LITERARY WORKS OF CARDINAL VAN THUÂN

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Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII. Original title in Vietnamese: Đức Thánh Cha Gioan XXII, Sao Mai Publishing House, Huê 3 November 1960.

This volume commemorates the second anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s pontificate (28 October 1958 – 28 October 1960). It reflects the fervent intention of the young priest F. X Nguyên Van Thuân to love Jesus and His Church to the end, just as Pope John XXIII did.
The book is composed of 11 chapters that follow, step by step, the life of the Pope through to his Pontificate. It is written as a historical-spiritual presentation, based on the model “Father and Pastor”. Its intention is to instil in the faithful, particularly in seminarians and priests, a deep love for both the Pope and the Church.

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The Message of St. Maximilian Kolbe, priest.

The Message of St. Maximilian Kolbe, priest. Original title in Vietnamese: Sứ mệnh của Cha thánh Maximiliano Kolbe, Giang Xâ (17.10.1982).
Van Thuân wrote this book in commemoration of the canonization of Maximilian Kolbe (17 October 1982). It was one of the last works that he wrote during his final days in the prison of Giang Xâ, before being transferred to an isolated apartment at Hoa Ma Street (Hanoi) under strict police monitoring on 5 November 1982. The book contains meditations on the life of the Saint, with particular emphasis on his devotion to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. For the most part, the book is composed of the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

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The Road of Hope. A Gospel from Prison

The Road of Hope. A Gospel from Prison (1975). Published in English, Pauline Books & Media, 2001.

This publication is a collection of 1001 brief thoughts, described by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray in the book’s presentation as “a thousand droplets of the Gospel”. The book contains a Preface and concludes with a poem written by Van Thuân entitled “You have a Homeland”.
“In the village of Cay Vong, where I was sent to house arrest under police surveillance, ‘confused’ among the people, day and night I felt obsessed with one thought: My people! My people whom I love so much! A flock without a shepherd! How can I communicate with my people at this moment in which they need their shepherd most? Catholic bookstores have been confiscated; schools closed; nuns, religious, teachers must go to work in the rice fields. This separation is a shock that destroys my heart”.
These 1001 thoughts were received clandestinely by various Vietnamese citizens in the West – people, who had been a part of the boat people. The thoughts were originally published in Vietnamese and translated into different languages, divided into 36 different themes as 36 stations of a long journey through the desert: from “Departure” to “Hope”.
The prisoner Van Thuân leaves us a clear and practical testimony of how to follow, day by day, in the footsteps of Jesus: in entrustment, in love and in hope “that does not disappoint”.
These 1001 thoughts, written at the begin of Van Thuân’s long imprisonment, undoubtedly form the foundation for his later works.

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Prayers of Hope. Words of Courage.

Prayers of Hope. Words of Courage. Pauline Books & Media, 2002.

This book was also written during imprisonment under house arrest in Hoa Ma Street (Hanoi) and only later published for the first time in 1997 by Edizione San Paolo. The Cardinal explains: “In 1987, in isolation in Hoa Ma, I had wanted to write a book that would comprise my meditations and reflections for each day, entitled Prayers of Hope. Every year, I received hundreds of postcards from children, with words that touched my heart profoundly; thus, in this way, I experienced the grace of ‘ecclesial communion’. For this reason, I want to share my personal choice of Jesus. With the notes I collected in prison, I will be able to write meditations, reflections, prayers for each day of the year; when I find some time, I will”.

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Five Loaves and Two Fishes

Five Loaves and Two Fishes. Pauline Books & Media, 2003.

