Newsletter of the District
Fr. Daniel Couture
my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today a thirst
for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, laden themselves with
gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellowmen. Amen.
Report on the Society’s Mission
Divine Providence! Such has always been the advice of Archbishop
Lefebvre to his priests for the development of their apostolate.
In a district with continental dimensions, with half the world’s
population, with so many various cultures and languages, with only
13 priests to minister to 9 countries, common sense continuously
indicates to ‘go easy’ when it concerns expanding in new apostolic
is a fact that Vietnam is proportionally the second largest Catholic
country of Asia with its 9 million Catholics for a population of
over 70 millions. At what stage is the crisis in the Church there?
Has there been a sound opposition to modernism? Are there any traditional
masses said publicly or privately? By what door could we enter?
We had to wait for the hour of God to find the answer to these questions.
It came in 1999 with its classical doorbell signal: a cry for
help from souls athirst of Divine grace. This is what we want
to make known by this little dossier. May it be read, as it was
written, as an act of gratitude.
It is only a start, obviously. God, Who is always wonderful in His
works and ways, will continue to enlighten our path in this truly
exciting missionary adventure. Let us pray that the field bring
forth fruit one hundredfold.
Providence opens a door
INITIAL STEP - Divine Providence knocks at our door: In June 1999,
we received the following e-mail massage:
Subject: Mission in Vietnam Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 02:58
it may concern, My name is M. I would like to know if the
Society of St. Pius X has tried to start a mission in Vietnam.
I have friends and contacts throughout Vietnam who are looking
for the Latin Mass. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
God Bless. M.
TWO LOOKS INSIDE: Then, contacts were made with two persons, one
of which visited Vietnam in July 1999.
My trip to Vietnam went well. I was able to get addresses
of people there who are very interested in the Latin Mass
(Tridentine). Mr. N. is the main contact. Mr. N. knows about
fifty people who will come to the Latin Mass if it is available.
He and M.'s father four years ago met practically all the
bishops and one Cardinal in Vietnam telling them that communion
in the hand is wrong.
I was there, he spoke to different priests about the Latin
Mass and gave them literature that I gave to him and they
all told him the same thing that the Latin Mass is not forbidden.
Ironically, I was told by a priest that there is no priest
in Vietnam who celebrates this Mass publicly. So the faithful
are deprived of the True Mass.
T., also a relative of M., knows about 20 people who will
come. He is studying to be a priest for many years and have
applied to become a priest but the government keeps denying
his application. He is very enthusiastic about the Latin Mass.
I also met Mr. Q. who wish he could assist in the Latin Mass.
He wants to be active in helping the SSPX priests if they
come to Vietnam. Although these Vietnamese people are poor,
they very much want to keep the true Faith. They are not happy
with the New Mass and the changes, i.e, communion in the hand,
altar girls, etc.
Masses that I was able to attended in Saigon and central Vietnam
for the most part are typical of the New Mass. Some of the
churches no longer have kneelers. Therefore people stand and
sit for the Mass. In the churches with kneelers, people do
kneel. Priests no longer genuflects, they only bowed. Most
people received communions in the hand, some on the tongue.
There was one church in Saigon that the priest used a different
Eucharistic Prayer instead of the approved four Eucharistic Prayer.
The prayers he used were very different. He chanted some prayers
and the congregation would respond "we are brothers in one family"
three or four times. I learned he has just recently adopted
this practice a few months ago. He alternates it on Sunday
with one of the four approved Eucharistic Prayers.
the Masses that I went to, the churches were always full even
on weekdays. I feel so blessed in having the True Mass and
how I wish the Vietnamese people could have it as well. How
are you in obtaining a visa to Vietnam? I hope you will be
able to come there soon. The people I mentioned above are
eager to help you when you arrive. They do not speak English,
you 'll need a translator. If I can help you in any way, please
let me know.
in Jesus & Mary,
Gratias! I just received an e-mail from N.! I have to say
God works in such mysterious ways. (...)
no Latin Mass in Vietnam is enough to break anyone’s heart.
