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.

6. spiritual poverty

It is only in these moments of fatigue that I can show you your weaknesses and teach you that you really do not have an atom of virtue … Little brother, see how weak you are. It’s enough for you to surrender to me and put all your trust in me alone

6.1 material and spiritual poverty

Little brother, this is how you have to keep the virtue of poverty according to the Rule. It is on the Rule that my teaching is based. The objects put to your use, even if they are not very beautiful and of poor quality, be happy to use anyway. As for your socks, because they are too small, you can not use them anymore, so you have to hand them over to the tailor in case someone could still use them. But if, with the intention of practicing renunciation, you put on these socks and tears, then you are really lacking in poverty

Here is an example: formerly, your Father Saint Alphonsus (the founder of the Redemptorists) wore a patched cassock; it was there practicing external poverty. And because he wore this patched cassock, he was able to practice humility, patience, charity, self-denial … etc. Through the practice of these virtues, what merit has he not acquired? And these merits, did he keep them to enjoy himself later? Obviously no. […] He willingly offered them to me to distribute to souls. […] At home, it was the same thing; all the outer marks of poverty were only a sign of my inner poverty.

In addressing myself to the young man, why did I not tell him to give up all his riches and to follow me afterwards? This is not really what I said to him: “Go, sell your fields, your house and all your goods, give all alms to the poor, after, come and follow me”. Little brother, you must understand that, for souls, these words do not designate all material goods, but only spiritual goods. With these words, I intend to say
to souls that if they want to follow me and be really poor at heart, they must consent to use all their good works and the inheritance that I have reserved for them to offer to the Trinity, so that the Trinity distribute to poor and miserable souls. It is on this condition that they can follow me.
Little brother, you must remember that text. In the Gospel, I do not say, “give to the poor,” I only say “sell,” and by that word “sell,” I intend to say that everything must be offered to the Trinity, and after having offered everything, consent to give everything in alms to souls, without reserving anything.

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