The people who come to our Spiritan community in Củ Chi often visit our jackfruit garden. Our land is covered with a yellow jackfruit, full of vitality, contrasting with the grey and toxic plantation of the surrounding rubber forest. The first day I stepped into the community of Củ Chi to discern my vocation, I was impressed by its garden with its simple but harmonious atmosphere that made me feel very comfortable and peaceful. This year, under the guidance of two fathers, I and seven brothers do our novitiate here. Therefore, I have more opportunities to experience and discover interesting things in this place.
It is amazing to see that in our garden, there are ripe fruits the whole year long. At times, we have many fruits, other times, just a few ones. When the fruits are ripe, we eat some of them and share the remaining ones with other people. The fruits help us to connect with many people, to be closer to them. People are surprised and delighted when we offer them fruits. In our area, the people coming from remote areas are more numerous than the native ones. To create a “village atmosphere” is therefore very much appreciated.
During this year of training, the small events in our daily life serve as lessons for the present time as well as for our future. The jackfruits’ story tells us something about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. First of all, it says something about encountering people. In our community, our members come from different horizons, even as far as Europe. The diversity of our origins creates a fruitful dynamic that impacts deeply our lives. We gather in this place because of our ideal to live together and for Christ, according to the charism of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly, it is because of the plan of God that we live together. We also meet people who come to our house to spend time for recollection. Since the beginning of our novitiate three months ago, we met many people coming for personal or community recollection. I am so delighted to welcome them, and even more delighted knowing that they come here to encounter God, even if our facilities at home are very simple.
It is also a great joy to welcome our benefactors and other visitors. They care for us and they support us in our vocation journey. Our community is also the meeting point for the members of our own congregation who come for big events and main celebrations. The aspirants and our students in philosophy come here once a month for seminars and recollections. They bring to us some goods from the city and more than that, their enth
usiasm. But our most significant encounter is the one that takes place with God Himself through the gift of faith. Indeed, here we spend lots of time for prayer, meditation, adoration of the Holy Sacrament, and daily masses. This essential encounter with God is meaningful and very valuable. It facilitates the encounter we do with all the people I mention ed above. Of course, many times, my brothers and I face difficulties. We struggle with our own limitations and our brothers’ limitations, but we also receive the strength to overcome our difficulties or to endure them.
Besides all these encounters, we have many activities. We have class on several matters: History of our Congregation, Prayer, the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, The Spiritans Rule of Life, the Charism of the Congregation. It facilitates our participation in the mass and the common prayer of the psalms. It helps us to understand better the essence of our congregation and its founders. It encourages us to fully consecrate ourselves to God. Besides studies, we also do manual work; we take care of the house and do gardening with enth
usiasm, solidarity, and efficacity. We also collaborate with some orphanages nearby and share moments of joy with the orphans. The sisters who receive our help are happy to see that the children enjoy our presence. At home, we also have entertainment and sports. We live out the “practical union with God” as disciples of Father Francis Libermann, the second founder of our congregation. I believe that behind all this, Mother Mary accompanies us, even if, so many times, I am not aware of her presence. Silently, she calls us to enter in an atmosphere similar to the one present in Nazareth, or when Mary was visiting Elisabeth (Lk 1, 39-56), and in the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2,3). She invites us to question and meditate on the Word of God in our hearts. With her, we experience the loss of the Child and the incomprehension of his parents when he was found again (Lk 2, 51), we share the spirit of courage and constancy at the feet of Jesus hanging on the Cross (Jn 19, 25-27), … More than ever, I see that this spirit is acting in our lives here.
This year, we continue to work in the garden and plant new trees for our garden to be always greener than the surrounding plantations of our neighbors’ old rubber trees, hoping to have delicious fruits for many more years. With the protection of Mother Mary, I hope that my vocation will continue to be as strong as the jackfruits of our garden.
Brother Augustine Đặng Quốc Sao, Spiritan novice in Củ Chi.