Pilgrim Queen August, 2017 Pilgrimage
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It’s​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​August.​ ​​ ​Already.​ ​​ ​Summer​ ​is​ ​my​ ​time​ ​to​ ​accomplish​ ​those​ ​projects​ ​I​ ​put​ ​off​ ​for the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​year.​ ​​ ​I​ ​begin​ ​well--​ ​with​ ​a​ ​prioritized​ ​to-do​ ​list.​ ​​ ​But​ ​then​ ​I​ ​start​ ​working,​ ​and things​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​fall​ ​apart.​ ​​ ​For​ ​example,​ ​I​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​organize​ ​THAT​ ​closet,​ ​the​ ​one​ ​that​ ​is​ ​always a​ ​mess.​ ​​ ​So​ ​I​ ​start​ ​sorting​ ​out​ ​the​ ​things​ ​that​ ​don’t​ ​belong.​ ​​ ​That​ ​pile​ ​quickly​ ​becomes​ ​bigger than​ ​the​ ​one​ ​left​ ​on​ ​the​ ​shelf.​ ​​ ​And​ ​when​ ​I​ ​go​ ​to​ ​put​ ​those​ ​things​ ​in​ ​their​ ​proper​ ​places,​ ​I​ ​find​ ​I have​ ​to​ ​reorganize​ ​the​ ​new​ ​spots​ ​to​ ​make​ ​room.​ ​​ ​So​ ​I​ ​end​ ​up​ ​with,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​one​ ​project​ ​to cross​ ​off​ ​the​ ​list,​ ​ten​ ​more​ ​projects​ ​that​ ​are​ ​unfolding.​ ​​ ​I​ ​never​ ​finish​ ​one​ ​of​ ​them.​ ​​ ​Starting​ ​is​ ​one thing,​ ​but​ ​finishing​ ​is​ ​something​ ​entirely​ ​different.

It​ ​takes​ ​determination​ ​to​ ​finish​ ​what​ ​I’ve​ ​started.​ ​​ ​Marathon​ ​runner​ ​John​ ​Stephen​ ​Akhwari​ ​can teach​ ​me​ ​something​ ​about​ ​determination.​ ​​ ​In​ ​1968​ ​the​ ​Summer​ ​Olympics​ ​were​ ​held​ ​in​ ​Mexico City,​ ​Mexico.​ ​​ ​A​ ​total​ ​of​ ​75​ ​competitors​ ​from​ ​41​ ​countries​ ​raced​ ​in​ ​the​ ​challenging​ ​altitude. Eighteen​ ​of​ ​them​ ​did​ ​not​ ​finish:​ ​​ ​Tanzanian​ ​John​ ​Stephen​ ​Akhwari​ ​finished​ ​heroically.​ ​​ ​In​ ​the early​ ​stages​ ​of​ ​the​ ​race,​ ​he​ ​began​ ​cramping​ ​from​ ​the​ ​effects​ ​of​ ​high​ ​altitude.​ ​​ ​At​ ​the​ ​19 kilometer​ ​point​ ​he​ ​was​ ​hit​ ​by​ ​some​ ​runners​ ​and​ ​fell.​ ​​ ​He​ ​badly​ ​wounded​ ​and​ ​dislocated​ ​his​ ​knee and​ ​injured​ ​his​ ​shoulder.​ ​​ ​Medics​ ​repeatedly​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​persuade​ ​him​ ​to​ ​quit,​ ​but​ ​he​ ​continued​ ​on the​ ​course.​ ​​ ​When​ ​Akhwari​ ​finally​ ​limped​ ​into​ ​the​ ​stadium​ ​an​ ​hour​ ​after​ ​the​ ​winner​ ​had​ ​crossed the​ ​finish​ ​line,​ ​there​ ​were​ ​only​ ​a​ ​few​ ​thousand​ ​people​ ​left​ ​in​ ​the​ ​stadium​ ​and​ ​the​ ​sun​ ​had​ ​set.​ ​​ ​A television​ ​crew​ ​was​ ​sent​ ​out​ ​from​ ​the​ ​medal​ ​ceremony​ ​when​ ​word​ ​was​ ​received​ ​that​ ​there​ ​was one​ ​more​ ​runner​ ​about​ ​to​ ​finish.​ ​​ ​When​ ​interviewed​ ​later​ ​and​ ​asked​ ​why​ ​he​ ​didn’t​ ​give​ ​up, Akhwari​ ​said:​ ​“My​ ​country​ ​did​ ​not​ ​send​ ​me​ ​5,000​ ​miles​ ​to​ ​start​ ​the​ ​race;​ ​they​ ​sent​ ​me​ ​5,000 miles​ ​to​ ​finish​ ​the​ ​race.”​ ​​​​