In this book, Van Thuân recalls the time of his imprisonment from 1975 to 1988, during which he experiences the radical demands of the Sequela Christi and, at the same time, God’s Providence and tenderness. Five Loaves and Two Fish is the most well-known of his writings. It is not just a simple account of his long years in prison but, first and foremost, his spiritual testimony. It is a witness to the tangible and daily presence of Divine mercy in his life. In the Preface, he reveals the “why” of his autobiography to his readers when he states: “I often suffer internally because the mass media demand I tell them sensational things: that I accuse, denounce, call to battle, take revenge... My greatest desire is to transmit my message of Love, in serenity and truth, in forgiveness and reconciliation. I want to share my personal experiences: how I encountered Jesus in every moment of my daily existence, in the discernment between God and His works, in prayer, in the Eucharist, in my brothers and sisters, in the Virgin Mary – who was guide on my path”. This is the purpose and, at the same time, the content of his moving story, written with great clarity and simplicity.

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The Journey of Hope in the Light of the Word of God and the Second Vatican Council

The Journey of Hope in the Light of the Word of God and the Second Vatican Council (Title in Italian: Il Cammino della Speranza alla luce della Parola di Dio e del Concilio Vaticano II), Città Nuova Editrice, 1979.
This book was written at night, in secret, during the Van Thuân’s obligatory residence at Giang Xâ in North Vietnam. The bishop continues his thoughts found in The Road of Hope: A Gospel from Prison, enriching them with passages from the Scriptures and texts of the Second Vatican Council. His reflections are based on the 36 themes found in The Road of Hope.
Original title in Vietnamese: Đường Hy vọng dưới ánh sáng lời Chúa và Công đồng Vaticanô II, Opus Immaculatae et Joseph, Australia 1999.
Title in French: Le chemin de l’espérance à la lumière de la Parole de Dieu et du Concile, Le sarment – Fayard 1994.

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Pilgrims on the Road of Hope

Pilgrims on the Road of Hope, Giang Xâ, 1980.
In this book, also written during Van Thuân’s residence at Giang Xâ, the author continues his reflections contained in The Road of Hope. In this work, the author calls to mind various witnesses: protagonists of the Bible, Saints, figures from both human history and that of the Church. It is made up of 38 chapters, with a preface and concluding prayer.
Original title in Vietnamese: Những Người Lữ Hành Trên Ðường Hy Vọng, Dung Lac 1999.
Title in French: Les pèlerins du chemin de l‘espérance, Ed. Le Sarment – Fayard 1993.
Title in Spanish: Peregrinos por el camino de la esperanza. Ed. Monte Carmelo (1999), Spagna.

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Witnesses to Hope

Witnesses to Hope. Spiritual Exercises Held in the Presence of His Holiness John Paul II (Title in Italian: Testimoni della Speranza. Esercizi spirituali tenuti alla presenza di S.S. Giovanni Paolo II). Città Nuova Editrice, 2000.
This book contains 22 meditations written by Cardinal Van Thuân. The publication begins with a letter signed by Pope John Paul II and concludes with the words of His Holiness pronounced at the conclusion of the retreat the Cardinal give for the Roman Curia.
“Founded on Scripture and the teachings of Church Fathers, as well as on your own personal experience, particularly during the time spent in prison for Christ and his Church, you have highlighted the power of the Word of God which, for the disciples of Christ, is ‘the strength of faith (…), the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life’ (Dei Verbum, 21)”.
On 28 March 2000, Pope John Paul II expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Van Thuân with these words: “Through your fraternal and stimulating words, you have led us on the paths of hope that Christ has opened for us, renewing our humanity so as to make us new creatures, calling us to continual personal and ecclesial renewal”.

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Discover the Joy of Hope

Discover the Joy of Hope (Title in Italian: Scoprite la gioia della speranza), Edizioni Art, Roma 2002.
This publication contains the Cardinal’s last spiritual exercises pronounced in February of 2002 (a few months before his death) to a group of about 50 priests belonging to the Legionaries of Christ in Rome. In these 7 reflections, Van Thuân speaks of the priestly vocation and of his own vocation, presenting it as a joy: joy of meeting Christ, joy of the gift of the Eucharist, joy of being both Father and Pastor with Christ, joy of the gift of Mary, joy of the gift of a Church in communion, joy of apostolic enthusiasm, and joy of the gift of the present moment.
The 7 meditations are followed by a concluding Homily, as well as the Cardinal’s answers to questions posed by his audience. The publication concludes with the homily of His Holiness John Paul II, pronounced by the Pontiff at the Cardinal’s funeral.

