Since St. John Vianney gave this blog its name, I certainly couldn't let his feast go by without comment.
"This is the most typical recollection of him: dressed in his bulky shoes and frayed soutane under a tired but clean surplice, the traditional neckbands and the great stole. When fashion inclines to silk underwear and denim outerwear, it is well to remember a man who had it the other way, his salute to an all-seeing God. He was a priest and would dress as one, and as he never cast off the priesthood even for a day, neither would he cast off the clothes of the priest. There was no purpose in trying to be one of the boys: the boys were men. And men want priests."
--Fr. George William Rutler, on the Curé of Ars
This passage comes to mind when I see the patron saint of parish priests thus depicted in his stained glass window here at our own Notre Dame Church (so appropriately placed very near to the pulpit).
But it also came to mind in the Price Chopper parking lot midday on Tuesday. After offering Mass at the nursing home, but before getting back to the rectory for lunch, I stopped to pick up a few groceries. On my way back to the car, an older woman gave me an "unusual" look, then touched my arm and said, "Thank you for wearing your collar!" "It's just my uniform," I replied. "I know," she nodded, "I know."
This is not the first time I've had such an encounter. While I'm just as comfortable going about in old jeans and a T-shirt as I am in a long black cassock, such incidents are a good reminder of what St. John Vianney knew so well: the clothes don't make the man...but they sure can serve as an important sign--to him and to the world--of the man God has called him to be.