A Family Perspective on Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan's Faith

QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Many people have read about Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan's faith in the Eucharist through his autobiographical writings. But participants at the International Eucharistic Congress got another perspective.cardinal thuan

Elizabeth Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, the late cardinal's youngest sister, was one of the speakers today at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, under way in Quebec through Sunday.

She has been translating into English and French her brother's writings and the letters he wrote to his family during 13 years of imprisonment in Vietnam. He was arrested Aug. 15, 1975; nine of his years in prison were in solitary confinement.

 "Through his writings, and most particularly through his correspondence from prison, one clear fact emerges: Francis Xavier's life was firmly rooted in an extraordinary union with the living God through the Eucharist, his only strength," Elizabeth said. "It was also to him the most beautiful prayer, and the best way to give thanks and sing the glory to God."

The cardinal's sister affirmed that "unshakable faith in the Eucharist was always the guiding force in his life, the strength and food for his long journey in captivity."

"He always ended his clandestine letters to our parents with these words: Dear Mum and Dad, do not burden your hearts with sadness. I live each day united with the universal Church and Jesus' sacrifice. Pray that I have the courage and the strength to always remain faithful to the Church and the Gospel, and to do God's will."

 Fervor Elizabeth said her brother's testimony "points out to all of us that Christ offered his sacrifice with immense fervor, as in the hour of his passion and crucifixion, when he obeyed the Father; and this, even to the point of his humiliating death on the cross to bring back to the Father a redeemed humanity and a purified creation."

 "ln prison with the Eucharistic Jesus in their midst," she continued, "Christian and non-Christian prisoners slowly received the grace to understand that each present moment of their lives in the most inhuman conditions can be united with the supreme sacrifice of Jesus and lifted up as an act of solemn adoration to God the Father. Together each day, Thuan would remind himself and encouraged everyone to pray: Lord, grant that we may offer the Eucharistic sacrifice with love, that we accept to carry the cross, and to be nailed to it to proclaim your glory, to serve our brothers and sisters."

 Elizabeth concluded: "I would like to end my reflections with those tender thoughts recorded on the feast of the Holy Rosary, Oct. 7, 1976, in Phu-Khanh prison, during his solitary confinement: 'I am happy here, in this cell, where white mushrooms are growing on my sleeping mat, because you are here with me, because you want me to live here with you. I have spoken much in my lifetime: Now I speak no more. It's your turn to speak to me, Jesus; I am listening to you.'

 "Every time I read this, I can't help imagining my brother, sitting in his dark cell, facing complete emptiness, but gently smiling as he always did, even during his last days, and holding tightly and lovingly on to his shirt pocket where the Lord of heaven resided.
 "May this former prisoner who experienced heaven's harmony, love, and life to the fullest in the desolation of his prison cell continue to guide us so that we can be like the disciples of Emmaus who called out, 'Lord, remain with us and feed us with your body."

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