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100 Pages of F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân, Trust in God!

100 Pages of F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân, Trust in God! (Title in Italian: 100 pagine di F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân, spera in Dio!), Città Nuova Editrice, 2008.
This book contains a selection of teachings, from among many, from the life of Archbishop F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân. It strikes the reader above all with its coherent and simple, yet at the same time solemn invitation to never shut the doors of hope, but rather to cultivate and inspire that hope that is present in oneself – an invitation of which he himself became a fervent witness.

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To Live Virtuously in the Light of the Scripture and the Second Vatican Council

To Live Virtuously in the Light of the Scripture and the Second Vatican Council (Title in Italian: Vivere le virtù alla luce della Scrittura e del Concilio Vaticano II), Città Nuova Editrice, 2012.
This book was greatly desired by Cardinal Van Thuân when, after gaining freedom, he was finally able to access Biblical text and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, to which he referred to as he created his thoughts, but which were inaccessible to him during his imprisonment. In this publication, Cardinal Van Thuân is very clear that whatever is founded above all on Scripture acquires authority if it is embedded in the faith of the Church to which it belongs.

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letters (Title in Italian: Le Lettere Pastorali), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013.
As Bishop of the Diocese of Nha Trang, F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân wrote annual letters to the priests, religious, seminarians and lay faithful of his Diocese. In them, he communicated the principal orientations for his pastoral ministry and encouraged his readers to live their faith authentically and creatively, confronting it with the economic, social, and political problems of the time, such as secularization, communism, freemasonry, and capitalism. In his letters, Van Thuân emphasizes human and Christian values such as justice, peace, reconciliation, interior renewal, charity. He calls the lay faithful to follow Christ with courage and generosity, following the examples of martyrs and missionaries. It should be noted that from the beginning of his ministry, F.X. Nguyên Van Thuân had a clear vision of Vietnamese society in transformation and displayed a profound conviction of the Vatican Council’s call to spiritual renewal, mission, and the concrete commitment to build a dignified human society according to God’s plan.
The Letters were entitled:
• Watch and Pray (1968)
• Be Strong in the Faith, Advance in Peace (1969)
• Justice and Peace (1970)
• The Mission of Christ is Our Mission (1970)
• Third Centenary (1971)
• The Jubilee of Renewal and Reconciliation (1973)

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10 “A”s to Remember for Life

10 “A”s to Remember for Life (Title in Italian: Dieci A da ricordare nella vita), Città Nuova Editrice, 2013.
This booklet was prepared as a novena offered in the intention of the beatification of Cardinal François - Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân. It contains, in its entirety, “10 A’s to Remember for Life” (orig. Italian: dieci A da ricordare nella vita). Written in mind of offering something useful, each “A” is preceded by a passage from the Holy Scripture and an invocational prayer to the Blessed Mother. At the conclusion of each day, the reader is invited to recite the prayer for the Beatification of the Cardinal.

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The Joy of Living the Faith

The Joy of Living the Faith (Title in Italian: La gioia di vivere la fede), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2014.
This book contains a series of conversations gathered by young Vietnamese youth who had the privilege to encounter the Cardinal. They are the texts of speeches pronounced to the Cardinal’s beloved compatriots during his meetings with them at various occasions in various parts of the world, intended to educate them in the faith.
They are reflections full of the wisdom of a pastor who undertook the great responsibility to form the faithful, helping them create together a better Christian community.

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VAN THUÂN – Commitment of Hope

VAN THUÂN – Commitment of Hope, the Unpublished Writings (Title in Portuguese: VAN THUÂN – Compromisso de Esperança, Escritos inéditos), Paulinas Editora, Portugal, 2020.
This publication offers both priests and lay faithful a deeper understanding of the person and spirituality of Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuân, humble and great son of the Church. With his light and strength, he teaches that fellow Christians like him do not die for they are with God and remain with us as a proud and fraternal memory of faith in Jesus.

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