The beheading of John the Baptist
Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked. Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head, here, on a dish.’ The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“I Believe In God The Father Almighty, Creator Of Heaven And Earth”
268 Of all the divine attributes, only God’s omnipotence is named in the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it “is made perfect in weakness”.
“He does whatever he pleases”
269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the “Mighty One of Jacob”, the “LORD of hosts”, the “strong and mighty” one. If God is almighty “in heaven and on earth”, it is because he made them.105 Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will.106 He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: “It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?
“You are merciful to all, for you can do all things”
270 God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us (“I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”): finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins.
271 God’s almighty power is in no way arbitrary: “In God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical. Nothing therefore can be in God’s power which could not be in his just will or his wise intellect.”
The mystery of God’s apparent powerlessness
272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.
273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power. The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and was able to magnify the Lord: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
274 “Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God’s almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe – even if they be great and marvelous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature.”
275 With Job, the just man, we confess: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
276 Faithful to the witness of Scripture, the Church often addresses her prayer to the “almighty and eternal God” (“omnipotens sempiterne Deus. ..”), believing firmly that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Gen 18:14; Lk 1:37; Mt 19:26).
277 God shows forth his almighty power by converting us from our sins and restoring us to his friendship by grace. “God, you show your almighty power above all in your mercy and forgiveness. . .” (Roman Missal, 26th Sunday, Opening Prayer).
278 If we do not believe that God’s love is almighty, how can we believe that the Father could create us, the Son redeem us and the Holy Spirit sanctify us?
For the leader. A psalm of David; a song.
God will arise for battle; the enemy will be scattered; those who hate God will flee.
The wind will disperse them like smoke; as wax is melted by fire, so the wicked will perish before God.
Then the just will be glad; they will rejoice before God; they will celebrate with great joy.
Sing to God, praise the divine name; exalt the rider of the clouds. Rejoice before this God whose name is the LORD.
Father of the fatherless, defender of widows – this is the God whose abode is holy,
Who gives a home to the forsaken, who leads prisoners out to prosperity, while rebels live in the desert.
God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the desert, Selah
The earth quaked, the heavens shook, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.
You claimed a land as your own, O God;
your people settled there. There you poured abundant rains, God, graciously given to the poor in their need.
The Lord announced the news of victory:
“The kings and their armies are in desperate flight.
All you people so numerous,
will you stay by the sheepfolds?
- b) Every household will share the booty,
- b) perhaps a dove sheathed with silver,
- c) its wings covered with yellow gold.”
When the Almighty routed the kings there, the spoils were scattered like snow on Zalmon.
You high mountains of Bashan, you rugged mountains of Bashan,
You rugged mountains, why look with envy at the mountain where God has chosen to dwell, where the LORD resides forever?
God’s chariots were myriad, thousands upon thousands; from Sinai the Lord entered the holy place.
You went up to its lofty height; you took captives, received slaves as tribute. No rebels can live in the presence of God.
Blessed be the Lord day by day, God, our salvation, who carries us. Selah
Our God is a God who saves; escape from death is in the LORD God’s hands.
God will crush the skulls of the enemy, the hairy heads of those who walk in sin.
The Lord has said: “Even from Bashan I will fetch them, fetch them even from the depths of the sea.
You will wash your feet in your enemy’s blood; the tongues of your dogs will lap it up.”
Your procession comes into view, O God, your procession into the holy place, my God and king.
The singers go first, the harpists follow; in their midst girls sound the timbrels.
In your choirs, bless God; bless the LORD, you from Israel’s assemblies.
In the lead is Benjamin, few in number; there the princes of Judah, a large throng, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali, too.
Summon again, O God, your power, the divine power you once showed for us.
Show it from your temple on behalf of Jerusalem, that kings may bring you tribute.
Roar at the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of mighty bulls, the lords of nations; scatter the nations that delight in war.
Exact rich tribute from lower Egypt, from upper Egypt, gold and silver; make Ethiopia extend its hands to God.
You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; chant the praises of the Lord, Selah
Who rides the heights of the ancient heavens, whose voice is thunder, mighty thunder.
Confess the power of God, whose majesty protects Israel, whose power is in the sky.
Awesome is God in his holy place, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
Source: The New American Bible
Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, T.O.S.F. (8 May 1786 – 4 August 1859), commonly known in English as St. John Vianney, was a French parish priest who is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to as the “Curé d’Ars” (i.e., Parish Priest of Ars), internationally known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, France, because of the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings. Catholics attribute this to his saintly life, mortification, his persevering ministry in the sacrament of confession, and his ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His feast day is 4 August.
Vianney was born on 8 May 1786, in the French town of Dardilly, France (near Lyon), and was baptized the same day. His parents, Matthieu Vianney and his wife Marie (Belize), had six children, of whom John was the fourth. The Vianneys were devout Catholics, who helped the poor and gave hospitality to St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of tramps, who passed through Dardilly on his pilgrimage to Rome.