Focused on the Finish

"Not​ ​all​ ​the​ ​saints​ ​started​ ​well​ ​but​ ​they​ ​all​ ​finished​ ​well."​ ​~Saint​ ​Jean​ ​Marie​ ​Baptiste​ ​Vianney

Just​ ​as​ ​John​ ​Stephen​ ​Akhwari​ ​limped​ ​his​ ​way​ ​through​ ​a​ ​marathon,​ ​our​ ​featured​ ​saint​ ​trudged his​ ​way​ ​into​ ​and​ ​through​ ​the​ ​priesthood.​ ​​ ​Saint​ ​Jean​ ​Marie​ ​Baptiste​ ​Vianney,​ ​otherwise​ ​known as​ ​the​ ​Cure​ ​d’Ars,​ ​was​ ​a​ ​youngster​ ​during​ ​the​ ​persecutions​ ​of​ ​the​ ​French​ ​Revolution.​ ​​ ​He discerned​ ​as​ ​a​ ​young​ ​man​ ​a​ ​call​ ​to​ ​the​ ​priesthood,​ ​but​ ​had​ ​to​ ​overcome​ ​many​ ​obstacles, including​ ​his​ ​father’s​ ​objections,​ ​to​ ​reach​ ​ordination.​ ​​ ​As​ ​one​ ​author​ ​put​ ​it:​ ​​ ​“Vianney​ ​did​ ​things thought​ ​to​ ​be​ ​impossible​ ​and​ ​did​ ​them​ ​with​ ​innocent​ ​blatancy.”

Saint​ ​Vianney’s​ ​years​ ​in​ ​priestly​ ​formation​ ​are​ ​a​ ​testimony​ ​to​ ​determination--amid​ ​a​ ​series​ ​of unfortunate​ ​events.​ ​​ ​Due​ ​to​ ​inconsistent​ ​formal​ ​schooling,​ ​Vianney​ ​was​ ​barely​ ​literate​ ​when​ ​he began​ ​his​ ​priestly​ ​studies​ ​at​ ​the​ ​age​ ​of​ ​19.​ ​​ ​He​ ​started​ ​with​ ​a​ ​local​ ​priest,​ ​Abbe​ ​Balley,​ ​at​ ​a small​ ​school​ ​in​ ​the​ ​rectory​ ​at​ ​Ecully,​ ​France.​ ​​ ​​ ​In​ ​1808​ ​he​ ​was​ ​drafted​ ​into​ ​Napoleon’s​ ​Grand Army,​ ​but​ ​his​ ​draft​ ​left​ ​without​ ​him​ ​because​ ​he​ ​was​ ​ill​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital.​ ​​ ​When​ ​he​ ​attempted​ ​to meet​ ​another​ ​draft,​ ​a​ ​young​ ​man​ ​volunteered​ ​to​ ​lead​ ​him​ ​to​ ​the​ ​group​ ​but​ ​led​ ​him​ ​to​ ​a​ ​camp​ ​for deserters​ ​instead.​ ​​ ​So​ ​Vianney​ ​lived​ ​there​ ​until​ ​Napoleon​ ​granted​ ​amnesty​ ​in​ ​1810.​ ​​ ​At​ ​that point​ ​he​ ​was​ ​free​ ​to​ ​pursue​ ​the​ ​priesthood,​ ​and​ ​he​ ​entered​ ​the​ ​seminary​ ​at​ ​Lyons,​ ​France. Despite​ ​the​ ​help​ ​of​ ​tutors​ ​and​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​studying,​ ​Vianney​ ​failed​ ​his​ ​studies​ ​and​ ​was​ ​dismissed. Almost​ ​in​ ​despair,​ ​he​ ​returned​ ​to​ ​Abbe​ ​Balley​ ​at​ ​Ecully,​ ​who​ ​sent​ ​him​ ​back​ ​for​ ​an​ ​examination for​ ​the​ ​minor​ ​orders​ ​and​ ​the​ ​diaconate.​ ​​ ​This​ ​time​ ​he​ ​was​ ​examined​ ​in​ ​French​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​Latin, and​ ​so​ ​he​ ​passed.​ ​​ ​Ordained​ ​in​ ​1815,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​first​ ​denied​ ​the​ ​faculties​ ​for​ ​confession.​ ​​ ​In​ ​1818 he​ ​was​ ​sent​ ​as​ ​parish​ ​priest​ ​to​ ​a​ ​tiny​ ​village​ ​in​ ​France ​called​ ​Ars,​ ​probably​ ​with​ ​the​ ​thought​ ​that he​ ​could​ ​do​ ​the​ ​least​ ​damage​ ​there.

