Something that happened to St. John Vianney because he was unpopular might make you laugh. He probably didn't find it that humorous though!
Youngsters in the northern hemisphere are preparing to head back to school, and there’s nothing quite like the return to the classroom to heighten anxiety about how popular you are, and how many friends you have.
For kids in this predicament — and yeah, for adults too — there is some saintly wisdom to remember.
First off, don’t forget that human affections are fickle. You can be a living saint and still have people who don’t like you. In fact, chances are good that if you are a saint, you WILL have people who don’t like you. The same happened to Christ, after all.
Here’s an amusing anecdote from St. John Vianney, though it probably didn’t make him chuckle as it might make you:
Soon after his arrival in Ars, several women of his new parish approached him and requested that he say a Mass each week for a “special intention.” Fourteenyears passed with the holy priest praying for this intention. Finally, he asked these parishioners what they had him praying for: “We’ve been praying that you’d be sent to a different parish.”
This account is found in Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems, by Fr. Joseph Esper.
Fr. Esper points out a number of unpopular saints, or saints who endured unpopularity for a time, each of them suffering derision and dislike for a variety of reasons. St. Joseph Cupertino (who might have had autism, some scholars think) suffered because of his wanderings and absentmindedness, for example. St. Athanasius suffered because he was dedicated to overcoming the heresy of Arianism, which was embraced by many powerful people.
Fourteenth-century nobleman St. Elzear told his wife his secret for staying calm when being mocked:
I turn and look on Jesus, who was despised and rejected, and I see that the affronts to me are nothing compared with what He suffered for me; so God gives me strength to bear it all patiently.
Remember, though, if you are being bullied, please tell an adult.