By 1790, the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution forced many loyal priests to hide from the regime in order to carry out the sacraments in their parish. Even though to do so had been declared illegal, the Vianneys traveled to distant farms to attend Masses celebrated by priests on the run. Realizing that such priests risked their lives day by day, Vianney began to look upon them as heroes. He received his First Communion catechism instructions in a private home by two nuns whose communities had been dissolved during the Revolution. He made his first communion at the age of 13. During the Mass, the windows were covered so that the light of the candles could not be seen from the outside. His practice of the Faith continued in secret, especially during his preparation for confirmation.
The Catholic Church was re-established in France in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, resulting in religious peace throughout the country, culminating in a Concordat. By this time, Vianney was concerned about his future vocation and longed for an education. He was 20 when his father allowed him to leave the farm to be taught at a “presbytery-school” in the neighboring village of Écully, conducted by the Abbé Balley. The school taught arithmetic, history, geography and Latin. Vianney struggled with school, especially with Latin, since his past education had been interrupted by the French Revolution. Only because of Vianney’s deepest desire to be a priest—and Balley’s patience—did he persevere.
Vianney’s studies were interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon’s armies. He would have been exempt, as an ecclesiastical student, but Napoleon had withdrawn the exemption in certain dioceses because of his need for soldiers in his fight against Spain. Two days after he had to report at Lyons, he became ill and was hospitalized, during which time his draft left without him. Once released from the hospital, on 5 January, he was sent to Roanne for another draft. He went into a church to pray, and fell behind the group. He met a young man who volunteered to guide him back to his group, but instead led him deep into the mountains of Le Forez, to the village of Les Noes, where deserters had gathered. Vianney lived there for fourteen months, hidden in the byre attached to a farmhouse, and under the care of Claudine Fayot, a widow with four children. He assumed the name Jerome Vincent, and under that name, he opened a school for village children. Since the harsh weather isolated the town during the winter, the deserters were safe from gendarmes. However, after the snow melted, gendarmes came to the town constantly, searching for deserters. During these searches, Vianney hid inside stacks of fermenting hay in Fayot’s barn.
An imperial decree proclaimed in March 1810 granted amnesty to all deserters, which enabled Vianney to go back legally to Ecully, where he resumed his studies. He was tonsured in 1811, and in 1812 he went to the minor seminary at Verrières-en-Forez. In autumn of 1813, he was sent to the major seminary at Lyons. Considered too slow, he was returned to Abbe Balley. However, Balley persuaded the Vicar general that Vianney’s piety was great enough to compensate for his ignorance, and the seminarian received minor orders and the subdiaconate on 2 July 1814, was ordained a deacon in June 1815, and was ordained priest on 12 August 1815 in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble. He said his first Mass the next day, and was appointed the assistant to Balley in Écully.
Curé of Ars
In 1818, shortly after the death of Balley, Jean-Marie Vianney was appointed parish priest of the parish of Ars, a town of 230 inhabitants. When Vianney’s bishop first assigned him to Ars, he got lost trying to find the town. Two young men tending flocks in the fields pointed him in the right direction. With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls.
As parish priest, Vianney realized that the Revolution’s aftermath had resulted in religious ignorance and indifference, due to the devastation wrought on the Catholic Church in France. At the time, Sundays in rural areas were spent working in the fields, or dancing and drinking in taverns. Vianney spent time in the confessional and gave homilies against blasphemy and paganic dancing. If his parishioners did not give up this dancing, he refused them absolution.
Abbe Balley had been Vianney’s greatest inspiration, since he was a priest who remained loyal to his faith, despite the Revolution. Vianney felt compelled to fulfill the duties of a curé, just as did Balley, even when it was illegal.
Vianney came to be known internationally, and people from distant places began traveling to consult him as early as 1827. “By 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached 20,000 a year. During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. Even the bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of the souls awaiting him yonder”. He spent at least 11 or 12 hours a day in the confessional during winter, and up to 16 in the summer.
Vianney had a great devotion to St. Philomena. Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine in honor of the saint. During May 1843, Vianney fell so ill he thought that his life was coming to its end. Vianney attributed his cure to her intercession.
Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853. He was a champion of the poor as a Franciscan tertiary and was a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honor.
Death and Veneration
On 4 August 1859, Vianney died at the age of 73. The bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was buried, Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask.
On 3 October 1874 Pope Pius IX proclaimed him “venerable”; on 8 January 1905, Pope Pius X declared him Blessed and proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925 John Mary Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who in 1929 made him patron saint of parish priests. In 1928 his feast day was inserted into the General Roman Calendar for celebration on 9 August. Pope John XXIII’s 1960 revision, in which the Vigil of Saint Lawrence had a high rank, moved the feast to 8 August. Finally, the 1969 revision placed it on 4 August, the day of his death.