Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 01/Section 02/Part 07

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Various Places in Burgundy and Champagne

Abelly book two.jpg

In 1642 Monsieur Vincent sent several priests of the Congregation to give a mission in the parish of Saint Cyr in the diocese of Sens. The lord of the region wrote, after the completion of the mission:

The efforts of your priests, joined with their piety, have made such a difference in the life of my peasants that they are hardly recognizable by their neighbors. I hardly know them either, and am persuaded God has sent me a new colony to people my village. These gentlemen who came here found such rustic types they could never be changed, except by the grace that accompanied your missionaries, especially those you sent for the conversion of my people. This is a result of the mercy of God and of your prudence that those you sent were so suited to our needs. After my thanks to you, I must pray fervently that God will endow your Company with blessings, for I judge it be one of the most devoted to his glory of those in the Church today.

I fear these poor people, for lack of a good pastor to support them in the good resolutions taken during that helpful mission, will forget or neglect to put into practice what has been so carefully taught them. Since you have not agreed to give us a pastor, I nevertheless believe that you, as their new father in Jesus Christ, must obtain one for us by your prayers, which I earnestly solicit. [1]

Madame de Saint Cyr was just as thankful as her husband, as she explained in a letter to Monsieur Vincent:

I realize I am incapable of thanking you sufficiently for the honor and good you have done for our parish, yet I still must affirm that after God you are, in some way, our savior, by sending us the missionaries who have worked such marvels here. They have so gained the appreciation of Monsieur de Saint Cyr that I fear he may fall ill at seeing them leave. For myself, I cannot tell you how I feel, for I am too sad to express myself. [2]

Monsieur le Boucher, vicar general of the abbey of Moutier Saint Jean, wrote to Monsieur Vincent about the mission given in Burgundy in 1644.

You do good everywhere, and you render great services to God, to the Church, and to our holy religion. I have returned from Tonnere where I met your dear children, priests of the Mission, led by a man of God. I must add, Monsieur, that these good priests have worked marvels by their teaching and example. They reconciled many souls to God and to their neighbor. [3]

One of the missionaries who worked in this province in 1650 wrote to Monsieur Vincent:

I must tell you the results of your prayers and sacrifices have been equally great in Joigny as at Longron, where we now are busy with a mission. I have nothing special to say of the people of Joigny, except to admire their faithfulness to the sermons and catechetical instructions, and their care about rising in the morning. Sometimes we began our sermons at two o'clock in the morning, and even so, the church was full.

I must say in truth I find greater blessings in the countryside than I do in the cities. I see there more marks of true and sincere penitence, and also the signs of uprightness and simplicity marking primitive Christianity. These good people present themselves to their confessor bathed in tears. They judge themselves the greatest sinners in the world and ask for even greater penances than those imposed upon them. Yesterday, a person who had confessed to another priest came to me to ask for a more severe penance than the one he had received. He suggested I order him to fast three times a week for the rest of the year. Another asked for the penance of walking barefoot in the snow. Another man came to tell me: "I heard in the sermon the best way to overcome swearing is to throw yourself on your knees before those who heard you swear, and that's what I've done. As soon as I realized I had sworn 'my faith,' I fell to my knees, asking God's mercy upon me." [4]

About two months later this same priest continued his report of events in the mission of Burgundy:

If it is right that the one who plants the tree should enjoy its fruit, just so you should know of the blessings God has given in such abundance to your little flock. I can assure you that in the missions we have given since Joigny, I don't think anyone failed to make his general confession. It is wonderful to see how much the people were affected. Because of this, I limited myself to speaking of truths that would lead to repentance to the first few days because of their tender consciences. I feared I would otherwise excite their imagination too much. [5]

We should remark that the priest with this gift of moving the people to repentance was a noted penitent himself. He practiced what he preached.

Among the missions preached in Champagne, one of the most notable took place in 1657 at Nogent, in the diocese of Troyes. The bishop sent two of his priests, and came himself, to work on the mission for several days. The mission lasted six weeks. God greatly blessed it, for which the people were most grateful to their bishop. All possible blessings which a mission might accomplish were fulfilled in this one. The vicars general were in admiration. They said that the time of priests was wasted if it was not devoted to the salvation of souls, and that the most effective way of assuring success was to preach and catechize according to the method used by the missionaries. The people were so faithful to the sermons and catechism lessons that the pastors stated they had never seen so many people in church, even on the feast of Easter, as they saw during the mission.

The bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne requested several priests of the Mission from Monsieur Vincent in 1658 to conduct missions in various places in his diocese. [6] He had several of his pastors attend the exercises to learn how best to instruct their parishioners. One of the missionaries wrote this account to Monsieur Vincent:

Our mission at Vassi received all the blessing we could have hoped for. Four pastors and another priest, all able and virtuous, helped us. Two of them learned our method so well that, even though formerly they were uneasy speaking in public, they now were quite capable and as good as any I have seen. Catholics influenced by the heretics have recanted, have been confirmed in their faith, and have been launched on a truly Christian way of living. Not only did we serve the people of this town, but others came as well from four or five leagues away.

We are now at the mission in Holmoru, where even more good is expected from the many people in attendance. The appreciation of the pastors is so great that today twelve of them came from three or four leagues away to help out and learn our method of instructing the people. [7]

References

  1. CED II:242-43.
  2. CED II:243.
  3. CED II:451.
  4. CED III:621-22.>
  5. CED IV:26.
  6. Felix de Vialart.
  7. CED VII:100.


This page:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Section Two/Part Seven: Various Places in Burgundy and Champagne

Index of this section:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Section Two/Index: The Most Notable Fruits of the Missions Given in Various Parts of France

Index of this chapter:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Index: The Missions of Monsieur Vincent

Index of:
Abelly: Book Two