Salvador del Mundo

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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On August 6, I went to Holy Family Parish in Dale City for Mass. While the Mass itself was for the feast of the Transfiguration (as in the rest of the diocese), the liturgy was also commemorating the feast of Salvador del Mundo, the Savior of the World. The Hispanic congregation there at Mass was almost entirely El Salvadorian, for this is their patronal feast, as is evident from the name. The Mass was even celebrated by an El Salvadorian bishop!

I had the privilege of serving at the Mass, and afterward there was a small festival behind the church. I saw several of my coworkers from the Apostolado Hispano Office, who took me around to different food stands to give me hefty samplings of authentic El Salvadorean food: pupusas, tacos, empanadas, yucca, and a special fruit drink of which I forget the name–but not the taste!

20170806_154130.jpgAt this festival, there was a small tournament as well. One by one, young men on bicycles rode as fast as they could underneath a rope that hung across the street. Each one held a small wooden pike, which he would attempt to pike through a small, metal ring above his head as he rode by. Each successful spearing was rewarded with a small amount of cash. This whole competition was reminiscent of Medieval tournaments in which gallant knights in full suits of armor would use their jousting lances to accomplish similar feats, for rewards of various kinds, but most especially for glory. They rode not on bicycles, but on what the bicycles were meant to imitate: caballos, horses.

Let every man imitate the virtues of noble knights, among them valor, chivalry, honor, selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty, and piety, always fighting to protect the well-being and dignity of all, especially the poor and the the weak. Let every woman imitate the virtues of noble ladies, among them gentleness, inspiration, love, true and interior beauty, dignity, inner strength, and devotion, always caring for those in need. All those old, made up stories we heard as children may contain more truth, virtue, and goodness then they at first seemed to possess.

¡Salvador del Mundo, ten piedad de nosotros! Savior of the World, have mercy on us!

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Holy Martyrs of Vietnam: An Example to Follow

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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On July 23, I had the pleasure of attending Mass at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam in Arlington. I was welcomed by their Pastor, Father Liem Tran, a Dominican priest, and allowed to serve. The church was full, and I was struck not only by the excellence and reverence of the altar boys, but also by the reverence and devotion of all present. In fact, there was a certain similarity between the congregation and the image on the sanctuary wall. Pictured on the wall is an image of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, those who had given their whole selves to God, dying for bearing the name of Christ. What a great reminder of who we are called to be.

Whether or not we are called to martyrdom, each of us is called to be a saint, to die to himself each day out of love for Jesus Christ. We need not look for sanctity in some life other than our own. Rather, we can “do small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa says. Whether washing the dishes, getting out of bed, going to work, putting aside some time for prayer, having a conversation with a family member, coworker, or friend, or doing anything else, we are always called to make a total offering of ourselves to God in love. Let us use the Holy Family as an example, Who, in daily life, dwelt with God. After all, Jesus spent 30 years in the simplicity of his home before his three years of ministry and three days of bringing about the Paschal mystery, his passion, death, and resurrection. Let us sanctify our daily lives.

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Back to Holy Martyrs! The choir and instrumental musicians were composed of members of varying ages, and they used their voices, strings, and talents to glorify God. Aside from the choir, the priest and the people chanted much of the Mass. Vietnamese is a tonal language, so it is not a great leap from speaking the language to chanting it. Because of this, the ease and naturalness of these chanted prayers was perceptible.

At the end of Mass, I said a few words about vocation and then greeted the people as they came out of the church. Each handshake was accompanied by a respectful bow of the head, both by the people and by me.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, pray for us.

The Catholic Foundation – Attending My First Brazilian Mass

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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On July 16, I visited the Diocesan Brazilian Community at the Missionhurst CICM Chapel in Arlington. Driving through the narrow streets of a tightly scrunched neighborhood, I popped out into a small oasis of bright green lawns and trees as well as some lovely buildings. On those grounds was the chapel, in which I had the opportunity to attend their monthly Mass, which is in Portuguese.

20170716_181327.jpgI arrived early to train two boys to be altar servers. This was the first time I had ever done altar server training, and I hadn’t realized how hard it is to communicate all that a server needs to know (or even most of it) in a short period of time. Nevertheless, they served the Mass with me, and they did quite well for their first time.

While the small amount of Spanish that I have learned helped a little, it was still difficult for me to understand the Portuguese language within the Mass. However, since the Roman Catholic Mass has the same foundation, no matter the language, I was still able to know what was going on at each key juncture of the liturgy.

