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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.

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Good Friday 2005: A Prayer by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

When I chanted the Canticle from the Book of Daniel (3:3, 4, 6, 11-18) at Lauds this morning, it became, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, a prayer for the Church, a supplication for her purification and healing. This happens so often in the Divine Office. In the prayer of the Church, nothing is stale, nothing old, nothing removed from the Passion of Christ prolonged in His members until the end of time.

Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
and thy name is worthy of praise, and glorious for ever:

For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us,
and all thy works are true, and thy ways right, and all thy judgments true.

For thou hast executed true judgments
in all the things that thou hast brought upon us,
and upon Jerusalem the holy city of our fathers:

for according to truth and judgment,
thou hast brought all these things upon us for our sins.

For we have sinned, and committed iniquity, departing from thee:
and we have trespassed in all things:

And we have not hearkened to thy commandments,
nor have we observed nor done as thou hadst commanded us,
that it might go well with us.

And now we cannot open our mouths:
we are become a shame and reproach to thy servants,
and to them that worship thee.

Deliver us not up for ever, we beseech thee, for thy name's sake,
and abolish not thy covenant.

And take not away thy mercy from us
for the sake of Abraham thy beloved, and Isaac thy servant, and Israel thy holy one:

For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation,
and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins.

Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet,
or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense,
or place of firstfruits before thee, that we may find thy mercy:

nevertheless in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted.
So let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee:
for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee.

And now we follow thee with all our heart,
and we fear thee, and seek thy face.

The Persecution Continues

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AsiaNews is, without a doubt, the best source of information about the cruel sufferings of Christians being persecuted for their faith in the state of Orissa, India.

An Offering of Psalmody

Psalm 73, 1-7

O God, hast thou altogether abandoned us? Sheep of thy own pasturing, must we feel the fires of thy vengeance?

Bethink thee of the company thou hast gathered, long ago; of the tribe thou hast chosen to be thy own domain; of mount Sion, where thou hast thy dwelling-place.

Hither turn thy steps, where all is ruin irretrievable; see what havoc thy enemies have wrought in the holy place, how their malice has raged in thy very precincts, setting up its emblems for a trophy of conquest.

Blow after blow, like woodmen in the forest, they have plied their axes, brought it down, with pick and mallet, to the ground. They have set fire to thy sanctuary, sullied the dwelling-place of thy glory in the dust.

I have been moved to offer the long and often tortuous psalms of Matins for these men, women, and children in every way equal to the martyrs of ancient times. The cries of the psalmist become their prayer rising to the Father from all over the globe with the voice of the suffering Christ. Readers of Vultus Christi may want to join me in making a daily offering of psalmody for the Christians of Orissa.

Pogroms and Threats

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - There is no end to the tension in Orissa, where for two weeks a pogrom has been underway against Christians. Many of the faithful who have taken shelter in the refugee camps after their homes were destroyed and burned have found themselves threatened in the camps as well, where they should be protected by the police. The threats come from the Hindu radicals of the VHP (Viswa Hindu Parishad) and of the RSS (Rastriya Swyamsevak Sangh), who force the tribals to convert back to Hinduism, or suffer new violence. Some of the priests and their relatives have also been threatened, and as a sign of their "reconversion", they are shaved bald like sadhus (Hindu ascetics).

According to accounts sent to AsiaNews from Bhubaneshwar, the fundamentalist groups are also spreading through the villages and forcing the Christians to sign papers saying that they are "freely" returning to Hinduism. Those who refuse are beaten, and their homes are burned.

Sometimes - sources tell AsiaNews - as a sign of their "new life", they are forced to burn the churches and homes of other Christians.

And the destruction itself is becoming more "intelligent". Sometimes, instead of burning homes, the fundamentalists content themselves with taking all of the furniture and objects out of it, and destroying them. In this way, they say, they make the families poor and exclude them from reimbursement by the government, which has promised money for those who have had their homes burned. This method is also useful in case the fundamentalists are arrested by the police: arson is punishable with years in prison, but the distruction of objects with only a few months.

In the area of Kandhamal, a list has been drawn up of Catholic priests and pastors accused of being the killers of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the radical Hindu leader killed last August 23 by Maoist guerrillas, whose death the Hindus continue to blame on the Christians.

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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September 2009: Monthly Archives