Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is love – “Youth of the Eucharist” is a full Catholic Christian life.
What are we to do with this one life that we have? If this question is a question you have been asking yourself, then do I have an answer for you! Four years ago, I was introduced to the life and culture of Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể as a way to help my daughter get to know more Vietnamese people and have a fun activity that fosters maturity of character and Catholic spirit. I have been blessed abundantly by the invitation by Anh Hoe and Chi Trang to become a part of our Vietnamese Catholic community and I have never looked back. Here is why.
Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is love.
“Youth of the Eucharist” is a full Catholic Christian life.
by Tr. Anthony Duk
Doan TNTT – Me Thien Chua – Riverside – Mien Tay Nam
I did not grow up in Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể. When I was in elementary school, junior high and high school in Fountain Valley and going to church at St. Barbara’s Catholic Church on Euclid St, I vaguely recall there being a Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể group there. But if there was, I was not a part of it. I missed out because Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể, loosely translated as ‘youth of the Eucharist’, teaches love. And love is probably the most misunderstood concept in the universe. Only over the past ten years of being married and having a daughter have I begun to learn its meaning. And Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is helping me learn it also.
Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể shows young Vietnamese children how to enjoy being part of large family of believers in God that they can trust and look up to. Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể demonstrates through patience how we teach and guide those younger than us. Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể helps teens to find good wholesome friends who want to ‘do the right thing’ in life. Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể trains young adults to balance personal well being, needs, wants and educational and career goals with community love for others and being selfless and sacrificial of time and energy.
“Youth of the Eucharist” are young men and women who want to share God’s blessings with all those around them and it spills over into their daily lives at home, at school and at work like the spirit and mission of the Cursillio movement. The extra smile, the good deed, the public prayer and sign of the cross at lunch time, the readiness to speak up and defend those who are not able to, the holy suffering and powerful silence while being persecuted or spoken ill of…….the character of someone who honors God incarnate in the host of Holy Communion is a remarkable presence to be around. It is a well rounded Vietnamese American Catholic whose heart and soul is for the betterment of society, themselves, their family and their community. Whether it is washing cars, selling garage sale items to help the poor in Vietnam, preparing a meal for an unemployed person with no place to sleep at a shelter, camping in a cold tent in the middle of nowhere in order to more focus on God or singing off pitch to praise God with children during Sunday activities, Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is love.
One of the tools to do this is the Bo Hoa Thieng (spiritual bouquet). (I like to call it the ‘mini saint maker’ when I fill mine out with my daughter every night) Psychologically, there are few better ways to reinforce and increase a behavior than by keeping track of it and writing it down and turning it into someone every week. And if the behavior we are promoting is reading the Bible (Bible study every Friday at OLPH from 6pm to 8pm, by the way!), prayer, sacrificing, morning and night offerings to God, praying the rosary, visiting Jesus in Perpetual Adoration at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church or at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church and doing the 14 Stations of the Cross, then we are building saints. That is the purpose of our lives, is it not?
This is what I have found in Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể. This is what I want my daughter, my family, my cousins and my relatives to see in Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể. I have found the pearl of great worth and the treasure hidden in the field, and I cannot keep my joy to myself! (Mt 13: 44-46) Found inside Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is the way to live our Christian Catholic life. As one wretched sinner to another, I merely point out to those not already in Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể where we might all find bread to eat. And if love is forgiveness and humility, Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể is filled with imperfect people working on living together in peace and joy as we admonish one another and humbly change our ways so one day we can stand before Almighty God and be found worthy of eternal life (Mt 25: 31-46).
by Tr. Anthony Duk