Monday, October 25, 2010

Cardinal Francis Xavier Van Thuan: The Joy of Celebrating Mass in Prison

"Were you able to say Mass in prison?" is a question I have been asked many, many times. And when I say "Yes", I can foretell the next question, "How did you get the bread and wine?"

I was taken to prison empty-handed. Later on, I was allowed to request the strict necessities like clothing, toothpaste, etc. I wrote home saying "Send me some wine as medication for stomach pains". On the outside, the faithful understood what I meant.

They sent me a little bottle of Mass wine, with a label reading "medication for stomach pains", as well as some hosts broken into small pieces.

The police asked me: "Do you have pains in your stomach?" "Yes." "Here is some medicine for you!"

I will never be able to express the joy that was mine: each day, with three drops of wine, a drop of water in the palm of my hand, I celebrated my Mass.

The six Catholics in my group of 50 prisoners tried to stay together. We lined up the boards we were given as beds; they were about 20 inches wide. We slept close together in order to be able to pray during the night.

At 9.30 every evening when lights out rang everyone had to be lying down. I bent over my wooden board and celebrated Mass, by heart of course, and distributed Communion to my neighbours under their mosquito nets. We made tiny bags from cigarette paper to protect the Blessed Sacrament.

At night, the prisoners took turns and spent time in adoration. The Blessed Sacrament helped tremendously. Even Buddhists and other non-Christians were converted. The strength of the love of Jesus is irresistible. The darkness of the prison turned into light, the seed germinated silently in the storm. (Source)

~ Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan ~

~ Previous post on Cardinal Van Thuan ~  

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests.  Amen. 

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