Thursday, February 4, 2010

St. Thérèse's Spiritual Brother

From Zenit (via Terry Nelson):
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.

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.

ZENIT spoke with French Dominican Father Gilles Berceville, author of the French-language book "Marcel Van ou l’infini pauvreté de l’Amour" (Marcel Van or the Infinite Poverty of Love), to learn more about this Servant of God.

Father Berceville says Van's life is a symbol of the interchange between East and West.

ZENIT: Can Marcel Van be separated from the figure of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, considered to a degree today as his great spiritual sister?

Father Berceville: Van was a child of great faith who always had a profound relationship with Christ, constant Eucharistic devotion, the conviction that God is love and a great bond with the Most Blessed Virgin.

At age 14, he discovered St. Thérèse's "Story of a Soul" and, shortly after, he heard Thérèse speak to him. This mysterious exchange lasted until the end of his novitiate.

ZENIT: What did he discover with her?

Father Berceville: 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.

When Van read the "Story of a Soul," he felt united to what he had already experienced. He was freed from his fear of God.

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.

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.

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."

ZENIT: Marcel Van was a Redemptorist. What does he say to us about the mystery of redemption?

Father Berceville: Marcel Van had the great desire to make God present where he was absent. This was a strong intuition.

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.

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."


Julygirl said...

I had read where she wanted very much to be a missionary in Asia. Apparently it was granted her from heaven.

May said...

One of those mysterious connections between souls separated by time and place. Thank you for finding all these interesting and inspiring stories!

elena maria vidal said...

"One of those mysterious connections between souls separated by time and place." That is the perfect way of expressing it!

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