During the Vietnam War (1967-1975) I lived among mines, bombs, and guerrillas. There were nights when I could not sleep. I would walk in the corridors of the bishop's residence tormented with anxiety for my priests. "What will happen tonight to one or another of my priests?"
In January 1968 the famous Tet Offensive took place. A group of soldiers came seeking refuge in the presbytery of Duy Can, where Father Van and two choirboys were hiding. The Communists were hoping to be spared because of the presence of the priest. But, after a day of waiting, the airplanes dropped napalm bombs, which burnt the priest and the two boys to death.
Five days later a priest voluntarily set off in order to replace Father Van in that village, where all the houses had been burnt. What deep emotions, what admiration, what joy a bishop feels when he sees his priests animated by the very apostolic spirit of Christ!
In Bosnia, Rwanda, Burundi, Latin America, and in many other areas of the world, in small villages and in the anonymity of large cities, these good shepherds are ready to lay down their lives for their sheep...
...During the thirteen years I spent in prison, nine of which were in isolation and without ever coming to trial, the thought of Jesus abandoned and crucified helped me so much to live with inner peace in obedience to the will of God.
In human eyes, Jesus is in absolute immobility; His life seems a failure. But, in the eyes of God, on the Cross, Jesus has carried out the most important action of His life. He has saved the whole of mankind, He "who, though He was in the form of God,.. took the form of a servant. ..and became obedient unto death, even death on the Cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).