Duty to Pray and to Love – John Vianney

St. John Vianney, the humble and simple Cure of Ars, on the glorious duty of man to pray.  He sees prayer, as intimate union with God in love, as producing serenity and sweetness.  And such experience is available to all, including simple lay people.

My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where our treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies.

The Serenity & Sweetness of Prayer, Intimate Union

Prayer is nothing else but union with God. When one has a heart that is pure and united with God, he is given a kind of serenity and sweetness that makes him ecstatic, a light that surrounds him with marvelous brightness. In this intimate union, God and soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can ever pull apart. This union of God with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is a happiness beyond understanding.

We had become unworthy to pray, but God in his goodness allowed us to speak with him. Our prayer is incense that gives him the greatest pleasure.

Prayer stretches the Heart

My little children, your hearts are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the soul and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.

Prayer also makes time pass quickly and with such great delight that one does not notice its length. Listen: Once when I was a purveyor in Bresse and most of my companions were ill, I had to make a long journey. I prayed to the good God, and, believe me, the time did not seem long.

Immerse Yourself Deeply

Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water,  because they give themselves totally to God. There is no division in their hearts. O, how I love these noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette used to see our Lord and talk to him just as we talk to one another.

How unlike them we are! How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for. And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go. And still worse, there are some who speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to you, and then I will be rid of you.”

I often think that when we come to adore the Lord, we would receive everything we ask for [Matthew 7:7], if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart.

The feast day of St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, is August 4 in the Roman Calendar.   This meditation on the glorious duty of prayer as intimate union with God in love comes from the Catechetical instructions by Saint John Mary Vianney (Catechisme sur la priere: A. Monnin, Esprit du Cure d’Ars, Paris 1899, pp. 87-89).  It appears in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings on August 4, the feast day of the Cure of Ars.

For more on how to pray in a way that leads to serenity and sweetness, see the PRAYER AND CONTEMPLATION section of the Crossroads Initiative Library.