Pastor’s Column

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2013

The late Pope John Paul II said, “To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother.”

I grew up in a rural countryside in Vietnam.  In the morning I got up early to go to church for daily Mass.  The first Mass was for adult at 4am and 5am was the children Mass.  Because it was agriculture town so by 7am people already at their farm field.  At 5:30pm people gather at the church for rosary and praying litany of saint.  It was a routine for us as the faithful Christians and it was a part of Christian life.  During that time I thought praying and attending Mass just normative routine for me.

However, on the day I escaped Vietnam, there was nothing with me except clothes I wore and the rosary in my pocket.  I did not pray the rosary until the third day on the boat when we ran out of foods and water.  Our boat was in the middle of the largest body of water (the Pacific Ocean) but fifty-eight of us were sitting on the boat bottom thirsty and hungry.  I prayed and had confident that our Blessed Mother would take the burden away.  At that night on the third day, still far away from us, we saw light and believed that was a big ship.  We catch that ship the next morning, still apart; we recognized it was a Russian Communist flag.  With scary of being caught by the communist, we made a turn and ran away.  The thirst did not leave us; I heard Buddhists also prayed to their Lady while I were praying the rosary.  Miraculously, in the evening of fourth-day a Singaporean ship stopped at us and gave us water, foods and direction.  Our boat landed on Natuna Island of the Indonesian three days after that day.

I am reflecting what was happened during the horrible trip to gain my freedom.  I am not sure if praying the rosary helped me getting what I was asking God but I am sure that during my hardest time, during that time of despair; praying the rosary help me to believe that I am not alone but rather, I was with our Blessed Mother who always intercedes for me at the glory of God.  Praying the rosary is truly placing my burdensome in the hands of our Blessed Mother and fear nomore.

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

Let us take advance this October, the month we dedicate ourselves praying for life.  My life on that boat to the Pacific Ocean was at high risk but we were protected by our Blessed Mother.  We made it to the refugee camp on October 17, 1989, 24 years ago on this day.  Let us place our worries, our fears, and our burdens into the Immaculate heart of Mary that she continue to protect us like she did protected the Son of God our Savior.  Let our Blessed Mother intercedes for us that every human dignity must be respected and protected.

Rev. Joseph-Quoc Vuong