Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sermon of Jean-Marie Vianney, Holy Priest of the Most High God: Our Work is to Pray


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My dear brethren, not only is prayer very efficacious, but, even more, it is of the utmost necessity for overcoming the enemies of our salvation. Look at all the saints: they were not content with watching and fighting to overcome the enemies of their salvation and with keeping well away from all that could offer temptation to them. They passed their whole lives in prayer, not only the day, but very often the whole night. Yes, my dear children, we will watch over ourselves and all the motions of our hearts in vain, in vain we will avoid temptation if we do not pray; if we do not have continual recourse to prayer, all our other ways will be of no use at all to us and we shall be overcome. We can see plainly that in the world there are a great many occasions when we cannot run away; for example, a child cannot run away from the society of his parents because of their bad example. But he can pray, and his prayer will sustain him.

Even supposing that we could run away from people who give us bad example, we cannot run away from ourselves, who are our biggest enemy. If our Lord does not watch over our preservation, all of our efforts will come to nothing. No, my children, we shall not find any sinner who may be converted who has not recourse to prayer, not one who will persevere without having very great recourse to prayer, and we shall never find a Christian damned whose downfall did not commence with a lack of prayer. We can see too how much the Devil fears those who pray, since there is no moment of the day when he tempts us more than at prayer. He does everything he possibly can to prevent us from praying. When the Devil wants to make someone lose his soul, he starts out by inspiring in him a profound distaste for prayer. However good a Christian he may be, if the Devil succeeds in making him either say his prayers badly or neglect them altogether, he is certain to have him for himself. If you wish to understand this even better, consider since when you have been unable to resist whatever temptations the Devil put in your way and since when you have left the door of your hearts open to the four winds -- is it not since you began to get careless with your prayers, or have been saying them from habit, by routine only, or just to get rid of them, and not to please God? Yes, my dear brethren, from the moment that we neglect them, we move with big steps towards Hell: we shall never return to God if we do not have recourse to prayer. Yes, my dear children, with a prayer well said, we can command Heaven and earth, and all will obey us.

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?



What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?

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