Lenten Reading from St John Vianney – Catechism on the Love of God

CHAPTER 2: Catechism on the Love of God

Our body is a vessel of corruption; it is meant for death and for the worms, nothing more! And yet we devote ourselves to satisfying it, rather than to enriching our soul, which is so great that we can conceive nothing greater – no, nothing, nothing! For we see that God, urged by the ardor of His love, would not create us like the animals; He has created us in His own image and likeness, do you see? Oh, how great is man!

Man, being created by love, cannot live without love: either he loves God, or he loves himself and he loves the world. See, my children, it is faith that we want…. When we have not faith, we are blind. He who does not see, does not know; he who does not know does not love; he who does not love God loves himself, and at the same time loves his pleasures. He fixes his heart on things which pass away like smoke. He cannot know the truth, nor any good thing; he can know nothing but falsehood, because he has no light; he is in a mist. If he had light, he would see plainly that all that he loves can give him nothing but eternal death; it is a foretaste of Hell.

Do you see, my children, except God, nothing is solid – nothing, nothing! If it is life, it passes away; if it is a fortune, it crumbles away; if it is health, it is destroyed; if it is reputation, it is attacked. We are scattered like the wind…. Everything is passing away full speed, everything is going to ruin. O God! O God! how much those are to be pitied, then, who set their hearts on all these things! They set their hearts on them because they love themselves too much; but they do not love themselves with a reasonable love-they love themselves with a love that seeks themselves and the world, that seeks creatures more than God. That is the reason why they are never satisfied, never quiet; they are always uneasy, always tormented, always upset. See, my children, the good Christian runs his course in this world mounted on a fine triumphal chariot; this chariot is borne by angels, and conducted by Our Lord Himself, while the poor sinner is harnessed to the chariot of this life, and the devil who drives it forces him to go on with great strokes of the whip.

My children, the three acts of faith, hope and charity contain all the happiness of man upon the earth. By faith, we believe what God has promised us: we believe that we shall one day see Him, that we shall possess Him, that we shall be eternally happy with Him in Heaven. By hope, we expect the fulfillment of these promises: we hope that we shall be rewarded for all our good actions, for all our good thoughts, for all our good desires; for God takes into account even our good desires. What more do we want to make us happy?

In Heaven, faith and hope will exist no more, for the mist which obscures our reason will be dispelled; our mind will be able to understand the things that are hidden from it here below. We shall no longer hope for anything, because we shall have everything. We do not hope to acquire a treasure which we already possess…. But love; oh, we shall be inebriated with it! we shall be drowned, lost in that ocean of divine love, annihilated in that immense love of the Heart of Jesus! so that love is a foretaste of Heaven. Oh, how happy should we be if we knew how to understand it, to feel it, to taste it! What makes us unhappy is that we do not love God.

When we say, “My God, I believe, I believe firmly,” that is, without the least doubt, without the least hesitation… Oh, if we were penetrated with these words: “I firmly believe that You are present everywhere, that You seest me, that I am under Thine eyes, that one day I myself shall see You clearly, that I shall enjoy all the good things You have promised me! O my God, I hope that You wilt reward me for all that I have done to please You! O my God, I love You; my heart is made to love You!” Oh, this act of faith, which is also an act of love, would suffice for everything! If we understood our own happiness in I being able to love God, we should remain motionless in ecstasy….

If a prince, an emperor, were to cause one of his subjects to appear before him, and should say to him, “I wish to make you happy; stay with me, enjoy all my possessions, but be careful not to give me any just cause of displeasure,” with what care, with what ardor, would not that subject endeavor to satisfy his prince! Well, God makes the same proposals to us… and we do not care for His friendship, we make no account of His promises…. What a pity!

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9 Responses to Lenten Reading from St John Vianney – Catechism on the Love of God

  1. Beautifully said!! No moment in life is ever neutral. We are either serving or worshiping God and therefore moving closer or we are worshiping or serving our flesh and moving our heart farther away. Both directions have a stronger and stronger draw until you are seared to not even knowing how much of God you need him and the more you move towards him the more you realize why the first commandment is number one becauseyou start getting glimpses of his glory and goodness and deep love for his creations whichmade to worship him with full abandon. Bless you


  2. toadspittle says:

    “…For we see that God, urged by the ardor of His love, would not create us like the animals; He has created us in His own image and likeness, do you see?”


    We are animals. When we forget that, we are in trouble. (Which we have been in for at least the last 5000 years.)


  3. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    St John Vianney opens with “our body is a vessel for corruption; it is meant for death and for the worms, nothing more!”

    Steven opens with “Beautifully put!”

    I’d suggest that our bodies are actually vessels for life, not death, and that we have them for a purpose. Ours not to treat this gift of life and the body with disgust and contempt. That is lese majesté of the worst order, and sacrilege.

    Ungrateful too….


  4. toadspittle says:


    “St John Vianney opens with “our body is a vessel for corruption; it is meant for death and for the worms, nothing more!” “

    Toad was prepared let that one go, but since Msgr. Whippy. makes the excellent point, how many of our dear friends on CP&S tell their children that over the breakfast cornflakes?
    None? Not even Kathleen?
    In that case, why tell the rest of us Toad wonders. Little short of insane. Very little, at that. And very unhealthy.


  5. kathleen says:

    No Toad, not even Kathleen tells her children that over their breakfast cornflakes ;-); it’s just a little too early in the morning to digest such facts. But at bedtime prayers? Well……..

    Perhaps Toad is going to be embalmed to avoid his little green carcass going to the worms, but the truth is, there is no denying that our bodies are vessels for corruption. If one is blessed with a long life, and as youth fades and strength and vigour seep away, one can feel death working inside the body, slowly but surely. Yet the soul lives on; the soul is immortal. This is why man is made in the “image and likeness” of God; he is made for Eternity. Certainly one should care for the body, temple of the Holy Spirit as it is, but to worship it as All Important is simply foolishness.

    Of course we all know, as we say in the Creed, there is the Resurrection on the Body after the Last Judgement, but our glorified bodies will not be our mortal remains, long gone to dust.


  6. toadspittle says:

    Toad who, at 71, feels death working inside his body, will be cremated.
    And he doesn’t know if his soul is immortal. Doubts it, though.
    If man is made in the image of God, what are dogs made in the image of? Or gorillas? (or dinosaurs’)


  7. The Raven says:


    I suppose that the Father made dogs in the image of dogs and all the other beasts in their own images, although He does seem to have used the same template for gorillas as that used for Wayne Rooney (although gorillas may be offended by the comparison).

    My wooly-minded view on all of this is that it is our thinking minds that are made in the image of God and are, to a very limited extent, icons of God: when we sin we desecrate those icons.

    To some degree, animals share the divine spark that animates us: in some respects the living creatures reflect Him too. As reflections of the divine, we will find them in the Father too.

    If I’ve slipped into heterodoxy, please let me know.


  8. toadspittle says:

    Nicely put, Raven. Toad wouldn’t know his heterodoxy from any of his other doxys, so no worries there.


  9. Robert John Bennett says:

    A very fine Lenten reading. An splendid Lenten reading.


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