From the Director’s Desk
The Love of the Heart of Jesus
I recently had the privilege, on several occasions, of accompanying the incorrupt heart of St. Jean Marie Vianney as it began its pilgrimage around the United States. Praying with the heart of St. Jean Vianney as a priest, I began to glimpse the deep love of the Father through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was this love that impelled St. Jean Vianney to daily undertake the mission of his pastoral office. It was he who beautifully described our vocation when he said, “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
As ministers of the Gospel, we are called to a renewed coherence in living out the Beatitudes as the way to salvation. In this ministry, St. Jean Vianney models sacrificial love. Pope St. John XXIII wrote: “Following in the footsteps of the great apostles of all ages, [Vianney] knew that the best and most effective way for him to contribute to the salvation of those who would be entrusted to his care was through the cross. It was for them that he put up with all sorts of calumnies, prejudices and opposition, without complaint; for them that he willingly endured the sharp discomforts and annoyances of mind and body that were forced upon him”(Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, 71).
Calling him an “athlete of Christ” who “fought off the powers of hell,” the pope continued: “Almost everyone knows [Vianney’s] answer to the priest who complained to him that his apostolic zeal was bearing no fruit: ‘You have offered humble prayers to God, you have wept, you have groaned, you have sighed. Have you added fasts, vigils, sleeping on the floor, castigation of your body? Until you have done all of these, do not think that you have tried everything’” (72).
It is fitting that the Knights of Columbus were asked to be the custodians of the heart of St. Jean Vianney on its pilgrimage across America beginning in 2018. The timing was providential, as it marked the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his arrival in the village of Ars in 1818.
At the time, St. Jean remarked to the boy who guided him to the parish church, “You have shown me the way to the Church. I will show you the way to heaven.” For the next 41 years — until his death — St. Jean Vianney showed forth the love of the Father to those who came near and far. As we begin the new year, may each of us show forth the love of the heart of the Jesus to all whom we encounter. And may our efforts to lead our brother Knights and their families to Christ bear patient fruit by God’s grace and our faithful efforts. Vivat Jesus!
For a schedule of the relic tour and resources on St. Jean Vianney, visit kofc.org/vianney.