WEEK II — TUESDAY: Blessed Louis Leroy, o.m.i. (8.10.1923-18.04.1961)

leroy-omi-2My impressions of Laos? I am delighted with my obedience, very happy to have arrived in this region and I have only one desire: to work here all my life, and, if God wants, to die here. It is a mission in the strictest sense of the word, a difficult mission, where the Father must live isolated, walking exhausted for days to visit the people, and when he is on the trail, subsisting on a frugal and poorly prepared diet. The people—all ethnic groups that are in the area —are friendly. Unfortunately many, one could say the majority, seem scarcely anxious to convert…

What does the future have in store for us? Will the Viêt attack some day? We don’t know for sure; we carry on as if the peace will last…

As for me, I am counting on you; pray a little for me so that I might achieve a good knowledge of the language—I am not even close yet. And then, how I need the grace to give myself totally for these people, to overcome the repugnance that the lack of cleanliness and hygiene cause in me! But for grace, we would not last very long.

Letter of Blessed Louis Leroy
to the Carmelites Sisters of Limoges, 29 January 1956.

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WEEK II — MONDAY: Blessed Catechist Paul Thoj Xyooj (1941-01.05.1960)

thoj-xyoojOne morning, I went hunting in the forest, armed with my crossbow. All of a sudden, I heard voices and very loud shouting. I hid in the brush. On the path, I noticed a group of armed men. They were leading two persons who had their hands tied behind their backs—I recognized the Father and the young lad Xyooj. They stopped; they took the shirts off the two prisoners and forced them to kneel. They hit them with rifle butts while shouting at them from above.

The Father remained silent. Xyooj, who was talking to them and answering them, was beaten all the more, with rifle butts to the head, the ears, the whole body, so much so that blood was running down everywhere. A man cried out to him: “Get out of here quickly!”, but he answered: “No, I am not leaving; I am staying with the Father. If I leave, he is coming with me. If he doesn’t leave, I am staying with him!” The other cried out: “You are responsible for having wanted to bring this devil here and for having converted in one day more than 10 families to follow him.” Then I heard Xyooj praying in Hmong: “O God, protect us and protect our destiny; you see them and you see what they have done.”

Eye-witness account of a young man
about the death of Blessed Paul Thoj Xyooj.

 

WEEK II — SUNDAY: Blessed Mario Borzaga, o.m.i. (27.08.1932-01.05.1960)

66028318_129845219454On November 21, feast of the Presentation of Mary, we consecrated our district to the Blessed Virgin. They tell us that this consecration to the Madonna is an act of despair. So what should young missionaries like us do, faced with such vast territories to evangelize, in the midst of so many dangers and difficulties? So we have decided to “despair” publicly of our own strengths: once more, we recognize that we are poor men; we solemnly declare that we are fragile creatures, feeble voices who cry out in the desert.

So now we are consecrated to Mary: in an act of abandon, we confide all of our worries and our labors—labors that are apostolic only when in the heart of the Queen of Apostles.

We offer ourselves to her so as to become more priestly after the example of Christ. May she watch over us, as over beloved children who, in this region, see her as their Mother, and over all those who don’t know her yet. With a little sign from her, we will see her great maternal love: we will be filled with the Grace won for us, won for all, through her infinite suffering at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.

Letter of Blessed Mario Borzaga to the “Friends of Laos,”
Louang Prabang, 1 January 1960

WEEK I — SATURDAY: Blessed Mario Borzaga, o.m.i. (27.08.1932-01.05.1960)

 

sacerdoti_-_padre_mario_borzaga_imagefullEach day, we never have any lack of sick people to care for; many hours pass in this exercise of charity and of patience… We are about 15 people here at the mission—Fathers, students and catechists, including women and children—for whom we must provide bread, or rather, their daily rice…

Furthermore, the directives of Propaganda Fide require that each missionary spend at least ten days a month among the pagans to evangelize them: that leaves hardly any time for me to rest on my laurels… But working like that is worth it; the Lord blesses our poor efforts.

