The ideas presented here come from the dialogues Bro Marcel Van had with the Lord Jesus, with the Blessed Mother, and with St Therese of the Child Jesus (it is indicated who is speaking or sending the message) with whom he enjoyed spiritual conversations. Brother Marcel’s holy life did not rest on these conversations but rather on his deep love for God, his obedience to his will, and his commitment and service to others. He died as a “confessor of the faith” – one who lived his faith heroically in the midst of trials – in a North Vietnamese Communist prison where he strived to bring joy and faith to his companions, Catholic or not.
5. suffering

Ah! Little Jesus, I love you. You have suffered much more internally than externally. A single sigh accompanying your inner sufferings is a thousand times more valuable than your most cruel external sufferings.

5.1 mortifications

Therese: I never did mortifications outside the rule of Carmel. Know that I have endeavored only to keep strictly the prescriptions of the Rule; besides that, it was impossible for me to mortify myself as my companions did. It must be the same for you. Try to keep perfectly your Redemptorist Rule which contains nothing above your strength. […] Keep perfectly the prescriptions of your Rule as regards mortification and ask the little Jesus to guide you according to these prescriptions, without wanting extraordinary mortifications that are not necessary.

Thérèse: The little Jesus is more pleased to receive your weaknesses than he would like to accept your extraordinary mortifications. Why that? Because, if you are weak, the little Jesus stands constantly near you and embraces you in his arms. So, every time you eat [instead of fasting], you express to Jesus your love by means of your weakness.

Jesus: As you always ask for mortifications, I gave you one today [he wanted to eat three ears of corn and had only one]. And this mortification is twice as valuable as a mortification of your choice. This is a mortification that comes from my will, so that in accepting it, you did my will and at the same time you sacrificed yourself. Is not it something good?

Therese: Since Jesus gives you peanuts [that Van loved], accept them with joy and eat them. What one does by obedience never hurts.

Jesus: The mortification that I want of you is the best of all and there is none that is superior to it. Even if you endured like me death on a cross, it would be no better than the mortification I want to teach you here, namely: “obedience”. The best mortification is obedience. You want to impose mortifications to offer them, but I do not like this kind of mortification; I only love the mortification of obedience.

In Nazareth, did I indulge in fasting and mortification? Did I give myself discipline? No. I only obeyed. Little brother, since you are one with me, you must also act like me.

Marcel (to his spiritual director): My Father, I have just acknowledged that I made a mistake on June 24 in the request I made to you. That afternoon, as I was sitting mending my socks, my beloved Jesus intervened to draw my attention to my request that I no longer snack at 4:30 pm. He enlightened me, making me see that my own will was a danger for me, that it was able to move away from Him, to come to lose him. He reproached me again in secret and more severely for not having enough confidence in himself, for having wanted to escape from his hands which are the divine elevator dragging me to the heights; on my own authority, for having wanted to move away from the childhood path traced to me by my dear and holy sister and on which it guided me: the path of “Love and total abandonment”. […] In addition to my sincere repentance, I propose never to allow myself to be invaded by a thought of my own will, but to leave it to Divine Providence to dispose of my whole life.

Mary: O my child, have you just spoken of sacrifice? Offer your cough as a sacrifice to Jesus. Listen, I’m going to teach you a new method of sacrificing yourself. Whenever you are troubled, even if it’s time for a breath, say this: “Little Jesus, I offer you this trouble as a sacrifice.”

Then stay in peace. Thanks to this sacrifice, you will be consumed in the fire of Love that will act freely in you.

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