St Jean Vianney (8 May 1786 – 4 August 1859) was Parish Priest of Ars in France. In his time there he managed to bring about a complete spiritual revival of the town and the surrounding areas and spent his whole life ministering the sacraments to his flock. He was canonised in 1925 by Pope Pius XI and is the patron saint of Parish Priests and Confessors.
My children, all beings in creation require to be fed, that they may live; for this purpose God has made trees and plants grow; it is a well-served table, to which all animals come and take the food which suits each one. But the soul also must be fed. Where, then, is its food? My brethren, the food of the soul is God. Ah! what a beautiful thought! The soul can feed on nothing but God. Only God can suffice for it; only God can fill it; only God can satiate its hunger; it absolutely requires its God! There is in all houses a place where the provisions of the family are kept; it is the store-room. The church is the home of souls; it is the house belonging to us, who are Christians. Well, in this house there is a store-room. Do you see the tabernacle? If the souls of Christians were asked, “What is that?” your souls would answer, “It is the store-room.”
There is nothing so great, my children, as the Eucharist! Put all the good works in the world against one good Communion; they will be like a grain of dust beside a mountain. Make a prayer when you have the good God in your heart; the good God will not be able to refuse you anything, if you offer Him His Son, and the merits of His holy death and Passion. My children, if we understood the value of Holy Communion, we should avoid the least faults, that we might have the happiness of making it oftener. We should keep our souls always pure in the eyes of God. My children, I suppose that you have been to confession today, and you will watch over yourselves; you will be happy in the thought that tomorrow you will have the joy of receiving the good God into your heart. Neither can you offend the good God tomorrow; your soul will be all embalmed with the precious Blood of Our Lord. Oh, beautiful life!
O my children, how beautiful will a soul be in eternity that has worthily and often received the good God! The Body of Our Lord will shine through our body, His adorable Blood through our blood; our soul will be united to the Soul of Our Lord during all eternity. There it will enjoy pure and perfect happiness. My children, when the soul of a Christian who has received Our Lord enters paradise, it augments the joy of Heaven. The Angels and the Queen of Angels come to meet it, because they recognize the Son of God in that soul. Then will that soul be rewarded for the pains and sacrifices it will have endured in its life on earth. My children, we know when a soul has worthily received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, it is so drowned in love, so penetrated and changed, that it is no longer to be recognised in its words or its actions. . . . It is humble, it is gentle, it is mortified, charitable, and modest; it is at peace with everyone. It is a soul capable of the greatest sacrifices; in short, you would not know it again.
Go, then, to Communion, my children; go to Jesus with love and confidence; go and live upon Him, in order to live for Him! Do not say that you have too much to do. Has not the Divine Saviour said, “Come to Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you”? Can you resist an invitation so full of love and tenderness? Do not say that you are not worthy of it. It is true, you are not worthy of it; but you are in need of it. If Our Lord had regarded our worthiness, He would never have instituted His beautiful Sacrament of love: for no one in the world is worthy of it, neither the saints, nor the angels, nor the archangels, nor the Blessed Virgin; but He had in view our needs, and we are all in need of it. Do not say that you are sinners, that you are too miserable, and for that reason you do not dare to approach it. I would as soon hear you say that you are very ill, and therefore you will not take any remedy, nor send for the physician.
All the prayers of the Mass are a preparation for Communion; and all the life of a Christian ought to be a preparation for that great action. We ought to labour to deserve to receive Our Lord every day. How humbled we ought to feel when we see others going to the holy table, and we remain motionless in our place! How happy is a guardian angel who leads a beautiful soul to the holy table! In the primitive Church they communicated every day. When Christians had grown cold, they substituted blessed bread for the Body of Our Lord; this is both a consolation and a humiliation. It is indeed blessed bread; but it is not the Body and Blood of Our Lord!There are some who make a spiritual communion every day with blessed bread. If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it, as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment; for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God. Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out, but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again. After the reception of the Sacraments, when we feel ourselves slacken in the love of God, let us have recourse at once to spiritual communion. When we cannot come to church, let us turn towards the tabernacle: a wall cannot separate us from the good God; let us say five Paters and five Aves to make a spiritual communion. We can receive the good God only once a day; a soul on fire with love supplies for this by the desire to receive Him every moment. O man, how great thou art! fed with the Body and Blood of a God! Oh, how sweet a life is this life of union with the good God! It is Heaven upon earth; there are no more troubles, no more crosses! When you have the happiness of having received the good God, you feel a joy, a sweetness in your heart for some moments. Pure souls feel it always, and in this union consists their strength and their happiness.