At the invitation of Bishop Mark Davies, the heart of St John Vianney is in the Northwest of England this week, in the diocese of Shrewsbury, Salford, and then at Liverpool Cathedral and finally, Oscott Seminary in Birmingham. We don't seem to have had too much publicity about the events and I can't seem to find any information on the Liverpool Archdiocese website about it.
I've heard that the liberal mafia are issuing condemnations aplenty, complaining that its gruesome and gory and old-fashioned and might frighten the children, so why is it here in the 21st century? I won't rehearse all the obvious spiritual, human and emotional reasons that make relics relevant. However, the relic is here at the express invitation of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, as well as the Archbishop of Liverpool and the Bishop of Salford. Bishop Mark Davies says in his pastoral letter:
The point is to find a concrete way to unite us with the fervour and faith of a great and faithful priest. Again, Bishop Davies reminds us:The answer is found in the witness of popes across the past century including our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, and his Blessed predecessor John Paul II who have wished to raise up this Saint in the sight of the whole Church.
We might think of pastoral planning simply in terms of the re-structuring of parishes and Mass times but St John Vianney points us far beyond these practical measures to the real pastoral goals we must never lose sight of: that is, drawing closer to Christ in our lives, and reaching our final goal, Heaven.
The ultimate purpose of the Church, of the Priesthood, of the Sacraments - to reach our final goal of Heaven. A timely reminder that we don't hear enough about. The purpose of a priest is to help people get to Heaven. As a priest, even if I'm not doing a great job of getting there myself, I can help others by telling them what the Church teaches (about how to get to Heaven) and administering the Sacraments to give them the grace to do it. Like the great Curé, the simple truths of the Church are the unfailing and God-given way: love of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Confession and love of the Church through whom they are given to us.