10/04/2010, 00.00
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PIME missionary: What keeps me in Prey Veng

by Alberto Caccaro
Fr. Alberto Caccaro, 10 years in Cambodia, writes about a day in the life of his mission: the hydrocephalus child, the superstition of her relatives, the strength and the presence of Jesus who heals the whole person. Yesterday Fr. Albert received a gold medal from the government for work he is doing in the world of education (See AsiaNews.it, 10/05/2010 PIME missionary: schools, to rebuild Cambodian society).

Prey Veng, October 1, 2010,

Memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux

"There are no distances with heaven. (...) And even in blood, absurd death there are no unspoken intentions, There is no reason that it is not Love".[1]

A few weeks ago we were called by a family that lives in open paddy fields, 40 miles northeast of Prey Veng. When these calls reach us we already know that the situation involves a sick person or a particular need. So I asked Sister Marie to go to in my stead. She is a nurse and has the expertise to evaluate these cases.

On arriving at the village, she was met with a baby girl of eight months, suffering from hydrocephalus. The grandparents and a handful of other children were with the baby. It seemed however that her parents, according to the grandparents, had gone abroad in search of work, in order to provide for their child. But we do not know if they are in Thailand or Malaysia and in any case, so far, we have had no news, no help. The baby was fine; it was just the weight of her head, too big for her little body.

Thank God there is a lay missionary in Phnom Penh, Paola, who is always willing to respond to our requests. We then brought the girl to her for further tests. Who knows for what strange and yet probably common natural phenomenon that it had not rained in the village for some time. The farmers were anxiously waiting for water so they could begin to cultivate the rice fields. No sooner had the baby girl been brought to Phnom Penh, then it began to rain in the village.

Inevitably that people associated the coming of the rains with the baby girl’s departure from the village. Perhaps she was the cause of the curse that kept the rain in the sky. I will not dwell on the meaning of such an interpretation, the result of a still widespread animism, where things often carry bad luck or there are often punishments to be served, and I will not judge that from the standpoint of theology or science. My level is much more visceral, my impulse moves from the heart, the heart in all its immediacy, crying along with all the poets, the one essential truth: "There is no reason that it is not Love."

This cry, this deep impulse of my heart is my evangelisation. In the absurd death. Or in the absurd birth, as we could perhaps say of that baby girl, "there are no unspoken intentions; there is no reason that it is not Love”.

It is all I have to say to those two grandparents and the people of the village, "there are no unspoken intentions; there is no reason that it is not Love." And I would encourage them to take care of the child, indicating a deeper level, beyond contempt, resignation or condemnation of them or, worse still, the child: "Do not ask why / there is pain or evil. ”./ Something happened in the beginning, of which / God himself does not speak. / He sent his son to heal it. / This is sufficient. / No one will ever know[2].

I would like to be able to say that Jesus did not explain or erase pain or evil, but suffered it and came to fix it. This is why he never tired of saying, "Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not cry, do not despair. ". Your faith has saved youRead the Gospels. It is all so clear. Jesus did not explain evil. He began by remediating and always intervened to treat and, sometimes, to heal. Evangelization is taking care of others.

What keeps me here in Prey Veng, in fact, are not only the theological statements about Jesus as the only Savior and that there is no salvation outside of Him. I believe all of this. But what convinces me to stay is that I am continually moved by the very real way that Jesus exalts man, heals man, the whole man. Even our little girl, who stops the rain, but not his Grace. And in her helpless silence she speaks to us.

At times my head, my heart and my thoughts short-circuit. I run out of explanations for things that happen, I run out of energy to resist in the face of contradictions large or small, personal or collective. It is then that I have to put it all in writing. Stop talking and start writing. And when I write, it is no longer I who speak or command, instead it is Prey Veng that begins to speak. The many stories that I encounter, the people with whom I live, they begin to talk. Only when I really decide to remain silent. Otherwise I manipulate reality, others, just to speak about me. This greatly reduces our vision... It I said as much to the young people who came from Italy as part of the Youth and Mission: “Be patient, give yourselves and give time to things, places, take a break from yourselves, then Prey Veng will begin to talk to you, it will trust ". you. And slowly you will find that the reality already holds your dreamBut it takes time. I like what Herta Muller says, 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature: "Every time I write it is because I reached the point where I do not know what to do, what to do with myself and with my surroundings. "Yes, sometimes I'm sick of my senses. I'm sick of my senses. I'm sick of my brooding. Everything is so messed up that I do not know where external things begin or end. If they are in me or I in them. Pieces of the world begin to break off as if it had swallowed all that I can not carry. I do not know if that child or that story is in me and I in them. It 's like a common destiny.

So here, I become a beggar. I am silent, I confess I kneel and beg for His presence. It is the moment of faith that saves, and I understand that "we are called to look upon all things with a Presence in our eyes. "Since having this Presence in our eyes does not reduce our visual field that has as its object the other, but it is a different and comprehensive way of seeing 'all' of the other.[3]

A few days ago chatting with a confrere about the sense of mission for us priests, I said that we just have to worry about being 'fathers'. This in fact is what they call us. Not only fathers in the church. Fathers also outside. Fathers in society. Fathers for all God's children

I commend to your intercession and the intercession of our dearly beloved who have already preceded us to God, our little community, the church of Saint Benedict, the asylum, school, the many beautiful stories that God tells me. This morning we attended the official opening ceremony of the new school year with all schools in Prey Veng. The authorities have given me a public honor for the work done so far. I am very grateful for this but also a little concerned: Power always does as much. It promotes you, rewards you, it enlists you. But no matter. We must walk together, "everything is patience and waiting / that the Pascal stone will overturn / revealing on one side the tomb / and on the other side the true design / his face bright / the kingdom the kingdom, the kingdom" (Bartolo Cattafi)


Therefore I will hang onto him: "His presence and his company thus decide the perception one has of oneself and of reality”.[4]


Best regards, Father Alberto

[1]Giuseppe Centore, Ladro d’eternitá, Panda, Padova 1986, p. 51.

[2]Renzo Barsacchi, Marinaio di Dio, Nardini, Florence 1985, p. 73.

[3] Luigi Giussani, Alla ricerca del volto umano, Rizzoli, Milano 1995, p. 76.

[4] Idem , p. 72.


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