07/10/2022 – Servant of God Marcel Nguyễn Tân Văn.

Today is the Anniversary of the death of Redemptorist Brother and Servant of God Marcel Nguyễn Tân Văn.

Marcel left us two books both written under obedience. One is the story of his life. Marcel was born into a loving Catholic home. “From a tender age, he showed a remarkable early piety and devotion, and as a child he organized processions in honor of the Blessed Virgin with his younger sister Te, along with his cousins and playmates.

From an early age he loved to pray with his mother, and they would often say a rosary together. At age six, he joyfully received First Holy Communion. He would later write of this blessed day:“The hour has come, the moment so greatly desired has arrived…

I gently draw out my tongue to receive the Bread of Love. My heart is overcome by an extraordinary joy… In an instant, I have become like a ‘drop of water’ lost in the vast ocean. Now there remains only Jesus, and I am Jesus’ little nothing.”However circumstances turn his childhood into a heartbreaking tale of abuse, abandonment, poverty in which Marcel struggles to survive despite the incredibly dysfunctional, even corrupt adults he encounters along the way. The rosary becomes his lifeline.

“At times, Father Nha would present him as an example to the lukewarm catechist students, which of course drew unfriendly attention to him. The catechists, now jealous of him, organized a sort of tribunal to “try” him. After several humiliating scenes, they criticized him for receiving Communion every day. This reproach brought about a spiritual crisis: “I was disturbed and I suffered terribly to think that, without being worthy like the saints, I had had the boldness to receive Communion every day… I then saw the faults from my early childhood return.” In this difficult trial, he turned to Mary and recited his Rosary with a deep devotion. Each night after evening prayers, the catechists would open the “tribunal” and would question and accuse him, and for punishment would beat him with a cane, or strip him of his clothing.”“

He wrote: “I came to consider myself a despicable creature. The devil made this thought develop in me—if people could no longer endure me, how could God still endure me? I’m going to die soon and I will have to go to Hell.”As always, Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary remained his hope, and he continually gained comfort and peace through praying the rosary.

Marcel eventually follow a call to the religious life with the Redemptorists. The other book is completely different, it is the mostly joyful story of His soul from the time that St Therese, the Little Flower, who in her lifetime yearned to go to Vietnam as a missionary, appears to him, befriending and teaches him to follow the Little Way.

In his second book Marcel records many conversations with St Therese who he calls his Big Sister and with the Child Jesus and Mama Mary. The book documents Marcel’s spiritual growth. It records the joys of these encounters and Marcel’s despondency when they are silent.In these “absences” it is to the rosary that Marcel turns. Though he talks little of the political situation around him, it is the time of the Communist take over of North Vietnam. Marcel is captured by the Vietcong. Rather than remaining silent or denying his faith, he proclaimed it. He was arrested and executed for being a Catholic.