Saint​ ​Vianney​ ​did​ ​some​ ​damage​ ​at​ ​Ars​ ​alright,​ ​but​ ​only​ ​the​ ​very​ ​best​ ​kind.​ ​After​ ​twice​ ​getting lost​ ​along​ ​the​ ​way,​ ​he​ ​arrived​ ​at​ ​Ars​ ​and​ ​began​ ​his​ ​work​ ​of​ ​converting​ ​his​ ​indifferent, uncatechized​ ​parishioners.​ ​​ ​Believing​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​the​ ​surest​ ​way​ ​to​ ​save​ ​souls,​ ​he​ ​spent​ ​hours​ ​in adoration​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Blessed​ ​Sacrament,​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​a​ ​state​ ​of​ ​poverty,​ ​fasted​ ​strictly​ ​and​ ​practiced self-mortification.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​known​ ​that​ ​St.​ ​Vianney​ ​would​ ​spend​ ​up​ ​to​ ​18​ ​hours​ ​a​ ​day​ ​in​ ​the confessional.​ ​​ ​His​ ​parishioners​ ​observed​ ​that​ ​he​ ​practiced​ ​what​ ​he​ ​preached,​ ​and​ ​eventually took​ ​him​ ​seriously.​ ​​ ​It​ ​took​ ​him​ ​a​ ​few​ ​years​ ​to​ ​close​ ​down​ ​the​ ​taverns,​ ​eight​ ​years​ ​to​ ​stop​ ​the Sunday​ ​buying​ ​and​ ​selling,​ ​and​ ​twenty-five​ ​years​ ​to​ ​get​ ​people​ ​to​ ​dress​ ​modestly.​ ​​ ​After​ ​41 years​ ​of​ ​determined​ ​service,​ ​he​ ​converted​ ​80,000​ ​hardened​ ​sinners.

“Nearly​ ​refused​ ​admittance​ ​into​ ​the​ ​seminary​ ​due​ ​to​ ​"his​ ​ignorance,"​ ​then​ ​denied​ ​ordination​ ​for failing​ ​the​ ​exam,​ ​a​ ​good​ ​bishop​ ​finally​ ​recognized​ ​the​ ​sanctity​ ​of​ ​our​ ​simple​ ​Saint.​ ​"He​ ​has devotion​ ​to​ ​Our​ ​Lady?​ ​He​ ​knows​ ​how​ ​to​ ​say​ ​the​ ​Rosary?​ ​He​ ​is​ ​a​ ​model​ ​of​ ​piety?​ ​Very​ ​well​ ​then! I​ ​summon​ ​him​ ​to​ ​come​ ​up​ ​for​ ​ordination!​ ​The​ ​grace​ ​of​ ​God​ ​will​ ​do​ ​the​ ​rest."​ ​And​ ​the​ ​"rest"​ ​is history!​ ​Denied​ ​the​ ​faculties​ ​of​ ​hearing​ ​Confessions​ ​until​ ​later,​ ​this​ ​magnificent​ ​Saint​ ​was​ ​to spend​ ​three-fourths​ ​of​ ​his​ ​life​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Confessional,​ ​with​ ​lines​ ​up​ ​to​ ​8​ ​days​ ​long​ ​waiting​ ​to​ ​confess to​ ​him​ ​and​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​him​ ​preach.”

In​ ​1929​ ​Pope​ ​Pius​ ​XI​ ​made​ ​Saint​ ​Jean​ ​Vianney​ ​the​ ​patron​ ​saint​ ​of​ ​parish​ ​priests. 

