Pavens fasterefleksjoner

The Eucharist

Fifth Reflections of Papal Spiritual Exercises

John Paul II's Spiritual Exercises continued today with a consideration of the Eucharist. As on other days, Vietnamese Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân illustrated the points of the retreat with stories from his life, particularly drawing from his 13 years of imprisonment at the hands of the communists.

He recalled, "When they imprisoned me in 1975, an anguished question came to my mind: 'Will I be able to celebrate Mass?' "

The Archbishop explained that that when he was arrested, he was not permitted to take his personal belongings; the following day he was allowed to write his family to request essentials like clothes, toothpaste, etc. "Please send me some wine, as medication for my stomach ache," he wrote. The faithful understood immediately what he wanted and sent him a small bottle labeled "Medicine for Stomach Ache." They also concealed some hosts among his clothes.

The police asked him: "Do you have a stomach ache?"

"Yes," the Archbishop of Saigon replied.

"Here is your medicine."

"I shall never be able to express my joy: every day I celebrated Mass with three drops of wine and one of water in the palm of my hand. Every day I was able to kneel before the Cross with Jesus, drink with him his most bitter chalice. Every day, when reciting the consecration, I confirmed with all my heart and with all my soul a new pact, an eternal pact between Jesus and me, through his Blood mixed with mine. They were the most beautiful Masses of my life," stated Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân.

Later, when the Archbishop was sent in a re-education camp, he joined a group of 50 prisoners. They slept in a common bunk. Each one had the right to 50 centimeters of space. "We arranged it so that five Catholics were next to me. Lights went out at 21:30 and everyone had to sleep. In bed, I celebrated Mass by heart, and distributed Communion by passing my hand under the mosquito net. We made envelopes with cigar paper to conserve the Most Blessed Sacrament. I always carried the Eucharistic Christ in the pocket of my shirt."

Since there was an indoctrination session every week in which all the groups of 50 persons who made up the re-education camp participated, the Archbishop took advantage of pauses, and with the help of his Catholic companions passed the Eucharist to the other four groups of prisoners. "They all knew Jesus was among them, and he cures all physical and mental sufferings. At night, the prisoners took turns at Adoration. The Eucharistic Christ helps in an unimaginable way with his silent presence: many Catholics began to believe again enthusiastically. Their testimony of service and love made an ever greater impact on the other prisoners, even some Buddhists and non-Christians embraced the faith. Jesus' force is irresistible. The darkness of the prison became a paschal light."

For the preacher of the Papal Spiritual Exercises, "Jesus began a revolution on the cross. The revolution of the civilization of love must begin in the Eucharist, and from here it must derive its force."

"I will end with a dream; in it, the Roman Curia is like a large host, in the heart of the Church, which is like a great Cenacle," the Archbishop told the gathered members of the Curia. "All of us are like grains of wheat that allow themselves to be ground by the exigencies of communion to form only one body, in full solidarity and full dedication, as bread of life for the world, as a sign of hope for humanity. Only one bread and only one body."

Forrige Innhold Neste

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 31.03.2006 - 18:18