazareth, Jesus moving among the village people, working in the sweat of his brow, interacting with friends, going to funerals, experiencing the joys and sorrows of daily life, the ebb and flow of human existence.  A life of quiet service that was to prepare him for the big tasks ahead. 

What is God teaching us here?  Surely it is about the worth of every life, whatever the circumstances. ‘God in the bits and pieces of everyday’ (Kavanagh); ‘God among the pots and pans’ (St Teresa); God getting himself dirty at the coalface of human existence, so that nobody need feel left out.  It has been well said that God must love ordinary people – otherwise, he wouldn’t have made so many of them! 

Pope Francis has written about holiness in his latest long letter.  It’s a homely chat, which is his style, and the gist of it is that we are all called to be saints – it’s not reserved to the few.  And you don’t have to do extraordinary things, just ‘doing ordinary things with extraordinary love’ … Saintliness has many colours, and we are living among saints all the time, if we only knew it.  This little recitation, written by the late John D Sheridan, a quintessential Dubliner, is about two men who worked in Guinness’s in the old days.  And these are the reflections of one of them, about his colleague called Joe. It’s called ‘Joe’s No Saint’

Joe’s no saint, And I ought to know For I work at the bench alongside Joe. He loses his temper just like another – Days he’d bite the nose off his mother, And when 1 call for a pint of plain Joe’s not slow with ‘The same again.’ He gives an odd bob to the poor and needy But you wouldn’t call him gospel-greedy – You know what I mean?

So if there’s enquiries after he’s dead I won’t swear to no haloes around his head, For I never seen none. When all’s said and done I don’t suppose they give haloes out To fellows who like their bottle of stout.

All the same, though, I’m glad that I work alongside Joe. For in the morning time I lie on Long after Guinness’s whistle is gone And scarcely have time for a cup of tea – As for prayers, Well between you and me The prayers I say is no great load – A Hail Mary, maybe, on Conyngham Road – You know how it is? The horn blows on the stroke of eight And them that’s not in time is late; You mightn’t get a bus for ages, But if you clock late they dock your wages.

Joe, though, He’s never late at all, Though he lives at the far end of Upper Whitehall:

And I happen to know (For the wife’s cousin lives in the very same row) That he sets his alarm for half-past six, Shaves, and goes through the whole bag of tricks Just like a Sunday, Gets seven Mass in Gaeltacht Park And catches the half-seven bus in the dark. 

In ways, too, he’s not as well off as me, For he can’t go back home for a cup of tea – Just slips a flask in his overcoat pocket And swallows it down while he fills in his docket. I do see him munching his bread and cheese When I’m getting into my dungarees.

There isn’t a thing about him then To mark him off from the rest of men – At least, there’s nothing that I can see. But there must be something that’s hid from me For it’s not every eight-o’clock-man can say That he goes to the altar every day.

Maybe now you know Why I’m glad I work alongside Joe. For though I’m a Confraternity man And struggle along the best I can I haven’t much time for chapel or praying, And some of the prayers that Joe does be saying Those dark mornings must come my way. For if Joe there prays enough for three Who has more right to a tilly than me?

When my time comes and they lay me out I won’t have much praying to boast about: I don’t do much harm, but I don’t do much good, And my beads have an easier time than they should,

So when Saint Peter rattles his keys And says ‘What’s your record, if you please?’ I’ll answer ‘When I was down below I worked at a bench alongside Joe.’ Joe is no saint with a haloed ring, But I often think he’s the next best thing, And the bus that he catches at half-past seven Is bound for O’Connell Bridge … and Heaven

– You know what I mean?

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Homily preached on 4 August 2018 in St John Vianney Church, Artane, Dublin

by Bernard J. McGuckian S.J.

 

The Gospel we have just heard read must have made a deep impression on Saint John Vianney, patron saint of the parish here at Artane. Indeed the whole life of John the Baptist seems to have had a profound effect on him. He was baptized Jean-Marie but took John the Baptist as his patron at Confirmation. Today’s Gospel describes the death of the greatest of the prophets, the one called by God to give witness to the truth, something we are all called to do.  John simply reminded Herod of the Sixth Commandment, “it was against the law for you to have her”. Even that deplorably evil man seems to have had some qualms of conscience about what he did because when Jesus appeared on the scene he paid a compliment to the man he had so unjustly killed by wondering if Jesus might not just be John the Baptist risen from the dead.“ This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him”

I do not remember too many of the answers we learned in the Catechism many years ago but there is one that I do. “Am I obliged to keep an unlawful oath, as Herod did?” “No” was the answer “because I sinned in making it and I sin further in keeping it”. Isn’t supremely ironic that the man described by Jesus, Incarnate Truth itself, as the “greatest man ever born of a woman” should die at the hands of bouncers in the basement of a night-club!