Everyday Examples

John​ ​Stephen​ ​Akhwari​ ​finishes​ ​the​ ​race

Pro-life​ ​warrior​ ​​David​ ​Daleiden’s​ ​fight​ ​to​ ​expose​ ​Planned​ ​Parenthood

Five​ ​Paths​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Priesthood

The​ ​Brooklyn​ ​Bridge​ ​Story 

Kid's Corner: 

Back​ ​to​ ​School​ ​time​ ​is​ ​a​ ​good​ ​time​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​some​ ​determination.​ ​​ ​People​ ​aren’t​ ​born with​ ​virtues--they​ ​learn​ ​then.​ ​​ ​​ ​How​ ​do​ ​you​ ​improve​ ​in​ ​a​ ​sport?​ ​​ ​By​ ​practicing,​ ​of​ ​course. The​ ​same​ ​is​ ​true​ ​for​ ​growing​ ​in​ ​virtue.​ ​​ ​You​ ​get​ ​better​ ​at​ ​it​ ​as​ ​you​ ​practice.​ ​​ ​When​ ​you commit​ ​to​ ​a​ ​sport,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​stick​ ​with​ ​it​ ​even​ ​when​ ​you​ ​lose,​ ​you​ ​grow​ ​a​ ​little​ ​more determined.​ ​​ ​The​ ​same​ ​thing​ ​happens​ ​when​ ​you​ ​practice​ ​a​ ​musical​ ​instrument,​ ​study for​ ​tests​ ​and​ ​do​ ​your​ ​chores. 
Marian Moments

The​ ​Cure​ ​d’Ars​ ​had​ ​a​ ​great​ ​love​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Blessed​ ​Virgin​ ​Mary,​ ​and​ ​he​ ​promoted​ ​devotion to​ ​Our​ ​Lady​ ​among​ ​his​ ​parishioners.​ ​In​ ​each​ ​home​ ​of​ ​his​ ​village​ ​was​ ​a​ ​colored​ ​picture of​ ​Mary,​ ​presented​ ​and​ ​signed​ ​by​ ​M.​ ​le​ ​Cure.​ ​​ ​In​ ​1836​ ​he​ ​dedicated​ ​his​ ​parish​ ​to​ ​Mary Conceived​ ​Without​ ​Sin​ ​and​ ​placed​ ​a​ ​picture​ ​commemorating​ ​the​ ​consecration​ ​at​ ​the entrance​ ​to​ ​our​ ​Lady’s​ ​Chapel.​ ​​ ​Around​ ​the​ ​neck​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Virgin​ ​was​ ​a​ ​heart​ ​containing the​ ​names​ ​of​ ​all​ ​the​ ​parishioners​ ​of​ ​Ars.​ ​​ ​

Below​ ​are​ ​some​ ​things​ ​he​ ​taught​ ​his​ ​parishioners​ ​about​ ​Our​ ​Lady:

“When​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​anything​ ​to​ ​a​ ​great​ ​personage,​ ​we​ ​get​ ​it​ ​presented​ ​by​ ​the person​ ​he​ ​likes​ ​best,​ ​in​ ​order​ ​that​ ​the​ ​homage​ ​may​ ​be​ ​agreeable​ ​to​ ​him.​ ​So​ ​our​ ​prayers have​ ​quite​ ​a​ ​different​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​merit​ ​when​ ​they​ ​are​ ​presented​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Blessed​ ​Virgin, because​ ​she​ ​is​ ​the​ ​only​ ​creature​ ​who​ ​has​ ​never​ ​offended​ ​God.​ ​The​ ​Blessed​ ​Virgin alone​ ​has​ ​fulfilled​ ​the​ ​first​ ​Commandment​ ​-​ ​to​ ​adore​ ​God​ ​only,​ ​and​ ​love​ ​Him​ ​perfectly. She​ ​fulfilled​ ​it​ ​completely.

All​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Son​ ​asks​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Father​ ​is​ ​granted​ ​Him.​ ​All​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Mother​ ​asks​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Son​ ​is in​ ​like​ ​manner​ ​granted​ ​to​ ​her.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​have​ ​handled​ ​something​ ​fragrant,​ ​our​ ​hands perfume​ ​whatever​ ​they​ ​touch:​ ​let​ ​our​ ​prayers​ ​pass​ ​through​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Holy​ ​Virgin; she​ ​will​ ​perfume​ ​them.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world​ ​the​ ​Blessed​ ​Virgin​ ​will​ ​be​ ​very tranquil;​ ​but​ ​while​ ​the​ ​world​ ​lasts,​ ​we​ ​drag​ ​her​ ​in​ ​all​ ​directions.​ ​.​ ​.​ ​.​ ​The​ ​Holy​ ​Virgin​ ​is like​ ​a​ ​mother​ ​who​ ​has​ ​a​ ​great​ ​many​ ​children​ ​-​ ​she​ ​is​ ​continually​ ​occupied​ ​in​ ​going​ ​from one​ ​to​ ​the​ ​other.”​ ​​ ​​

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