Five Loaves and Two Fishes by Archbishop F. X. Nguyen Van Thuan (Dunmore Press, 90pp, $5.00 plus postage and handling. Available from AD Books)
Archbishop Nguyen Van Thuan is a remarkable man who has witnessed to the Gospel in an extraordinary way. So much so that now in exile from his beloved Vietnam, Archbishop Thuan has been appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
When Thuan was made Archbishop he was arrested and imprisoned by the Communist Government in Vietnam. Of 13 years of imprisonment, Thuan spent nine in solitary confinement; but as we find in this book Five Loaves and Two Fishes, the "power of God cannot be confined and it is at its best when the odds are against it."
During his time in prison, Archbishop Thuan lived and proclaimed the power of the Gospel, befriended all his gaolers, taught them French and Latin, and talked them into obtaining for him a pencil and paper. At great risk to those jailers, he was supplied and the fruits of this act is this remarkable little book.
Five Loaves and Two Fishes follows the story where Jesus offers five loaves and two fish. In the words of the Archbishop, it is nothing before a crowd of thousands of people. But it was all that Jesus had - and it parallels the Archbishop's own experience in prison: "Like the boy in the Gospel passage É five loaves and two fish. It is nothing, but it is all I have. Jesus will do the rest."
And so this book takes us on a spiritual journey with Archbishop Thuan's experience as a guide, helping us to understand that God's grace gives us energy "to work and to go on, even in the most desperate moments." This was certainly the case in the life of Archbishop Thuan.
Anthony Cappello is research assistant for the Thomas More Centre.