As far as the war is concerned, our zone is still calm since the opening of the road crossing through our village from Vientiane to Louang Prabang; actually, the rebels stay away from the traveled roads. That having been said, one does sense the odor of danger; so you see our people keeping a watch on the village during the night. As for us, we move forward without fear; we will stop only when the Lord decides. We only need the grace of God. As for the rest, even though our material needs are immense, each day those things seem all the more superfluous.

Letter of Blessed Mario Borzaga
to his uncle, a priest, 6 January 1960

WEEK I — FRIDAY: Blessed Mario Borzaga, o.m.i. (27.08.1932-01.05.1960)

borzaga-omi
In my prayer, I do not ask Jesus for joy or strength; I ask only to love him more and more—to love him as the saints and martyrs loved him.

And you, now you’ve begun the Calvary of your apostolate. Along the way, you will be accompanied by Jesus, crowned with thorns; and at the top, you will find him on the cross. The Night will come, and then the Resurrection.

My God, make me love the cross and nothing else. Let me become holy and nothing else, even though I am the last one who should hope for it… O Jesus, be my light, the lamp that brightens my road on this earthly voyage toward heaven.

19/01, feast of St. Mario, martyr. What kind of martyr? Probably nothing more than for the love of God and charity towards his neighbor. I wonder how much I am also a martyr of charity; I will no doubt get there, since from day to night, I must be available to others. To each of those who comes to my door, I say in my heart: “O Jesus, it is you that I love in the person of this poor fellow, my brother; through his suffering, pardon me my sins!”

 Excerpts from the journal of Blessed Mario Borzaga,
1959-1960.

 

WEEK I — THURSDAY: Blessed Oblate Martyrs of Laos (1960-1969)

Collective letter to the Superiors of the Oblates, written by Blessed Mario Borzaga

1-m-d-l-3Please accept this brief greeting from the Fathers of the Vicariate of Laos, gathered here in Paksane for our annual retreat. There were 45 of us. This morning, we had the closing ceremony with His Excellency celebrating a Pontifical Mass, along with the renewal of vows and the consecration to the Sacred Heart.

In a few days, we will begin our daily retreat, wherever God wants, always united to Him, more and more as apostles and as Oblates.

Our work sites, whether old or new, close or far-off, await us for a new year of hard work; they hope that we will be renewed in the spirit of sacrifice and in the holiness that God and the Church expect of us.

During this holy retreat, we prayed a lot to the Immaculate Mother of God, that abundant divine blessing might assist and promote your programs for the Mission.

(There follow the signatures of the participants at the retreat, including the six martyrs: Joseph Boissel, Vincent L’Hénoret, Louis Leroy, Jean Wauthier, Mario Borzaga, and Michel Coquelet)

Collective letter to the Superiors of the Oblates,
written by Blessed Mario Borzaga, 17 November 1959

 

WEEK I — WEDNESDAY: Blessed René Dubroux, m.e.p. (28.11.1914-19.12.1959

dubroux-mep-6I gave you your freedom; use it only for the good and the service of your Laotian brothers. I miss your presence very much, even your periods of bad mood; and I miss even more the help you were to my work. This is what I ask of you: stick to regular confession. If you don’t go to confession often, you will lose your piety and the purity of your heart; and if, unfortunately, you stop going to confession, that would be a sure sign of disaster.

Now that you have some money, keep track of it, but do not live on the charity of others; and wherever you take a room, try to pay for the room yourself. Any way, you are free, with all the risks that this entails; accept your responsibilities.

My letter contains only advice. Avoid being frivolous; be serious, thrifty and persevering; set fantasies aside. Because you have been faithful, the good Lord has blessed you, and will bless you if you remain faithful. Whatever happens, you will always be my beloved son; I wrote to you at the death of your father that I’m sure he has watched over you from Heaven. The more you give, the more you receive.

Letter of Blessed René Dubroux
to a young catechist-helper, aged 21, 8 July 1959.