Here are a few sermons from the St. John Vianney, in honor of his Feast Day. A powerful preacher, our blessed saint fearlessly proclaims the gospel and with great charity instructs the faithful.
THE GIFT OF EVERY DAY
Before beginning your work, my dear brethren, never fail to make the Sign of the Cross. Do not imitate those people without religion who dare not do this because they are in company. Offer quite simply all your difficulties to God and renew from time to time this offering, for by that means you will have the happiness of drawing down the blessing of Heaven on yourself and on all you do. Just think, my dear brethren, how many acts of virtue you can practice by behaving in this way, without making any change in what you are actually doing. If you work with the object of pleasing God and obeying His Commandments, which order you to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, that is an act of obedience. If you want to expiate your sins, you are making an act of penance. If you want to obtain some grace for yourself or for others, it is an act of hope and of charity. Oh, how we could merit Heaven every day, my dear brethren, by doing just our ordinary duties, but by doing them for God and the salvation of our souls! Who stops you, when you hear the chimes striking, from thinking on the shortness of time and of saying in your minds: "Time passes and death comes closer.
I am hastening towards eternity. Am I really ready to appear before the tribunal of God? Am I not in a state of sin?"
THE PUBLIC CROSSES
I am going to talk to you now about the public crosses, and I am going to give you the reason for their number, for the blessings which flow from them, and for the great honour which the Church pays them. If our interior crosses are so numerous and if the public crosses, these images of that Cross on which our God died, are also so numerous, it is that we may have always present in our thoughts the reminder that we are the children of a crucified God.
We need not be surprised, my dear brethren, at the honour which the Church pays to this holy wood, which obtains for us so many graces and so many benefits. We see that the Church makes the Sign of the Cross in all her ceremonies, in the administration of all the Sacraments. Why is that? My friends, this is why. It is because all our prayers and all the Sacraments draw from the Cross their power and their virtue. During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the greatest, the most solemn and the most sublime of all those actions which can glorify God, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over and over again. God desires that we may never lose the memory of it as the surest means of our salvation and the most formidable instrument for repelling the Devil. He has created us in the form of a cross so that every man might be the image of this cross upon which Jesus Christ died to save us. See how eager the Church is to increase their number? She urges them as a special embellishment on our churches and on all altars; she places them in the most public places.
THE DUTIES OF THE MOTHER
You should never have your children sleeping with you from the time they are two years old. If you do, you are committing a sin. The Church did not make this law without reason. You are bound to observe it.
But, you will say to me, sometimes it is very cold or we are very tired.
All that, my dear brethren, is not a reason which could excuse you in the eyes of God. Besides, when you married, you knew quite well that you would be obliged to fulfil certain responsibilities and obligations which are attached to the married state.
Still, my dear brethren, there are fathers and mothers who are so little instructed in their religion or who are so indifferent to their duties that they will have sleeping with them children from fifteen to eighteen years of age, and often brothers and sisters together. Dear Lord! These poor fathers and mothers are in a terrible state of ignorance! But, you will say, we have no bed.
You have no bed? But it would be better to let them sleep on a chair or in a neighbour's house. Dear Lord! The parents and children who damn themselves! But I will return to my subject and repeat to you that all the time that you allow your children to sleep with you after they have reached two years of age, you are offending God. How many mothers are there who have found their children smothered in the morning! How many mothers are present to whom this calamity has happened! And even if the good God has preserved you from it, you are no less guilty than if, every time your children slept with you, you found them smothered in the morning. You do not wish to agree with this, that is to say, you do not wish to correct it. We will wait until the Judgment, and you will be obliged to recognise what you do not wish to recognise today.
There are mothers who have so little religion or, if you like, are so ignorant that if they want to show off their baby to some neighbouring mothers, they will show it to them naked. Others, when they are putting on diapers, will leave the babies, for a long period of time, uncovered before everyone. Now even if there is no one present at all, you should not do this. Should you not respect the presence of their Guardian Angels? It is the same thing when you are feeding them. Should any Christian mother allow her breasts to remain exposed? And even if they are covered, should she not turn aside to some place where there is no one else? Then there are others who, under the pretext of being foster-nurses, are continually only half-covered. This is very disgusting. It is enough to make even the pagans blush. People are compelled to avoid their company in order not to expose themselves to evil thoughts.
But, you will say to me, even if everyone is around, we must feed our children and change their diapers when they cry! And I shall tell you that when they cry, you ought to do everything you possibly can to quieten them but that it is a far better thing to let them cry a little than to offend God. Alas! How many mothers are the cause of evil glances, of bad thoughts, of immodest touches! Tell me, are these the Christian mothers who should be so reserved? Oh, dear God! What judgment should they expect? Others are so cruel that they let their children run around for the whole morning, during the summer, only half-dressed. Tell me, unhappy people, would it not be better for you to take your places among the savage beasts? Where is your religion, then, and your anxiety to do your duty? Alas! As far as religion is concerned, you have none. As for your duties, have you ever known what they were? That you have not, you give proof every day. Ah, poor children, how unfortunate you are to belong to such parents!
THE DUTIES OF PARENTS
I warned you that you should be sure to keep a watchful eye over your children when you send them out to the fields, for out there, far away from you, they can give themselves over to whatever the Devil may put into their minds.
What if I dared to tell you that they carry on with all sorts of ugly and immodest practices, that they pass most of the day in all sorts of abominable ways? I know very well that the majority of them do not know the evil which they do -- but wait until they do acquire that knowledge. At that moment the Devil will not fail to remind them of what they have done in order to make them commit that sin or others. Do you know, my dear brethren, what your negligence or your ignorance produces?
Look at it, then, and keep it in mind. A large number of the children that you send out to the fields make their First Holy Communion sacrilegiously. They have contracted shameful habits, and either they dare not confess them or they do not give them up. Later, if a priest who does not wish to damn them refuses them absolution, people will reproach him and say: "That's because it's my child...."
Go away, you wretched sinners, and watch a little more carefully over your children and they will not be refused. Yes, indeed, I am telling you that the great majority of your children began their bad ways and earned their later rejection during the time when they went out to the fields.