Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Heart of a Priest

Today we went to venerate the heart of St John Marie Vianney at Oscott College. The 'Invocations' Conference was just finishing and the grounds were overflowing with priests, nuns, brothers and religious, not to mention many young people who had attended to find out more about their own vocation. His Lordship, Bishop Mark Davies was also there. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed and hundreds of people had come on pilgrimage with their own prayers and petitions. We only had a very few minutes of private prayer in front of St John Marie Vianney's heart, before we had to move on, and it was hard to think what to say to him. So I prayed for all the priests I know, for my Uncle, the Oratorians, Fr David Standen, Fr Julian Booth, Fr Stephen Goodman and then I had to add that bit from the end of confession when you might have forgotten something, only I asked St John Vianney to pray for any other priests I might have forgotten. Then, it was time to keep moving. I just finished reading Come Rack Come Rope, by Robert Hugh Benson, so ther were thoughts of lots of other priests in my mind, as well as all the priests coming into the chapel to venerate the relic. I remembered how St John Marie Vianney had to keep his faith under cover at first because of the French Revolution and so he knew what all the priest martyrs of the Reformation in England must have suffered. Then I though about another John, Blessed John Henry Newman, who was pretty much a contemporary of St John Marie Vianney, and how Blessed John Henry was very clever, but Saint John struggled with his studies. Then I thought that it wasn't his brain we were venerating, but his heart and Blessed John Henry Newman's motto is not about brains, but Heart speaks unto Heart. So I prayed John Henry Newman's prayer with St John Marie Vianney for all priests, for me and for my family:

O most tender and gentle Lord Jesus, when will my heart have a portion of Thy perfections? When will my hard and stony heart my proud heart, my unbelieving, my impure heart, my narrow selfish heart, be melted and conformed to Thine? O teach me so to contemplate Thee, that I may become like Thee, and to love Thee sincerely and simply as Thou hast loved me.

 Blessed John Henry Newman

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