Monday, November 29, 2010

Road of Hope

     The first time I remember reading about this remarkable man was in a book called A Priest Forever: Nine Signs of Renewal and Hope by Alfred McBride, O. PREAM. I still find it astonishing how this priest lived a life of such profound faith, real hope, and genuine joy in the midst of tremendous suffering. A brother in Christ I had loaned the book to was equally inspired by the mention of this man’s dedication to the Eucharist and Christ, so he got a copy of the DVD entitled Road of Hope: The Spiritual Journey of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan.
     My husband and I watched the documentary last evening and are still letting the magnitude of grace, perseverance, holiness, joy, and hope Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan exuded settle in. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for him to be locked in a prison camp in Vietnam for thirteen years, nine of which he spent in solitary confinement.  For days, weeks, sometimes months, he lived in complete darkness. The only personal possession he had when taken to the prison was a Rosary.      He had prayed that if there was no more work that he could do for the Church that the Lord make his sacrifice complete by taking his life while he was in prison, but that if there was more work he could do to glorify God through serving the Church then he wanted to live long enough to do whatever that would be. At one point his tuberculosis had gotten so bad, they were going to do surgery to remove the largely infected area in one of his lungs. He was on the table prepped for surgery, when everything was stopped so another x-ray could be taken. This x-ray showed that his lungs were both perfectly fine. Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan attributed his miraculous healing to the intercession of the Blessed Mother.
     God had much more to do in and through this man to bring others closer to Him, to shepherd Christ’s flock, and be an inspiration to Catholics all over the world. His life journey is well-documented. The DVD includes interviews with Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, his sister, footage of his parents, clips of him when he worked at the Vatican, and it chronicles some of the most challenging periods of suffering in his life.
     He modeled the true love and forgiveness of Christ, thereby converting many. I wouldn’t recommend showing such graphic images of suffering and poverty to children, however, teens and adults will definitely be given a clear picture of what it means to say yes to God no matter what. I don’t see how you could fail to be spellbound by this man’s unfailing commitment to living joyfully and hopefully for God in the face of unimaginable suffering.
     You can purchase this DVD here.
     I wrote this review of Road of Hope for the Tiber River Blogger Review program.  Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.  I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.
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