To each person his 'Dayenu'

Giangwas asked to take charge of the formation of young men who enter the Fraternity in his Region. In order to provide this service he agreed to follow a course of "formation for formators". In this newsletter he describes this using the word "Dayenu" ("that would have sufficed for me") This word is the reply that the Jewish people give during the Passover rite to the enumeration of all the benefits God has provided for his People. To each gift of the Lord they exclaim, "That would have been sufficed for me!" (Dayenu).

The Japan Region and all the brothers encouraged me to attend a course for formators (those who provide religious formation). Giang, Masalu and LudoGiang, Masalu and Ludo
I therefore left my job, together with colleagues I was very fond of, and went to the Philippines, taking with me the tears of my boss and my friends, and also the trust, joy and hope of my brothers in Japan. I was not afraid of going to study in the Philippines, but I was a bit worried about my poor knowledge of English.
I was warmly welcomed by the brothers, who helped me to get onto the course for formators run by the ICLA (Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia). I have found a lot of friends - members of religious orders from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.
The course started with some fundamental study of theology and anthropology, and we learned about different charisms, cultures and self-knowledge. The important part of this formation is one's own inner relationships, with others and with God. I was quite tired after each session as they involved the use of a lot of body language. But they gave me great joy, because I found that through trusting others I was able to get to know them, to listen to them and share with them, and discover that every individual is unique and precious in the eyes of the Creator.

One of the modules of the course is called Dayenu. This is a Hebrew word which means "That would have sufficed for me". Dayenu is intended to express the marvellous things God has done in my life; it is a way of regaining awareness of my personal relationship with God. This relationship is rooted in my own experiences of God, which are as real as stone. This has led me to say, "I know this, because there I met God personally".
So, here is my Dayenu:
- I was born into a peaceful family in South Vietnam. When I was 8, I saw my beloved father murdered.
If God had created me and had not taken away my beloved father, that would have sufficed for me.
- I wanted to go into a military school and study hard to become a driver after I had finished by studies. It was at this time that the Communists took control of the whole of Vietnam.
If God had allowed me a happy student life and had not interrupted my studies, that would have sufficed for me.
- I was sent to a concentration camp for 3 years, where I contracted malaria and nearly died.
If God had let me live in the concentration camp without falling ill, that would have sufficed for me!
- I was saved by the local Communist party leader, and I fell in love with his younger sister. I escaped from the concentration camp.
If God had given me a new life, had let me marry my girlfriend and had not inspired me to escape from the camp, that would have sufficed for me!
- Seeking freedom, I escaped from Vietnam by boat, as one of the "boat people". I spent five days at sea with nothing to eat, I lost one of my friends, the boat foundered and I was saved by workers from the platform of an oil exploration rig.
If God had freed me from this dark period of Vietnam's history, and had given me a second life without too much suffering during the sea voyage, that would have sufficed for me!
- I arrived in a refugee camp in Malaysia, discovered Christianity and was converted by the revelation that "God is love". I wanted to do no more than to love for the rest of my life. I fell in love with a Vietnamese refugee in the camp. I became seriously ill when she left for America.
If God had opened my heart to love, and had not sent my friend a long way away, that would have sufficed for me!
- I went to Japan, and started a new and happy life. I then had a serious car accident and I remained three months in hospital, which gave a long time to think about things.
If God had come with me to Japan and had not allowed this accident to happen, that would have sufficed for me!
- I fell in love with Jesus of Nazareth, and entered the Little Brothers of Jesus.
If God had come to me like a poor worker from Nazareth, and had not led me to the door of the Fraternity, that would have sufficed for me!!!
In all things "enough" means "enough" – but this is a word unrecognised by God!

After the session of self-knowledge and Dayenu, we became closer to each other, more open and trusting, like friends. We thus reached the point where we were ready to learn about spiritual direction and spiritual discernment. For the practical sessions we divided into small groups (in twos) to discover what the role of a spiritual director was, and also how to receive spiritual direction in real life. Before we started to talk there was a period of silent prayer. With a mixture of tears and smiles I learned the story of my Chinese friend: his wounds, his griefs and difficulties – together with his joys, his faith, his hopes… "a friend with whom one shares bread, with whom one shares not only what one knows but what one is, to whom one talks not just about God, but about my God, the God that gives me life."
"When Pentecost day came round, they were all gathered together…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak other languages, as the Spirit gave them the power to do…" (Acts 2:1-4)
The terms we used during the course were trust, openness, fraternal love. This is really what the text of Acts means when describing Pentecost Day: "speaking the language of the other." It is a precious gift from the Spirit, and is practised in the setting of religious life. It enabled me to escape from my anxiety of not knowing English well enough, and have the courage and happiness to continue the dialogue and to listen to others in the language of trust and love.