Tuesday, 9 September 2014

IF MAN KNEW HIS RELIGION - From A Sermon By St John Vianney

Neither wealth, nor honours, nor vanity can make a man happy during his life on earth, but only attachment to the service of God, when we are fortune enough to realise that and to carry it out properly. The woman who is held in contempt by her husband is not unhappy in her state because she is held in contempt but because she does not know her religion or because she does not practice what her religion tells her she should do. Teach her religion, and from the moment that you see her practice it, she will cease to complain and to consider herself unhappy. Oh! How happy man would be, even on this earth, if he knew his religion!

What power that person who is near to God possesses when he loves Him and serves Him faithfully! Alas, my dear brethren, anyone who is despised by worldly people, who appears to be unimportant and humble, look at him when he masters the very will and power of God Himself. Look at a Moses, who compels the Lord to grant pardon to three hundred thousand men who were indeed guilty. Look at Josue, who commanded the sun to stand still and the sun became immobile, a thing which never happened before and which perhaps will never happen again. Look at the Apostles: simply because they loved God, the devils fled before them, the lame walked, the blind saw, the dead arose to life. Look at St. Benedict, who commanded the rocks to stop in their course and they remained hanging in midair. Look at him who multiplied bread, who made water come out of rocks, and who disposed of the stones and the forest as easily as if they were wisps of straw. Look at a St. Francis of Paula who commands the fish to come to hear the word of God and they respond to his call with such loyalty that they applaud his words. Look at a St. John who commands the birds to keep silent and they obey him. Look at many others who walk the seas without any human aid. Very well! Now take a look at all those impious people and all those famous ones of the world with all their wit and all their knowledge for achieving everything. Alas! Of what are they really capable? Nothing at all.

And why not? Unless it is because they are not attached to the service of God.

But how powerful and how happy at the same time is the person who knows his religion and who practices what it commands.

Alas, my dear brethren, the man who lives according to the direction of his passions and abandons the service of God is both unhappy and capable of so little! Put an army of one hundred thousand men around a dead man and let them employ all their power to bring him back to life. No, no, my dear children, he will not come to life again. But let someone who is despised by the world, but who enjoys the friendship of God, command this dead man to take up life again; immediately you will see him arise and walk. We have other proofs of this, too. If it were necessary to be wealthy or to be very learned to serve God, a great many people would be unable to do it. But, no, my dear children, extensive learning or great wealth are not at all necessary for the service of God. On the contrary, they are often a very big obstacle to it. Yes, my dear brethren, let us be rich or poor, in whatever state we may be, learned or otherwise, we can please God and save our souls....

Listen to me for one moment and you will see that only the service of God will console us and make us happy in the midst of all the miseries of life. To accomplish it, you do not need to leave either your belongings, or your parents, or even your friends, unless they are leading you to sin. You have no need to go and spend the rest of your lives in the desert to weep there for your sins. If that were necessary for us, indeed, we should be very happy to have such a remedy for our ills. But no, a father and a mother of a family can serve God by living with their children and bringing them up in a Christian way. A servant can very easily serve God and his master, with nothing to stop him.

No, my dear brethren, the way of life which means serving God changes nothing in all that we have to do. On the contrary, we simply do better all the things we must do.