So as an adult,our saint was he was known as Jean-Marie Baptist Vianney. He would have known very clearly what he was doing in taking that name because he was a mature adult of 21 years of age when he presented himself for Confirmation in the Cathedral in Lyons. (The Bishop who confirmed him was actually an uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte.) The reason for his delayed Confirmation was the disturbed state of his home country, France, while he was growing up. Both Church and Civilian life were totally disrupted by the ravages of the French Revolution. He was only two years old when it began in 1789. It was followed by the dictatorship of Napoleon which brought another form of hardship to a long-suffering people.  When Jean-Marie became parish priest of Ars, he expressed his devotion to John the Baptist by dedicating one of the Chapels in his Church at Ars to John the Baptist.Later, when people began making their way in their tens of thousands to Ars in a spirit of repentance, the very virtue preached by John the Baptist, he showed how highly the work of the Curé was valued in heaven by appearing to him. Few people, even among the saints, were honoured with a heavenly visitation from John the Baptist. Given the heroic nature of the life of St John Vianney, it was not inappropriate that he was accorded such a heavenly vision. At the other end of the spectrum, the powers of Hell hated what he was doing. It is well attested by others that Satan showed his hatred of the Curé by causing mayhem in his house. The Devil is reputed to have admitted to the Curé that Hell would make little progress in its campaign to destroy every one of us if there were at least two other priests like the Curé.

Three qualities that are the hall-marks of all genuine religion featured prominently in the life of our Saint: prayer, fasting and care for others. Prayer: You have nothing to fear either for or from the person who prays (St Augustine)…..Fasting: Satan is reputed to have mocked the Curé by calling him “Old one spud Vianney”.  He ate very little. But he didn’t sit in judgement on those who ate normally. One of his nieces said that he prepared a good meal for them when they came to visit him.He had a genuine concern for orphans, the sick, and the materially poor but it was particularly for the really poor, those entangled in the nets of sin that he felt the greatest concern. This was what led him to spend endless hours in the Confessional. He began at 1 a.m. with women’s confession until about 5 a.m. There were only women in the Church while this was going on. Mass came next and then he began hearing the confessions of the

men.  In the afternoon he did his work as a Parish Priest. He seems to have been available to people for most of the 24 hours except for a period from 12 midnight until 1 a.m.  People were prepared to wait for several days for their turn to confess to him. This went on for years.

The Curé of Ars was a martyr of the Confessional. He saw it as one of the greatest of God’s gifts to the human race. On the night Jesus first appeared to his Apostles as a group after his Resurrection, he said them:” Peace be with you”.

Then He showed them his hands and his side.

They were filled with joy

He said again “Peace be with you”. The two-fold offer of peace is significant. For St Augustine the hardest thing to do in this world is to make peace. This is true in every area of life: family, business, national and international life.  Without God, true lasting peace is not possible.

“As the Father sent Me, so am I sending you”….

He breathed on them and said

“Receive the Holy Spirit” but then He went on to say something that took his Apostles completely by surprise: “Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven them, whose sins you retain, they are retained”.  Nothing written in the Old Testament, to my knowledge, nor in the New, prepared the Apostles for this. That they, sinful men like everyone else, should be empowered to forgive sins must have come to them as a shock.

They were to sit in judgement upon other people, often people better than themselves. It took them time to digest this. For one thing they realized that it was a peculiar sort of judgement they were being asked to administer. Their role was not to decide how bad the action of a person was as is the case with a judge in an ordinary court. No. Their role was to assess how good the person was. In confession you are the one who decides how bad you are. You confess that you spoke unkindly of your neighbour or told a lie. So it is you who is accusing yourself. The priest may not know you from Adam or Eve. His job is to see how good you are. Goodness is revealed in sorrow, which is the flip-side of the coin of love. We are only sorry to the degree that we love.  No one understood this better than John Vianney the Curé of Ars.

 In the France of his time, he saw the poor people like sheep without a shepherd and he decided to dedicate every waking moment of his life to helping them. As a predominantly rural people (even most Dubliners are not too far removed from their country roots) we Irish have a sufficient knowledge of life in the country to know a few basics about sheep. There are a number of things that you can say about sheep. There is one simple thing that they cannot do and cats are doing all the time.  A cat can lick herself clean. Not sheep. They need to be dipped. The Curé of Ars ran a massive sheep-dip for the many who seemed to be without a shepherd. Henri Ghéon, a very intellectual French writer said of this little man, with admittedly a degree of exaggeration, that he converted the half of France and that if he had lived longer, he would have converted the whole of it!

Focailscoir: The effect of the life of the Curé in the parish of Ars may come as a surprise to us. There were relatively few priestly in vocations in Ars either during the life-time of the Curé or after it. But there was another lasting fruit: happily married couples with noticeably large families. It has been said that the glory of the celibate Catholic priesthood is happy and faithful families.  In due course, good priests will come from these families to carry on the saving work of great men like St John Baptist Vianney. 

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As part of the Year for Priests, the Bishops of Ireland arranged a visit of the Relics of St John Vianney
to Ireland from 25 – 29 April 2010.  Here is a video taken during the visit of the Relics to our parish.