The faithful there still have the Faith, they just need someone
to tell them.
diocese, a nun 98 years old and a priest 101 years old are watching
over 4000 orphans.
five months back I read about 13,000 mountain people in the
mountains of Vietnam converting to the Catholic Faith. Oh,
Father if you can only see the pictures of the thousands of Catholics
sleeping on the road in plastic bags, traveling for days just
to attend Mass on a Holy Day! They will come by the thousands
just to attend Mass offered by the Cardinal, overcrowd the
fields, they end up standing in the river to hear Mass. If
they can do all that for the Novus Ordo Mass which barely
gives any grace, what will they do for the fruitful Mass that
opens the gates of heaven, pouring down endless graces?
will be done.
Letter of St. Theophane
dearest Father, Sister and Brothers,
I write to you at the beginning of this year, which will be my last
on earth. I hope you got the little note which I wrote announcing
my capture on the Feast of St. Andrew. God permitted me to be betrayed
by a traitor, but I owe him no grudge. From that village I sent
you a few lines of farewell before I had the criminal’s chain fastened
on my feet and neck. I have kissed that chain, a true link which
binds me to Jesus and Mary, and which I would not exchange for its
weight in gold. The mandarin had the kindness to have a light one
made for me, and treated me, during my stay in his prefecture, with
every possible consideration. His brother came at least ten times
and tried to persuade me to trample the Cross under foot. He did
not want to see me die so young!
I left the prefecture to go on to the capital, an immense crowd
came to witness my departure; in spite of the guards and the mandarins,
one man, a young Christian, was not afraid to throw himself on his
knees three times before my cage, imploring my blessing, and declaring
me to be a messenger sent from Heaven. He was of course made prisoner.
Theophane Venard (1829-1861)
After a couple
of days I arrived at Kecho, the ancient capital of the kings of
Tong-King. Can you fancy me sitting quietly in the center of my
wooden cage, borne by eight soldiers, in the midst of an innumerable
crowd of people, who almost barred the passage of the troops. I
heard some of them saying, “What a pretty boy that European is!”
“He is happy and bright, as if he were going to a feast!” “He doesn’t
look a bit afraid!” “Certainly he can’t have done anything wrong!”
“He came to our country to do us good and yet they will put him
to death!” etc., etc. We entered the citadel by the eastern gate
and I was brought at once before the tribunal of the judge of criminal
cases. My catechist Khang, bearing his terrible yoke, walked behind
my cage. I prayed God’s Holy Spirit to strengthen us both and to
speak by our mouths according to our Savior’s promise; and I invoked
the Queen of Martyrs and begged her to help her faithful child.
To begin with,
the judge gave me a cup of tea, which I drank without ceremony in
my cage. Then he commenced the usual interrogatory:
you come?” “I am from the Great West, from the country of France.”
you come to do in Annam?” “I have come to preach the true religion
to those who know it not.”
“What is your
age?” “Thirty-one.” The judge here said aside, with an accent of
pity, “Poor fellow! He is still very young!” Then he continued,
“Who sent you here?” “Neither the king nor the mandarins of France;
but I myself, of my own accord, came to preach the Gospel to the
heathen, and my superiors in religion assigned Annam to me as my
“Do you know
the bishop called, in the Vietnamese language, Lieow [Bishop Retord]?”
“Yes, I know him.”
“Why did he
give letters of recommendation to the rebel chiefs to enroll the
to ask the mandarin in reply, “From what source did you derive that
of Nam-Digne wrote us word of it.”
I can bear witness that it is not true. The Bishop was too wise
to commit so foolish an act, and if letters were produced to prove
it, I should know that they were false. I saw the circular which
Bishop Lieow addressed to his priests, in which he positively forbade
their joining the rebel chiefs and declared that he would a thousand
times sooner sacrifice his life than dip his crozier in blood.”
“And the warriors
of Europe, who took Touranne [Da Nang] and Saigon, who sent them?
What was their object in making war on our country?”
I heard the rumors of war; but having no communication with these
European troops, I cannot answer your question.”
At this part
of the interrogatory the prefect arrived, and he had hardly taken
his seat when he cried out to me, in a loud and angry voice, “Ah!
