April 15, 2011

Road to Hope

Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan while Archbishop of Saigon turned prisons in Vietnam into places of hope not only for his fellow prisoners but also for their guards.  The Communists tried to break him by torturing and tormenting him.  He endured nine years of solitary confinement in his thirteen years of prison. Humiliated, mocked, threatened, beaten - sometimes it was difficult for him to utter even simple vocal prayers.  Yet he was never overcome.  He kept extending the hand of forgiveness and friendship to his tormentors.  He never failed to find ways to encourage his fellow inmates.  In the most difficult situations, Christ crucified gave him all he needed and he learned to rely on Him alone.  By keeping his eyes on the Lord, he understood that he was on a journey even in prison, and that the trail he was blazing was a road to hope:

"If you desire to reach the end of this Road to Hope, you must be fearless, and to be fearless means not wandering about aimlessly.  How many people stood beside our Lord at the foot of the cross?"
Road to Hope, trans. Peter Bookallil, Boston: Pauline Books and Media (2001), 9.