Br, Joche-Albert Ly

-Oh, that mischievous tongue of his

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7-Oh, that mischievous tongue of his
By no means do we wish to create an erroneous impression of Brother Albert Ly in the minds of our readers. He was not born a saint, nor was his character free from human weaknesses. His many undeniable virtues did not prevent his having a rather sarcastic and critical tongue which at times he found difficult to control. His keen perception and rectitude of character, added to a natural impetuosity, occasionally led him to censure the actions of his confreres – and even of his superiors – when such actions clashed with his convictions. It must be recognized that he never indulged in backbiting, tale-bearing, or acrid criticism. He was wont to speak loud and clear, in order to be understood by all; hence, this weakness was well known to those who lived with Brother Albert. Brother Chrysostom, a Chinese Brother who enjoyed a close friendship with Brother Albert, used to reprimand the latter with charity and wit: “Brother Albert, I wonder how long you will remain in purgatory atoning for the sins of your tongue.” The same Brother cleverly punned the words “Sin” and “beak” (“tsoei” in Mandarin), and thus repeated the phrase, “Oh, that beak of Brother Albert! Oh, the peccadilloes of Brother Albert!” Those present perceived the witticism and smiled. Brother Albert himself acknowledged the correction and accepted it in a good humour. In the same spirit he bore other jokes, such as the nickname “Little Budha” by which he was known. Reverend Brother Philippe explains the allusion. Brother Albert’s incredible powers of work and concentration enabled him to spend hours at his work table, motionless, just like a squatting Budha in his pagoda throne. During school holidays, our “Little Budha” showed his preferences for a sedentary life by reclining on a hammock and entertaining his confreres with his lively conversation and repartee. It was then, particularly, that his brethren found so many traits of resemblance – even in his paunchiness – with the quiet, ever-smiling Buddha.

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