Lent and human love

With bright sunshine and clear blue sky, a new day dawns. Today, the Oblates of the “de Mazenod Scholasticate” moved to “Francis Shelter” in Trang Bom - Dong Nai to somehow concretize their Lenten observance in their community. And indeed, "knowing when to give is when it is received."

Things seen.

At present, there are 5 nuns of the Sacred Heart Sisters and a number of volunteers serving a total of 125 people in this Shelter. This includes 80 poor old men and women, 37 disabled children, 6 with mental illnesses and some abandoned children. Under the porch of the guardian’s home is five children in five beautiful cots. Looking at them makes us painful. Three children born with disabilities should be abandoned by parents. Another child with a disability, whose mother is an unemployed worker, should also be sent there to find warmth. The remaining child is from a mentally ill mother who was only 14 years old. He was born as a result of his mother being raped.

Upon entering are five adjoining rooms. The first room is for boys of different ages. Many children cannot walk on their own, nor sit up by themselves. Other children may be active, but when are abnormal, they shout and mash their belongings. In general, all of them do not speak. Their eyes are indeterminate and foolish! The next room is for girls. The condition of the children in this room is similar to that of the boys.

Behind the house is a smaller room and a decent yard, which is home for six mentally ill girls. These girls were normal but the harsh life pushed them into this place. The behavior human of these girls is still relative but they have been hurt a lot already.

Of the rooms upstairs, one is for grandpas and the other one is for grandmas. Each person has his own conditions but generally their mind is still conscious. They can help each other in their daily activities.

Practical activities.

When the Oblates come here, the first thing we do is to talk with the people and get them to share feelings. How much love, how much empathy we have for them. We cannot expect the children here to have the same attitude as other normal children. Probably with the elders, we hope they still feel the warmth of human love and sharing with them.

After talking and assessing people of the shelter, we help the nuns distribute lunch and dinner for the children. The number of people in the shelter who can eat by themselves is not many.

Before dinner time, we collaborate with some volunteers to wash and change clothes for the children. Although there are many volunteers, this work lasted for almost one hour.

Some feelings.

After spending nearly a day in this shelter, we recognize that the service of the nuns and the volunteers show that they are really concrete witnesses of love. They are continuing to sketch and imitate the life of Jesus: "The Son of Man does not come to be served but to serve" (Mk 10:45). Having a sincere love and deep spirituality is the true explanation for their engagement.

The call to love:

Jesus' whisper on the Cross is still echoing here: "I'm thirsty." Where miserable people are, Jesus is still hungry for the love and compassion of so many fortunate people. God is waiting for the generosity and altruism of each of us.

Looking back on poverty:

The poor people living here help us realize that in our pilgrimage on earth, our human condition is also fragile. What we have, what we possess are from God’s love. In order to be able to receive more, in order to make ourselves richer with imperishable wealth, we must be able to be ready to give what we have.

It must be that in this world plunging into the future; there are still many people living on the margins of society. Our hands are not lenghthy enough to reach all. However, many hands together will contribute toward a world of love, where make the Kingdom, and the name of God will shine.


Caonguyen, omi

De Mazenod scholasticate

Translated into English by Dinh Huong, omi



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