Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia - Encyclical on The Priesthood - Pope John XXIII - Part 9

Prayer in the Life of St. John Vianney

36. How timely and how profitable this example of constant prayer on the part of a man completely dedicated to caring for the needs of souls is for priests in Our own day, who are likely to attribute too much to the effectiveness of external activity and stand ready and eager to immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of the ministry, to their own spiritual detriment!

37. "The thing that keeps us priests from gaining sanctity"—the Cure of Ars used to say— "is thoughtlessness. It annoys us to turn our minds away from external affairs; we don't know what we really ought to do. What we need is deep reflection, together with prayer and an intimate union with God." The testimony of his life makes it clear that he always remained devoted to his prayers and that not even the duty of hearing confessions or any other pastoral office could cause him to neglect them. "Even in the midst of tremendous labors, he never let up on his conversation with God." (48)

38. But listen to his own words; for he seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of them whenever he talked about the happiness or the advantages that he found in prayer: "We are beggars who must ask God for everything"; (49) "How many people we can call back to God by our prayers!" (50) And he used to say over and over again: "Ardent prayer addressed to God: this is man's greatest happiness on earth!'' (5l)

39. And he enjoyed this happiness abundantly when his mind rose with the help of heavenly light to contemplate the things of heaven and his pure and simple soul rose with all its deepest love from the mystery of the Incarnation to the heights of the Most Holy Trinity. And the crowds of pilgrims who surrounded him in the temple could feel something coming forth from the depths of the inner life of this humble priest when words like these burst forth from his inflamed breast, as they often did: "To be loved by God, to be joined to God, to walk before God, to live for God: O blessed life, O blessed death!" (52)

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