Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Joys of Catholicism (4) - Saints in Our Midst

I love the stories of great Catholics who have served Christ in ways beyond anything I will probably ever do. here is one example. He isn't a saint (yet), but Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan was a Vietnamese bishop who was imprisoned during the Vietnam war and lived an amazing life in general. When he was imprisoned he celebrated mass in the darkness by memory using 3 drops of wine and 1 drop of water in his palm and tiny pieces of broken bread. When he was transferred out of solitary confinement at one point he wrote:

"When the Communists put me in the hold of the boat, the Hai-Phong, along with 1500 other prisoners and moved us to the North, I said to myself, "Here is my cathedral, here are the people God has given me to care for, here is my mission: to ensure the presence of God among these, my despairing, miserable brothers. It is God's will that I am here. I accept his will". And from that minute onwards, a new peace filled my heart and stayed with me for thirteen years." -Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan

here is more of his story:

When I feel like Elijah and that there is no one faithful left, I turn to the saints in our midst, the priests and modern saints of the Church to guide and encourage me that really there are thousands of faithful Catholics for Christ.

Cardinal Thuan is in the process of being canonized, it always gives me faith to hear of the love those suffering servants have and how Christ sustains his faithful even in the most desperate times. He writes that one night he wanted to share something with his captors/guards but he had nothing and suddenly the thought came to him: "You are still very rich. You have the love of Christ in your heart. Love them as Jesus loves you". And so he did, and eventually befriended his guards.

I don't think I could do it, I'd probably lose my faith in prison or in intense suffering, I don't think I'm spiritually mature enough to take that kind of suffering for the kingdom. Fr. Henri Nouwen writes in his Genessee diary the same thing as he meditates on the persecuted peoples of the world.

Cardinal Thuan pray that Christ would fill me with his love as he did with you, may I like you be granted the faith, hope, and charity to endure trials for the sake of the gospel and to love my enemies.

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" - 2 Timothy 3:12

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