Pavens fasterefleksjoner

The Adventure of Hope

Third Reflections of Papal Spiritual Exercises

As he has done during the first two days of the retreat, the Archbishop continued to base his reflections on his experience of 13 years of incarceration by the communist regime. "After they arrested me in August of 1975, two policemen took me by night from Saigon to Nhatrang, a 280-mile trip. So began my life as a prisoner, without timetables, without nights or days. In our country there is a motto, which says: 'A day in prison is worth a thousand autumns of freedom.' I myself experienced this. While in prison, everyone waits for freedom, every day, every minute. My mind was full of confused feelings: sadness, fear, tension. My heart felt lacerated by the remoteness of my people. In the darkness of the night, in the midst of that ocean of anxiety, of nightmare, little by little I began to awaken: 'I must face reality. I am in prison. Isn't this, perhaps, the best time to do something great? How many times in my life will I have such an opportunity again? The only sure thing in life is death. Therefore, I must take advantage of the occasions that come my way each day to carry out ordinary actions in an extraordinary way.' "

"During the long nights of pressure, I convinced myself that to live the present moment is the simplest and surest way to reach sanctity. This conviction inspired a prayer: 'Jesus, I will not wait, I want to live this present moment filling it with love. The straight line is made up of millions of little points joined to one another. My life is also made up of millions of seconds and minutes joined among themselves. If I live each second the line will be straight. If I live each minute perfectly, life will be saintly. The road of hope is paved with many small moments of hope. The life of hope is made up of brief minutes of hope. As you, Jesus, who have always done what pleases your Father. In each minute I want to say to you: Jesus, I love you, my truth is always a new and eternal alliance with you. Every minute I want to sing with the whole Church: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit..." the Vietnamese Archbishop prayed.

Messages Written on Calendar

"During the subsequent months, when I was locked up in the town of Cay Vong, day and night, under the constant control of the police, I had one thought that obsessed me: 'The people I so love, my people, have remained like a flock without a shepherd! How can I contact my people, precisely at this time, when they are in such great need of a shepherd?' " recalled the Archbishop. "The Catholic bookstores had been confiscated; the schools closed; the teachers, men and women religious, scattered; some had been sent to work in the rice paddies, others were in 'regions of the new economy' in the villages. The separation was a 'shock' that was destroying my heart."

The Archbishop continued his story, "'I am not going to wait,' I said to myself. 'I will live in the present moment, filling it with love. But how?' One night I understood: 'François, it is very simple, do what St. Paul did when he was in prison: write letters to the communities.' The next day, it was October of 1975, with a gesture I was able to call a 5-year old boy named Quang, who was a Christian. 'Tell your mother to buy me old calendars.' That same day, at night, in the dark, Quang brought me the calendars and every night in October and November of 1975, I wrote my people my message from captivity. Every morning, the child came to collect the pages and took them home. His brothers and sisters copied the messages. This was how the book 'The Way of Hope' was written, which has now been published in 11 languages."

Although Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân did not mention it, his reflections were passed around by hand among the Vietnamese people; these pieces of paper left the country with the "Boat People" fleeing from the communist dictatorship.

Road to Sanctity

"When I came out, I received a letter from Mother Teresa of Calcutta with these words: 'What counts is not the amount of our actions but the intensity of love with which we do each one.' That experience reinforced in my interior the idea that we must live each day, each minute of our life as though it is the last; leave behind everything that is accessory; be concentrated only on the essential. Every word, every gesture, every phone call, every decision must be the most beautiful moment of our life. We must love everyone, we must smile at everyone without losing a single second," concluded the Archbishop.

Forrige Innhold Neste

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