February 15, 2018

Never In All His Life

Sylvan Dutheil was 16 years old when he enlisted in the army. During his time of military service, he contracted a pulmonary disease that sent him home. One day, he was walking with his sister down a street in Montpellier, in southern France. He came across a portrait of Fr. Jean Vianney and scoffed. His sister had a different reaction. She knew of this man, who was the cause for many pilgrims to journey to his small village of Ars, about 170 miles distant from Montpellier. She told her brother, “you might obtain your cure were you to put your trust in that holy man.” That only increased his derisive attitude toward the priest and the esteem accorded him by others.

That night, however, changed this attitude. He had a dream in which saw Fr. Vianney. Fr. Vianney was holding an apple, an apple that had a two-part appearance. Half of it was fine. The other half was rotten. It shook Sylvan. He then asked to go to Ars.

He arrived there, with his mother, in the middle of November, 1855. Fr. Vianney visited him at his hotel each day. On December 8, 1855, he converted and received absolution of his sins. Due to his ill health, he was carried to the foot of the altar. He received Communion and was carried back to the sacristy.

He then declared, “never in all my life have I felt such happiness.”

After being taken back to the hotel, he told his mother: “the joy of this Communion makes me forget all my sufferings. I do not wish to leave … I want to die here.”

That very night, he did.

For those who believe, it is God who decides to give us life and it is God who decides the time when each life shall end. For Sylvan Dutheil, that decision allowed an end to his sufferings, but only after he had experienced “the joy of this Communion.”

Source: Trochu, Abbe Francois, The Cure D’Ars (Charlotte, N.C., Tan Books 2007) p. 322-323.


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