In the book, The Sermons of The Cure of Ars, (Tan Publications), we have an old school saint encouraging others to be old school too! He mentions the older days than even his day! On page 200, Saint John Vianney said:
“In the early days of the Church, the faith of one province, or district, used to come together publicly on the feast day of a saint in order to have the happiness of participating in all the graces which God bestows on such days. The office of the vigil was started. The evening and night were spent in prayer at the tomb of the Saint. The faithful heard the word of God. They sang hymns and canticles in honor of the saint. After passing the night so devoutly, they heard Mass, at which all those assisting had the happiness of going to Holy Communion. Then they all withdrew, praising God for the triumphs He had accorded the Saint and the graces He had bestowed in response to the latter’s intercession. After that, my dear brethren, who could doubt that God pours out His graces with abundance upon such a reunion of the faithful and that the Saints themselves are happy to be the patrons of such people. That was the way in which the feast days of Patron Saints were celebrated in olden times.”
Now most days, we can’t visit tombs right around the corner. At least not for me in Virginia that I know of. But this is a great invitation to gather together to pray, sing, meditate, hear a talk, discuss the life of the saint, go to Confession, hear Mass…all for just one Saint! This brings my mind and heart to youth ministry retreats/conferences (both when I was a youth as well as being an adult leader). Or in college getting these more frequently in campus ministry. Many families are great to practice family traditions for particular feast days. St. John Vianney is affirming all this. Now on the next page of the same book, he gives us more suggestions:
“You should pass the night in repentance and remorse, in considering how very little you have followed the example of your Patron Saint…
Do parents and friends come, as in former times, to enjoy the happiness of participating in the graces which God bestows at the intercession of a Patron Saint?
In former times, the religious services were much longer than they are today, and still they seemed always too short.”
At first, I was thrown off by the “repentance and remorse”, but then realized that it would be just on the Vigil and then you can celebrate on the day of!
And there you have it, folks! Saint John Vianney, patron saint of Parish Priests…pray for us.
Going even older school than St. John Vianney’s day, (that sounds prideful, but I’m still gonna do it)