“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.

A cost of discipleship is detachment. I thought I could never be able to leave Vietnam and the people I love very dearly behind. But God made it possible when the time came. When the spiritual father passed away, many worried that I would be so lost. They were right. However, Abba John Eudes is so much a part of me and my spirit that I become stronger and more mature in faith (I pray).

After sitting outside the Abbey church for daily Mass for almost nine months (3/20 –12/31/2021), I took it as God’s will that I should go to Mass online where I could get more spiritual nourishment. I sure did. It was a crucial four-month period during which I withered in both body and spirit like so many of us in the world! May God have mercy on us. On May 1st, I woke up to a new life with a stunning realization of the human condition and limitation and our dependency on God. The Blessed Mother sat me up from the sick bed and brought me to our local churches where I began to attend daily Mass. Like a plant, which once the top is cut off, new shoots eventually come out, I began to heal and enjoy life again in doing little things from the heart. Many thanks to the parish priests and parishioners for their faith, kindness and fidelity.

Our heavenly Father’s homes are everywhere. On Sundays, I wander to different parishes. It is consoling somehow to know that God is always faithful and loving no matter what life journey brings…

JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU! (my next icon: The Divine Mercy)

Genesee Abbey store opens again after COVID on July 1, 2021. Thank God for keeping the community safe. To those who inquire, the store has a new team and a smaller set up. I pray for their effort! The old team of beautiful, hardworking, spirit-filled and capable women (I love them and treasure our friendship. We were like a community of sisters) knows how hard we worked to serve and to keep the store going! After more than 12 years of helping out in the Abbey store, I am no longer a part of it. I was glad to serve, and now I am happy that I am not working there. God put me there to work and now releases me of the responsibilities. Thank You, Lord.

God has a plan, and He gives me the grace to see through it. It takes COVID 19 to make this transition. After Abba John Eudes retired, he became a hermit. Then he left the country for two years to serve in the Philippines before coming back to be a hermit again. Like teacher like student! I love the hermit life I now have. “Never forget your first love!” my Russian icon teacher told me. He means writing icons. Abba John Eudes once shared with me that when he visited Mount Athos, the monks who writes icon live a secluded life. They stay in their cell and only go out to sing in church. They all have a great voice, too.

So here I am going back to my first love, the love that prompts me to treasure and appreciate the simplicity, tranquility, contemplation, peacefulness, holiness, etc. With these, a lost soul like mine can be more attentive and able to hear the gentle whispering of God (1 Kings 19:1-13)

May God grant the brothers the grace to live their way of life faithfully and to welcome new brothers who will persevere. And may He bless those who are called to help the brothers with their livelihood. Amen.

I love being in the garden where I feel ever closer to God. I love watching the plants grow as they soak up the sun and the rain. After years of hard work, having a nice garden is like enjoying a wonderful retirement. A friend once said: “Minh, with you, when it rains, it pours.” I am guilty as charged. I planted over 200 plants in the 15’x50’ fenced-in garden.

The Blessed Mother’s flower garden is a part of it. I may have to enlarge the area to make room for her yellow rose bush that some friends encouraged me to get for her. I love giving Our Lady flowers, but I try not to overdo it (a great weakness of mine). However, I can justify that the garden needs many flowers to attract bees and butterflies for pollination. Abba John Denburger, my inspiration when it comes to giving the Blessed Mother flowers, once gave me three Easter lilies with a note: “for the most beautiful flower garden of Our Lady!” All of the world flower gardens altogether is her “most beautiful flower garden” for sure.

Instead of hiring professional landscapers, prayerfully, I take time to cultivate the Marian Land as the Lord inspires me. I pray that with Jesus’ help, this God given sanctuary will be simple, beautiful and contemplative. It will give praise to God, the Creator and Artist of all that are beautifully created. The Blessed Mother will enjoy it very much also. And so will we who come to visit and be inspired to praise and be closer to God in nature.

Daily as I witness how miraculously the plants grow and flourish, especially after a rainfall, I also feel refreshed and happy. It is the kind of happiness which only God can give. For me, gardening is also a ministry besides providing me healthy food. Loved ones and friends will benefit from the weekly harvest as well. I pray you are enjoying your garden, too. The above two pictures show my friends’ flower garden. God bless them and their labor of love.

The last two pictures show how God allows a soul to experience being Martha and then Mary who has chosen the better part.

All are for God’s honor and glory. Amen.