You chief of the Christian religion, you have a clever countenance,
you know very well that the Vietnamese laws forbid entrance into
the kingdom to Europeans; what was the use, then, of coming here
to be killed? It is you who have excited the Europeans to
make war upon is, is it not? Speak the truth, or I will put you
to the torture.”
you ask me two questions. To the first I reply that I am sent as
an ambassador from Heaven to preach the true religion to those who
scorn it not, no matter in what kingdom, or in what place. We respect
the authority of kings on the earth, but we respect more the authority
of the King of Heaven. To your second question I answer that I never
in any way invited or excited the Europeans to make war on the Vietnamese
“In that case
will you tell them to go? And you will then obtain your pardon.”
I have no power and no authority in such matters, but if His Majesty
sends me I will beg the European warriors to abstain from making
war on the Vietnamese; and if I do not succeed, I will return here
to suffer death.”
“You do not
fear death, then?”
I do not fear death. I have come here to preach the true religion.
I am guilty of no crime which deserves death. But if the Annamites
kill me, I shall shed my blood with great joy for them.”
any spite or ill-will against the man who betrayed and took you
“None at all.
The Christian religion forbids us to entertain anger, and teaches
us to love those who hate us.”
the Christian religion! You must declare the names of all the places
and people that have sheltered you up to this hour.”
They call you the father and mother of this people. If I were to
make such a declaration it would involve a large number of persons
in untold misery. Judge for yourself whether it would become me
to do this or not.”
Cross under foot, then, and you shall not be put to death.”
“How! I have
preached the religion of the Cross all my life until this day, and
do you expect me to abjure it now?
I do not esteem
so highly the pleasures of this life as to be willing to buy the
preservation of it by apostasy.”
has such a charm in your eyes, why did you hide yourself when there
was fear of your being taken?”
Our religion forbids us to presume on our strength, and to deliver
ourselves to the persecutors. But Heaven having permitted my arrest,
I have confidence in God that He will give me sufficient courage
to suffer all torture and be constant unto death.”
scene depicting Vietnamese execution.
This is a summary
of the questions asked me, and of my answers. The mandarins then
proceeded to question my catechist [Pierre Khang] and inflicted
ten strokes of the knout upon him. He bore them without flinching,
God giving him strength all the while gloriously to confess the
day I have been placed in my cage at the door of the prefect’s house,
guarded by a company of Cochin-Chinese soldiers. A great many persons
of rank have come to visit me and converse with me. They will have
it that I am a doctor, an astronomer, a diviner, a prophet, from
whom nothing is hid. Several visitors have begged me to tell their
fortunes. Then they question me about Europe, about France, in fact,
about the whole world.
me an opportunity to enlighten them a little on points about which
they are supremely ignorant, and on which they have sometimes the
most comical ideas. I try above everything to slip in a little serious
word now and then so as to teach them the way of salvation. But
the Annamites are a frivolous race, and don’t like serious subjects;
still less will they treat on philosophy or religion. On the other
hand, their heart is good, and they do their best to show me both
interest and sympathy. My soldier guards have an affection for me,
and though they have been blamed two or three times for letting
me go out, they still open my cage from time to time, and allow
me to take a little walk. Sometimes their conversation is not very
proper, but I never let pass words of that sort; and I do not hesitate
to speak to them strongly. I tell them that they lower themselves
in the eyes of everyone by impure thoughts and libertine discourses;
and that if they can talk in that way without blushing, they deserve
nothing but pity, not to say contempt. My lessons make an impression.
They are far more careful in their language now, and some have gone
to the length of begging my pardon for having made use of indelicate
expressions. Still I cannot say that everything is sweet and pleasant;
although many are kind to me, some insult and mock me, and use rough
language to me. May God forgive them!
I am now only
waiting patiently for the day when God will allow me to offer Him
the sacrifice of my blood. I do not regret leaving this world; my
soul thirsts for the waters of eternal life. My exile is over. I
touch the soil of my real country; earth vanishes, Heaven opens,
I go to God. Adieu, dearest father, sister, brothers, do not mourn
for me, do not weep for me, live the years that are yet left to
you on earth in unity and love. Practice your religion; keep pure
from all sin. We shall meet again in Heaven, and shall enjoy true
happiness in the kingdom of God. Adieu. I should like to write to
each one separately but I cannot, and you know my heart. It is three
long, weary years since I have heard from you, and I know not who
is taken or who is left. Adieu. The prisoner of Jesus Christ salutes
you. In a very short time the sacrifice will be consummated. May
God have you always in His holy keeping. Amen.