Last Saturday after Confession, Joey and I visited Pauline Books and Media as we sometimes do. We went looking for a movie to add to our growing Catholic movie collection. We didn't expect to be greeted by a new sister there who greeted Joey with "Have you thought about being a priest"? That opening line led to an interesting conversation with Sister Beatrice.
She asked me if I was familiar with Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan of Vietnam. Of course, I answered in the affirmative. We talked about the impressive writings of Cardinal Van Thuan while he was in prison. We both agreed that when he described celebrating Holy Mass on the palm of his hand as the altar with the consecration of the tiny piece of bread and small yet miraculous wine he was able to get a hold of, was the most moving of his memoirs. If you aren't familiar with his writings, the above story can be found in Testimony of Hope.
Every year, John Paul chooses someone to preach a course of spiritual exercises for himself and the Roman Curia at the Vatican. This Jubilee Year, he asked Vietnamese Archbishop Nguyen van Thuan.As we paid for our movie (The Robe on DVD) Sister told me they had all of the Cardinal's books in stock. That statement took me by surprised because I thought The Testimony of Hope had been the only book he had written. She took me to the book rack that had one shelves full of the Cardinal's books. She picked out The Road to Hope for me to look at. The cover read "A Gospel from Prison". The back of the book read "An Imitation of Christ for the 21st Century"...Francis B. Schulte, Archbishop of New Orleans.
This book contained 1000 short messages by Cardinal Van Thuan.
In 1975, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was traveling to Saigon, Vietnam, to become its new Coadjutor Bishop. On the way, he was arrested and imprisoned--an incarceration that lasted thirteen years.The following two messages are from the God's Will Chapter. "God's will is the passport to heaven":
Despite tremendous risk, Van Thuan refused to remain passive. During his nights in prison, he wrote encouraging messages to the Vietnamese people. These brief reflections, scribbled on scraps of paper, were smuggled out of prison, copied by hand and circulated within the community. Bishop Van Thuan was thus able to remain connected to the people in a hidden yet powerful way.
#17: Your responsibilities indicate the will of God for you at the present moment.What could I do? I had to read this book.
#24: The worker will become a saint in the workplace; the soldier will become a saint in the army, the patient will become a saint in the hospital, the student will become a saint through studies, the farmer will become a saint on the farm, the priest will become a saint through his ministry as a priest, and the public servant will become a saint in the government office. Every step on the road to holiness is a step of sacrifice in the performance of one's mission in life.
I strongly recommend the above named books by Cardinal Thuan. It is a perfect book to bring with you during a Holy Hour of Adoration or for spiritual reading at home.
Please be sure to check out the other fine books and DVDs offered by the Daughters of St. Paul.
The following are Cardinal Van Thuan's 10 Rules for Life:
#1 I will live the present moment to the fullest.
#2 I will discern between God and God's works.
#3 I will hold firmly to one secret: prayer.
#4 I will see in the Holy Eucharist my only power.
#5 I will have only one wisdom: the science of the Cross.
#6 I will remain faithful to my mission in the Church and for the Church as a witness of Jesus Christ.
#7 I will seek the peace the world cannot give.
#8 I will carry out a revolution by renewal in the Holy Spirit.
#9 I will speak one language and wear one uniform: Charity.
#10 I will have one very special love: The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Source for photo and the above rules Our Lady of La Salette and St. Joseph's Church
Recently, Cardinal Van Thuan was in the news because his cause for canonization has been opened. Read it here
Please pray for this intention.