Marcel Van: A Soul for Priests

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Called Not to Be a Priest, But to Be for Priests

For a long time, the Servant of God, Vietnamese Redemptorist Brother Marcel Van (1928-1959) believed that he was called to become a priest. The Lord made him understand that, even though he had the soul of a priest, such was not his vocation. Marcel Van understood that he was to pray in a special manner for priests and for future priests. As he himself says:

I recognize that the function the Lord has entrusted to me is very important, that it consists in giving life to priests. . . . God, then, has need of the collaboration of certain souls so as to bring to birth among priests the abundance of divine grace which will help them to live and to act in conformity to the will of God. (Letter to Hghi, 23 July 1952)
Yes, this is the unique thirst of my life, and because of this thirst, I have taken upon myself the obligation of being "the heart" of priests, using the warmth of love and the wellspring of redeeming love to beat and to give life to priests.

I pray Marcel Van to send to the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle a few good men like himself: men ready to become, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, "the heart" of priests, offering themselves so that priests may be sanctified in truth and have within themselves life, life in abundance.

A Little Brother of Saint Thérèse

Brother Marcel Van was privileged to experience an extraordinary intimacy with Our Lord, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and with Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. Few souls, even among the disciples of Saint Thérèse, have understood the Merciful Love of Jesus, as profoundly as did Marcel Van. Our Lord said to Marcel:

Confidence in Love

O sinful souls . . . the only thing I ask of you, and which suffices for me to press you to my overflowing Heart, is that you truly believe that Love loves you infinitely. Unfortunate little ones, do you believe that I do not know how wretched you are? Even if your wretchedness is infinite, you must believe that my merits are also infinite. Even if your sins have earned hell for you an infinite number of times, you must not, for all that, lose confidence in my Love. The unfortunate thing is that men have no confidence in my Love. Oh! Sin! Sin! Sin never offends my Love; there is absolutely nothing that offends my Love, except the lack of confidence in my Love. . . .
Marcel! Marcel! Little brother, pray that sinful souls, so numerous, never lose confidence in my Love. As long as they keep this confidence, the kingdom of heaven truly does not cease to belong to them.

A Simple Glance of Confidence

A simple glance of confidence towards me suffices to grab sinful souls from the claws of the devil. Even if a soul found itself already at the gates of hell, waiting for its last sigh before falling into it, if in this last sigh there is the slightest element of confidence in my infinite Love, that will still be sufficient for my Love to draw that soul to the arms of the Trinity. That is why I say that it can be very easy for men to go to heaven and even infinitely difficult to fall into hell, because Love can never permit a soul to lose itself so easily.


A very touching post! To have "the soul of a priest" and not actually be a priest sounds like someone I know. Brother Marcel Van put his soul to heavenly use!

Maybe all the lay readers of Vultus Christi have the souls of priests.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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