Saint John Vianney had a tough go of it in becoming a priest. His meager early education left him without adequate academic skills necessary for the seminary and His inability to master Latin too was a great obstacle.Born at the time of the French Revolution the church was under attack from the population, many times as a youth his mass attendance was in secret.Drafted into Napoleons Army towards the latter part of the war; an illness kept him from his first enrollment and a missed appointment kept him from the second; with that the threat desertion charges kept him in hiding. In Seminary his academics were so challenged that he nearly was let go, but a priest convinced the seminary to allow him to continue due to his devotion to Christ. Needles to say since he was not the most successful of students, when it came time to receive assignments he was sent somewhere he could do little harm. That place was the small parish of Ars, France; population 230 .
It seemed though that this simple minded priest was just what this religiously challenged population needed. The French Revolution had addressed the political and social structure of the country. The Church had been a great part of the Political landscape; and a large part of the revolution was against its power and its wealth.France was moving towards a secular society. Perhaps in that great struggle that was going on nationwide, the personal struggles of John Vianney proved to be his greatest asset. In the turmoil of the revolution, perhaps a eloquently educated Priest of letters would have raised suspicion or even contempt, being socially and intellectually so far removed from struggling small town parishioners. Perhaps rather than academics it was simplicity and sincerity that won these town-folks over. While the cure of Ars might have been challenged in the academics of Christianity, he was a champion in the practice of the faith, and he could guide his flock in that faith in a language they could understand. He understood Christ and he lived his teachings.John Vianney understood Jesus’s language,he understood what it meant when he said: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
IN that town of Ars, population 230; John Vianney greeted 20,000 pilgrims and was known to spend 10 hours listening to their confessions. Perhaps John Vianney’s greatest skill in academics was something his teachers failed to grasp, the value of humble sincerity and the faithful practice of what you preach