Presence matters

John Mary Vianney

“When I first came to Ars, there was a man who never passed the church without going in.

“In the morning on his way to work, and in the evening on his way home, he left his spade and pickaxe in the porch, and he spent a long time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

“Oh! How I loved to see that! I asked him once what he said to Our Lord during the long visits he made. Do you know what he told me? “Eh, Monsieur le Cure, I say nothing to Him, I look at Him and He looks at me!”

St John Mary Vianney told this story many times over, however, what catches my attention today is the fact that he left his spade and pickaxe on the porch.

His pickaxe and space, the tools of the man’s trade.

He came before his God empty-handed. And maybe that is what enabled him to ‘spend a long time’ in adoration!

As a young boy, I remember that my aunty (my mother’s sister) would call my mum on the phone every day just before she left her place of work.

I always wondered ‘what on earth could they be talking about?

Every day!

Fortunately, I have grown to some degree and realise it was not the conversation that was important, rather, the connection.

It was not the dialogue that mattered, rather the presence of the other.

Our prayer grows best when we stop talking and start looking.

  • Gerard Whiteford is Marist priest; retreat facilitator and spiritual companion for 35 years. He writes regularly at
  • Written for Wednesday’s feast of St John Mary Vianney commonly known as the Cure of Ars.
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