"Do you sacrifice yourself for them?"

I recently heard a story told about St. John Vianney who is the patron of priests. St. John's parish was always filled to capacity and boasted endless confessional lines. Authentic conversion was spreading like wildfire. The pastor of a neighboring town worked feverishly to achieve the same kind of success and conversion in his people. He preached and worked and did all that he could think of to draw souls to his church and only ended up frustrated. He approached St. John Vianney with his dilemma and a question. "What am I doing wrong? What have I left undone?" The great and humble saint replied: "Do you sacrifice yourself for them?"

When I heard this question asked 200 years ago to a priest struggling to build up his parish house, I knew it also applied directly to my home. How many sleepless nights do I spend worrying over my children? How many lectures do I deliver? How many parenting books or articles do I read? How many times have I torn through the house frantically trying to bring everything together? and how much energy do I expend fretting over parenting concerns? If you're like me, you spend a great deal of time occupied with these things. We begin to feel a bit out of control. Their free will kicks in and it seems that we are preaching to brick walls. We wonder if we can really get the job done.

But "do I sacrifice myself for them?" Like St. John Vianney poured out his life for his flock? As Christ did for us?

I guess the honest answer is that I often fancy that I do...but, in fact, I am generally running like mad away from any serious sacrifice that presents itself to me.

But I wish to build a household of great faith and love through Christ. To accomplish this, I must follow His example until I am entirely poured out.

Instead of embracing my weakness and inviting His strength, I attempt to build up strength on my own power. And then wonder why I fall. But every day is a new opportunity. Every minute a time to embrace conversion. Today is a new day. God is good and His life is joy! His strength is available to me for the asking. Blessed be the Lord!
Posted on June 24, 2010 and filed under "St. John Vianney".