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Posted April 12, 2010

Book: The Grace of Ars
Author: Fr. Frederick L. Miller
Ignatius Press. San Francisco, CA. 2010. Pp. 211

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

St. John Vianney, the famous Cure of Ars, is the patron saint of all parish priests. Pope Benedict XVI has held him up as the role model to follow in the recently declared Year of the Priests (2009-2010). Priests and seminarians who wish to strengthen their commitment to the priesthood as well as men who are discerning the call of Christ in their lives will be inspired and encouraged by reflection on the life and vocation of the great Cure of Ars.

. . .Through beautiful reflections that focus on many aspects of the life of Vianney, we learn what it means to be a priest during difficult times. The saint lived out his priesthood in the aftermath of the French Revolution; a very difficult time for Catholic priests in France. This book reveals that specific Grace of Ars — the unique movement of God that drew hundreds of thousands of people to Ars during his life there to receive the sacrament of reconciliation from Vianney and find peace with God and neighbor.

Including eight pages of color illustrations, this is a treasury of spiritual wisdom that will take you along on a pilgrimage to the very placer where St. John Vianney labored so long and so heroically for the good of souls and the love of God, often in direct battle with Satan. The reader will have the experience of making a retreat in the presence of the saintly Cure, and be able to ponder the Grace of Ars, in particular what he has to say to his fellow priests of the twenty-first century; another difficult time for those who seek to be faithful to their promises to God and build up the Church of Christ.

An Excerpt from the Book:

There are three temptations that priests and future priests need to recognize and fight against in their lives.

. . .The first temptation is a fixation on “stuff.” Because the diocesan priest in the United States, wherever he may live, has more than enough money, it is easy for him to live as a gentleman of the upper middle class, a comfortable bachelor. Let us ponder the sad and empty song of clerical materialism. The foundation of the melody is clerical entitlement. It goes something like this: “For all my sacrifices, I deserve a fine car, the best restaurants, expensive vacations, a house in the country or at the shore, all the latest electronic devices, a stout portfolio of stocks an bonds, a television in nearly every room, a well-stocked liquor cabinet, a pet or pets, a steady round of golf at fancy country clubs, and, needless to say, a rectory more lavish in its appointments than most other residences in the parish.”

. . .Second, there is the clerical temptation to put honors at the center of everything. . .

A particularly lethal form of this temptation is lust for the episcopacy, a vice that surely never entered the mind of the Cure of Ars, who was sufficiently overwhelmed by the grace and responsibilities of the priesthood.

. . .Finally, there is the temptation to create a personality cult. All priests are leaders of God’s people. We may say that many priests and seminarians are “alpha males:, men wired to lead. This is, in a sense, the way it should be. However, it is possible for a pastor to enjoy his leadership position much more than he should.

Table of Contents:

1. The pilgrimage to Ars

2. The call of Christ

3. Consecration to Christ: priestly ordination

4. The priest: a man configured to Jesus Christ

5. Saint John Vianney: a rich man without a penny

6. Saint John Vianney: A celibate man with scores of children

7. Saint John Vianney: model of obedience of Christ

8. The sacrament of reconciliation as a re-presentation of the Passion of Christ

9. The sacred alliance of the Blessed Virgin and the priest

10. Saint John Vianney: Icon of the divine bridgegroom of the Church


1. Benedict XVI, Letter proclaiming a year of priests on the 150th anniversary of the “Dies Natalis of the Cure of Ars

2. John Paul II, Letter on the Cure of Ars

3. John XXIII, Encyclical on St. John Vianney Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia

4. Novena to Saint John Vianney, by Father Anthony Manuppella