Do you know the young brother Marcel Van from Vietnam? (1928 – 1959). He experienced an exceptional grace that could make us green with envy! From the early age of 14, Van was trained directly by Little Flower, Saint Thérèse, in his spiritual life! He never saw her, for she manifested herself to him in the form of a voice that he heard, and that led him to step by step towards holiness, which he achieved.
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Therese had dreamed of going to Vietnam to evangelize, but her charisma was different, she had to live this divine fire that burned inside her for the souls, in a hidden way. Therese defines her vocation thus: “In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love!”
It seems that with little Van, she found the right soul! Van really lived with her and under her guidance, the sublime adventure of intimacy with Jesus and all the demands this entails for the salvation of souls.
Van had the freshness and spirit of a child. As a teenager, he had conversations with Jesus, and these conversations – recorded in his diary – are very moving! The tenderness of innocence is mixed with magnificent revelations. Van reveals the incredible closeness of Jesus in our daily lives.
Jesus and Therese led Van to the point of giving his life for priests, and for unbelievers to find the pathway to faith. When South Vietnam was ravaged by the threat of communist invasion instigated by Hanoi, Van decided to go to North Vietnam, “so that there is someone there who loves the Good Lord among the communists”. He was arrested there in 1956, and on 10 July 1959, he died of starvation in the bottom of a prison north of Hanoi. He was 31 years old.
Conversations with Jesus
Here are some snippets from his writings, taken from his conversations with Jesus. Let us look at his words about his personal vocation, and then what Jesus told him about priests:
Jesus: In heaven, I will give you the mission of helping your big sister Therese to inspire the world to trust in my love.
Therese: Little brother, rejoice, and be glad to have been among the “Apostles of God’s Love” who have the privilege of being hidden in the heart of God to be the vital force of missionary Apostles. O, little brother, can there be a greater happiness than that? …You, little brother, will always have the function of being the hidden Apostle of Love. (Autobiography 652)
Marcel: Little Jesus, tell me why you love priests so much? Every time you talk about them, I see that you show them the utmost respect!
Jesus: It is because priests are really other-selves for me. Their dignity trumps that of being my Mother. The dignity of our Mother Mary does not equal that of priests. However, Mary is more powerful, since she is my Mother; therefore, the priests being my other selves are also the children of Mary. In heaven, the soul of a priest will be the object of the veneration of all saints including our Mother Mary. Little brother, you’re already very tired, aren’t you? Get some rest. You’ll write another time. (Conversations 478)
“Many priests use my name to lead many souls to perdition. Pray for these priests. I still love them, and I wait for them. My child! Love me in their place…” (Conversations 10)
“One thing, however, consoles me a little, is that many priests still know how to love me… Truly, these priests form around me a shield that protects me from the slings of unfaithful priests… I have a predilection for these good priests, I keep my eye on them, and I rejoice with them. I never cease to be their guide and their support. I do everything I can to pamper them. They are always by my side, never getting away from me. My child, look for such priests! (Conversations 11)
Jesus: My child, little apostle of my love, if I could show you the pain that priests cause me every day by their behavior towards me, perhaps you would ask me to punish these priests on the spot. Apostle of my love, try to pray and make small sacrifices to console my loving Heart. O my little child, if the priests themselves rebel against me, where will my love seek some consolation? Pray, my child, pray as if you had to suffer my sad fate yourself. (Conversations 25)
Little apostle of my love, to escape the slings and arrows of sinners, I take refuge with the priests, I implore their help and then I ask them to console my neglected love. Alas! There are some among them who treat me casually and throw me out, meaning that it is not appropriate for me to show them my love and that my words of love are exaggerated. Because of this conduct, the souls entrusted to them lose confidence in me. Little apostle of my love, nothing pierces my heart like seeing that people lose confidence in me. In such a situation, I must withdraw into the little souls and, once settled there, I recognize them as my brides and take them into my service and give them the dignity of mother of the souls I want to save. I give them marks of love, I even enable them to know my unfortunate fate … (Conversations 27)
Little friend of my love, since I am one with you, you must suffer just like I did from the atrocities inflicted upon me. To console my love and atone for the sins that priests never cease to commit against me, willingly accept the sufferings I am sending you, at a time when I should be sending you joy and sweetness. (Conversations 29)
I am asking you to endure these sufferings with the sole intention of associating you with me in the work of the sanctification of priests, so that, in accordance with their vocation, they may work ardently toward the reign of Love in the hearts of men. (Autobiography 867)
Jesus: You must pray today for the priests; we must remember those priests who have strayed far from Love and who walk barefoot in the mud of sin… O my little brother, stand by the cross today, kiss my feet and keep repeating: “O Jesus, I love you for the priests who do not love you. Let your Love freely penetrate the most intimate hearts of the priests.”(Conversations 477)
Bananas. On April 8, 1946 (to understand Van’s childlike spirit!)
Marcel: Yesterday during the meal, I asked little Jesus this question: “Little Jesus, did you ever eat bananas? He replied with a laugh: “Marcel, I didn’t come down to earth to eat.” But then, responding to my wish, he added in a more polite tone: “I have never eaten bananas and there are still many things that you eat that I have not eaten. However, now, when you eat something, it’s like I’m eating it myself since we’re one.” When I heard little Jesus speak like that, I was very happy and I ate two bananas. (Conversations 397)
Source: Use of text approved from “Children of Medjugorje” website www.childrenofmedjugorje.com.