Appleton, WI

August 4: Day by Day with Father Bill

-from a Letter by Pope Benedict XVI proclaiming a Year for Priests on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Saint Father John Vianney

Father John Vianney arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there. As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody Christ’s presence and to bear witness to his saving mercy. Lord grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life! . . . The Cure knew how to live actively within the entire territory of the parish…and enlisted lay persons to work at his side. His example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of cooperation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priest and laity together make up one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, ‘loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honor.’ (Romans 12:10) Here we ought to recall the Second Vatican Council’s hearty encouragement to priests to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of  the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church’s mission…They should be willing to listen to lay people, give consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times.