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After Mass, we gathered for refreshments and conversation. While enjoying a few Brazilian baked goods and a Brazilian fruit drink, I met one man who, we discovered, was my dad’s old high school classmate. The Catholic world is a small world, it seems; and yet, it is large, Catholic, universal.

 

 

Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us.

A Sequel to “My Journey in Finding God”

By: Marierose Hoang, Vietnamese Catholic Community

The summer of 2017 is nothing but extraordinary to me. You can have a plan, but at the end it is God who has the final say.

It began on July 1st, when I had the privilege of being part of the delegation led by Bishop Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, VA at The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel, a gathering convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Following this conference, with a more in-depth understanding of what it means to be a missionary disciple, I embarked on my 3rd year mission back to a Danang, Vietnam.

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What a surprise: Welcoming banner to the participants of the 2017 Montessori Education training session.

At my first training session, I was met by 75 eager and enthusiastic sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, who are mostly from southern Vietnam. In the first two days, my daily prayers consisted of: “God, please help me in fulfilling what you have planned for me, allow me

Marierose Teaching in Vietnam

First day of training

to completely surrender to your will and let the Holy Spirit dwell in me for the next 8 days.” And yes, He was always by my side and the training was received with much joy and appreciation. And I cannot do this alone. There is a whole community supporting me from behind and they are the hosting sisters of Thanh Tam congregation in Danang (only 8 of them), with the mission of showing “compassion for suffering people – above all to women and the poorest of the poor – by sharing in the teaching and health care mission of the Church”. They have contributed greatly to this success.

I was unknowingly provided with the means to respond to the radical call to missionary discipleship. Vietnam is a communist country of which there is no God. Trying to reinstate the core values of the Catholic faith there on your own, will only bring headache, disappointment and risk of being expelled.

The sisters of St. Paul de Chartres at Thanh Tam are an evangelizing community and truly embody “a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.” An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19) and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.

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The Lord sent me to this community and step by step has unveiled his intentions. Many times I have asked myself what is the purpose of my earthly existence. I have learned that the purpose is to collaborate with the sisters in their teaching mission of the Church, a church that goes forth to everyone without exception (E.G. 48). If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go to first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbors, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). In Vietnam, the handicapped children, especially from poor families have been on the margins of society. They are considered the outcasts, the parasites of society. And if they were lucky enough to have some care, it is only for the benefits of certain people taking advantage of their situation.

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Hearing impaired children learning about the continent of Asia

Going to the peripheries: E.G. 20

  1. The word of God constantly shows us how the Lord challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day, Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges of the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new mission of “going forth.”Each Christian and community must discern their own path, but all of us are asked to obey the Lord’s call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all of the “peripheries” in the light of the Gospel. For most of the Vietnamese Americans who have left the country when the war ended, the hope of going back is very remote. It is remote not because they are not allowed to come back, but more due to resentment and mistrust of a government thriving on corruption and in a “throwaway culture.” Sandwiched between a generation of boat people who have risked their lives and vowed  never to come back and a new generation totally American unable to make sense out of this fierce conviction, the call to come back to lend a hand is not an easy answer. Many times my husband and I have been accused of being pro communist.The Lord has led me to the sisters of St. Paul de Chartres. By his Will, I was able to humbly  assist the sisters in providing a new insight to the educational system for these less fortunate children. With constant prayers and guided by the Holy Spirit, we have started slowly re-instituting  the core values of Catholic teaching in their daily school activities. The training of the teacher is far more than learning ideas. It includes the training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit. Just as Saint Pope John XXI said:

“It is possible to see a clear analogy between the Shepherd in the Church and that of the prudent and generous educator in the Montessori method, who with tenderness, with love and with a wise evaluation of gifts, knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.”

From the start in summer of 2015 at Thanh Tâm Special Education Center to this summer of 2017, it has been quite a journey filled with Joy and Gratitude. The seed of spreading the Montessori Education to the less fortunate children in Vietnam has started to grow. It takes good soil, with good seed that is well tended by an attentive gardener. Without these we cannot expect a crop to grow and produce abundant fruit. (Matthew 13:2)

It is still a continuing journey in which I hope the call to be a missionary disciple will stay in me for the remainder of my life on earth.

Sisters in Vietnam - Marierose

Presenting an original peace ceremony activity: one special component of the Montessori curriculum: Peace Education