Tuesday, February 02, 2010

'Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.'" - Mark 5: 1-20

"He didn't tell him to preach, teach, instruct, judge, condemn, or try to change anyone."

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This is extraordinary and maybe providential, but the story of Marcel Van expresses what I was trying to say in yesterday's post much better than I was able to do.  I will just highlight a couple of statements from the Zenit interview with the author of the book by French Dominican Father Gilles Berceville, "Marcel Van ou l’infini pauvreté de l’Amour" (Marcel Van or the Infinite Poverty of Love).
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St. Thérèse's message that sanctity is for everyone resounded in a special way in the life of a Vietnamese Redemptorist who died in a Communist forced labor camp at age 31.  Marcel Van is considered a "spiritual little brother" to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Like her, he strove to be an apostle of love, approaching God with the trust of a little child.
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Van was born in 1928 and died at age 31. From St. Thérèse, he learned that he would not reach priestly ordination and that instead, his life would be dedicated to making God present precisely where He seemed most absent.
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With Thérèse he discovered that his desire of sanctity could be fulfilled because it is also God's desire.  God is "condescending": He is not a God that one would think punishes us with rigor, demanding what we cannot do, but a God who thinks how to help us, and in a certain way adapts himself to what we are so that we will adapt ourselves to what he is. 
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In Thérèse's school, he also learned a new way of praying: as a son speaks to his father. All that a child experiences is of interest to a father like God.

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Thérèse also revealed his vocation to him: He would not be a priest. Hence, he had to give up the plan of life he had had up to that point.
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"God is "condescending": He is not a God that one would think punishes us with rigor, demanding what we cannot do, but a God who thinks how to help us, and in a certain way adapts himself to what we are so that we will adapt ourselves to what he is."

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He sees the ideal of being an apostle of love in a life hidden from the eyes of the world: a life of prayer, of intercession for priests and sinners, for children and for the Church.  According to his expression, he then shared with God "the infinite poverty of Love."
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Marcel Van had the great desire to make God present where he was absent. This was a strong intuition.

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During his novitiate, his brothers asked him jokingly if he would like to live with the Communists. He assented. His friends made fun of him.
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But he was not joking: He really wanted to love God with the Communists so that at least there would be one person who loved God with those who were "without God."  He united himself in faith to Christ's redemptive work, often experiencing great loneliness. - Zenit
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Marcel Van died in a Communist forced labor camp at age 31.
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Image source.

14 comments:

  1. Terry - thank you for sharing this and the related posts. thank you.

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  2. "sanctity is for everyone" also the message of St Josemaria Escriva.

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  3. This for me is the main point of the story of his soul:

    "He really wanted to love God with the Communists so that at least there would be one person who loved God with those who were 'without God.'"
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    "Marcel Van had the great desire to make God present where he was absent."

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  4. Not just what he did, but what God did for him...A testament to the power of God's love and power to heal the broken hearted.

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  5. That's beautiful, Terry.

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  6. The Vietnemese martyrs are especially dear to my heart.
    I went to seminary with a number of them, one in particular, who was a confessor of the faith (in my mind) who endured unspeakable tortures (who I found out from others, not from him...he was too holy to reveal that).
    I am very grateful to the Lord to have known them and to have shared common life with them.
    Thank you, Terry.

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  7. I vividly recall a few years back after I felt I had failed miserably in my interview as an aspirant with the Council of my Secular Discalced Carmelite community--for reception of the Brown Scapular...several of us aspirants were plagued by doubt..one of the ladies spoke up and said "If we are not accepted what do we do?? " I remember saying.."I'll continue what I'm doing--the Liturgy of the Hours, the mental prayer, the study of the Carmelite saints, the prayer life.. .I LOVE this way of life, even if the Council is not led for me to have a vocation..I do not want to go back to what I was.."

    I was accepted, have continued to grow in wisdom and knowledge, and made my First Promises a year and a half ago...

    I couldn't imagine any other life :)

    Sara

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  8. Sara: May I ask how old your are?

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  9. Sara, God bless you and thank you for sharing this part of your journey. What an encouragement to all.

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  10. Marie & all..

    I am a well-seasoned 46 years of age :)

    Sara

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  11. I love how our posts intersect at times. I choose Br. Marcel to be MY brother! I was not aware of him before - thank you for posting this!

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  12. Oh and Br. Marcel is SO going in the Saints Draw in November!

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  13. Thanks for this post. I never heard of him before. Another friend in Heaven to pray to.
    Peace

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