The following is a story in the life of the saintly Curé D’Ars. The saint had a humourous way of making a point.
The extract is taken from The Curé D’Ars St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney by Abbé Francis Trochu, Tan Publishers, 1977, pages 303-304
One day during the autumn of 1852 François Dorel, a plasterer, of Villefranche-sur-Saōne, was walking with a friend on the road to Ars. Dorel was a jovial young man of thirty-two years. No one seeing him, accoutered as he was, would have taken him as a pilgrim. Gaitered, with a gun slung over his shoulder, he whistled every now and again to a magnificent hound. The fact was that our man had no desire at all to be taken for a devotee in quest of a confessor. His friend had casually asked him the day before: “Will you come to Ars tomorrow? There is a curé there who works miracles, and who hears confessions night and day. It is worth seeing.”
“So you, too, have a mind to?…”
“Eh? why not?”
“As you like. Listen: I am willing enough to go with you, but I shall take my gun and my dog. And after seeing that wonderful curé, I shall shoot a few ducks on the ponds of La Dombes. As for you, well, if it gives you pleasure, you may go to confession!”
The two travelers entered the village just in time to see the Curé cross the square between two rows of pilgrims. He advanced slowly, as usual, blessing the people. François Dorel, full of curiosity, had mingled with the crowd. What a surprise awaited him! When he came to him, the holy old man stood still, and, looking in turn at the dog and the sportsman, he gravely said to the stranger: “Monsieur, it is greatly to be wished that your soul were as beautiful as your dog!”
The man blushed and hung his head. His dog had remained what God had made him, faithful; but he, a Christian, had spoilt the work of God in his soul! Terrified by this unexpected revelation, he reflected for a long time. At last, entrusting to some villagers both gun and dog, he entered the church and went to confession to M. Vianney. Such was his repentance that he burst into tears. Realizing at last the value of his soul, the vanity of the world, and the seriousness of life, he decided to enter religion. “Go to La Trappe!” the Curé d’Ars told him authoritatively. Thus it came about that on December 18, 1852, François Dorel presented himself at Notre Dame d’Aiguebelle, where he took the habit a year later; after a delay of sixteen years he made his solemn profession under the name of Frère Arsène. He died a holy death on December 18, 1888.
Pax et Bonum,