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  • Sarah Raad

Unsung

I know that child is in heaven – and I know it with all the strength and conviction possible of my miserable little soul…

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan (World Mission Magazine)

There is a new Servant of God announced by the Church. His name is Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. Cardinal Francis was imprisoned for many many years by the Communist government in Vietnam for the “crime” of being the related to the late South Vietnamese president, Ngo Dinh Diem (and his vocation as a Catholic priest did not help his case with his captors)…


Most of his imprisonment was spent in solitary confinement, and Cardinal Francis suffered greatly during that time. And, I have been reading about his extraordinary man and about his experience of imprisonment, and he has fascinated me very much…


You see, at the beginning of his imprisonment Cardinal Francis experienced terrible sorrow at his inability to do God’s will… He thought often about the terrible injustice of being held prisoner and being unable to minister to his congregation and he was angry at God for allowing him to be taken away from a place where he would have been able to do so much good…


And then – after some time had passed – the Cardinal came to realise that God had placed him exactly where God wanted him to be. And he began his true vocation – alone and imprisoned. Each day a little wine would be smuggled into the Cardinal in a medicine bottle under the pretence of being medicine for his stomach ailment and the Cardinal would save a crust of bread each day, and each day, he would celebrate the Holy Mass secretly in the prison – for other prisoners too when he could…

While in prison, Cardinal Francis wrote – in his now published writings “The Road of Hope” – “In a solemn pilgrimage with thousands of people, everyone wants to carry the cross at the head of the procession. But in the pilgrimage of our daily lives, how many people are prepared to carry their own crosses? Indeed, it is difficult to be an unsung hero.”

And I have been reflecting on this section of the Cardinal’s writing, because it applies to every single part of my daily life…


You see, I live a small life. I have a small job and a small family. I do my work in my job and around the house and I interact with my family, and I wonder – is it enough, this small life of mine? After all, it can be difficult to feel the Infinite presence of God when I am scrubbing the toilets, or washing my children’s sheets, or wiping down the kitchen bench… And yet – how blessed am I that I can feel my Beloved in all these things…


You see, I am where He wants me to be – right here and now... And I know this because He placed me here – not to be famous, or special, or well-known for I am not influential – except occasionally with my children (and even that influence is diminishing as my children grow older). And though I have many gifts, I surely do not use them as well as others would if they were living my life!


Yet, I can understand what Cardinal Francis meant when he said that God is a terrible mathematician and a terrible economist! Because God provides opportunity for even the lowliest sinner to repent.


And He does that by using small miserable little souls doing all the small miserable things…


And so, I pray for the Grace to be an unsung hero of my Blessed Lord… For what greater honour could there be than that!


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.


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