Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia - Encyclical on The Priesthood - Pope John XXIII - Part 6

Model of Chastity

20. John M. Vianney was an outstanding model of voluntary mortification of the body as well as of detachment from external things. "There is only one way"—he used to say—"for anyone to devote himself to God as he should through self-denial and the practice of penance: that is by devoting himself to it completely." (31) Throughout his whole life, the holy Cure of Ars carried this principle into practice energetically in the matter of chastity.

21. This wonderful example of chastity seems to have special application to the priests of our time who—as is unfortunately the case in many regions—are often forced by the office they have assumed to live in the midst of a human society that is infected by a general looseness in morals and a spirit of unbridled lust. How often this phrase of St. Thomas Aquinas is proved true: "It is harder to lead a good life in the work of caring for souls, because of the external dangers involved" (32) To this We might add the fact that they often feel themselves cut off from the society of others and that even the faithful to whose salvation they are dedicated do not understand them and offer them little help or support in their undertakings.
22. We want to use this letter, Venerable Brethren, to exhort, again and again, all of them, and especially those who are working alone and in the midst of very serious dangers of this kind, to let their whole life, so to say, resound with the splendor of holy chastity; St. Pius X had good reason to call this virtue the "choicest adornment of our order." (33)

23. Venerable Brethren, do all you can and spare no effort to see to it that the clergy entrusted to your care may enjoy living and working conditions that will best foster and be of service to their ardent zeal. This means that every effort should be exerted to eliminate the dangers that arise from too great an isolation, to issue timely warnings against unwise or imprudent actions, and last of all to check the dangers of idleness or of too much external activity. In this regard, you should recall the wise directives issued by Our immediate Predecessor in the Encyclical Sacra Virginitas. (34)

St. John Vianney on Chastity

24. It is said that the face of the Pastor of Ars shone with an angelic purity. (35) And even now anyone who turns toward him in mind and spirit cannot help being struck, not merely by the great strength of soul with which this athlete of Christ reduced his body to slavery, (36) but also by the great persuasive powers he exercised over the pious crowds of pilgrims who came to him and were drawn by his heavenly meekness to follow in his footsteps. From his daily experiences in the Sacrament of Penance he got an unmistakable picture of the terrible havoc that is wrought by impure desire. This was what brought cries like these bursting from his breast: "If there were not very innocent souls to please God and make up for our offenses, how many terrible punishments we would have to suffer!" His own observations in this regard led him to offer this encouragement and advice to his hearers: "The works of penance abound in such delights and joys that once they have been tasted, nothing will ever again root them out of the soul.... Only the first steps are difficult for those who eagerly choose this path." (37)

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